Friday, March 23, 2007

What's all the fuss about the veil?

Maryam Namazie

Bahar a young woman living in Germany wrote: When you see me on the street I am veiled but do not think I am a Muslim. I have been forced to veil by my father and brothers; they will kill me if I don’t. Before I felt alone, but now I know I am not. This is a message she sent to Mina Ahadi, founder of the central council of ex-Muslims in Germany.

Of course, Bahar is not alone. There are innumerable women and girls in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa to right here in the heart of Europe who know from personal experience what it means to be female under Islam – hidden from view, bound, gagged, mutilated, murdered, without rights, and threatened and intimidated day in and day out for transgressing Islamic mores.

The veil, more than anything else, symbolises this bleak reality.

In my opinion, it is therefore impossible to address the status of women under Islamic laws and defend women’s rights without addressing and denouncing the veil.

And this is why the veil is the first thing that Islamists impose when they have any access to power.

And also why improper veiling, its removal and its burning at demonstrations and gatherings - as often seen in Iran for example - or its removal when one leaves the home - in places where it is not the law of the land but that of self-appointed imams and family members - has become a symbol of resistance.

I know our opponents often argue that there are many more pressing matters with regards to women’s status. Why all the fuss they ask?

To me, it is like asking what all the fuss was about racial apartheid – or segregation of the races – in apartheid South Africa. After all there were so many pressing issues faced by Blacks in that country. I suppose that is why the then South African government kept asserting that separate does not mean unequal (which incidentally is an argument Islamists make all the time). We know otherwise.

And we know – at least in hindsight - why the physical act of segregation was crucial and symbolic of what it meant to be Black under apartheid.

Similarly, the veil is a symbol of sexual apartheid and the segregation of the sexes. In countries where Islam rules, like in Iran, the separate entrances for women in certain government offices; separate areas for women’s seating on buses for example; the banning of women from certain public arenas like sport stadiums; a curtain dividing the Caspian sea for segregated swimming and so on is what it means in practice to be a female under Islam. That people transgress these rules daily is a testimony to their humanity and not the laws or state that imposes it by force.

When we talk about the situation in Iran, some of these apologists will concede that compulsory veiling must be opposed (though I have yet to hear them oppose it other than in their argument’s in defence of the veil) but if it is a choice freely made than one must defend the ‘right’ to veil.

I wholeheartedly disagree. Adult women may have the ‘right’ to veil though that right is in no way absolute as many rights aren’t and a completely different matter for children – which I will come to later. But having the right to do something is very different from defending the ‘freely chosen’ veil or the ‘right to veil’. There may be women who ‘freely choose’ to genitally mutilate their daughters or immolate themselves on their husband’s funeral pyre but that does not mean that we must then defend the right of women to do so or defend the practice of Suttee or FGM. The defence of rights is not about making everyone agree as you will always find people who will defend and commit the indefensible – and that is what religion is in my opinion. It is about protecting human beings sometimes even from themselves.

The usage of the term choice in this context is extremely deceptive. First off in many places like Iran it is the law of the land. You are fined, arrested, beaten, imprisoned and even killed for transgressing the veil and Islamic mores.

In others where it is not the law, it is effectively so because of pressure and intimidation from the parasitical self-appointed so-called community and Islamic leaders, and family members.

One example of this is the joint statement about the veil from ‘Muslim groups, scholars and leaders’ in Britain which has stated that the veil ‘is not open to debate’. The statement goes so far as to ‘advise all Muslims to exercise extreme caution in this issue since denying any part of Islam may lead to disbelief’ and to urge them to ‘keep this debate within the realm of scholarly discussion amongst the people of knowledge and authority in the Muslim community.’

A recent Channel 4 Dispatches programme recorded a mullah in Green Lane mosque in Birmingham saying 'Allah has created the woman deficient' and a satellite broadcast from the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh, beamed into the mosque suggesting that children should be hit if they don't pray and if they don’t wear the hijab.

You’ve also all heard Australia’s senior Islamic cleric, Sheik Taj Aldin al-Hilali comparing unveiled women to ‘uncovered meat’ implying that they invite rape and sexual assault. ‘If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside ... without cover, and the cats come to eat it ... whose fault is it, the cats' or the uncovered meat's? The uncovered meat is the problem. If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijab, no problem would have occurred.’
Whilst misogynist sermons are the norm in mosques across the world, and across religions, these are a few examples of how a climate of intimidation and fear makes many a woman ‘choose’ the veil even in places where veiling is not compulsory.

Remove these, and I would even go so far as to say, that there will be few who will ‘choose’ to live in a mobile prison – other than those who want to show their allegiance to the rising political Islamic movement.

Also, a ‘woman’s right to choose’ must be preceded at the very least by legal and social sexual equality. This is not the case for most. So if you consider the veil on a social scale, it represents neither a right nor a choice and it is a lie to say otherwise.

Of course, women wearing mini-skirts and Jimmy Choos may be under pressure from the fashion industry’s impossible ideals – as we often hear argued in defence of the veil - but it is as ridiculous to compare mini-skirts with the veil, as it is to compare Jimmy Choos with foot binding, which aims at preventing women from ‘wandering’.

The veil is not a piece of cloth or clothing, though it is often compared to miniskirts or other ‘lewd’ forms of clothing the rest of us unveiled women seem to wear. Just as the straight jacket or body bag are not pieces of clothing. Just as the chastity belt was not a piece of clothing. Just as the Star of David pinned on Jews during the holocaust was not just a bit of cloth.

This of course does not mean that only women under Islam or veiled women are oppressed. But it is important to oppose the veil in its own right.

And this has nothing to do with being hate-filled or promoting an attack on Muslims or veiled women though Islamists portray it as such. Interesting coming from a reactionary right wing movement that has turned murder and mayhem into an art form, but as I have said before, opposing FGM does not mean you are attacking those who are mutilated; opposing foot binding or Suttee likewise. In fact, it is an essential to a principled defence of women’s rights.

And this is why the chador, burqa and neqab must be banned – to defend women’s rights. Not because they affects interaction, communication and so on. These are side effects. And certainly not because they may make people like Jack Straw uncomfortable. It has to be banned because sexual apartheid is as unacceptable as racial apartheid. Because it is unacceptable for women to be segregated in the 21 century; and for women to walk around in a mobile prison or body bag because religion deems that they be kept invisible.

Any mention of a ban, though, quickly raises cries of authoritarianism. As an aside, it is interesting how much religion can get away with and that its decree for example that women be veiled is not considered authoritarian. But more importantly, a ban is not necessarily bad. Society bans many things in order to safeguard and protect the people living in it, often due to left and progressive social movements demanding it. For example, child labour is banned, so is FGM, child pornography, rape and so on. A ban in such situations is a good thing; it helps to stop abuses from taking place. The argument that banning will only increase the burqa or neqab is ridiculous when used in other examples pertaining to defending people’s rights but is somehow considered proper discourse when it comes to the veil.

Also calling for a ban does not necessarily mean you want to or will criminalise a segment of the population. For example, there is a rule to wear a helmet when driving a motorbike but I don’t think there are hundreds of Sikhs languishing in British jails for not doing so. Or for that matter people who smoke in non-smoking areas, and size zero models...

Islamists and their apologists demand that we respect people’s religious expressions and beliefs. As I have said many a time, we are duty bound to respect human beings but not every belief or religious expression. Having the right to a belief and religion is not the same as it being a no go area to do as it pleases free of any criticism or condemnation.

Also they say that it is racist to criticise Islam, the veil and political Islam. What rubbish. You cannot be racist against an idea or belief or ideology or its expression. Racism is distinctions, exclusions, restrictions or preferences based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin (albeit constructed) of individuals - of human beings - not their beliefs. Saying it is so is just another attempt at silencing all opposition and criticism.

A ban on the burqa, chador, neqab and its likes is important but it is no where enough. The hijab or any conspicuous religious symbol must be banned from the state and education and relegated to the private sphere. This helps to ensure that government offices and officials from judges, to clerks, to doctors and nurses are not promoting their religious beliefs and are instead doing their jobs. In the same way that a teacher can’t teach creationism instead of evolution and science in the classroom; a pharmacist can’t refuse contraceptive pills to a women because of her beliefs; a male doctor can’t refuse to treat a woman patient or vice versa.

Finally, child veiling must be banned full stop. This is a children’s rights issue. While adults may 'choose' veiling or a religion, children by their very nature cannot make such choices; what they do is really what their parents tell them to do. Again the use of the term choice here is deceptive. Children must be protected even if they 'choose' to stay with abusive parents, to work to support poor families or to stop attending school.

Children have the absolute right to be children – nothing must be allowed to segregate them or restrict them from accessing information, advances in society and rights, playing, swimming and in general doing things children must do. Whatever their beliefs, parents do not have the right to impose their beliefs, including veiling on children just because they are their own children, just as they can't deny their children medical assistance or beat and neglect them or marry them off at 9 because it's part of their beliefs or religion. Child veiling is a form of child abuse and has to be stopped.

Throughout history, progress and change have come about not by appeasing, apologizing or excusing reaction, but by standing up to it firmly and unequivocally. This is what has to be against Islam, political Islam and the veil.

We have to state loud and clear that sexual apartheid has no place in the 21st century; enough is enough.

The above is Maryam Namazie’s speech at a March 8 seminar on Women’s Rights, the Veil and Islamic and religious laws in London. Maryam is Director of the Worker-communist Party of Iran’s International Relations Committee, 2005 National Secular Society’s Secularist of the Year Award Winner and producer of International TV. Other speakers were Mina Ahadi is founder of Central Council of Ex-Muslims; Sonja Eggerickx: President of the International Humanist and Ethical Union; Ann Harrison: Researcher, Middle East and North Africa Department of Amnesty International’s International Secretariat; and Taslima Nasrin: Physician, writer, radical feminist, human rights activist and secular humanist.Maryam Namazie


Anonymous said...

I love you Maryam. You are a genius.

Frank Partisan said...

little pope: Maryam is a leader of a Marxist party. Are you going soft?

Nadia A. said...

Being born and raised for several years in Saudi Arabia before moving to the U.S. and living in a Wahabbe household, I agree and relate to some aspects of this article, but others I found troubling.

Banning is not the best way to approach the veiling of women. Like the “Global War on Terror,” banning will result in more fanatical ideals, and can gather strength with Muslims defending other Muslims that feel “attacked.”

I believe that education and grassroots change (which would not be mandated by the state) is the key to empowering Islamic women to realize their choices. Coercion is not needed; an educated women would make the right choice. I did, and I am no longer considered a daughter of my father...but it was my choice, not the states.

SecondComingOfBast said...

Nadia, I applaud your own personal courage and sacrifice, but many other women, maybe the vast majority of them, do not have your courage. I rather suspect that most Arab and Muslim women have been so browbeaten throughout their lives from the time of childhood on, they just don't have it in them to exhibit such courage.

What happens in an Islamic country there may unfortunately be little if anything we can do about. But what happens in a western country, where everybody, male and female, theoretically has equal rights to dignity and protection under the law-that is or should be an entirely different matter.

Anonymous said...

" is therefore impossible to address the status of women under Islamic laws and defend women’s rights without addressing and denouncing the veil."
This is the sort of statement who would only reassure the uninformed (westerner?). I see it as another attempt to "liberate" by force ... whatever it takes man!
The "veil problem"!! is not independent from a complex, sometimes rich cultural background. The fact some politicize it highly only complicates the matter. Please look up "sustainable" progress. But this sort of statement -like Mrs. Namazi - is be extremely popular in western media.

Graeme said...

I don't think that Muslim women are so "oppressed" that they can't display courage. That sounds like the one of arguements for bringing "democracy" to Iraq. Change must come from within, whether in a person or a society.

SecondComingOfBast said...

Graeme-they are oppressed. They are brainwashed into it from the time they can learn and speak in sentences. And it's not like it is here, where you might lose your job or be considered a pariah in your community if you advocate and agitate for change. In many of those countries you can be brutally beaten just for not properly wearing the veil, even if it might be accidentally. You might end up with acid thrown in your face. In some countries you can be beheaded or killed in some other manner. You can be raped and nothing to speak of will be done about it.

Or, something might be done about it-to the woman, by her own family, because of the shame she has brought on them by "inviting" the sexual assault.

Then, again, some women might be able to get together and try to start a movement. Of course, they don't know which woman among them they can trust, as most of them might be fine with the culture as it is, because that's like I say how they've been raised and browbeaten from youth to accept. They after all, want to be considered, "good Muslim women".

But even if some women can start a movement in their own countries, what good will it do them if they don't have some kind of support outside of themselves?

If only ten percent of the Muslim women want a better life, they should be allowed to have it and should be protected in their search for it as much as possible. At least, when it comes to women living in Western societies. In fact, when it comes to western countries, anything less than that is totally unacceptable. And if their men and especially their immams don't like it, simple answer-ship their asses out!!

Graeme said...

People were brutally beaten and murdered for advocating change in these here United States. Workers, women and people of color can attest to that. They had to fight to get laws passed. I expect Muslim women will face the same problems, and they deserve our solidarity- not our impositions.

PT, I am 100% opposed to child veiling, and I understand the case for banning the veil. I just think there is a cultural aspect to the whole issue that needs to be addressed by people that are part of that culture. (Like Maryam and Nadia are doing). I hesitate to speculate that Middle Eastern women are too brainwashed to think for themselves. I think that any law banning a veil must come from a country that has the veil and Islam as a part of their culture, not from some Western country that clamors on and on about human rights while it exploits every corner of the earth for profit.

SecondComingOfBast said...

Graeme, I get what you're saying, and I'm not talking about forcing our western values on Islamic countries, I'm talking simply about enforcing them on immigrants that actually live in western countries, where these women have the rights to dignity, respect, and equal protection under the law, at least theoretically, that all women and all people have. I can't accept anything less than that. If they can't abide by that then they have no business here, for example, or any western country that calls itself democratic.

As for your point about what minorities went through here in the US, while that is true, remember, they had their supporters among the white majority, among journalists, politicians, and maybe more importantly, the public at large. How far could they have gotten if they had no support? Blacks could still be lynched today, and what could they do if the public at large didn't demand an end to it? Sorry, they just could not do it on their own.

You say you're reluctant to call it brainwashing, well, what else can it be? You can get knocked over the head or rapped on the knuckles if you're a young Muslim of either sex if you say the name Mohammed and forget to add "peace be upon him". Come on! If that (for just one example) doesn't qualify as brainwashing nothing does.

Graeme said...

Pagan Temple,

I'm not talking about forcing our western values on Islamic countries, I'm talking simply about enforcing them on immigrants that actually live in western countries,

I agree with that. If a women doesn't want to wear a veil, she doesn't have to here. That is her right. It is also her right to wear one if she wants. If her father doesn't approve, that is a decision she has to make (like Nadia, who is my sister-in-law, did). If her father or anyone else trys to intimidate her or use force to make her comply with his wishes, that is when law enforcement needs to act and protect her rights- regardless if it "offends" the Muslim community or not.

You say you're reluctant to call it brainwashing, well, what else can it be?

I am reluctant to say that most Muslim women are susceptible to the brainwashing. I agree that brainwashing is what they are trying to do.

Craig Bardo said...

Even a marxist can abandon the multi-cultural nonsense and get real. It seems that the veil is a symbol of oppression, if not the source of it. Islam is losing to the fascists within its own ranks. Islamist apologists would have us overlook how they treat their own women and children.

Many of those wary of linking criticism of Islam, as represented by the veil, have no such trouble finding fault with Christians and Christianity. But if no moral outrage can be expressed regarding what Maryam, Aayan Hirsi Ali, Irshad Manji and others have described, then no outrage can legitimately be expressed at all.

Is there a moral equivalence for child pornography, rape, cannabalism? If there is a problem, how can it be addressed? Would we expect women to sacrifice their lives wholesale? Many have. How can women's rights be protected outside the context of a liberal democracy? Will men accustomed to domination change their mind just because?

The rapid expansion of Madrasahs that preach hate and mysogyny is not by accident. Do any but the Islamists not cry for intervention in Darfur? This "faith" being shaped by the extremists, is an assault on humanity and all that is decent. It must be taken on from without, so that those within can have a fighting chance.

LeftyHenry said...

I agree. I don't understand why many marxist parties view groups and countries that uphold the veil so positivly.

Anonymous said...

but then if you ban the veil, isn't that just going to mean that people who previously, though they were forced maybe to wear it, are now forced to drop out of public life, work etc all together because it is illegal for them to dress in public the way they are coerced or feel obliged to, won't that just force them to stay at home?

Nadia A. said...


Veil or no veil, the root of the problem is the way Islam is practiced. For devout followers, Islam is the structure for living day by day, and it even decrees the exact way to divide your inheritance (which the male in the family gets more), the exact percentage that should be given to charity, and even how long a divorced woman can wait until she can remarry her former husband.

Islam does not allow for restructuring, but it needs to be restructured… but from the inside. It would be considered threatening for a non-Islamic force attempting to restructure Islam by a mandatory banning of the veil. If you enforce a banning of the veil on immigrants, this will be seen as imposing “Western” beliefs on people that yearn to start living safely in a country before they can start thinking about their inequality in religion, the one intangible scrap of their former lives that they are holding on to.

As Graeme mentioned, they do deserve our understanding and solidarity, not our coercion.

Frank Partisan said...

This has been a good dialog.

Nadia: How did you end up from Saudi Arabia to Fargo, North Dakota of all places?

Maryam has recently written in the Index On Censorship about children and the veil.

Others can use Maryam's arguments to justify invasion of Iran. Conservatives talked that way to get liberal support. I think conservatives have given up on winning liberals and lefties. The bottom line is if you read this or Maryam's blog, she opposes invasion by US imperialism anywhere.

sonia said...

Others can use Maryam's arguments to justify invasion of Iran.

I think THAT's the reason most leftists are so reluctant to denounce Islamic oppression. It's also why many Muslim women shut up and accept their oppression.

But as long as the leftists will be so afraid of US imperialism as to condone self-oppression in the Third World, that self-oppression will continue and it's that self-oppression that allows US imperialism to flourish in the first place.

When all Third World countries will be democratic, egalitarian and free, US imperialism will disappear. It feeds on self-oppression. Without it, it will die.

Craig Bardo said...


Aren't we dealing with more than just religion? Wahabbism is a form of despotism in the name of religion. Was Saddam going to stop brutalizing Iraqis? Did Stalin, Mao or Pol Pot?

I'm not suggesting that we (whoever we is) take Islam by force, not only is it not practical, it would only serve to reinforce the radical imam's objectives. What I'm suggesting is that we call a spade a spade.

Unfortunately, a reading of the Qur' an can just as fairly and legitimately be interpreted as radical clerics do. Freedom loving people and non radicalized Muslims can no longer, simply for the sake of propriety, afford to cede the dialogue with Muslim youth to those with evil intent. Youth must be challenged with another vision of what Islam can be.

Craig Bardo said...

U.S. Imperialism? Geesh! Not you too sonia! Since when is free exchange imperialism? Since when is a liberal democracy and a pluralistic society imperialism?

U.S. Imperialism would leave women free choose not to wear a veil and live on the island of their choice. Or, if so inclined to wear a veil without another stitch of clothing.

Craig Bardo said...


It looks like you're going to end up with sharia in Minnesota, ready to give up the pork and liquor? How about praying 5 times a day? It might be good for you!

Frank Partisan said...

A secular Jewish Atheist like myself, would fit in great with Islamism.

Jennifer said...

The veil sux and deprives women of vitamin D.

sonia said...


U.S. Imperialism? Geesh! Not you too sonia!

My point was that the left mistakenly sees U.S. Imperialism as the SOURCE of all Third World evil (rather than its unfortunate CONSEQUENCE).

And if you don't like the term 'US Imperialism', let me rephrase it as 'all the unfortunate mistakes committed by the US government in Vietnam, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Columbia, Iraq and many other places'...

SecondComingOfBast said...

I'm afraid I haven't been very clear. I am not in favor of "banning" the veil in western countries. I am merely in favor of insuring the rights to dignity and equal protection under the law for Muslim women are upheld. That means if they freely choose of their own accord to not veil, then western societies should protect their rights to make that decision.

Any immigrant community in any nation should be obliged to live under the laws of the host nation. That means no shariah law to be allowed to be practiced by Islamic communities in western nations, not under any circumstances.

Of course i understand that this could result in women being removed from their communities. As unfortunate as that is from the standpoint of family relationships, there is next to nothing we can do about that, just as there is next to nothing that can be done were a catholic woman excommunicated for having an abortion, for example.

But there is a big difference in someone being excommunicated, and their being beaten, raped, murdered, or mutilated. This kind of activity can not be tolerated, and those who impose such brutal measures are to be punished to the fullest extent of the law, and removed from society.

The only time the veil should be banned is when visual identification is mandated, for example in the case of drivers licenses. I'm sorry, but there comes a time when religious sensibilities have to make way for common sense. No exceptions, anytime, anywhere, for anybody.

And I will add one more thing about the brainwashing aspects of Islam. Graeme persists in saying that women can not be brainwashed, and while this might be true, please bear in mind that these brainwashing tactics do not occur from the time of adulthood, or even from the time of onset of puberty.

They begin, and are consistently carried out, from the times of earliest childhood. That is why it is brainwashing.It is a rare individual who can overcome the shackles imposed by such a profoundly enslaving upbringing.

In this day and age, I imagine there will come a time when the most visionary of radical Islamists will be reciting the Qu'ran to their children while they are still in the womb.

Thankfully, they won't be able to knock them over the heads if they don't respond appropriately, at least, but like they say,who knows what the future might hold.

Nadia A. said...


After spending my first 8yrs in Arabia, I grew up in New Orleans, then Oregon, and then a small town in North Dakota (very small, we were the only non-Christian family in town) before college in Fargo. My mother was born and raised in North Dakota, before she went to teach in Saudi Arabia and met my father (she still has an exotic view of the Middle East). My father loved the idea of farming and ranching and started a small halal meat processing plant in North Dakota that did pretty well before 9/11. I also have made frequent “mandatory” visits to Saudi Arabia so that I would be reminded what my “real” culture is like.

Thanks for pointing me to Maryam’s article. I am also a strong supporter in parents not forcing their religious views on their children, and I agree with her statement that veiling can be a form of emotional abuse, but I believe the veil is used just as a symbol for oppression of Islam, and many people may hope that banning the veil will lead to liberation of the women. However, I feel that we are hedging around the real root of the issue, which is how Islam is practiced. Even if a young girl is not veiled by her Islamic parents, there is still blatant discrimination that could, and has been practiced by her parents in regards to how she is treated alongside her brother. Since the Qu’ran is the book of how to lead your Islamic life, one part cannot be scrubbed out without thoroughly questioning the other parts, and we should urge women to analyze why they practice this stagnant form of Islam, when they are clearly biased in the entire text.

Oh and CB:
Saddam, although Sunni, by no means practiced Wahabbism. He was secular and didn’t make women veil. It was, one could argue, better for women before the invasion (as long as one didn’t politically oppose Saddam). Bin Ladin, definitely into Wahabbism, even referred to Saddam as a “socialist infidel.” This I guess would tie more into your Stalin comparison.

I agree with calling a spade a spade; we should. However, one could argue that certain readings of the Bible are just as fanatical. The only difference is that the people in power in America aren’t yet quite as crazy as the Saudi royal family. Perhaps because here our leaders haven’t been patronized with OPEC profits quite like King Abdullah has. They keep people rich and coddled with no taxes and a cradle-to-grave society. People, along with a conservative and religious education, get too many benefits to get pissed off enough to start a revolution.

Calling a Spade a Spade would be admitting that Secular Iraq (secular in Middle Eastern terms) wasn’t nearly as fanatical as Saudi Arabia, and to do something about it means that we will have to stop relying on foreign oil and start living like Europeans J.

Nadia A. said...

"Europeans J." ??

Sorry I meant

"Europeans :) "

Craig Bardo said...


Sorry for the confusion. I don't mean to suggest that Saddam was involved with this form of despotism, simply that he was a despot that no amount of internal discontent was going to oust. It took outside action, just as it will with Islam. There is too much inertia in the wrong direction for Islam to be reformed from within. Again, for me, this is about engaging in honest conversation - just as you have.

A minor point about Christianity. It hasn't sought its own end through those texts and it is tempered for us by the new covenant/testament and certainly not through violence. The debate is over in Christianity with regard to that, such as it ever existed.

I agree that we need to wean ourselves from foreign sources of oil. We have our own in ANWR and in the Gulf of Mexico. We certainly don't want to live like the Europeans, not even they want to!

Frank Partisan said...

Wow! Really nice discussion.

Nadia: Thank you for telling the story.
I like the point that even without a veil, the
Islamic child, still is only a daughter.

CB: ANWR is not a solution. It is only a
political football. Get real.
Even conservative DeSouza will tell you.
talk of democracy or freeing people of
Islamic tyranny, is rhetoric, to win liberal
support for military adventures.

Sonia: Hitting my thumb with a hammer is a
mistake. US policy is intentional.

Pagan: I generally agree with your direction.

Puppeteer said...

I would gladly give away my whole humble salary just to have some of those segregated busses in Damascus.
Whoever mixed with Arab "men" in a buss knows what I mean.

Puppeteer said...

If I'm not too annoying, could you explain me how does this "Atheist Jew" concept works? Aren't both Judaism and Atheism religions? How can you be both, especially since the Atheist part kind of cancels any other options?
I myself am a fundamentalist Atheist, and this is my third conversion, but I'm not entirely responsible for the first two, since I was converted to Islam as soon as was born and then baptised at 5 months, only to convert the last time some 15 years ago. But I don't see myself as an Orthodox Atheist, (although it's not too far fetched).

Graeme said...

CB said:

he [Saddam] was a despot that no amount of internal discontent was going to oust. It took outside action, just as it will with Islam.

I disagree with that. Think about the premise behind that statement. Arabs are too weak to free themselves, they need us in the West to ride in on our white horses and free them?

Nothing is free right? If my parents gave me a car when I was sixteen, I wouldn't have the same respect for the it as I would've if I worked and paid for it by myself. It sounds like a silly comparison, but it holds true. The leaders of Iraq aren't seen as legitimite because they didn't oust Saddam. They all hide in places like Iran until Saddam was captured.

Graeme said...

and I forgot to add:

the same principals apply to banning the veil. It must be from within to be seen as legitimate. Western countries simply banning the veil will be seen as an imposition, and it will further radicalize people.

Frank Partisan said...

puppeteer: Judaism is a culture, not solely a religion. Historically they had there own jargon called Yiddish. Great theater, song and literature was written in that jargon.

Hitler wouldn't have cared one way or another about my secular thought.

Think Woody Allen.

Craig Bardo said...


Woody without the pedophelia I hope! I haven't read what D'nesh has to say on this topic, although I generally agree with him. I'm not trying to win liberal support either. It seems that there are few options that have any promise and that engagement is the best of those bad options.


Your contention defies the evidence of history. The Hebrews weren't freed from Egyptian captivity without devine intervention. Black slaves in America weren't freed without a war. Jews weren't liberated from Nazi concentration camps without force. Eastern Europe wasn't liberated without 50 years of pressure. Ending apartheid wasn't an inside job.

It doesn't speak to the weakness of the oppressed, but to the wickedness of the oppression.

sonia said...


You're ABSOLUTELY RIGHT that the change should come from within. Because when it doesn't, it comes from the outside and the results aren't pretty. Iraqi people didn't succeed in their revolt against Saddam in 1991, and now they are paying an ATROCIOUS price for that failure.


And your exemples prove the above point. If the American Blacks liberated themselves (instead of being liberated by Lincoln), maybe lack of self-estime wouldn't be such a big problem in the African-American community 150 years later. And if Jews defeated the Nazis all by themselves (instead of being liberated by the Allies), maybe they would have had the self-confidence to handle the Palestinian problem better.

Craig Bardo said...


There is a subset of black culture in America, to be certain, that suffers the vestiges of bondage. I contend what you observe is not from a lack of participation in our own liberation (which is not true, any more than it is true for eastern Europeans) but from the welfare and abortion cultures that were grafted onto that subset.

I also disagree with your premise regarding Israel. The only solution those in the region would be satisfied with is Hitler's "final solution" as graphically expressed in Ahmadenijad's neo Hitlerian tirades. Should they cede the Golan Heights to Syria? They've given up Gaza and many of the west bank settlements.

The world stood by and watched the holocaust. Just as it is trying to do in Iraq, Congress and their press allies are trying to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Tet was an overwhelming U.S. victory and we were about to crush the VC (by their own admission) when Congress and Cronkite arranged to cut off funding.

Rwanda, Bosnia (where we stepped in on behalf of Muslims - no good deed goes unpunished) and now inaction in Darfur - you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. I'd rather be condemned for being active than suffer that same fate for being passive, especially when there is a chance you can make a difference.

Puppeteer said...

But isn't it same as the Hebrew? Isn't Hebrew the original language, culture and even ethnic group? I mean isn't Yiddish a descendant of Hebrew just like Aramaic, the mother language of modern day Arab? So my question would be: wouldn't it be clearer to say you're a Hebrew Atheist?
Please, don't get upset on me, I'm only curios, I've found bloggers describing themsevles same as yourself, which got a bit mad when I asked about this dilema of mine.

Puppeteer said...

And about Hitler, neither would he have cared about mine. I am Semite, after all.

Graeme said...

There was certainly internal movements in all the situations you mentioned. And the leaders that were involved in those uprisings were seen as legitimate. (Tito and De Gualle in WWII come to mind)

A distinction must be made from coming to the aid of an ally and invading a country unasked.

It seems that there is a group of people in the West (liberal and conservative) that go to great lengths to denounce certain mass killings and not only not talk about other mass killings, but be complicit in them.
Ed Herman
wrote a good piece on this.

Frank Partisan said...

puppeteer: I'm planning shortly to post about what Isaac Deutscher called "The Non Jewish Jew".

Zionist commentator Dennis Prager recently wrote about the "self hating Jew". I want to answer the accusations. He even accuses Trotsky of hating Jews.

Craig Bardo said...


The dilemma is that seeing difficulty in many places, what type of resources do you allocate and how? The question is not the worthiness of an endeavor, but how to choose. Should we attack China because of their human rights violations?

The answer to that is no, but why? It is not the right resource nor the most effective way to address the issue. Similarly with Islam, military engagement is impractical and a poor use of resources. Parenthetically, I am not speaking of the action in Iraq, nor of potential action in Iran, which are not addressing Islam.

Engagement with Islam should take a form similar to Radio Free Europe. Although borderless, it should be addressed as an entity. The U.S. State Department routinely denounces the violence of the Janjaweed as genocide. Liberals in that agency are reticent, however, to directly confront the cancer with Islam.


Prager co-wrote an excellent book entitled Anti-Semitism. It is instructive about things such as how pronouncements against zionism can't be distinguished from anti-semitism. It also helps one understand how the culture produces achievers out of all proportion to their population.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. I'm looking forward to read your post.
You see, my interest is somehow more anthropo-morphic than ethnic, I am a graphician, after all, and I do enjoy the study of human appearance. For example, I alway imagined you somehow Latino, without knowing anything about your background or ethnic adherence. Maybe your comment about tango and the profile photo helped create this imagination. Now that I found these details about yourself, the image I had changed some 180 degrees. :)
For example, I always thought that my mixed blood showed pretty good, but in my extend "face observation" and a small remark a friend made, I realised that my features are pure 100% Semitic. Maybe it's the genes, or maybe it's the circumstances and habitat, I don't know, but I'm sure every bit of these external facts influence the appereance of a person.
You can have a look yourself :)
My Pic

? said...

Excellent post. Clear to the point.