In defense of the sanctimonious women's studies set || First feminist blog on the internet

The Real Lesson of Katrina

The essential point is this: If all of our politicians and agencies could not properly prepare to handle a catastrophe like Hurricane Katrina – when we had at least 48 hours prior warning – how can we possibly handle multiple, simultaneous nuclear strikes by Muslim terrorists on our cities?


One Nation Under God

This afternoon when I picked Ethan up from school, his teacher turned from a conversation she was having with another mother, pulled me aside and asked a question. “Did you tell Ethan not to say the pledge?”

“I told him it was his choice,” I said. “Why?”

“Well, it doesn’t matter to me if he says the pledge or not, but he has to be respectful when the other kids do.”

“I spoke to him about that. How was he disrespectful?”

“He had his arms crossed.”

“Did he do anything else?” I asked. The other mom looked at me warily.


I hesitated for a moment. “Clearly our versions of ‘respect’ are different, but I’ll speak to Ethan about that.”

Last week when Ethan started kindergarten, I was concerned about a great number of things, one of which was him knowing that no matter what any authority or law says, his rights do not stop at the school doors. When a friend reminded me that all Indiana children in public schools have to stand and recite the pledge every day at school to an American flag whose presence is mandated in every classroom, I made a point of discussing this with Ethan, simply to let him know that he had a choice of whether or not to stand with his classmates and make a pledge he certainly doesn’t understand.

I explained it as simply as possible without even touching on the religious complaints against the pledge. Our country is at war overseas, I told him, and some people with a lot of power believe that saying the pledge will make us love our country more and support the war. But, I told him, I think it’s silly to think that a pledge will make us love our country when there are plenty of other things to be grateful for, and just so you know, Mama doesn’t support the war. You can say the pledge if you want to, but it is your choice. No one can make you say it and no one can make you not say it.

I don’t care about “under God.” I care that my child is being asked to conform to an ideal he knows nothing about.

Ethan asked further about the war and I explained as best as I could, reminding him of all the stories Mama watches on the news. It’s a huge concept for a child to wrap his mind around. I answered his questions as best as I could at his level and reassured him that he could decide at any point to say or not say the pledge, and then could change his mind if he wanted to. This is precisely the point about religion that I have pressed on him over time: his choice. In this case the Pledge of Allegiance feels too much like a prayer of political indoctrination “encouraged” by lawmakers for me to feel comfortable to let it go. And finally, I told him that if anyone gives him any crap to refer them to me. I’d handle it.

I was miffed by the teacher, who is by all accounts a wonderful educator (and Ph.D.), but had to take into account all sides. No matter her views, her views are disregarded and part of her state-mandated curriculum is to teach children how to say the pledge and to make time for it every morning. Further, my views and Ethan’s choice could concern other children and parents. On the way out of school I asked Ethan about it. What did she say?

“She said I have to be respectful.”


“She said I can’t cross my arms.”

“Well, next time why don’t you just put your hands in your pockets and stand with the rest of the kids if you don’t want to say the pledge.”

“I can’t. She said I have to stand like this.” Ethan put his arms stiffly at his sides and stood, to my dismay, like a little soldier. Perhaps I was reading into things. I reassured him that it was okay, it is his choice. My five-year-old son is no soldier, too young to be a patriot.

Tucker Carlson: Supporter of State-Sponsored Terrorism

This is Fernando Pereira, a freelance photographer working with Greenpeace. He was killed in the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior by the French government in 1985:

Days earlier, the crew of the Rainbow Warrior had rescued and relocated the people of Rongelap. The United States government had just detonated the largest nuclear bomb since Hiroshima, and radiation poisoning impacted 95 percent of the villagers.

After a successful evacuation, the ship docked in Auckland, New Zealand to prepare for the second part of its mission: to challenge the French government’s nuclear testing plans on the island of Moruroa.

The Rainbow Warrior never completed that mission. On the night of July 10, the crew awoke just before midnight to an explosion. Before they had time to grasp the situation, a second explosion rocked the boat and the ship immediately began to sink. Following orders to “abandon ship” all but one of the crew made it to safety. Trapped below deck and knocked unconscious by the second blast, Greenpeace photographer Fernando Pereira drowned.

By dawn, the magnitude of the situation came to light, and an investigation began leading directly to the French government.

Tucker Carlson, in remembrance, calls this deliberate act of sabatoge “vandalism.”

Tucker Carlson says on the air, twice, that he thinks it’s a good thing the French government blew up the Greenpeace ship and killed some of its crew, unprovoked. He then goes on to call this “vandalism” rather than “terrorism.” Greenpeace is, understandably, not pleased.

Get the rest of the story, including the Carlson transcripts, at AMERICAblog. The Greenpeace account of the events may be found here.

via Thomas

UPDATE: More on the story at Majikthise.

The Reduction of Iraqi Women’s Rights

Earlier this month, Jill wrote on the reduction of women’s rights in Iraq and generated a massive comment thread between those who believe that the only women we have to worry about are those who come from conservative families. Because all women will be controlled by their families. As someone who regularly blames the patriarchy*, this isn’t a particularly settling option.

NPR’s Morning Edition featured the largest Iraqi feminist group that is actively, dangerously working against the implementation of Shari’ah. This political position is enough to warrant death, but the spokeswoman for the group rightly contends that the threat of death is better than living as a “slave.” Do listen for more details on how the implementation of Shari’ah will affect women’s right from a more credible source than I.

In the meantime, Patricia at Whirled View notes how Americans are weakening women’s rights with the War on Terra:

[T]wo years after the people of Iraq were “liberated” from the dictator, women in Southern Iraq are being hounded by Shiite vice squads modeled after the religious sadists in post-revolution Iran and in Afghanistan under the Taliban. Even medically-indicated x-rays of females have become controversial!

More to be dreaded in the long run are efforts to deny women full equality under the constitution that is being written for a “free” and “democratic” Iraq. The crux for women is defining the role Islam is to be assigned in shaping legislation. Also critical is determining the extent to which women’s personal status will be governed by conservative interpretations of Muslim family law. We’re talking about marriage, divorce, child custody, inheritance here. We’re talking old fashioned, undiluted patriarchy masquerading as piety.

Patricia, an international affairs specialist, further explains why the bases of the new Constitution are particularly sticky. She details a precendence that was set during her initial entry into Foreign Service:

Read More…Read More…

Spreading “freedom” abroad — for men, that is

Gotta love it when the U.S. exports “freedom”:

A working draft of Iraq’s new constitution would cede a strong role to Islamic law and could sharply curb women’s rights, particularly in personal matters like divorce and family inheritance.

The document’s writers are also debating whether to drop or phase out a measure enshrined in the interim constitution, co-written last year by the Americans, requiring that women make up at least a quarter of the parliament.

The draft of a chapter of the new constitution obtained by The New York Times on Tuesday guarantees equal rights for women as long as those rights do not “violate Shariah,” or Koranic law.

Is anyone surprised?

Wilson The MacGuffin

Frank Rich states, correctly, that the issue is not Rove or Plame or Wilson but Iraq.

Follow the Uranium:

Once we were locked into the war, and no W.M.D.’s could be found, the original plot line was dropped with an alacrity that recalled the “Never mind!” with which Gilda Radner’s Emily Litella used to end her misinformed Weekend Update commentaries on “Saturday Night Live.” The administration began its dog-ate-my-homework cover-up, asserting that the various warning signs about the uranium claims were lost “in the bowels” of the bureaucracy or that it was all the C.I.A.’s fault or that it didn’t matter anyway, because there were new, retroactive rationales to justify the war. But the administration knows how guilty it is. That’s why it has so quickly trashed any insider who contradicts its story line about how we got to Iraq, starting with the former Treasury secretary Paul O’Neill and the former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke.

Next to White House courtiers of their rank, Mr. Wilson is at most a Rosencrantz or Guildenstern. The brief against the administration’s drumbeat for war would be just as damning if he’d never gone to Africa. But by overreacting in panic to his single Op-Ed piece of two years ago, the White House has opened a Pandora’s box it can’t slam shut. Seasoned audiences of presidential scandal know that there’s only one certainty ahead: the timing of a Karl Rove resignation. As always in this genre, the knight takes the fall at exactly that moment when it’s essential to protect the king.

The Women of Gitmo

There are countless reasons to be outraged about the abuses of detainees at American military prisons. But there is one abuse about which there can surely be no debate, even among the die-hard supporters of President Bush: the exploitation and debasement of women serving in the United States military. This practice must come to an immediate end, and the Pentagon must make it clear that such things will never be tolerated again.

Surely no one can approve turning an American soldier into a pseudo-lap-dancer or having another smear fake menstrual blood on an Arab man. These practices are as degrading to the women as they are to the prisoners. They violate American moral values – and they seem pointless…

Religious conservatives have made their presence felt in so many other parts of the Bush administration, but they have been strangely quiet about these practices. And where are the members of Congress who wring their hands over the issue of women in combat? It’s obvious that the Bush administration will never offer a real reckoning on the prisoner abuse, or that the Republican Party will demand one. But surely the dehumanizing of America’s military women is a nonpartisan issue.

Yes, it is nonpartisan: For the most part nobody cares.

Read the rest, and accompanying commentary from Roxanne.

Malkin (hearts) Discrimination

Michelle Malkin, esteemed author of “In Defense of Internment,” invites us to “Meet America’s Friend“: A pizza owner who refused to serve Germans or Frenchmen. Since when, I have to ask, is patriotism or supporting America about discriminating against others, who as individuals have done nothing anti-American? I wonder what Malkin’s reaction would be if liberal-owned restaurants here decided to refuse to serve white American males, since as a group they are most likely to have voted for George Bush.

Perhaps this Malkin post gets under my skin because of the long history of racism in America, which was tinged with stories just like this — restaurant owners refusing to serve people because of their membership in a particular group. But I don’t understand why this story has mobilized conservatives to try and raise money to support this discriminatory establishment. Aren’t there better causes out there?

As war continues, maternal mortality rises

Not surprising.

After the 2003 war that toppled Saddam Hussein, the number of women who gave birth at home shot up to about two-thirds. Of those, 80 percent had nobody with any formal training present at the birth. Far from lifesaving emergency care, many mothers died from preventable complications.

Today, nobody knows exactly how many mothers are dying in Iraq. Violence has prevented medical experts from measuring the maternal mortality rate since late 2003, when the number of Iraqi women who died from childbirth climbed to 370 per 100,000 – triple its 1990 rates and 31 times the US rate of 12. The UN Population Fund concluded that the war and its aftermath had made an old problem “suddenly become very much worse.”