Indiana Gov. Mike Pence vs. Mulan, one is real, the other is a cartoon
By Ed Diokno
Republican Vice President nominee Mike Pence, the governor of Indiana, is scheduled to speak today at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Let’s listen carefully and see if he attacks Mulan.
Prior to becoming Indiana’s governor, Pence was a talk-show host. BuzzFeed News uncovered an op-ed talking about the 1999 animated feature film based on the Chinese poem “Ballad of Mulan
,” dating back to the 6th century C.E. He called the Disney film a “mischievous liberal” attempt to influence the debate on women serving in the military.
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Buzzfeed unearthed a post by Pence during his radio days, apparently composed just after he’d taken his family to a screening of the film. Pence theorized that Mulan taught youngsters exactly the wrong idea about women and their combat capabilities:
“For those who have not yet been victimized by the McDonald’s-induced hysteria over this film, Mulan is a fictional account of a delicate girl of the same name who surreptitiously takes her father’s place in the Chinese army in one of their ancient wars against the Huns.
Despite her delicate features and voice, Disney expects us to believe that Mulan’s ingenuity and courage were enough to carry her to military success on an equal basis with her cloddish cohorts. Obviously, this is Walt Disney’s attempt to add childhood expectation to the cultural debate over the role of women in the military.”
Disney’s 1998 release of Mulan retells the legend that takes place during the Han Dynasty when Fa Mulan, daughter of aged warrior Fa Zhou, pretends to be a man in order to take her father’s place in general conscription during the Hun invasion when women were strictly forbidden from fighting in conflicts. It is not certain if Mulan is based on a real historical figure.
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Mulan, he writes, gives us proof that women should not serve in the military. Fraternizing between the sexes, he says, is inevitable. Pence seems to have forgotten that Mulan disguised herself as a man to get into the military. When the feature was released, it was hailed as a breakthrough by Asian American parents because up until then, all the Disney princesses had been white.
I can’t believe I’m writing about a cartoon figure when the man who would be a “heartbeat” away from the presidency has other – more serious – issues to address. On the other hand, I also find it even harder to believe that Pence would consider a cartoon to be a threat to American society.
When not attacking cartoon figures, Pence also has strong views on the role of women
in our society.
He also spoke against Donald Trump’s proposal to ban Muslim immigration to the U.S. but has since stepped back and now supports the proposed ban.
Pence also boosted the law that allowed businesses to refuse service to individuals if it went against their religious beliefs.
The debate over Mulan may not hold a candle to the host of issues facing our country, but it does say a lot about the man who would be vice president.