Tuesday, November 27, 2012

With Apologies to Helen Milliken

Another really good person died recently.

Helen Milliken was 89 when she passed away on Friday, November 16. Mrs. Milliken, Michigan’s longest-serving First Lady, was married for 67 years to Bill Milliken, our state’s governor from 1969 to 1983.

I’m so sad for Governor Milliken.

Mrs. Milliken was much more than a deferential political spouse. She was a trailblazer and a strong, principled advocate for women’s issues – including the right to choose and the ill-fated Equal Rights Amendment - as well as environmental protection and the arts. She became Enemy Number One in some quarters after publicly decrying highway billboards as unsightly (but probably gained an equal number of admirers) and was inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame in 1983.

As I write this, I can’t stop thinking about how unfair life is. Mrs. Milliken’s passing was covered by the Huffington Post, the Detroit Free Press, ABC News, the Traverse City Record-Eagle, MLive.com, the Petoskey News, the Washington Post, Fox News, the Detroit News, Politico.com, the Miami Herald, the Oakland Press, Michigan Radio and Salon.com, among other outlets. Politicians paying tribute to her included Governor Rick Snyder, Attorney General Bill Schuette, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Congressman Sander Levin and former Governor Jennifer Granholm.

Have you heard or read about one-year-old Jumana Abu Asaifan or nine-year-old Tasneem Nahal? What about ten-month-old Hanin Tafesh, nine-year-old Fares Al-Basyouni or four-year-old Mahmoud Raed Sadallah?

Their premature deaths didn’t get anywhere near the same coverage.

I’d wager you don’t remember hearing about the death of Ranan Arafat, 7, Omar Misharawi, 11 months, or Ahmed Younis Khader Abu Daqqa, 13. Lots of twelve-year-olds were killed this year, including Maamun Muhammad Zuhdi a-Dam, Ayoub Amer Muhammad Asaliya, Zayed Juma Zayed Jaradat and Hamza Muhammad Zayed Jaradat. We also lost siblings Ranin (5), Jamal (7), Yousef (10) and Ibrahim (1) Mohammed Jamal Al-Dalou.

These Palestinian children were among 37 who died in 2012 alone. In fact, over 1,500 Palestinian kids have been killed since September of 2000. We don’t hear about them, though, because they have funny names and they don’t matter as much as prominent, well-off white people here at home.

The Palestinian youngsters died quickly due to gunfire, missiles and air strikes. They didn’t have a chance to exchange heartfelt words, sentences and paragraphs with loved ones like Mrs. Milliken, who died of ovarian cancer, probably did.

As a parent, I find that especially distressing.

You know what else is distressing? When I posted jarring images of some of these murdered children recently, more than one person insisted that the pictures were undoubtedly staged or photo-shopped because those underhanded Palestinians will do anything to garner public support for their cause.

You know, the cause of not having their sons and daughters shot and blown up.

Mrs. Milliken contributed a great deal to the quality of life in our Great Lake State and she indeed deserves thanks and praise. I join thousands of other Michigan residents in thanking and praising her for the gifts she gave us.

Some might even say she deserves better than to have to share blog space with unknown dead kids from 6,000 miles away.

Based on what I’ve heard about how classy and compassionate she was, I bet she wouldn’t mind.

Rest in peace, all of you.

Sources: IfAmericansKnew.org, RememberTheseChildren.org.

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