The attack on Syria was the neocon’s way of asserting their position of dominance within the US government. It was a signal to the winner of next week’s election that the winner would have to deal with the neocon’s reality of foreign policy and not with any campaign promises, and that reality is there will be no reconciliation with the Syrian government ever and that US troops will not leave Iraq anytime soon. I disagree with fellow blogger Xymphora who seems to think Obama’s supposed imminent victory means a demise of neocon control over government, but I do agree with Xymp’s statement that ‘peace is the death of zionism’, hence why else would America attack a government that has shown a willingness to be at peace with its neighbors and America’s allies, unless that ally (Israel) doesn’t want peace. The excuse that the attack was against infiltrators into Iraq from Syria has also been thoroughly discounted.
A top US commander Thursday voiced optimism US troop levels could be cut substantially in western Iraq particularly after provincial elections in the former insurgent stronghold.
Marine Corps Major General John Kelly, who commands the 25,000 US troops in the west, said the tally of security incidents had fallen so low as to be “almost meaningless now.”
“So I would say that I’m very optimistic that we could start to reduce numbers,” he said.
In fact, one could view this attack as a shot across the bow of certain elements within even the military that talk of troop reductions and stability are not consistent with the program of instability and perpetual war that has fueled both the Israeli government and now our own.
There is the possibility that whoever was killed was an enemy to both Syria and the US and as such was a targeted assassination agreed upon by both parties. As with so much about Mid East occurrences that will never be known; however the message is that the US is in Iraq to stay, regardless of the Maliki government’s decision on the SOFA agreement that for the moment is dead. That reality has been foisted on the winner of Tuesday’s election whether he likes it or not.
The SOFA, status of force agreement, between the US and Iraq is in jeopardy of not being ratified by the Iraqi government, which has repeatedly asked US forces to leave Iraq, and as a result violence in that country has intensified despite the success of the “surge”. So in order to get the Iraqis to see the necessity of keeping US forces on their soil, the neocons have set about destabilizing Iraq’s neighbors. This latest violation of international law also allows the neocons who want to destabilize all Arab states makes it difficult for whoever becomes President to even talk to the Arabs who along with the rest of the world are outraged over this latest attack on Syrian territory.
It seems Sarah Palin is more than a maverick. Here’s an interesting quote from a McCain insider from CNN,
“She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone….She does not have any relationships of trust with any of us, her family or anyone else.
“Also, she is playing for her own future and sees herself as the next leader of the party. Remember: Divas trust only unto themselves, as they see themselves as the beginning and end of all wisdom.”
She doesn’t trust her family, well so much for family values and the first dude, and she sees herself as a major player in Republican party politics in the future? This woman has a huge ego. I’m sure McCain is kicking his own butt over the decision to have her as a running mate. Or perhaps Palin is not as subservient as Cindy McCain who can take being called a *cunt* in public and still stand by her man. Either way it appears Palin is not much liked by her partners associates and has decided to carve out her own niche in the Party, beyond Alaska. The latter would be unfortunate for her to pursue, since coming down to the lower 48 Palin has more often than not appeared like a moose in the headlights than as someone enlightened.
More than one person has said the choice of Sarah Palin as a vice presidential candidate was enough to convince them not to vote the Republican ticket. That fact has been emphasized by a Washington Post article which states, ‘Perceptions of Palin grow increasingly negative’.
In polling conducted Wednesday and Thursday evenings, after the disclosure that the Republican National Committee used political funds to help Palin assemble a wardrobe for the campaign, 51 percent said they have a negative impression of her. Fewer, 46 percent, said they have a favorable view. That marks a stark turnaround from early September, when 59 percent of likely voters held positive opinions.
The declines in Palin’s ratings have been even more substantial among the very voters Republicans aimed to woo. The percentage of white women viewing her favorably dropped 21 points since early September; among independent women, it fell 24 points.
It was an insult to the electorate for McCain to choose Palin. It was a sexist choice; he wanted someone who looked photogenic next to him, physically attractive even if she had nothing intellectually to offer. However saying that you are voting for a pair of legs in a skirt is not the politically correct thing to say. Realizing they are being played the people are voicing their disapproval.
In reality Palin is her own worse foe, or enemy. Public gaff after the next seems to follow her everywhere she goes, from the trooper gate scandal to being ill prepared for media interviews to revelations that the RNC has spent money for clothes she claims were off the rack but are really tailor made, etc. she is dogged by missteps and inaccuracies that are too easily documented.
More and more details are emerging about Ashley Todd and her role in the McCain campaign and the campaign’s role in dissemenating the false story about her being attacked. This unfortunate young woman was used by elements in THE REPUBLICAN PARTY who are heartless and deceitful to the brim and didn’t mind destroying her personal integrity or taking down America in their quest for power. How else do you explain how this young woman was used by McCain Pennsylvania campaign communications director Peter Feldman who was out hyping details of her story before they were even known by any but the victim and the police?
Long before any facts about the Ashley Todd case had been established, McCain’s Pennsylvania campaign communications director told reporters the alleged attacker had told the woman, “You’re with the McCain campaign? I’m going to teach you a lesson.”
This notion that Todd was a campaign volunteer has also been as quickly eliminated. In an effort to distance themselves from her, College Republican National Committee’s Executive Director Ethan Eilon said, “We have terminated her effective today. Obviously, we had know(sic) idea she was making this story up.” There might be some truth to that because as most campaigns do, organizations are formed that are interconnected but at the same time independent enough in order to guarantee plausible deniability, but first news reports claim Todd was working on the Pennsylvania campaign’s as a phone operator volunteer which probably put her in some sort of contact with Feldman, the communication’s director.
In that capacity and as a “volunteer” she was not working for the CRNC, which was actually paying her to work for them at some point in the campaign. She was on loan as it were to the campaign. I assert that Feldman sexually intimidated and harassed this young woman into making up this story for obvious political reasons. Not being able to say how she received her injuries is significant, especially the black eye, and shows she’s still in denial, protecting someone (the person who battered her perhaps) or hiding something about this strange story. Perhaps it was Feldman’s attempt to give meaning to a relationship he fully manipulated in some perverse way for his candidate, McCain.
Unfortunately, the media should pursue this story to see just how far it reaches into the McCain campaign, but it won’t, and to be fair, doing so would not be in the best interest of this young woman’s mental health. However, it would expose the depths at which the “system” has gone to exacerbate the adversarial aspects of political campaigning to the detriment of the “political process”. At the very least, however, Feldman should join Ashley Todd in jail for workplace harassment and John McCain should insist on no less. Don’t expect that to happen.
Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes … known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.… No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.
— James Madison, Political Observations, 1795
That’s not the kind of news John McCain wants to hear so close to the elections, but it’s what intelligence agencies are reporting in their monitoring of the airwaves. We’ve been told how important it is to have super secret sensitive monitoring of all forms of communications and the best money can buy is saying that Al-Qaeda wants John McCain to win the presidential elections. That’s not news however, for the same can be said for the 2004 elections when bin laden himself used the old disinformation ploy to claim support for John Kerry’s race against Bush while secretly hoping for Bush to win.
Why would terrorists want their ardent enemies to win elections in order to continue the fight against them? Quite simply the US is paying a greater price fighting terrorism than they are in securing American interests against terrorism, and especially in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. As for the former, it was never a threat against American interests nor those of its allies, and America knew that going into the war. What that war has done is destabilize an oil producing country and its neighbors, caused a refugee problem that numbers in the hundreds of thousands, if not more, and presented America with the specter of war with another country, Iran. Afghanistan, a perpetually poor country which had the misfortune of once hosting bin laden now looms large as a staging ground for incursions and another possible war in another Muslim country, Pakistan. In both conflicts we are no closer to getting bin laden, if you think that was ever our goal, and yet we’ve alienated millions of Muslims telling them in the words of Thomas Friedman to ‘suck on this’. It would appear to me therefore that Thomas Friedman and bin laden have much more in common than bin laden and the Muslim masses he purports to represent; neither one of them is interested in seeing the peaceful coexistence of Muslims with the West because in post cold war international relations there would be no one to justify the tremendous defense spending currently taking place in world governments, and especially ours. The current budget for defense is twice what it was in 2000 when Bush took office and with fighting taking place on two fronts, the US military will need to be rebuilt at a tremendous expense, no matter who wins the November elections.
The idea that bin laden is an instrument for US foreign policy has traction when one considers the large amounts of money spent to “fight” him and the members of his group, but what is happening on an even larger scale is the fight the US is waging with Muslim societies world wide. Under the leadership of the neoconservative cabal wing of the Republican Party, Islamofascism has taken expression and become the enemy of our Nation. It is defined as any body of Muslims who are not ok with the notion that the US can go anywhere, break any law and do anything to fight its perceived enemies and in the process make more and new enemies. It is a policy of perpetual confrontation which only benefits a large military complex that needs conflict on which to survive, which gets us back again to Osama bin laden who can only survive as a “hero” for Muslims if there is conflict between them and who “he” defines as their enemy, the US. What’s interesting to me is we have more than enough people who are willing to whet the appetite of both parties, the neocons of Washington, and al-Qaeda of some cave in the Hindu-Kush mountain range somewhere. Perhaps it’s time to break this cycle.
It had to happen sooner or later. Palin has put her foot in her mouth again in a nationally televised interview with NBC’s Brian Williams. Not even John McCain, sitting at her side, could help her get out of the mess she put herself in, refusing to call some people who want to harm innocent Americans terrorists, while claiming the likes of Bill Ayers, and of course by extension Obama, qualify for the term. Check it out here.
But isn’t that what terrorists are? People who inflict death and destruction against “innocent people”? It just so happens that those who Palin was hesitatnt to give that name to, the people she was referring to were those who oppose abortion! (Eric Rudolph would probably go on air to endorse the McCain/Palin ticket with the news of that proclamation. ) It’s not enough that Palin has problems back home in Alaska with the troopergate scandal,(Republicans regret the day they gave Clinton such a hard time with his own trooper problems), now she has to go and minimize or redefine terrorism so that her political cause which sometimes has expressed itself violently in the Homeland escapes that designation. One can only wonder how long will it take for Palin to deny she ever said that? Judging by her past gaffs, it won’t be long.
THE REPUBLICAN PARTY is so steeped in political hypocrisy that they don’t know right from wrong, up from down. In an effort not to offend their base, they dance all around terms like terrorism,domestic terrorism when talking about abortion, but use the same terms vigorously and glibly when talking about their opponents. Keith Olbermann does a pretty good job of disarming the GOP’s terrorist bomb with this piece.
Feeling awfully confident Joe McCain, not Joe the plumber, thought he was able to take public service a little too far and dumped on a 911 operator in the DC area of Virginia. Seems Joe was impatient with the flow of traffic and wanted to inappropriately use public servants to vent his frustration. Kudos to the 911 people who gave just as good as Joe tried to dish out!
Joe is stopping all campaigning on behalf of his brother. It’s not that there isn’t enough bad news surrounding the campaign, Palin’s $150,000 tailor made wardrobe, the Ashley Todd story, and mass GOP defections to Obama; Joe’s story really offered a glimpse into how he and by extension his brother view power and their relation to it. I think this is the best announcement coming out of the McCain campaign. I wish there were more like it.
There are plenty of people willing to “front” for THE REPUBLICAN PARTY in its fight against the Obama campaign, and none more diligently than the pages of the Drudge Report. They are still running, as I type this, a story about a McCain volunteer who was robbed and then assaulted after it was discovered she was a John McCain supporter. The woman’s story is apparently so fishy that even those on the right of Drudge don’t support it.
Police planned to administer a polygraph test to Ashley Todd, 20, because her statements about the attack conflict with evidence from the Citizens Bank ATM where she claims the incident occurred, police said.
When it’s debunked, that story of it being a hoax won’t grace the pages of PARTY surrogates like Drudge who will go on to other sleaze. The image below also appeared on a DrudgeReport page with the caption below: Obama +7.3 There is much more THE REPUBLICAN PARTY has up its sleeve. The late surge of Republican supporters for Jesse Helms who aired a racially charged commercial in his race against African-American Harvey Gantt was produced by some of the same people who have played a part in Party politics up to this point! The art of subliminal advertising in an election as historic as this will be used to the maximum degree to give the advantage to McCain.
But let’s not forget that today’s REPUBLICAN PARTY doesn’t always feel the need to be so subtle in their message. Colin Powell’s endorsement of Obama has already been attributed to race by many on the Right. Limbaugh suggests Powell is an “uncle Tom” and should give back his four stars to Ronald Reagan and/or George H.W. Bush because they weren’t black. But the excuse that Powell’s endorsement is about race ignores the fact that a lot of other people are endorsing Obama that have nothing at all to do with race but with the direction they perceive their candidate is going to take the country. Kenneth Adelman, Chris Buckley, Scott McClellan, former Republican governor of Massachusetts William Weld all come to mind. Would Limbaugh et.co say that black supporters of McCain back him because he’s white? The idiocy of THE PARTY’S surrogates and THE PARTY itself is apparent. One should expect much more of the same thing in the days remaining.
UPDATE ON THE ASHLEY TODD STORY
It appears her story is already falling apart and all that remains is why she came up with such a really big lie. It’s not unusual for people to use racism to cover their personal faults. The man who shot his wife in Boston and blamed it on a non-existent black thug or the teenager who claimed she was kidnapped and raped by white men in upstate New York, or the woman who drowned her children in South Carolina and claimed they were hijacked by a black bandit said these things when elections weren’t at stake. So the fault for why this was tied to an election lies at the feet of a corporate media that likes to sensationalize, and to the political hacks who want to advance their candidate at the expense of the welfare of the society. Ms. Todd has “issues” and I hope she gets them resolved, but we as a Nation have the same issues that need fixing and unless we get help for them, we’re as likely to continue down the same road of destructive behavior as this young woman.
I really was not that much of a fan of Colin Powell, but I might change my mind after his blistering endorsement of Obama where he scorched today’s REPUBLICAN PARTY, taking no prisoners. He said what Obama should have said, and what I have been hollering for him to say ever since the RACIST RIGHT has made being a Muslim an issue. In case you missed it, this is what Powell said:
I wish more people would stand up to this right wing cabal that has played every racist card in their deck to keep Americans off balance and in the dark while they rob the country blind of its money and its wealth of freedom and liberty. I hope Powell’s declaration in support of Obama will start a trend long missing in the political arena where people are confronted when they make racist, insane accusations against other Americans because of their dislike or hatred of them. It’s clear we still have a tendency to do that here and not talking about it has only made it worse in the last eight years. Powell said some things that needed to be said and I take my hat off to him. Finally, some one with balls! In fact, in my opinion, more balls than the man he’s endorsing, but at this stage in his life, Powell has nothing to lose and such a proclamation is appropriate for him to make. Surely he’ll receive a lot of political fall out for it, but why should he or any of us care? There’s more at stake than the professional career of someone who’s on the downswing of that career. Powell’s imagery made us all confront our prejudices, that though we may have, should never get in the way of our rights and freedoms as citizens of this great country. Oh, and it’s more than appropriate to show you the mother who made Colin Powell proud to be American….and me too.
At first glance, the headline ‘When Settlers Strike, Palestinians Point and Shoot back’ had a hopeful ring about it, but this is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict we are talking about here and for the moment there’s nothing hopeful about that.
Video cameras like hers have emerged as a new nonviolent weapon for West Bank Palestinians – who face a rising number of attacks at the hands of settlers anxious over their fate in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. But the Palestinian video footage often ends up on Israeli TV, thus becoming a tool for both deterrence and justice.
“We’re trying to use the cameras to reduce the level of violence as a whole. When settlers see the camera, we hope that they will behave less violently,” says Sarit Michaeli, the spokeswoman for Btselem.
“We also want to use the footage to provide to the Israeli media to raise awareness of the problems and to pressure the law enforcement bodies to do their job.”
Btselem has given out 150 cameras as part of its Shooting Back program that started slowly last year and is beginning to show results. Already, footage shot by Palestinians has been used in at least 20 cases involving settler violence.
In any other society I would think that non-violent resistance could make a dent in the morality of the greater society, but that doesn’t seem to work in this conflagration, because all too often camera men and women are shot and their images so clouded in claim and counter claim minutae the impact of the captured images is lost. Fadel Shana’s death was caught by his own camera and there was no mistaking who murdered him, but of course Shana’s offense was he was carrying a “camera” the IDF confused for some sort of weapon that he should not have been pointing at a tank that could more clearly see him through its “camera” than he it through his, and so deserved to die. Of course the people responsible for his murder were let off without even a reprimand because his execution was “sound“.
Amnesty remains extremely concerned that Israeli military personnel continue to operate unaccountably in Gaza. In April this year, for example, a Reuters cameraman – Fadel Shana – was killed by an Israeli tank shell in Gaza despite clearly displaying ‘TV-Press’ on his flak jacket and nearby vehicle.
Two Palestinian children – Ahmad Farajallah and Ghassan Khaled Abu ‘Ataiwi – were also killed in the attack that killed Shana and several other people were also injured. Shana and the two children were killed by a ‘flechette’ shell containing up to 5,000 5cm-long steel darts (or flechettes) that spread over an area as big as a football pitch when fired. These munitions are notoriously imprecise and should never be used in areas populated with civilians. In this case the Israeli army later wrote to Reuters saying it had investigated the incident saying the decision to attack the journalist was ‘sound’.
So far this year more than 420 Palestinians (including some 80 children) have been killed by Israeli forces, and 30 Israelis killed by Palestinian groups. Most of these deaths (some 385) occurred in Gaza. Amnesty International remains concerned at a widespread failure to bring people to justice for unlawful killings.
So, with this as background, the introduction of more video “vigilantes” as they most probably will be called, or worse, “video terrorists” is being heralded as a non-violent response to settler aggression?
“We’re trying to use the cameras to reduce the level of violence as a whole. When settlers see the camera, we hope that they will behave less violently,” says Sarit Michaeli, the spokeswoman for Btselem.
When has that happened in the history of this conflict?? Is that a duh moment or what? For perspective one only need to ask Salam Amira whose story we highlighted earlier this year.
“Since my video was shown, the soldiers shoot at our house all the time,” she said. The shattered and cracked windows at the front of the building confirm her story. “When we leave the windows open, they fire tear gas inside too.”
Doesn’t seem like her possessing a camera and filming the shooting of a neighbor’s ‘big toe’ did either the neighbor or her any good. You can see what she filmed here.
I’m sure the folks passing out the cameras are aware of all this, so why do they insist on this form of protest? I can only think they might be saying to themselves if enough images of Israeli oppression are shown to enough people it will have a positive influence on the “peace process”, but in fact, Israelis are not like Americans of the 50s and sixties. They are much more steeped in the dehumanization of their opponent, the Palestinian, and far more willing to accept the inhumane treatment he receives at their hand wihtout any conscious about it more so than his American counterpart. It’s that difference which makes both countries so special; no doubt the organizers of this “event” want to influence Israeli as well as American public opinion, but American opinion is controlled by a corporate media which is beholden to American politicians heavily lobbied by special interests which have reduced the atrocities of the aggressor and turned them into the aggression of the victim. It’s gonna’ take more than cameras to change that.
Politics do make strange bedfellows and especially in Iraq. Try to keep up. Christians in Iraq are blaming the Iraqi government and in particular their inability to protect them from continued violence in Iraq for the exodus of Christians from Mosul. I thought the surge was working, but evidently not for Iraqi Christians. What I found very interesting was that Shi’ite Muslims are coming to the aid of their fellow Iraqi Christians.
Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, who is believed to be in Iran, sent some of his most senior aides from the holy Shiite city of Najaf to Baghdad to meet with church leaders in an expression of solidarity…..
One of Mr. Sadr’s representatives at the meeting, Sheik Muhanned al-Gharrawi, said that he had just spoken to Mr. Sadr by telephone and that he was instructed to convey a message from his leader: “We will not hesitate to turn into human shields for our Christian brothers if need be.”
Another Shiite cleric, Hazem al-Araji, said that some of the families that had fled Mosul to predominantly Christian villages in the Nineveh Plain, northeast of the city, sought the protection of his movement.
“We told them that we cannot provide military help but that we will exert pressure on the government,” Mr. Araji said.
He added that his movement would send trucks with food, mattresses and blankets to aid displaced families.
The Christian military might of the US isn’t helping Iraqi Christians, but Shiite Iraqi muslims are?
The Four Tops lead singer passed away Friday, 17 October.
The abyss into which the Republican Party has descended has been filled with the vitriol and hatred that only 8 years of neoconism has brought this country, and it’s not a pretty sight. It’s probably safe to say THE REPUBLICAN PARTY is no longer one which concerns itself with limited government domestically, fiscally and internationally, but rather it has become a hate-mongering party which draws battle lines based on race, religion and it’s own perverted sense of patriotism. This is what fuels the rallies of both McCain, and Palin and lurches this country backwards so many decades ago. If I weren’t so optimistic I would think we’re on the verge of a civil war.
“Obama held one of the first meetings of his political career in Bill Ayers’s living room, and they’ve worked together on various projects in Chicago. These are the same guys who think that patriotism is paying higher taxes — remember that’s what Joe Biden had said. I am just so fearful that this is not a man who sees America the way you and I see America, as the greatest force for good in the world. I’m afraid this is someone who sees America as ‘imperfect enough’ to work with a former domestic terrorist who had targeted his own country.”
Notice the “fear” this young, Christian woman feels at the thought of the menacing Obama? Such imagery is meant to deflect the intense criticism already coming her way from the party faithful. Peggy Noonan laments,
Her supporters accuse her critics of snobbery: Maybe she’s not a big “egghead” but she has brilliant instincts and inner toughness. But what instincts? “I’m Joe Six-Pack”? She does not speak seriously but attempts to excite sensation—”palling around with terrorists.” If the Ayers case is a serious issue, treat it seriously. She is not as thoughtful or persuasive as Joe the Plumber…. In the past two weeks she has spent her time throwing out tinny lines to crowds she doesn’t, really, understand….. She could reinspire and reinspirit; she chooses merely to excite. She doesn’t seem to understand the implications of her own thoughts.
What Noonan doesn’t understand is Palin is not meant to think for herself, or make others think, Palin is a painter who draws a picture, a self-portrait as it were, of all that America has come to fear. She is the bulwark rallying the crowds to stand against the hordes of whatever image they fear the most, be it terrorism, black people, militancy, urbanization, whatever. Why else do crowds come away from her rallies with the sentiments expressed by people in this video:
This last week has been really fun to watch with so much going on. I’m sure other bloggers have written about the shenanigans but here are my two cents concerning the political fiasco call the presidential campaign. The McCain campaign tried to capitalize on “Joe the Plumber” until it was learned he was closely related to the Keating scandal which McCain played a major role.
Turns out that Joe Wurzelbacher from the Toledo event is a close relative of Robert Wurzelbacher of Milford, Ohio. Who’s Robert Wurzelbacher? Only Charles Keating’s son-in-law and the former senior vice president of American Continental, the parent company of the infamous Lincoln Savings and Loan. The now retired elder Wurzelbacher is also a major contributor to Republican causes giving well over $10,000 in the last few years.
Opps! You have to ask yourself what was the Obama campain thinking when they let their candidate get sandbagged by an obvious political hack. Why was Obama walking through this guy’s neighborhood? Dumb and dumber, I suppose.
William Buckley’s son Chris has come out endorsing Obama and has had to quit his post as a contributing writer on the National Review as a result. Conservatives, or rather the truest party loyalists among them, those I consider brain dead and members of THE REPUBLICAN PARTY can’t stand the idea that a born and raised conservative doesn’t see anything conservative about their present party. They forget, those on the National Review, how their publication’s founder distanced himself from Bush and his foray into Iraq, pretty much declaring himself a heretic from his own magazine and the modern day conservative right neocon cabal.
“With the benefit of minute hindsight, Saddam Hussein wasn’t the kind of extra-territorial menace that was assumed by the administration one year ago. If I knew then what I know now about what kind of situation we would be in, I would have opposed the war.”
The conservative right has also distanced itself from Palin’s choice as the vice presidential nominee.
But we have seen Mrs. Palin on the national stage for seven weeks now, and there is little sign that she has the tools, the equipment, the knowledge or the philosophical grounding one hopes for, and expects, in a holder of high office. She is a person of great ambition, but the question remains: What is the purpose of the ambition? She wants to rise, but what for?
In the end the Palin candidacy is a symptom and expression of a new vulgarization in American politics. It’s no good, not for conservatism and not for the country. And yes, it is a mark against John McCain, against his judgment and idealism.
to read someone write about Islam and not be apologetic, and especially when it is a woman! My wildest dream is that this woman be appointed to a cabinet level position in an Obama administration. My typing that probably insures his defeat among this widely hysteric Islamophobic electorate, but I don’t care and I don’t think the author of this piece does either, so here goes. (hat tip to Taalib)
Spare Me the Sermon On Muslim Women By Mohja Kahf
Crimson chiffon, silver lamé or green silk: Which scarf to wear today? My veil collection is 64 scarves and growing. The scarves hang four or five to a row on a rack in my closet, and elation fills me when I open the door to this beautiful array. Last week, I chose a particularly nice scarf to slip on for the Eid al-Fitr festivities marking the end of the month of Ramadan.
It irks me that I even have to say this: Being a Muslim woman is a joyful thing.
My first neighbor in Arkansas borrowed my Quran and returned it, saying, “I’m glad I’m not a Muslim woman.” Excuse me, but a woman with Saint Paul in her religious heritage has no place feeling superior to a Muslim woman, as far as woman-affirming principles are concerned. Maybe no worse, if I listen to Christian feminists, but certainly no better.
Blessings abound for me as a Muslim woman: The freshness of ablution is mine, and the daily meditation zone of five prayers that involve graceful, yoga-like movements, performed in prayer attire. Prayer scarves are a chapter in themselves, cool and comforting as bedsheets. They lie folded in the velveteen prayer rug when not in use: two lightweight muslin pieces, the long drapey headcover and the roomy gathered skirt. I fling open the top piece, and it billows like summer laundry, a lace-edged meadow. I slip into the bottom piece to cover my legs for prayer time because I am wearing shorts around the house today.
These create a tent of tranquility. The serene spirit sent from God is called by a feminine name, “sakinah,” in the Quran, and I understand why some Muslim women like to wear their prayer clothes for more than prayer, to take that sakinah into the world with them. I, too, wear a (smaller) version of the veil when I go out. What a loss it would be for me not to have in my life this alternating structure, of covering outdoors and uncovering indoors. I take pleasure in preparing a clean, folded set for a houseguest, the way home-decor mavens lay elegant plump towels around a bathroom to give it a relaxing feel.
Tassled turquoise cotton and flowered peach crepe flutter as I pull out a black-and-ivory striped headscarf for the day. When I was 22 and balked at buying a $30 paisley scarf, my best friend told me, “I never scrimp on scarves. If people are going to make a big deal of it, it may as well look good.”
I embraced that principle, too, even when I was a scratch-poor graduate student. Today I sort my scarves, always looking to replace the frayed ones and to find missing colors, my collection shrinking and expanding, dynamic, bright: The blue-and-yellow daisy print is good with jeans, the incandescent purple voile for a night on the town, the gray houndstooth solidly professional, the white chambray anytime.
As beautiful as veils are, they are not the best part of being a Muslim woman — and many Muslim women in Islamic countries don’t veil. The central blessing of Islam to women is that it affirms their spiritual equality with men, a principle stated over and over in the Quran, on a plane believers hold to be untouched by the social or legalistic “women in Islam” concerns raised by other parts of the Scripture, in verses parsed endlessly by patriarchal interpreters as well as Muslim feminists and used by Islamophobes to “prove” Islam’s sexism. This is how most believing Muslim women experience God: as the Friend who is beyond gender, not as the Father, not as the Son, not inhabiting a male form, or any form.
And the reasons for being a joyful Muslim woman go beyond the spiritual. Marriage is a contract in Islam, not a sacrament. The prenup is not some new invention; it’s the standard Muslim format. I can put whatever I want in it, but Muslims never get credit for that. Or for having mahr, the bridegift that goes from the man to the woman — not to her family, but to her, for her own private use. A mahr has to have significant value — a year’s salary, say. And if patriarchal customs have overridden Islam and whittled away this blessing in many Muslim locales, it’s still there, available, in the law. Hey, I got mine (cash, partly deferred because my husband was broke when we married; like a loan to him, owed to me whenever I want to claim it) — and I was married in Saudi Arabia, a country whose personal-status laws are drawn from the most conservative end of the Muslim spectrum.
I had to sign my name indicating my consent, or the marriage contract would not have been valid under Saudi Islamic law. And, of course, I chose whom to marry. Every Muslim girl in the conservative circle of my youth chose her husband. We just did it our way, a conservative Muslim way, and we did it without this nonsensical Western custom of teenage dating. My friends Salma and Magda chose at 16 and 17: Salma to marry boy-next-door Muhammad, with whom she grew up, and Magda to marry a doctor 10 years her senior who came courting from half a world away. Both sisters have careers, one as a counselor, one as a school principal, and both are still vibrantly married and vibrantly Muslim, their kids now in college.
I held out until I was 18, making my parents beat back suitors at the door until I was good and ready. And here I am, still married to the guy I finally let in the door, 22 years (some of them not even dysfunctional) later. My cousin, on the other hand, broke off a marriage she contracted (but did not consummate) at 16 and chose another man. Another childhood friend, Zeynab, chose four times and is looking for Mr. Fifth. Her serial monogamy is nothing new or radical; she didn’t pick up the idea from reading Cosmo or from the “liberating” influence of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. It’s simply what a lot of women in early Muslim history did, in 7th- and 8th-century Arabia.
And would you guess that we’ve also been freer to divorce and remarry than Christian women have been for most of history? In medieval times, when Christian authorities were against divorce and remarriage, this was seen as another Islamic abomination. Now that divorce and remarriage are popular in the West, Muslims don’t get credit for having had that flexibility all along. We just can’t win with the Muslim-haters.
Here’s another one: Medieval Christianity excoriated Islam for being orgiastic, which seems to mean that Muslims didn’t lay a guilt trip on hot sex (at least within what were deemed licit relationships). Now that hot sex is all the rage in the post-sexual revolution West, you’d think Muslims would get some credit for the pro-sex attitude of Islam — but no. The older stereotype has been turned on its head, and in the new one, we’re the prudes. Listen, we’re the only monotheistic faith I know with an actual legal rule that the wife has a right to orgasm.
Of course, I’m still putting in my time struggling for a more woman-affirming interpretation of Islam and in criticizing Muslim misogyny (which at times is almost as bad as American misogyny), but let me take a moment to celebrate some of the good stuff. Under Islamic law, custody of minor children always goes first to the mother. The Quran doesn’t blame Eve. Literacy for women is highly encouraged by the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad. Breast-feeding is a woman’s choice and a means for her to create family ties independent of male lineage, as nursing creates legally recognized family relationships under Islamic law. Rapists are punishable by death in Islamic law (and yes, an atavistic part of me applauds that death penalty), which they certainly are not in any Western legal code. Birth control allowed in Islamic law? Check. Masturbation? Let’s just say former surgeon general Joycelyn Elders’s permissive stance on that practice is not unknown among classical and modern Muslim jurists. Abortion? Again, allowances exist — even Muslims seem not to remember that.
It’s easy to forget that Muslims are not inherently more sexist than folks in other religions. Muslim societies may lag behind on some issues that women in certain economically advanced, non-Muslim societies have resolved after much effort, but on other issues, Muslim women’s options run about the same as those of women all over the world. And in some areas of life, Muslim women are better equipped by their faith tradition for autonomy and dignity.
There are “givens” that I take for granted as a Muslim woman that women of other faiths had to struggle to gain. For example, it took European and American women centuries to catch up to Islamic law on a woman’s fully equal right to own property. And it’s not an airy abstraction; it’s a right Muslim women have practiced, even in Saudi Arabia, where women own businesses, donate land for schools and endow trusts, just as they did in 14th-century Egypt, 9th-century Iraq and anywhere else Islamic law has been in effect.
Khadija was the boss of her husband, our beloved Prophet Muhammad, hiring him during her fourth widowhood to run caravans for her successful business; he caught her eye, and she proposed marriage to him. Fatima is the revered mother figure of Shiite Islam, our lady of compassion, possessed of a rich emotional trove for us. Her daughter Zainab is the classic figure of high moral protest, the Muslim Antigone, shaking her fist at the corrupt caliph who killed her brother, her tomb a shrine of comfort for millions of the pious. Saints, queens, poets, scribes and scholars adorn the history of Muslim womanhood.
In modern times, Muslim women have been heads of state five times in Muslim-majority countries, elected democratically by popular vote (in Bangladesh twice and also in Turkey, Indonesia and Pakistan). And I’m not saying that a woman president is necessarily a women’s president, but how many times has a woman been president of the United States?
Yet even all that gorgeous history pales when I open my closet door for the evening’s pick: teal georgette, pink-and-beige plaid, creamy fringed wool or ice-blue organza? God, why would anyone assume I would want to give up such beauty? I love being a Muslim woman. And I’m always looking for my next great polka-dot scarf.
Some things are better left alone. I post this to show how paranoid we have become as a Nation. In the good old days before there was talk of giving up your freedom to fight a war, the response to this bit of news would be simply, ‘don’t buy it’.