Here She Comes, Miss Peninsula

If you didn't win this year's pageant, don't worry. You might snag that diamond tiara next year. There hasn't been a better pageant since Bert Parks shuffled of to that great runway in the sky.

Peninsula, Harvard's bastion of Truth, Justice and Femininity has just named this season's Women of the Year. And what women they are--a conservative columnist, a future saint, a dead white woman and a whole group of women who revere a dead white cause.

The champions were obviously culled from an intensive, international search. The Peninsula's Council, aided perhaps by its Auxiliaries and Guardians, has come up with four winners who represent the very essence of proper womanhood.

Our first winner, folks, is Abigail Adams. Mrs. Adams, the Susan Lucci of American Conservatism, has lost the Peninsula nod every year since her death in the early nineteenth century. It was good to see her back in action this year. She's dead, after all, and can't stir up controversy like those pesky living, speaking women you hear so much from these days.

So why Mrs. Adams? According to judge Brent McGuire, it was "refreshing to hear a feminist not only recognize the protective impulse in a man, but also invoke the name of God." Mrs. Adams apparently once wrote to her husband that she (as a woman) was "placed by providence under your protection..." The lazy reader might think that McGuire just meant to call her "a noble but submissive product of her time."


Our next winner: Mother Teresa. Miss Teresa, according to her bio, has served the poor in Calcutta for more than 40 years. It's strange to think that these conservatives could muster up the courage to applaud someone who has given her life to helping people systematically oppressed by an unjust economic and political system. But the Council was apparently willing to overlook that indiscretion and praise her for being a humble, selfless, obedient woman.

Our other two winners have actually done something new since the Eisenhower administration. Maggie Gallagher, a conservative columnist, believes that "women need the support of men...and it is only within the committment of marriage that this support is guaranteed."

And our last victor, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, suffered the criticism of Illinois Senator Carol Moseley-Braun, who, as the first Black female senator ever, clearly represents those "arrogant elites." Moseley-Braun wanted the UDC to get rid of the Confederate Flag on their emblem. Fight on, Daughters.

It must be pretty easy to be a conservative. I should know; I used to be one. Back in the mid-eighties, when I was a wee bairn of thirteen, President Ronald Reagan was one of my greatest heroes. He forced this great country back to the ideals I held dear: humility, selflessness, obedience. I blamed the hostage crisis on Carter; I nearly wept when he lit the Statue of Liberty's torch on the Fourth of July; I called the news media a bunch of bleeding hearts for belaboring that overblown Iran-Contra thing. When other kids wore black armbands on their Underroos after Carter lost the presidency to Reagan, I danced in mine.

I yearned for the days when men and women knew their place, when the welfare state was miniscule and we could dredge up icons like Abigail Adams for their deference and understanding of traditional family values.

But then I grew up. When I made it out of the suburbs and into an urban Jesuit high school, I learned about things like poverty, civil rights and social responsibility. The world was more complicated than the stratified one the conservatives had invented for me. Abigail Adams has been dead for nearly three hundred years now; Mother Teresa does more for this world in one hour than Nixon, Reagan and Bush did all their lives.

Despite the cries of campus conservatives like Sebastian Conley's "Seth Lives" that Harvard doesn't want to understand conservatives, it's hard to believe that they're suffering too badly. All it takes to be a right-winger here is to rewrite history, to turn Abigail Adams into a submissive hausfrau and strip the Confederate Flag of all its racist overtones. To paraphrase Molly Ivins, afflicting the afflicted and comforting the comfortable may have the charm of novelty, but it's not exactly courageous.

Michael K. Mayo '94 is associate editorial chair of The Crimson. The "K" stands for Kennedy. Really.