Dear Senator Boxer . . .

June 19, 2009

“If the title is so important to you that it trumps other polite forms of address, you are in politics for the wrong reasons . . .”

Dear Senator Boxer . . .
For immediate release (255 words)

Andrea Neal could not believe Barbara Boxer’s arrogance when she demanded yesterday to be called “senator” during the testimony of Brig. Gen. Michael Walsh. As a teacher of constitutional history, Neal was embarrassed for the senator and her pride in her “title.” The issue would be stale by the time of her next column so we are distributing this open letter to Ms. Boxer instead.


Dear Senator Boxer:

I am a 50-year-old woman and 8th grade teacher from Indiana. I am moved to write you because of your arrogant reaction to Brig. Gen. Michael Walsh, who addressed you as “ma’am” during his recent congressional testimony.

May I suggest that your request to be called senator — being broadcast widely on shows watched by younger viewers — was not only inappropriate and condescending but sends the wrong message about courtesy and respectful behavior.

It is the rare child these days who says “Yes ma’am” or “No ma’am” in the classroom, and those who do have been carefully trained by their parents to speak to teachers with deference. This is old-fashioned, I concede, but I would never think to correct a child for saying this.

The term “ma’am” is neither sexist nor demeaning but rather a sign of the child’s upbringing and respect for my position as teacher. All the teachers I know welcome such polite behavior.

Equally offensive as your “correction” of the general was your comment about the importance of your title. I am sure you did work hard to become a senator, but I fervently hope it was not the “title” you sought but the opportunity to represent the citizens of California and the nation. If the title is so important to you that it trumps other polite forms of address, you are in politics for the wrong reasons and should consider resigning so an “ordinary” citizen — one who is more interested in service than prestige — might take your place.

Sincerely,

Andrea Neal
June 19, 2009




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