Friday, October 21, 2005


Via Gawker, here is a story about two sisters who look as though they could be run-of-the-mill junior high school girl-bullies turn out to take things further than most, and are apparently white supremacist rock stars. That's nice. I googled their band, "Prussian Blue," and discovered that as younger kids these girls were dirty blonde, which is amusing insofar as it means their current platinum-blondeness is independent of any "Aryan" ancestry.

According to the ABC piece, the girls' mother put them up to it:

"It really breaks my heart to see those two girls spewing out that kind of garbage," said Ted Shaw, civil rights advocate and president of the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund — though Shaw points out that the girls aren't espousing their own opinions but ones they're being taught.

On that point, April Gaede and Ted Shaw apparently agree.

"Well, all children pretty much espouse their parents' attitudes," she said. "We're white nationalists and of course that's a part of our life and I'm going to share that part of my life with my children."

Which brings up the question: When is children's political activity their own? Hannah Arendt apparently didn't think children should be used for political ends. I agree completely. Things get more confusing when you're talking not about babies in "Kerry" t-shirts but all people under 18 who hold political opinions. Is a child rebelling against his own parents' views, saying the opposite of whatever he hears them say, any more worth listening to than one blindly following? One stuck, in an immature way, on a cause he knows little about? If both children and adults can be politically inept or politically savvy, even if 18 is the voting age, must all political acts by minors be seen as mere extensions of their parents' own actions? (Why aren't juvenile offenders' parents the ones going to prison?)

When is it a minor's political activity evidence of exploitation? Does the fact that the "Prussian Blue" girsl' youth is being used to attract people to the cause mean that they are being exploited? What if an especially attractive adult were voluntarily doing the same thing, performing white-supremacist songs--would that be considered exploitation? These girls are not infants. Does that mean, if they've been homeschooled by a mother who insists they be white-supremacist singers, they have much say in the matter? No, but chances are she'll encourage them on this path indefinitely. When do they become responsible for speaking up? Or will they, like the Olsen twins, turn to the evils of brown hair dye and New York City?

There's no obvious line between when someone's a baby wearing a political-slogan bib and when he's an individual responsible for his own politics. But I'm not sure these girls are as much of a liminal case as Ted Shaw of the NAACP would like to think.


Anonymous said...

duuuuuude i totally read that too and then i googled them and looked up pictures of them. they do look like the olsen twins though. but that shit is weird.

how's life otherwise? i havent heard from you in forever!


Phoebe Maltz Bovy said...

Life is good. How's life at UChicago? Any good French classes I should know about?