Tuesday, October 12, 2010

An 'Extraordinary' memoir: Becoming Condoleezza Rice

In this review of Condoleezza Rice's new book "Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family", one thing she believes differentiates her from the run of the mill Sharptons and Jacksons: "What I don't favor is 'We need 25% of this and 10% of that.' Quotas will lead to bad things. Affirmative action should be access to opportunity, not outcome."

Growing up with two stable, educated, and working parents, she was given the opportunity but, through hard work, she maximized the outcome.

This USA Today review is captivating. I'm sure the book is also.

"People often ask me, 'How did you get to be who you are?' And I always say, 'You had to know my parents,' " she says.

What is made especially clear by this parental tribute — simultaneously released as a young-adult book — is that Rice was fiercely doted on, the only child of middle-class teachers who insisted she simply had to be "twice as good" as her peers.

Young Condoleezza (a tweaking of the Italian musical term con dolcezza, meaning "with sweetness") was the prize the Rices kept their eyes on. Despite the civil rights battles raging in Birmingham in the mid-'60s, Rice writes that her parents were not marching arm in arm with Martin Luther King Jr.

"My father lionized" King, she says. "But he was a big, physical man, and I can no more imagine him in a meek way allowing someone to club him than I can imagine myself standing on my head. He would have fought back."

Rice says she didn't know people who hit the streets with King. "There was a class element to it, I suppose," she says. "But even those who didn't march helped the movement, whether that was my father not reporting students who cut school to march, or the food drives we had at our church."

Rice's upbringing did not foreshadow her becoming a bastion of modern conservatism.

Though her father was a lifelong Republican, one of his good friends was Black Panther Stokely Carmichael. John Rice also spent his entire life reaching out to disadvantaged youth, while his wife dedicated her days to bringing music to children. She died of cancer in 1985; John died of heart failure in early 2000.

Her parents' social altruism made a mark. In fact, in 1976, Rice proudly voted for Democrat Jimmy Carter. Then everything changed.

"I loved Carter's story, the first president from Dixie," says Rice. "But (in the late '70s) I was studying and visiting the Soviet Union. And when they invaded Afghanistan, Carter said he suddenly understood what the Soviets were all about. And I thought, 'Who did you think you were dealing with?' I knew what that place was. So I found myself attracted to Ronald Reagan's policies, and that's how it started."

An 'Extraordinary' memoir: Becoming Condoleezza Rice

1 comment:

  1. Her policies on the Middle East should have been tempered with the insistance of a side-by-side Palestinian state with Israel. Although, she did see the real threat, Iran.

    NEW YORK - THE PALESTINE CONSPIRACY, a genre spy-thriller by Robert Spirko, was fourth on the best-seller list at Atlasbooks, Inc., a national book distributor, and at Amazon.com.
    “Everyone tells me there will never be peace in the Middle East, but I tell them they are wrong. Israel and Egypt have had a peace treaty for 31 years. Jordan and Israel signed a peace agreement 16 years ago. A Palestinian State can be created. It can be done and it will be done,” Spirko reiterates. “Thirty-one years of peace is better than 31 years of war.”
    “We’re not talking about a serpent-tongued, false prophet who will negotiate this peace between Israel and the Islamists, it will be done by a U.S. president and those parties involved in the peace process who will finally achieve it through hard work, tough compromises, and by making specific decisions fair to both sides to agree to end the violence once-and-for-all – by those leaders who want a future for their children,” Spirko says.
    “Besides, Israel wants a Palestinian state now, too. And, even Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt are supporting it.”
    Spirko's key ideas at the 2000 Camp David Peace Talks were to make Jerusalem the simultaneous capital of both Israel and a Palestinian state with congruent borders - one precisely overlapping the other - using two maps - one for the Palestinian state and one for Israel. The city would become an international, undivided open city for people of all religions to visit and the municipality would be governed by a city council of equal Palestinians and Jews with God, Allah or Jehovah as the central sovereign. The Knesset and Palestinian authority would then govern their respective states from that dual capital. In effect, Jerusalem would become a governing district much like the District of Columbia in Washington, D. C. This idea won traction at the 2000 Camp David Peace Talks and was virtually agreed upon, but where the talks broke down and failed was when both sides capitulated to pressures from their own political factions over right of return and reparations. Mr. Spirko has an idea to solve that problem also.
    Spirko states, "The chief threat in the region I see right now is the threat to Saudi Arabia by Iran and Al Qaeda. If Al Qaeda were to overthrow the present royal family in Saudi Arabia or attack the Strait of Hormuz, cutting off the oil supply to western nations including Japan and China, it would bring down entire world economies."
    “Another looming concern is Iran which wants to develop nuclear weapons to couple with their Shahab 4, 5 & 6 missiles on the drawing boards which have a range to hit London, Israel, all of Europe, southern Russia and the United States. Also, the Iranian government has said it initially had 300 centrifuges to enrich uranium to weapons grade material. They have increased that to 3,000. They will soon increase that again to 10,000 centrifuges,” Spirko says. “They have the additional capacity to add another 20,000 centrifuges in mass production techniques that will enable them to produce at least seven nuclear bombs in about a year. Another point Spirko makes on the Mideast is that, “It is time for the Israelis and Palestinians to return to the Peace Talks, resume where they left off and "freeze in place" the already-agreed-upon negotiating points,” Spirko says.
    "And, it's all related to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict which I said back in 1987 was the crux of my book. It always has been, and always will be until it's settled,” Spirko says. “That linkage is exactly what Osama Bin Laden stated in a taped message aired the weekend before the election in November of 2004, and again just recently. Whether you believe him or not is beside the point. That's what's he told us, and we'd better take that into account."