I know I said that so long as Karen Handel, the failed “tea party” candidate for governor of Georgia and anti-Planned Parenthood teahadist, was at Komen they would do without my dollars, I wouldn’t be walking, marching, joining them for lobbying efforts, or buying stuff with pink ribbons on it anymore.
Well, Karen Handel fell on her sword today, resigning her position with the charity in a “goodbye cruel world” written statement.
We can all agree that this is a challenging and deeply unsettling situation for all involved in the fight against breast cancer. However, Komen’s decision to change its granting strategy and exit the controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood and its grants was fully vetted by every appropriate level within the organization. At the November Board meeting, the Board received a detailed review of the new model and related criteria. As you will recall, the Board specifically discussed various issues, including the need to protect our mission by ensuring we were not distracted or negatively affected by any other organization’s real or perceived challenges. No objections were made to moving forward.
I am deeply disappointed by the gross mischaracterizations of the strategy, its rationale, and my involvement in it. I openly acknowledge my role in the matter and continue to believe our decision was the best one for Komen’s future and the women we serve. However, the decision to update our granting model was made before I joined Komen, and the controversy related to Planned Parenthood has long been a concern to the organization. Neither the decision nor the changes themselves were based on anyone’s political beliefs or ideology. Rather, both were based on Komen’s mission and how to better serve women, as well as a realization of the need to distance Komen from controversy. I believe that Komen, like any other nonprofit organization, has the right and the responsibility to set criteria and highest standards for how and to whom it grants.
What was a thoughtful and thoroughly reviewed decision – one that would have indeed enabled Komen to deliver even greater community impact – has unfortunately been turned into something about politics. This is entirely untrue. This development should sadden us all greatly. [emphasis added]
She must have crunched the numbers and realized that there’s gold in that thar right-wing martyrdom when they pass out the wingnut welfare checks. People like her never. go. away. They hang around like a fart in a phone booth and never give an inch. They wave their victim flag and they maintain their righteousness and they go on speaking tours and write a book for Regnery Publishing that will debut on the NY Times Best Sellers list, but quickly be premaindered to the dollar bin; and the copies that did sell will be given away with donations to some such cause or another (perhaps the one Handel will start, with generous funding from some rich wingnut, to oppose Planned Parenthood) and the rest will collect dust in church basements.
Still, it really pisses me off when a politician — and that is exactly what Karen Handel is, a right-wing politician and a Palinista too boot — feigns implacable sadness and pearl-clutching despair over the fact that politics reared it’s head outside the sequestered boardroom after a clearly political decision was made inside of it.
But that decision proved fateful if not fatal.
People stopped looking at Komen through pink-colored glasses and realized the pinkwashing of a terrible disease for what it is, and what it always has been.
Now here is where I get confessional. I have, for years, been willingly complicit.
I have been willingly complicit because I have a story to tell and it has a happy ending and it relates to people on an individual level the importance of early detection and intervention…and pink ribbons have always started conversations. So I took the rightward bent of the executives in stride. It was never a secret that Nancy Brinker is a Texan, and it’s a matter of public record that she served in the Bush administration. I have never cared much for the willingness of the charity to give polluters a veneer of respectability because they supported Komen for the Cure, and I got really pissed during the debate over healthcare reform because of the connection between Komen and Haddassah Lieberman, the wife of Joe “I’ll kill you all if I have to, to kill the public option” Lieberman.
And do you know WHY I took so much stuff I disagreed with in stride?
Because I may live in the city and have an awesome healthcare team, but my roots are in a wide spot of two-lane blacktop and Planned Parenthood is womens healthcare in that outstate area. And the fifty thousand bucks that Planned Parenthood passes on to the rural affiliate to make the referals for their over-forty clients to get mammograms either free or at a reduced fee through PP — that grant paid for mammograms not just for people I know, but for members of my family, women who are my own flesh and blood.
And blood is thicker than water, even when the Nichols Fountain is dyed pink on October First.
But now, the jig is up and I shall pinkwash no more forever. I’m not going to throw a perfectly good set of housekeys in the trash, I’m not going to burn my pink-ribbon baseball cap or throw out my day planner. But they made me choose, and I still choose Planned Parenthood.
But now, the jig is up and I shall pinkwash no more forever. I’m not going to throw a perfectly good set of housekeys in the trash, I’m not going to burn my pink-ribbon baseball cap or throw out my day planner. But they made me choose, and I still choose Planned Parenthood, because Planned Parenthood was there for me when I needed it, and it is still there for a lot of people I care about, in a real and tangible way, providing services where other providers just don’t bother offering services because there’s no money in it. And they save lives in those underserved areas through regular exams and mammograms, because early diagnosis and intervention is the key.
Pink ribbons still start conversations. Now they just start a different one, but my message is going to be the same…early detection is the key, and the key to early detection is mammography.
I know. I’m living proof.