I never had any intention of purchasing Arnold Schwarzenegger's pathetic new biography, so it would be disingenuous to say that I am "boycotting" the book.
The truth is, few people of conscience -- who certainly abhor Schwarzenegger as both a person and a politician -- are likely to buy the book. But to register my protest against his behavior toward his wife, his children, women in general and the people of California, I've donated the price of the book -- $35.00 - to the Feminist Majority Foundation. and to the National Domestic Workers Alliance. Where these websites ask "donation in honor of," I wrote, "Opposition to Arnold Schwarzenegger." I encourage others to join me in this protest.
Schwarzenegger has a long history of abuse toward women. The most recent outrage is his reluctant acknowledgement of having fathered a child with his family's housekeeper, with whom he had a covert affair, and then denying it to his wife, Maria Shriver, until the child's resemblance became too obvious to ignore. What's most outrageous is Schwarzenegger's claim that he didn't disclose this earlier in order to protect his family's "privacy," but now he's written a book that apparently includes lots of the details about this and other affairs. After years of lying about his pathological personal life, all of a sudden he seems to have total recall. He's put his own ego and career ahead of the privacy of his children. How pathetic!
Even worse, Schwarzenegger is all over the airwaves promoting his new book and upcoming movies and trying to jump-start his second career as an aging action hero. I understand why 60 Minutes and other entertainment shows invited him on for a celebrity interview. But did Jon Stewart really have to invite Schwarzenegger to the Daily Show and give him another platform to promote his book and lie about his accomplishments as California governor? Stewart admitted that he was uncomfortable interviewing Schwarzenegger about the sordid details of his personal life.
Stewart could have avoided the whole awkward situation by inviting instead Ai-Jen Poo, the feisty head of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, an advocacy group for housekeepers, nannies, and others who have been organizing to pass legislation to give these vulnerable workers the legal protections they deserve. Poo is everything that Schwarzenegger is not -- a selfless fighter for social and economic justice. (She will be speaking at Occidental College on Tuesday, October 23. Her talk is open to the public).
Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez did a brilliant job dissecting Schwarzenegger's despicable hypocrisy. He titled his column, "Arnold Schwarzenegger's tell-all book takes bad taste to a new level." Lopez noted that "Schwarzenegger went from sexual harassment allegations as he entered office to a sex scandal on his way out of office. There's a neat symmetry to it all, especially when you consider that while he was governor, all of California got screwed."
As California governor, Schwarzenegger was a lackey of the state's business community. He refused to raise taxes on business or the very rich (i.e. people like him), slashed funds for public schools, health care, and human services, and viciously attacked nurses and their union as well as public school teachers and other public servants.
Schwarzenegger was an awful governor and is an awful human being. He is a multi-millionaire and doesn't need the money that his book and movies will bring him. He just wants to stay in the limelight, and doesn't seem to care whom he hurts or abuses in the process. Indeed, I hesitated to even write about this moronic misogynist megalomaniac because he obviously craves attention, and even negative publicity is publicity.
I believe in free speech, so I favor protecting Schwarzenegger's right to write (or have someone else ghost-write) his book, make bad movies, and try to rehab his repulsive reputation. But people of conscience don't have to buy his books or buy tickets to his movies, and can urge others to do likewise. He is an embarrassment to all Californians.
Peter Dreier teaches politics at Occidental College and his author of The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame, recently published by Nation Books.