Amber Nasrulla

Canadian in California
AUGUST 20, 2011 2:29PM

Michele Bachmann: time to submit to & respect The Dictionary

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Last week at a Republican debate in Iowa, a reporter asked Michele Bachmann if she would be submissive to her husband if she was to be elected president. The question didn’t come out of the blue; the reporter was referring to statements Bachmann made at a Christian centre in 2006 when she was running for Congress – namely that she hated taxes but studied tax law because her husband told her to.

Bachmann was quoted as saying, “
But the Lord says, ‘Be submissive’. Wives, you are to be submissive to your husbands. Never had a tax course in my background, never had a desire for it. But by faith, I was going to be faithful to what I thought God was calling me to do through my husband, and I finished that course of that study.”

Let me be clear. I don’t care if Bachmann submits to her husband. I don’t care what her religious beliefs are, so long as she doesn’t subjugate the beliefs of others to advance her agenda.

What bothered me was that Bachmann rewrote dictionary definitions to suit herself. To protect herself. To rewrite her own recent history.

The definition of submission from Merriam Webster is: “meekly obedient or passive.”

The definition of respect, also from MW is: “to consider worthy of high regard”

I can see the difference. Can you see the difference? My four-year-old knows what the two words mean ...even if he can’t spell them out.

There’s no deductive logic in claiming that submission equates with respect. No matter how many times the Minnesota congresswoman says it, or how many anecdotes she tacks on to it.  And to suggest otherwise is, well …illogical, ill-informed. And uneducated. What kind of role model does that make her? What kind of presidential candidate does that make her?

The fact that her response silenced critics was astounding. The fact that there wasn’t a follow-up question was alarming.

Why didn’t a journalist say something along the lines of:  “Madame Bachmann: Submission and respect actually mean two very different things – both in noun and verb form.  I recognize these were statements you made five years ago…and people change. You may have felt submissive to your husband in those days – so why not own up to it proudly and say so?"
That would be perfect opportunity for Bachmann to say: "Yes, well, life has changed. It’s now 2011 and I, Michele Bachmann, no longer feel submissive because I’m running for president. I feel respect for myself and for my husband, Marcus, because he runs a farm and has received more than $250,000 in federal subsidieswhich I fully support – but only for him! Remember I still think federal spending is out of control.”

We live in perilous times. I know that sounds theatrical, almost  Shakespearean. But words, and yes actions, launch wars. If Bachmann doesn’t have a grasp of her own language, how will she function on the world stage, when there are visiting dignitaries, in 99% of cases they will be far more educated than she?

Maybe some of them will have beautiful, mellifluous accents. Will she feel uncomfortable? Will she misinterpret their words? Will she decide that this word means that, because it’s better for her agenda? And what about kids in school who start to mangle grammar? That’s a whole other blog for another day.

Learn the language, Ms. Bachmann. Respect it. Respect the voters.

And journalists, ask a follow-up question, even when the audience is saying "booooooo" and "hissssss". The rest of us will thank you for it.

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