Sunday, May 25, 2008

Harsh Hillary

Back in the early days of Hillary Clinton's project aimed at becoming the Democrats' presidential nominee, I recall the unexpected warning of a perspicacious journalist who pointed out that many older Catholic women in the USA might tend to associate the concept of a female head of state with a widespread negative image from their adolescence: the stern nuns in convent schools.

At the time of my childhood in Australia, Audrey Hepburn probably did more than Rome to propagate the rigorous realities of a woman's existence as a bride of Jesus. But certain ex-students of Catholic schools, such as my aunt Nancy, for example, had their own vision of the intellectual style of some of these veiled women, many of whom were bigots of Irish ancestry. My mother Kathleen, who had attended a convent school in South Grafton, married my father, brought up in the Protestant Church of England, in Grafton's Anglican cathedral. The next day, a nun told the little girl Nancy that her sister Kathleen would surely end up in Hell because of her heretical marriage. And my future aunt was no doubt traumatized by this announcement.

I don't know to what extent Hillary might or might not sound at times, to some of her fellow citizens, like a stern nun. Be that as it may, there seemed to be a touch of fire and brimstone in her recent awkward reminder that a political candidate can be removed from the contest by the bullets of an assassin. One can't help thinking that Hillary was underlining the fact, maybe unconsciously, that this kind of calamity could arise because the assassin happened to dislike the candidate's religion or the color of his skin.

Talking about veiled women, I love the following photo, which I picked up some time ago on the Internet:

The only thing that's missing is the voice of the male photographer: "Ladies: Smile, please! "

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