[saymaListserv] The Equality Testimony as a better way to end terrorism

free polazzo freepolazzo at comcast.net
Fri Jul 30 08:42:16 JEST 2004

Dear Friends,

Barbara Ehrenreich describes, in an editorial column in today's NY 
Times,  how to fight terrorism without using the military.   Bring equal 
rights to women in countries that deny them to follow the Light as they see 

A great idea who's time is way past due!

Will the Patriarchy listen?   Isn't our Testimony on Equality one of the 
key paths to peace?

If you agree, let's encourage both political parties to walk their talk 
(Testimony on Integrity) and come out for true equal rights for women, 



The New Macho: Feminism


The Dems couldn't be more butch if they took to wearing codpieces. Every 
daily convention theme contains the words "strength" or "strong," and even 
Hillary has been relegated to the role of wife. The idea, according to the 
pundits, is that with more than half of the voters still favoring Bush as 
the guy to beat bin Laden, Kerry needs to show that he's macho enough to 
whup the terrorists. Of course, everyone knows that the macho approach is 
notably less effective than pixie dust - otherwise, we wouldn't be holding 
our political conventions under total lockdowns.

Well, I've been reading bin Ladin - Carmen, that is, not her brother-in-law 
Osama (she spells the last name with an "i") - and I'd like to present a 
brand-new approach to terrorism, one that turns out to be a lot more 
consistent with traditional Democratic values. First, let's stop calling 
the enemy "terrorism," which is like saying we're fighting "bombings." 
Terrorism is only a method; the enemy is an extremist Islamic insurgency 
whose appeal lies in its claim to represent the Muslim masses against a 
bullying superpower.

But as Carmen bin Ladin urgently reminds us in "Inside the Kingdom," one 
glaring moral flaw in this insurgency, quite apart from its methods, is 
that it aims to push one-half of those masses down to a status only 
slightly above that of domestic animals. While Osama was getting pumped up 
for jihad, Carmen was getting up her nerve to walk across the street in a 
residential neighborhood in Jeddah - fully veiled but unescorted by a male, 
something that is illegal for a woman in Saudi Arabia. Eventually she left 
the kingdom and got a divorce because she didn't want her daughters to grow 
up in a place where women are kept "locked in and breeding."

So here in one word is my new counterterrorism strategy for Kerry: 
feminism. Or, if that's too incendiary, try the phrase "human rights for 
women." I don't mean just a few opportunistic references to women, like 
those that accompanied the war on the Taliban and were quietly dropped by 
the Bush administration when that war was abandoned and Afghan women were 
locked back into their burkas. I'm talking about a sustained and serious 

So John and John: Announce plans to pour dollars into girls' education in 
places like Pakistan, where the high-end estimate for female literacy is 26 
percent, and scholarships for women seeking higher education in nations 
that typically discourage it. (Secular education for the boys wouldn't hurt 
either.) Expand the grounds for asylum to all women fleeing gender 
totalitarianism, wherever it springs up. Reverse the Bush policies on 
global family planning, which condemn 78,000 women yearly to death in 
makeshift abortions. Lead the global battle against the traffic in women.

I'm not expecting these measures alone to incite a feminist insurgency 
within the Islamist one. Carmen bin Ladin found her rich Saudi 
sisters-in-law sunk in bovine passivity, and some of the more spirited 
young women in the Muslim world have been adopting the head scarf as a 
gesture of defiance toward American imperialism. We're going to need a 
thorough foreign policy makeover - from Afghanistan to Israel - before we 
have the credibility to stand up for anyone's human rights. You can't play 
the gender card with dirty hands.

If Kerry were to embrace a feminist strategy against the insurgency, he'd 
have to start by addressing our own dismal record on women's rights. He'd 
be pushing for the immediate ratification of the U.N. Convention on the 
Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, which has been 
ratified by 169 countries but remains stalled in the Senate. He'd be 
threatening to break off relations with Saudi Arabia until it acknowledges 
the humanity of women. And he'd be thundering about the shortage of women 
in the U.S. Senate and the House, an internationally embarrassing 14 
percent. We should be aiming for at least 25 percent representation, the 
same target the Transitional Administrative Law of Iraq has set for the 
federal assembly there.

In my dreams, you say, and you're probably right. Maybe Kerry will surprise 
me in his speech tonight, but it looks as if the Democrats are too 
frightened of being labeled "girlie men" by the party of Schwarzenegger to 
do what has to be done. If you want to beat Osama, you've got to start by 
listening to Carmen.

Thomas L. Friedman is on leave until October, writing a book.


For general information about NYTimes.com, write to help at nytimes.com.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company
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