Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Women are the issue?


I am impressed. Very well written, provoking and optimistic with appropiate caveats.

I urge you to read the whole thing. Reuel Marc Gerecht has written a masterpiece.

I've excerpted the following, because I think those who claim to lead "Feminism" in the West have been, at best, silent about the subjugation of their Muslim sisters in favor of their privileged objectives. The Other Club has commented here, here, here, here, and here on feminisim and Islam. The derision is directed at Islamofascists and American Feminists, because those two groups share a common enemy - women in Islamofascist society.

Here is the Feminist battleground, if they were serious, emphasis mine.
Before the Bush administration, Washington usually gave unquestioning support to dictatorships in the region. And there is the little fact, always near the surface in the Muslim world but often ignored or forgotten in the United States, of nearly 1,400 years of always-competitive, often intimately antagonistic and violent, history between Christendom and Islam. There is Israel, which even the most liberal and moderate Muslims often acutely dislike. (The Jewish state is, after all, an existential insult to both Arab nationalism and Islamic pride, even for Arab Muslims who view Arab nationalism as a cultural catastrophe and view the faith as irrelevant to their lives.) And there is the very tricky issue of women, which often animates progressive, traditional, and fundamentalist conversations.

America is seen by all as a force supporting change in the dynamics between Muslim men and women. Touching the well-ordered, paternalistic home, which Muslim men, poor or rich, have always seen as a bedrock of their identity, is unavoidably convulsive. There is no way to gauge how many recruits fundamentalists have made on the women's issue since the Muslim Brotherhood formed in 1928. It's a decent bet that it has been a more intimate and effective message than the fraternal appeals after 1948 to eject the Jews from Israel.

American foreign policy has long been in the odd position of trying to assuage Muslim anger at Israel by advancing the peace process even though a sober analysis should have told Washington's diplomats that the fundamentalist set--the young men who are most susceptible to making the leap to suicidal holy war--did not see this process as progress. (The victory of Hamas in the Palestinian elections has perhaps made evident what should have been obvious for years. But the sclerotic peace-process establishment in Washington, second in influence only to the transatlanticists, may not see what Hamas has tried to write as pellucidly as possible.)

And Washington has consistently advanced, especially in the Bush administration after 9/11, the women's agenda throughout the region, another sure-fire way of angering the young men who are most likely to transmute into jihadists. American foreign policy should never be tailored to appease the anger of Muslim men--though, if we are to be honest, this is in part what we've been trying to do in the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation and in much of our Muslim-oriented public-diplomacy.

What is striking is that Washington has been doing the opposite of what it intends and doesn't know it. Americans have acted, at least on the issues of Israel and women's rights, as if the Muslim world had a liberal silent majority waiting to rise up and embrace these issues as we do. In all likelihood, this isn't so. Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani of the holy city of Najaf in Iraq, who has repeatedly saved us from potential disaster in Mesopotamia, wrote numerous fatwas after the fall of Saddam Hussein on the proper comportment and dress for female believers. In Western eyes, his conclusions would hardly be called liberal--yet his commitment to democracy in Iraq is real. (Concerning the cartoons, Sistani also strongly condemned the "misguided and oppressive" elements of the Muslim community whose actions "projected a distorted and dark image of the faith of justice, love, and brotherhood." Though no fan of the caricatures, Sistani is giving a slap to Tehran and its agents in Iraq.)

...This is all about internal Muslim evolution, about coming to terms with the centuries-long absorption of both good and bad Western ideas. It has absolutely nothing to do with whether the Israeli-Palestinian peace process can somehow soon resume. When al Qaeda's princes--bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi--rail against the intrusion of Western democracy into the Muslim world, they know what they are talking about. If it succeeds, democracy will eventually kill them off. It will pull fundamentalist believers--the pool that bin Ladenism must draw from to survive--into the great ethical and spiritual debates that can best happen when free people fight it out in elections. Only Muslims--only fundamentalist Muslims--have the power to kill off bin Ladenism. Historically, there is no reason to believe this will happen under the dictatorships that gave birth to Islamic extremism in the first place.

Like Christendom before it, the Muslim Middle East will have to work out its relation to modernity. The faster democracy arrives, the sooner the debates about God and man can begin in earnest. It will probably be for both Muslims and Westerners a nerve-racking experience. But we have no choice, since continuing autocracy will only make the militants' message stronger and judgment day, as in Iran, a possibly bloody revolutionary event. The electoral victory of Hamas should not give us pause. It should give us hope and encourage us to push for real elections where our national interest stands to gain the most--in Egypt and Iran. We should also not neglect to defend vigorously Christian, Muslim, or Jewish satirists, be they clever, banal, or ugly, wherever they may be found. Both elections and satire are basic to the evolution of the Muslim world.

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