“I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an’ pretend
’cause I’ve heard it all before.” — “I Am Woman” by Helen Reddy
When singer Helen Reddy wrote the song, “I Am Woman” in the early 1970s, she wanted it to have lyrics that would genuinely reflect the character of all the strong women in her family who had survived the Great Depression and held their families together through both world wars.
She was sick of songs like West Side Story’s “I Feel Pretty” and artist Sandy Posey’s “Born a Woman,” which included the lyrics, “It makes no difference if you’re rich or poor; or if you’re smart or dumb; a woman’s place in this old world is under some man’s thumb.”
She was determined to let her voice roar with the song, “I Am Woman.”
And that she did.
The song was a portrait of women who were strong and invincible.
“I Am Woman” was a celebration of female empowerment and quickly became the enduring anthem for the women’s liberation movement.
So, when The Insider learned this week that Morris Communications has launched a website this year called roar.us designed to help create a “Renaissance of American Responsibility,” it was hard not to feel a little disheartened.
This is a different kind of “roar.”
Earlier this year, Michael Ryan, the editorial page editor for The Augusta Chronicle and Roar’s new executive director, announced on “A Voice of Sanity’s” website that Morris Communications was starting this new venture.
“We have a special announcement for fans and friends of Robert Ringer and his ‘A Voice of Sanity’ website,” he wrote in a Jan. 17 column. “We’re about to raise the volume of your voice. To a roar.”
He wrote that Morris Communications, “a national multimedia company that shares your love of this country and its timeless values of liberty and responsibility,” had acquired avoiceofsanity.com from Ringer, the author of several best-selling self-help books.
“Our goal is to preserve and renew the endangered system of American self-governance by helping create more informed and involved citizens — new generations of Americans who understand and appreciate our precious and rare birthright of freedom,” Ryan wrote in the Jan. 17 column. “In short, we want to help create a renaissance of responsibility in America.”
Though lofty and altruistic sounding, at least one national critic has called this effort at salvation and rebirth nothing more than a bunch of “right-wing bull****.”
Over the past several months, Morris Communications — a historically conservative media company — has designed a new website called roar.us that says it was “built around this nation’s foundational principles of free markets, individual liberty, responsibility, property rights, limited government and civic involvement.”
So, basically, Ryan is offering the world a civics lesson, Morris style.
In its opening message to followers, Ryan wrote that the website aims to get “Americans more excited and involved in this country we all love.”
“We believe America desperately needs a renewal in individual responsibility and civic life,” he wrote. “We believe the future of the country, much like its past, depends primarily on three things: character, brotherhood and citizenship.”
Therefore, Ryan stated that roar.us was created to be a “safe, civil and welcoming haven for news, commentary, videos and blogs on American self-governance; for advocacy of individual freedom and responsibility; for civic engagement; and for constitutional principles.”
Why is Morris doing this?
Apparently, to save the youth of America.
“ROAR is a multimedia project of Morris Communications to inspire Americans, particularly youths, to understand and appreciate the beauty — and fragility — of our system of self-governance, so unique in human history,” Ryan wrote. “We’ve been handed a wonderful, but delicate gift — the rare gift of self-governance.
We need to take good care of it.”
Why exactly does a privately held media company with 12 daily newspapers, 36 radio stations and numerous magazines across the country decide to develop a website to
promote a renaissance of “responsibility” in America?
It’s unusual, for sure.
Last month, gawker.com, a national website that has more than 1.2 million unique visitors each day, jumped on Morris, claiming it was launching a right-wing Tumblr.
“Morris Communications is the publisher of about a dozen newspapers across America, many of which feature jaw-droppingly fascist editorial pages,” a June 18 column on gawker.com stated. “Now, the publisher has something even bigger in store for the changing media landscape. It’s a crappy little Tumblr with more right-wing bull****.”
Gawker didn’t stop there.
“Because when the newspaper industry is in the toilet, you’re laying off reporters, and the public’s tastes are changing, the times demand a crappy little Tumblr,” the column stated. “My congratulations go to whichever ‘new media consultant’ sold them on this brilliant turnaround strategy.”
The column was brutal.
“Roar.us is, quite clearly, a pathetic attempt by some clueless Georgia newspaper executive to tap into the ‘youth market’ and capture lots of ‘mindshare’ for awful right-wing editorializing, which Morris Communications has in vast supply, even while hope for its business prospects dwindle into ever shorter supply,” gawker.com stated.
Well, now. Don’t be shy, Gawker. Tell us what you really think.
Apparently, Ryan did not appreciate Gawker’s comments.
Not long after, Ryan posted the following blog on roar.us:
“When we recently started Renaissance of American Responsibility to further the cause of self-governance, one critic dismissively predicted a ‘right-wing’ site,” Ryan wrote. “Why? Because we believe in freedom? Personal responsibility? Property rights? Self reliance, tempered with old-fashioned compassion and brotherhood?
When did such values become the province of a few? And why would anyone cede such noble values to someone else, and wall himself or herself off from them?”
Freedom. Responsibility. Compassion. Brotherhood.
Those are all nice words, but, let’s face it, they mean different things to different people.
Just ask civil rights leader and U.S. Rep. John Lewis what freedom means to him.
Or the late Harvey Milk, who became the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in California. How would he have described old-fashioned compassion?
And what about singer Helen Reddy and her original roar? How would she describe brotherhood?
“I Am Woman” was a song about female identity that made virtually no reference to men.
Female listeners were the ones who called in requesting the song be played by their local radio stations in droves.
In 1972, “I Am Woman” hit No. 1 on the U.S. music charts and it earned a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
At the awards ceremony that year, Reddy concluded her acceptance speech by thanking God “because She makes everything possible.”
Now that’s a roar if anyone has ever heard one.
But The Insider’s question to Ryan and Morris Communications would be: Do you embrace that roar, too?
After all, that’s the true meaning of freedom.