Oh, CNN, to where went your gravitas? Your social responsibility?
As a college senior during the First Gulf War, I often watched that esteemed cable network. But over the years, CNN’s in-depth analysis and heavy-hitting reporting (think Christiane Amanpour in Bosnia) has yielded to fluffier fare (think Kim Kardashian in lingerie). However, this week, for old-time’s sake, I surfed over to CNN’s Homepage. I saw. I fumed. Then I brooded.
The offending sub-head – the smaller headline under “Clerk goes free/Judge bars Kim Davis from withholding marriage licenses” – read, “Opinion: Is Davis modern Rosa Parks?” I immediately thought of an old friend from college, James, and wondered what he would think.
James was a year behind me at Northwestern University. Not only were we both Naval ROTC scholarship students, we also were in a student dance performance group. He was one of those rare souls who can do a million things and do them all skillfully: He was in a fraternity, studied pre-med and was Northwestern’s homecoming king his senior year . His stellar academic performance landed him one of the coveted straight-from-ROTC-to-med-school assignments. We lost touch.
James is black. He is also gay, although I didn’t know that at the time, nor did anyone else in the unit, military regulations being what they were in 1991.
I ran into James nine years later, when, heavily pregnant with my second son, I landed in the Camp Pendleton Naval Hospital ER with an allergic reaction. Who should be among the doctors but my old friend, now a senior resident? “James!” I exclaimed, raising my blotched and bloated body off the gurney. “Leslie!” He returned an ebullient hello.
A few days later, we caught up in his hospital office. I learned he was gay (“Oh, yes, my colleagues know, and no one cares!” he confided). He went on to a successful career as a Navy doctor and later started a family with his partner.
There aren’t many people I admire more than James: his energy, his intelligence, his boundless sense of humor and goodwill.
I equate Ms. Parks with the civil rights movement that helped ensure people like James would have the opportunity to maximize their potential at places like Northwestern.
As a civil servant who has gained notoriety by refusing to carry out the oath to which she swore, Kim Davis deserves no place alongside the estimable Parks, or even a suggestion of it. The media have not done enough to emphasize Davis’ prerogative to resign; that option – a simple solution – is not much discussed. Politicians like Mike Huckabee act in a similarly irresponsible manner, pandering and squawking about infringement of Davis’ religious liberty when the real issue is a responsibility to do one’s job.
It should be no one’s business what Kim Davis thinks about marriage, but it is everyone’s business that she carry out the duties and responsibilities of her office. Davis is no Rosa Parks.
Leslie Durand of Holly Springs is a former naval officer and current spouse of a retired Marine Corps officer.