When the Rev. Jerry Falwell died Tuesday, the CBS Evening News devoted a lot of time to dissecting his life and legacy. (Katie offered some thoughts about him here.) Over at Public Eye, they took a hard look at the media coverage.
On the Evening News, Katie interviewed historian Douglas Brinkley, who placed Falwell in the following cultural context:
The feminists never liked him in the United States. He was always warring with the women's movement. In many ways he's a backlash figure. He was opposed to the great society and opposed to some of the progressive liberal high watermarks of the 1960s, and certainly he wanted--his returning to family values was returning to women being in the kitchen, in many ways.That prompted the following e-mail to Couric & Co., from someone who begged to differ:
I was disappointed by the final comments of Douglas Brinkley regarding Jerry Falwell's legacy. His statement that "his returning to family values was returning to women's being in the kitchen…" is ridiculously far off the mark. I am a graduate of Liberty University, and one of a small number of female vascular surgeons in this country. As a matter of fact, Jerry's only daughter Jeanne is also a surgeon, and he talked about that often. He was very proud of her accomplishments. That is hardly the mark of a man that believes women should be isolated to home. He did feel that both men and women should be dedicated to their families.In the run-up to Falwell's funeral next week, I'm sure others won't hesitate to weigh in. The founder of the Moral Majority inspired strong feelings in people; no one, it seems, was lukewarm when it came to Jerry Falwell.
Liberty provided me an education that allowed me to breach a very "male" society in the medical profession. As a "first female nightly news anchor", I think you can appreciate how difficult it is to overcome such barriers and stereotypes. Jerry Falwell was simply a man that wanted Christians to not fade into the woodwork, but to be an integral part of society, and to be bold about their beliefs. There is nothing worse than someone who cowers from his beliefs. I did not always agree with everything Falwell said, but I certainly respected him for his unwavering faith and staunch convictions of his beliefs. He was more honorable than many people will ever hope to be.
Amy Lipscomb, MD