Dear Clara (@ Women's Rights in Islam and the West)

Copyright 2010 Donald L. Conover, Translations by Google Translate (R)

Arabic * Urdu * Malay * Turkish

The following piece was first written in response to my piece “What do you Expect?”, but I felt the issues Clara raised were important enough to carry them as a primary entry here:

I certainly sympathize with your point about not being subjugated.  My point in part is that subjugation and abuse of women is a worldwide problem and phenomenon.  Many US divorces are brought on by this.  In my opinion, Muslim women also do not want to be subjugated, and they are now seeing that women outside the Muslim World are standing up for their rights.  This information dissemination cannot be stopped.  As this process happens, Muslim women will naturally stand up for their own rights, and the nature of Islam itself will change.  But this will take much courage and a very long time.  Just consider the fact that American women since Carrie Nation and Susan B. Anthony have been standing up for women’s rights for 150 years, yet we still have huge inequalities in our society too.  Shamefully, our politicians could not even pass the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  As I have three daughters, and for many other reasons, I do want to see that effort revived, and I want to see the venal politicos have to come up with their lame reasons why it should not be passed once again.  They will sound sillier and sillier as time goes on.

As with the heroine in Lysistrata, I believe one day Muslim women will stop wearing their abayas on the same day, and simply begin to drive.  That will take great courage on their part, but there is certainly a movement afoot for significant changes.  And the men know these changes are coming, and are trying to sensitize the population that things will change.  From your point of view and mine, this will take too long, but in the greater sweep of history, it will be a microsecond.

I agree with you on some parts of your points about  Rev. (?) Terry Jones.  But there is a problem, and it is a central part of my reason for starting blogging again.  I published a book on this entitled Tsunami of Blood in 2007.  Yes, in general principle Rev.(?) Jones does have the Right to burn Korans in the USA.  But, we also have laws against incitement to riot.  He intentionally did a stunt designed to piss off a lot of people in the Muslim World, and he got $100 million or more in free publicity out of it.  But, he should have known that if he did it as planned, he would get hundreds or thousands of people killed in riots all over the World.  We know that from the experience with the Danish cartoonist, who got more than 1,000 people killed, but was recently honored by Angela Merkel for his stand for Press Freedom.  What are these people thinking?    This is why the President had to step into the Rev.(?) Jones case, partially because of the atrocious judgment of the media in publicizing this man’s threat, and partially because of the consequences that could be expected if he proceeded.  I had a Muslim friend, who lives near the border of Malaysia and Burma, tell me of fears of the consequences if this threat were carried out in that region so remote from the Florida congregation of Rev.(?) Jones.

Whether or not people in the West feel Muslims are too sensitive about these issues is not the point.  The point is that we live in the real World where these consequences are known and very real.  In that context, it is incitement, in my opinion, to raise such a flap.  And it is unethical for the news media, knowing this, to give them a megaphone to be heard around the World.

One of my objectives in this blog is to point out to our political establishment on all sides that, in order to find an end to this age of violence, we are going to have to be more sensible about our interaction with Islam.  I am planning another piece shortly in which I will be pointing out that Muslims know that they have many internal problems, and are frank about these in their internal discussions, but they are distracted from solving them and changing their societies from within when they have a perceived threat from outside.  Making one’s people ignore their own problems and focus on threats from outsiders is a classic political ploy, that is mentioned in literature dating back to Thucydides in his The History of the Peloponnesian War, around 431 B.C.E.  Sometimes it is justified, as when Germany and Japan tried to conquer the World, but, when it’s used by venal politicians in the United States to get people to ignore the fact that we are practically in a depression because of our international adventurism, it is not justified.  All I’m trying to do is shine a light on these facts!

Clara:  Your second to last paragraph is … I can’t even find words to describe it.  You obviously have not hung out with many Christian fundamentalists and “born again” Christians.  They have insinuated themselves into my family in regrettable ways that are extremely divisive.  They DO swear that every word in the Bible is true as the infallible “word of god,” despite its internal inconsistencies and declared genocide in several cases, and despite the fact that scientific research has now explained many of the phenomena that were witnessed by these ancient and ignorant peoples as “acts of god.”

My mother-in-law was told by her “born again” sister that she was sorry that she won’t be seeing my mother-in-law in heaven, because she is not one of the “chosen ones.”  Yikes!  My mother-in-law’s comment, when I mentioned this to her last night was, “It’s not for me to judge.”   I retorted, “Yes, it is!”  Modern human beings do not have to stand for such divisive behavior from their religions.  What does it accomplish except existential threats to mankind itself?

My daughter, after a lovely evening, just the two of us, on her 22nd birthday, told me as the very last thing she said that night, “Dad, I’m sorry, but I think you’re going to hell.”  If Mephistopheles himself had plopped down in the seat next to me on my ride home, I would have gladly signed the Faustian bargain if only none of my daughters would think that of me in their lifetimes.  What a divisive and horrible thing to teach young people to say in their youth, to anyone let alone members of their immediate family.  And those are Christians!  I could expound further, but I’ll save it for another occasion.

Let my emphasize to you that I VERY MUCH appreciate your bringing these issues out in your responses.  I do not expect everyone to agree with the things I say.  I do believe that if people of good will have open discussions about these issues they harbor in their hearts, we might just have a chance of saving the human race from self-destruction.  I do know these blogs are influential.  When I was writing Tsunami of Blood online in 2006-07, I once heard President Bush use an analysis I had put forward only 3 days before.  I have reason to believe that he got it from my blog, through a channel I will not disclose here.

Please DO continue to comment on my blog, and continue this discussion here as time permits!

Best regards, Skip Conover (Twitter: @skip_conover)

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