Where have all the feminists gone? Sure, they're everywhere to be seen when it comes to the matter of Nancy Pelosi's health-care legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives, insisting that American women should have the right to end their unborn babies' lives on the taxpayers' dime. But there is no love for a beauty queen who simply gave her opinion, when asked, during a beauty pageant. Since then, she's had a target on her chest. It's been a shameful expose of what's important to feminists.
Carrie Prejean has a new book out, telling her story. The title, "Still Standing: The Untold Story of My Fight Against Gossip, Hate, and Political Attacks," about says it all. The winner of the Miss California beauty pageant, who was runner-up at the Miss USA contest this year, was asked a question by an Internet gossip columnist. She answered it honestly, according to her principles. And for that, every mistake in her life has been fodder for tabloids, every decision she makes has become subject to public scrutiny.
Prejean was asked, "Vermont recently became the fourth state to legalize same-sex marriage. Do you think every state should follow suit? Why or why not?"
It's becoming increasingly clear that there really was only one right answer to the question. And that's not the one she gave. So much for tolerance.
In retrospect, Prejean says she knew what she was getting into. "I was being dared — in front of the entire world — to give a candid answer to a serious question. I knew if I told the truth, I would lose all that I was competing for: the crown, the luxury apartment in New York City, the large salary — everything that went with the Miss USA title. I also knew, or suspected, that I was the front-runner, and if I gritted my teeth and gave the politically correct answer, I could be Miss USA."
But she went ahead and gave the "wrong" answer. She said: "I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman." She continued "No offense to anybody out there, but that's how I was raised."
And since then, we've heard a lot more about Carrie Prejean, things we've no real business knowing, thanks to the politically correct and the scandal-thirsty, who saw in this young woman a potential martyr and a sexy story.
Some may argue that Prejean made the decision to become a public figure, and is thus subject to the slings and arrows of outraged liberal commentators. She's written a book. She's been a spokeswoman. She's taken positions. She's appeared on Sean Hannity's TV show!
But all Prejean ever really decided to do was answer a question honestly. That should not have to be a brave decision. But it was. And she should be applauded and defended for doing so. Why aren't groups like the National Organization for Women using this opportunity to show that they actually care about women, and not ideology? The moment Prejean started being attacked for a salacious video she sent a boyfriend in years past — an incident she's called "the biggest mistake" of her life — they should have come to her defense in outrage. Enough!
But Prejean is "Still Standing." I don't know what the future holds for her. There are clearly people gunning for her. I wish her the best. She's clearly a smart gal who has some sense of what's good, and wants to contribute to it. I hope she continues to do so.
But the backlash at her truth-telling goes way beyond the issue of marriage. It has to do with our collective honesty. Look at, for instance, the coverage of the massacre at Fort Hood. Reporters and others have fallen over themselves trying to avoid identifying the murder suspect as a Muslim. It took a U.K. newspaper, the Telegraph, to report that Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan "once gave a lecture to other doctors in which he said non-believers should be beheaded and have boiling oil poured down their throats." This happened at Walter Reed Medical Center, years before he would find himself at Fort Hood.
The Prejean story and the Hasan story are related inasmuch as ideology and political correctness direct how these news items are reported and how the people involved are treated. This ultimately leads to how we view ourselves as a society. Are we a people who protect the innocent? Or are we a people who line up on the side of the loudest, the most intimidating, regardless of what is factual, regardless of what is justice, regardless of what is just? There's a definite pattern in the answers we're collectively giving to those questions.
Kathryn Lopez is the editor of National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com). She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.