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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Haven't We All Wanted to Buy a Kid?

So Madonna went to Africa and returned home with a black child to add to her diverse family. I don't get what all the fuss is about. What's that? You say you've never wanted to purchase a kid, including a symbolic one? Think. Maybe you didn't act on it, but wasn't the desire there? Especially if you're a white liberal American with lots of money and loads of guilt about your country's alleged present-time culpability for historic racial injustice — and by "historic" we here mean to indicate legally sansctioned injustice of days past. Injustice that was committed by persons (all now dead) other than yourself — people you probably aren't even related to, and of whom you almost certainly have never heard. C'mon, admit it. You've felt the urge to eyeball a group of multiculturally correct children in a far away land. Tell me you've haven't watched yourself, in your mind's eye, point to the kid you want and heard an inner voice whisper, "The cute one over there, and a large order of fries." Kidding about the fries! It's just hard not to be lighthearted, what with all this solemn, judgmental finger-pointing going on. I'm appalled, for instance, by those who suggest Madonna spirited away this boy — his name is David — without his father's permission. To the contrary, David's dad, Yohane Banda, said he gave his son to Madonna because she had been described to him as a "good Christian lady." Surely this clears up any lingering questions about Mr. Bande's contact with empirical reality, hence his capacity to give informed consent. For heaven's sake, "good Christian lady" is pretty much what comes to mind when most people ponder Madonna. Unlike Mother Teresa of Calcutta, that now deceased, self-promoting carnival act and shameless hedonist, Madonna has walked the extra mile to plumb the self-abnegating depths of her religious faith. For me the authenticity deal was sealed when she affixed herself to a giant crucifix. "Your son is very beautiful and he makes me very happy," Madonna told David's dad. Now there's altruism you don't see every day. Think. If more people who took home rescue animals followed Madonna's example — choose a pretty pet that makes you happy — we'd all be a lot better off. Why shouldn't adopting humans likewise be geared to beauty that makes the beholder feel good? Still, critics can't resist calling Madonna "selfish." This is grossly unfair. What's she supposed to do, buy the entire continent of Africa? She's one woman making a gesture — we're talking symbolic, people! It's up to the rest of us to apply her example on a larger scale, transforming individual generosity into a social movement that can change entire neighborhoods and communities. In that spirit, let's start in San Francisco, where this week hundreds of African Americans held a rally to decry the flight of blacks from the City by the Bay. Think. There are thousands of wealthy white liberals who live in San Francisco, especially in the city's Presidio district with its grand mansions and splendid granny units. Why don't these good white liberals start adopting black San Franciscans? Blacks get to stay and whites get to feel good about themselves on race issues. Talk about a win-solution. Now it's true that Madonna adopted a black child rather than a black grown-up. And some critics will argue that there's more charm to adopting kids as opposed to adults. But this distinction doesn't really hold up, because white liberal America has patronizing black Americans as a group for more than four decades, treating them as wards of government, in need of infantilizing preferences, forever. I say it's time to get government out of the business of condescending to African Americans, and turn this important work over to the private sector. Let's be willing to trust individual initiative. Calling multiculturally minded San Francisco liberals: Hurry, the cute ones are likely to go fast.