About Those Octuplets...

I won’t pretend to understand any part of the strange saga of Nadya Suleman, she of the octuplets and alleged fascination with Angelina Jolie, whose story originally ran as a heartwarming tale of multiple births but has quickly descended into something darker and uglier.

No, I’m not referring to the picture of Ms. Suleman with her (distended) belly full of eight children, who now join her previous six siblings in an already crowded home. I’m also not referring to the fact that she’s unemployed (more on that later) or wants to go back and get her master’s degree, or that her mother warned her she would not help raise even more grandchildren if Ms. Suleman continued her pregnancy.

I’m actually talking about how much of a backlash there is against this woman. Her publicist, Joann Killeen has dumped Ms. Suleman as a client, citing death threats against her (Ms. Killeen) and her husband. Death threats. Unfortunately, a story in the LA Times failed to specify why Joann Killeen received the death threats in the first place (much less how an unemployed mother of 14 can even have a publicist), but I suspect that much it has to do with Ms. Suleman being the incarnation of the right wing’s hatred of social services: the single mother.

Part of me believes that Ms. Suleman’s strange name (it’s Arabic) is feeding the flames here as well. While the circumstances are different, I can think of a few heartwarming stories of multiple births throughout the years with Mr. and Mrs. Whitebread beaming over having very extended families. But here, we have Ms. Suleman as a single woman having (admittedly way too many) children and probably needing social services to help her out, since there’s no way this woman on her own or even with her own mother and father are going to survive economically with so many mouths to feed.

But I can’t understand why anybody would want to kill the publicist (what, did Ms. Killeen put Ms. Suleman up to it, on a dare?) or why no churches or right-to-lifers have taken up the chance to promote how this one woman understands the miracle and life and went to full term with her pregnancy. Not a peep thus far. Of course, I suspect that many of these groups cherish a mother keeping her children when she’s married and white, but that might be a little too harsh. Still, it’s no secret that that welfare is a horrid concept to many social conservatives, and while I do concede the point that people should be responsible for the number of children they have in terms of being able to support them, it’s hard to understand why no one is coming to her defense, much less expressing outrage over death threats. (Let me also note that some of these social conservatives would be the first to scream loudly over any agency limiting the number of children a person can have, but perhaps that’s another story.)

And am I supposed to believe that these children, all 14 of them, are going to put California’s social services capacity over the top? Some commentary I’ve seen about this case have people behaving as though they will be forced to write a check out to Ms. Suleman personally at the expense of their own families, or is the straw breaking the fiscal camel’s back. Again, the image of the unmarried mother with lots of babies and no daddy is a manifestation of everything that is wrong with society, so the alarm bells are ringing and people are up in arms about a previously obscure woman suddenly cast into the role as the Whore of Babylon. Thus, we get stories about death threats and stunning silence from the right-to-life crowd, none of whom have offered any assistance to Ms. Suleman with her courageous decision to have children in the godless land of California and Hollyweird.

Then again, helping her out would be welfare, and we can’t have that.