by Paul H. Yarbrough
I watched a movie the other night wherein the female lead cussed and killed and punched guys around; a normal part of the plot these days. Women have won their struggle to become E-quality of men. Sacrificing the explicit notice of male and female, the implicit of ladies and gentlemen, no longer are we burdened with great men or great women. Now we allowed only great people: chair-people, cow-people, work-people-ship, games-people-ship; oh, well–oink.
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I admit to being a male-chauvinist pig. To hear from the left and right (conservatives have no voice on cable news) about our brave men, and women, getting shot and maimed doesn’t exhilarate me the way it seems to others.
All of this may seem to be a ramble, and perhaps it is though its intended structure is toward a point. That is, through all of my oink beliefs I believe that the greatest person that America ever produced was not only a Southerner, but a woman. That woman, that person, was Helen Keller. I defy anyone to name anyone of any prominence (or not prominent) who did more with less than she did. When before the age of two you are blind, deaf and effectively mute, life is dang sure a hill to climb.
From Tuscumbia, Alabama, her father was a captain in the Confederate Army and her grandmother was a cousin of Robert E. Lee. She, indeed, has a Southern Legitimacy Statement.
With the help of another woman of immense dedication and backbone, Anne Sullivan, a hard-headed Irishwoman who wouldn’t quit, Miss Keller became the first blind and deaf person to graduate from college (Ratcliffe). Afterwards she became a world-wide speaker (her speaking abilities were stunted in childhood by her deafness), and author of almost a dozen books. She operated both regular and Braille typewriters. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Her politics were (as with Mark Twain, her friend) what would be today called “extremely left.” She was a socialist, a suffragist, a founder of the ACLU; and often these were vehicles in her goals to help the blind (Personal note: my own grandmother taught blind students in the 1930s at the Mississippi School for the Blind).
But it does not matter to me what her politics or motives were. Her politics and mine may be on different horizons, but it has always been in my heart since I was a boy, that Helen Keller is, perhaps, the greatest example of God’s admonition that there need be no impossible. I believe He gave her for us. And because of Him she was our greatest American–and a lady.
I wish I could have spoken with her. I wish I could have spoken with Robert E. Lee.