Monday, May 12, 2008

What Mother's Day Means, From the Women Who Created It

From Campaign for America's Future, this moving piece by Sara Robinson, which begins:

Progressives have always loved holidays, which may be why we've created so many of them. There are Saturdays, of course, brought to us with no small help from the early 20th century unions. And May Day. And Labor Day.

And Mother's Day, which started out as the first and perhaps greatest progressive holiday of all.

You may have noticed that all the holidays I've just mentioned are in deep trouble. May Day hasn't been big in the US since the last loud, proud Commie folded up his red flag in the late 1930s. Saturday, as you can testify yourself if you're reading this from work on the day it was published, is also gravely endangered. Not only do more and more of us work on Saturdays; if you're on salary, you're doing it for no pay at all. Labor Day is a boon to the travel industry, since for a lot of us, those three days are the only summer vacation our bosses will let us have. And it's likely that most Americans, if pressed, would cynically tell you that Mother's Day was the nefarious handiwork of a secret cabal -- a shady backroom marketing deal concocted by executives from Hallmark, FTD, DeBeers, and Russell Stover.

Conservatives don't like holidays unless they can use them to sell stuff. They have special reason to really not like this one.

It seems that Mother's Day was originally an anti-war statement:
Mother's Day got its start as the fusion of two holidays created by two women, both activists protesting the carnage of the Civil War. The first was a young homemaker from West Virginia named Ann Jarvis, whose established the first Mother's Work Day in 1858 to improve sanitation among her Appalachian neighbors. When the war came up to their doorsteps, Jarvis's homegrown peace group tended the wounded on both sides; after the war, they worked to reconcile Union and Confederate neighbors in the state.

The other was Boston socialite, suffragette, and poet Julia Ward Howe -- an incandescently bright woman who spoke five languages and ran the New England Institute for the Blind with her husband, Dr. Samuel Howe. Howe is still best remembered as the author of The Battle Hymn of the Republic -- the abolitionist anthem that captures much of the righteous fury of the Union cause. For 40 years after the war, she was one of the most popular public speakers in the country, getting the full-on rock star treatment wherever she went.

I doubt that even Karl Rove can mount an attack on Mother's Day, though I'm sure he would now, if he could. But I won't be surprised to hear him and his little familiars like O'Rilly start a campaign against author Sara Robinson.

It's not the person they don't like. It's the truth she tells. Same song, umpteenth verse. Wouldn't you think the Faux Noise listeners would begin to catch on by now?