I’m waiting for the Chicago storm to hit here. If it does.9 So far just a little bit of rain. In any case, if the storm hits bad I’ll get my Day 17 blog out now. I didn’t have anything in mind this afternoon, but the storm warnings reminded me of the time back in 2000 that I did a phone interview with the Weekly Standard, one of the country’s leading conservative magazines–in a tornado.
I’d been contacted earlier by the writer, and we set up a time. While I was waiting for his call tornado warnings started coming in. We tend to disregard these things in Columbus due to evil TV weathermen who like nothing more than to cut in during General Hospital to give us a Dopler report on a storm 75 miles to the south. that’s heading toward the Carolinas.
The writer had done his homework. He was familiar with the BN webpage, our mission, and our lobbying materials and was asking some very good questions. I figured the WS would be hostile to Bastard Nation, but it was nice not having to explain the minutia of adopee writes to a reporter for once.
As the conversation went on, though, I started to get nervous. The trees in my backyard were dancing the rhumba and the sky…oh my…turned an ominous grey, then yellow and green. Sirens went off along with menacing loud speakers warning of dire consequences if we didn’t hide from the storm. Now! I’m not one to run to the basement (My mother was the basement-stander so I automatically dismiss that alternative).” You know, “I think I oughtta get off the phone. I think there’s a tornado here”,”I told the reporter, as tree limbs flew around my backyard. He kept on talking. “If the phone goes off it’s because trrees knocked down the power lines,” I warned him. .The robo reporter didn’t miss a beat.
We talked at least a half hour, but probably closer to 45 minutes. By the time he got off the phone, the storm had stopped–at least in my neighborhood. It landed about 1 1/4 miles up the road with a lot of damage, but no injuries.
Afterwards I fretted. In my weather-distracted state, what in the world did I tell the Weekly Standard? How stupid did I sound? I knew the writer was also interviewing Bill Pierce, the president of the National Council for Adoption and our Public Enemy #1, and he’d probably call BN a bunch of ungrateful hippie commies. He once assucsed Bastard Nationals of wearing Birkenstocks. Bill was like that. How I miss those days! Maybe the writer thought I was tripping, with my talk green sky and flying tree limbs.
Much to my perverse pleasure the article came out (online and print) as hit piece, but the best article ever written about Bastard Nation and the adoptee rights movement up to that ptime. Every one of our points made it in. The hit piece was a hit. We forwarded it around. Hey, the Weekly Standard gets it, even if they don’t like us! Reading it again 13 years later, I still think that, despite a couple of small errors. BN has never promoted the movement as a medical history issue nor are we left-leaning. We are no-leaning.
The article, The Rise of Bastard Nation is still online. Here’s some excerpts:
…Bastard Nation’s rhetoric and tactics resemble those of gay activist groups such as Queer Nation and ACT UP. Take the protest the group held last year in front of the D.C. headquarters of the National Council for Adoption, whose founding president, William Pierce, is the leading defender of the confidentiality of records: “Clad in black T-shirts emblazoned with a bright gold logo called a ‘spermburst,’ the Bastard Nation protesters chant, ‘Willie P, Willie P, why are you afraid of me?'” the Washington City Paper reported. “On Bastard Nation political buttons, his exaggeratedly scraggly face is depicted with a diagonal rubout line across it. He was hung in effigy at a previous rally. . . . ‘We shall put this beast in chains and shall vanquish him utterly,’ roars Marley Greiner, the self-described ‘founding foundling’ of Bastard Nation.”
Greiner, the executive chair of Bastard Nation, refers to mothers as “breeders,” spells America with a “k,” and signs her postings to Internet chat rooms “by all means necessary.” Yet she blames the ugliness of the adoption records debate squarely on the other side. “I personally think that Bill Pierce has made civil discourse on adoption almost impossible in this country today,” she says…
...We feel that humans have a fundamental right to their identity, and that the government should not be putting up impediments to keep people from accessing their own vital records,” says Ron Morgan, who lives in San Francisco and is one of three members of Bastard Nation’s executive committee. “We feel that it’s a civil right for us to access them.”…
…This notion of blood and biology as central to identity runs deep in adoptee-rights rhetoric. “One’s biological history is as much a part of the essential self as limbs or senses,” argues an article on the Bastard Nation site. “To be deprived of knowledge of one’s origins and ancestry is to be maimed as surely as to be deprived of limbs or sight.” It is one of the oddities of the adoption records debate that the typically left-leaning advocates of open records stress the importance of genes and blood, while advocates of sealed records, who are often on the right, have little use for such talk…
The Weekly Standard didn’t take online comments back then, but a couple weeks later several letters to to the editor showed up in the pring edition. All but one supported us and the one that didn’t, was only midly critical.
The article was written in the wake of our victory in Oregon. Since then four more states have opened to full access. A lot more would be open now if it were’t for obstructionists on “our side” and compromisers who will to take less for more rather than all for everyone.
BTW, this isn’t the only time Bastard Nation made it into the Weekly Standard. On February 9, 2003 a letter I wrote to the magazine about “mothers who wished they’d aborted their children” was named one of the top 10 letters of the week. In part, I wrote:
Get over it! Women aren’t the property of the state (yet) and their children cannot be harvested (yet) for the cozy kitchens of the “more deserving.” When I shared Eastland’s essay with a group of birth mothers who had relinquished children for adoption, they reacted with amusement and irony. Many expressed the oft repeated view that if they had known the ill effects of relinquishment on themselves–and that their children’s identities and heritages would be confiscated and sealed by the state–that they’d have run to the neighborhood abortionist post haste and gotten it over with rather than dragging it out over the next four decades. More than a few suggested politely that Eastland get out of their wombs.