Zoe's First Fatwa

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Zoe's First Fatwa

I'd like to declare a special Secular-Feminist Fatwa on any American who puts together a mealy-mouthed defense of the following notion-- that under the new Iraqi government women in Iraq might have less rights now than they did under Hussein and that's okay. (It's two fatwas if you happen to be a man.) Last weekend on Meet the Press Reuel Marc Gerecht, who is described as "a former Middle East specialist for the CIA," had this to say about the future of women's rights in Iraq.
Actually, I'm not terribly worried about this. I mean, one hopes that the Iraqis protect women's social rights as much as possible. It certainly seems clear that in protecting the political rights, there's no discussion of women not having the right to vote. I think it's important to remember that in the year 1900, for example, in the United States, it was a democracy then. In 1900, women did not have the right to vote. If Iraqis could develop a democracy that resembled America in the 1900s, I think we'd all be thrilled. I mean, women's social rights are not critical to the evolution of democracy. We hope they're there. I think they will be there. But I think we need to put this into perspective. [emphasis mine]
Hey, back when women were the property of men it worked for us when we were a fledgling democracy, so why not for Iraq? Pish-posh, no big deal.

I'm sorry, but that's totally insane. We attack a country, labeled the war itself "Operation Iraqi Freedom," but then afterwards the women have less rights than they did before and that's okay because women in America used to be disenfranchised too? I suppose it should be called "Operation Iraqi Freedom-- for Men Only"?

But it's a little more interesting than that. Who is this so-called expert? Funny they don't mention on the program that he's the Director of the Middle East Initiative at the Project for the New American Century and a resident fellow at the right-wing American Enterprise Institute. Odd, that. What kind of oversight is it for Meet the Press to invite someone on their show and not bother to let the audience know that he works for a particularly controversial and prominent right-wing, neo-con think tank? Seriously, WTF?

To make matters worse, this guy makes me actually agree with Andrew Sullivan, who seems to understand how daft this idea is.
Liberating Muslim women is critical to liberating the Middle East, which in turn is critical to protecting the West from more religious terror. We may not be able to achieve this all at once. But we can try where we can. Iraq is a rare case where we have real leverage for a short period of time. History will not forgive us if we pass this opportunity by.

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