"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." -- Theodore Roosevelt

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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Obama and his False Call for Women's Rights

Much has been made of Obama's overly long speech delivered in Cairo (transcript found here at the Washington Post). The majority of the MSM heaped praise and hyperbole, as is to be expected. CBS hailed the speech as part of an inspired campaign to prevent another D-Day. Newseek's editor Evan Thomas, who has previously likened Obama to God on the June 5th edition of Hardball (and I thought the lightworker [Lucifer, I suppose] moniker was tough to stomach), extolled Obama as "the great teacher." Reacting to Obama's speech Thomas said "There's some condescension in it. But, he stands above everybody and says, 'Now, listen. You people have to stop blaming each other unreasonably. You have to get along here and I am going to show you the way.' It is a pretty brave role in many ways. It's going to make people like Charles [Krauthammer] really mad. To me, the question is, is it just rhetoric, or is he now going to follow up and forced some of this happen?" Eleanor Clift, a reporter for Newsweek, reacted to criticism of Obama's speech with a flabbergasted "Until I came on this set [of The MacLaughlin Group], I heard nothing but rave reviews for this speech. I feel like I'm in a total parallel reality." Hmm. She's not the only one.

Saner voices, not infatuated by Obama's mere presence, have posted extensively about his speech. I'm sure most people are exhausted from reading the analyses. What I found rather interesting, however, was the issue of women's rights that was raised. Both Pat Austin at And So it Goes in Shreveport and Pundit & Pundette raised the issue in their blogs.

Pundit & Pundette tackle the issue of women's rights in Islamic countries head-on, while Austin compares the Obama women's rights section of the Cairo speech with one of George W. Bush's speeches also given in Egypt-- the ideological contrast is both stark and sobering.

Obama's section on women's rights in his Cairo speech is below:

"The sixth issue that I want to address is women's rights.

"I know there is debate about this issue. I reject the view of some in the West that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal, but I do believe that a woman who is denied an education is denied equality. And it is no coincidence that countries where women are well-educated are far more likely to be prosperous.

"Now let me be clear: issues of women's equality are by no means simply an issue for Islam. In Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia, we have seen Muslim-majority countries elect a woman to lead. Meanwhile, the struggle for women's equality continues in many aspects of American life, and in countries around the world.

"Our daughters can contribute just as much to society as our sons, and our common prosperity will be advanced by allowing all humanity - men and women - to reach their full potential. I do not believe that women must make the same choices as men in order to be equal, and I respect those women who choose to live their lives in traditional roles. But it should be their choice. That is why the United States will partner with any Muslim-majority country to support expanded literacy for girls, and to help young women pursue employment through micro-financing that helps people live their dreams."

The small portion of this section that I want to focus on for the moment is: "I reject the view of some in the West that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal, but I do believe that a woman who is denied an education is denied equality."

Honestly, this sentence is little more than candy-coating, a spoonful of sugar that'll help the moral platitudes go down. Yet, this sentence, delivered in a flippant manner, reveals a bit more vapidity than I believe it was meant to.

I find it interesting, although not surprising as equality is a hallmark word for the Left, that Obama should use the word equal in this instance. After all, the concept of hijab (a word literally meaning "curtain" but widely thought of in Islamic cultures as "meaning of modesty, privacy, and morality," and the root of the dress code of the Muslim faith) is an absolute sign of inequality in the Muslim societies, and cannot be interpreted otherwise. The intention in the covering of a woman's hair and body is to keep her from being too sexually arousing, too much of a temptation to defile a man's virtue. This inevitably places the woman in the role of temptress, an obstacle to man's moral purity.

Additionally, women are not given an equal status regarding their own sexuality. After all, men are not required to cover any parts of their body (aside from relatively common modesty-- usual interpretations of hijab require men to cover themselves from navel to knees) to keep themselves publicly plain so as to not tempt women. Is this because women are not believed to possess sexual drives and desires (a common belief in the West during the Victorian era)? Or is it because women are not believed to be as innately virtuous as men? Or is it because women are believed to be so virtuous that they don't need to avoid such temptations? Honestly, I don't know, but any way you look at it, it's unequal. And in a society like the US, where the concept of equal rights is given such high moral status, such an outlook makes most Americans uncomfortable.

Let me be clear at this point. I am not suggesting that women should not be allowed to wear headscarves, nor am I saying that a woman's choice to dress according the hijab is necessarily wrong. What I am saying is that the concept of the hijab is inherently unequal ("less equal" in Obama's words) for women, and for Obama to say otherwise is both foolish and disingenuous.

It is idiotic for Obama to say "I respect those women who choose to live their lives in traditional roles. But it should be their choice." Fine. Obama self-aggrandizingly declares himself to be a forward-thinking, feminist libertarian. We should all swoon. But he declares nothing else. He does not suggest how to address basic and stark gender inequalities inherent in Muslim societies. Like so many other times, he merely dictates and expects (or forces) others to heed his "wise" words. A "great teacher" indeed...

If women are being forced into traditional roles by a society, what other choice can these women make? To pack up and leave-- as easily as though they were middle-class Americans moving from Arizona to California? Are they to decide to not be Muslim in a Muslim country? An amusing thought as it is well known that Muslims go through great pains to convert and coerce to conversion people of other religious faiths within their sphere of influence. Throwing lavish amounts of American dollars to fund female literacy does not help with this basic societal difficulties. To bring about change in women's standing, some very basic precepts of the society must also change as has happened in other places in the world. It is impossible for this shift to happen otherwise.

Obama avoids all this second-step thinking. He is not so suicidal as to preach revolution in a foreign nation. But more importantly, all of this is meaningless to Obama. He is not really concerned with the trivialities of women's rights (trivial for him and his wife-- how does this help their children?) in Muslim countries. If he were he would follow up his easy-to-swallow (for Americans) and vague platitudes with actual strategies and actual programs (the touted literacy program farce is merely an expensive show). If he was concerned, he would know more about the cultural situation and societal difficulties in regards to these countries. If Obama cared, he would site instances of progress in countries such as Bahrain, Qatar and Malaysia, give specific examples of successes, and explain why this would be a good path for Muslim societies to trek along.

Yet, Obama does none of this in his very long preaching. That's because the Cairo speech is actually about Obama and not ever the stated subject matter. I must agree with his sycophants-- Obama places himself on high, "stands above everybody," looks down his nose at them and showers them with his self-love. They swoon at his performance. I do not.

Obama scowls and nods arrogantly during his speeches, like Mussolini. And what comes out of his mouth are not arguments, not even points-of-view, but banal cliches born of his Leftist beliefs. He is not trying to convince the audience of the rightness of an argument (that is always assumed), but of the rightness of himself. His main intention is to prove his own self-righteousness. This speech, like most of Obama's speeches and addresses, was at heart only about demonstrating what a great guy he believes he is. This is why he can only apologize for actions that are not his own (he makes sure to show that he shares no blame for what his apologies are for). For this reason he may use "I" only when declaring (or perhaps rhetorically demonstrating) himself possessed of some high moral standing or some feat of intelligence or mental prowess.

People like Eleanor Clift and Evan Thomas (very much Americans) lap it up. They've been looking for a savior, a Leftist messiah, for many years. They snapped at the heels of Reagan and Bush, reveled (for the most part) under Clinton, chafed under George W. Bush, and now they positively bask beneath the glow of Obama's self-love.

All of this, however, does nothing for the women of Muslim countries. Perhaps some swoon under his media-hyped charisma, and perhaps some will take to heart the simple, dictated solutions for complicated problems. They do so at their own peril. Someone truly interested in women's rights would encourage a woman to stand on her own, support her strength and her resolve to bring about change and improvement. To do otherwise, is only to pass the yoke from one master to another. Obama's purpose is to ingratiate himself and increase his own influence-- not to build the strength of others. Obama "stands above" and declares he will help even though he can't, isn't really interested, and won't.

Obama doesn't declare support, he dictates vague but politically expedient initiatives. He doesn't reinforce progress, he dictates platitudes for mass consumption. And that helps no one but himself.

1 comment:

  1. Lucifer. He he he.

    I am waiting (not with bated breath, of course) for Mrs. Obama to "choose to cover her hair," and perhaps her face and body, as well as accept the rest of the oppression that goes with that choice, both for herself and for her mother and daughters.

    I am more than a bit sick of hearing that the "choice" of Muslim women to cover their hair with headscarves is comparable to the choice made by Audrey Hepburn and Eva Marie Saint and other women in the 40s and 50s to wear scarves tied under their chins as a then fashionable means of keeping their hairstyles from getting windblown.

    Obama's teleprompter said: "I reject the view of some in the West that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal. . .," but I personally know of no person in the West who considers a woman thus clad "less equal." It is that woman's own father, husband, brothers, sons and imams who are comfortable enforcing that bias.

    I am not ready to apologize for my supposed bias against Muslim women, but that doesn't mean that I'm prepared to rewrite my entire culture and legal system to accommodate their servitude.