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ACFC ANALYSIS -- War
Is Not a Vehicle for Social Agendas
Thanks to Anna Franks for forwarding this Fox News story by Wendy
McElroy, which we fully endorse. Going further, we believe that it is
critical for America to realize that the extremes of the cult of radical
feminist influence in America are a major factor fueling disapproval of
American culture in most of the rest of the world, and outright hatred
of America as "The Great Satan" in much of the Islamic world.
Most of the world supports America in retaliation for the outrages of
the terrorist attacks against us. But for America adopt a war aim of
imposing its own peculiar version of radical feminist infantilization of
women on the rest of the world, would fracture the alliance that has
so far supported America, and force most of the mainstream Islamic
world to oppose us. To adopt such a war aim would mean unlimited
war that could tear all of Western civilization apart at the seams, for
the same reasons that radical feminism tears families apart in every
country that has been infected with its childish nonsense.
America has achieved the greatest material prosperity in the entire
history of mankind based on sound principles of limited government
and separation of powers established by the Founding Fathers and
enshrined in the Constitution. Paradoxically, at the same time that
America achieved this unprecedented prosperity, it also raised a
generation of children who have been sheltered and protected from
harsh realities of life that most of the rest of the world faces on a
daily basis. Radical feminists who seek to "have it all" without any
responsibility or accountability are among the most childish people
in earth. Radical feminists are basically spoiled brats, and the last
people from whom we should seek guidance in this crisis.
Radical feminists hate the Islamic veil not because it represents
"oppression of women", but because it represents modesty and
responsibility that is anathema to radical feminism. At its best,
the veil is a cultural practice that seeks to have women judged not
by their physical appearance, but by their character and virtue. At
its best, the Islamic dress code leads to treating women with honor
and respect that is all but unknown in the West. The cult of the
Taliban does not represent mainstream Islam any more than the
cult of radical feminism represents mainstream American values
that radical feminism consistently seeks to undermine.
The West does not have to adopt a dress code that evolved in
the Arabian desert as a cultural adaptation to local conditions.
But it would be completely absurd to make changing the Islamic
dress code a war aim, particularly when it symbolizes judging
women by their character and virtue instead of by their physical
appearance. President Bush has said that this is not a war
against Islam, but a war against terrorism. Let us pray that he
remembers what he said, and he does not let radical feminists
hijack this war to suit a perverse and destructive social agenda,
the way Al Qaida terrorists hijacked jets to attack America.
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Wednesday, October 31, 2001
War Is Not a Vehicle for Social Agendas
by Wendy McElroy
There is no question that the oppression suffered by women
under Afghanistan's Taliban government is intolerable. But as
feminist voices gain volume in the complex political climate
surrounding the United States war on terrorism, it is important
to remember why the U.S. is engaged in this fight.
The proximate cause of the current conflict is the terrorist
attacks of Sept. 11 - not the oppression of Afghan women. The
stated goals of the war are to punish those responsible for the
hijackings and to prevent further terrorist attacks - not to achieve
equality for women in Afghanistan. If the American military is
used as a vehicle of social justice - whether the cause is racial
equality, gay rights, or equity for women - the world will be at
And if feminist conditions are placed upon the peace negotiations,
it will be disastrous. At worst, the cultural differences inherent in
such conditions would doom peace talks to failure. At best, such
conditions would place an immense burden on the already Herculean
job of creating a lasting peace between Afghan tribes and factions
with very different notions of women in society.
But though using the American military to enforce social causes
such as feminism - even if the causes are good ones - is counter
to the objectives of the military and U.S. diplomacy - this is what
the most prominent feminist organizations are attempting to do by
demanding that the U.S. configure a post-Taliban government in
Afghanistan to ensure full participation for women.
As a matter of law, Afghan women are denied the right of free
association, access to medical care and education, the right to
an unbiased trial...the list of crimes against women scrolls on.
But most feminist voices are now insisting upon more than
protecting Afghan women from harm. They are demanding
equality of representation in power. For example, the left-wing
Feminist Majority is circulating a petition that reads, in part,
"We must help ensure that Afghan women's rights are restored
and women are at the center of the rebuilding of the country."
The National Organization for Women has posted an Action
Alert which reads, "We need your help to demand that the U.S.
include Afghan women Leaders ..." in the post-war government
and "at the table" in the peace negotiations. NOW asks supporters
to phone and send e-mails to President Bush, Secretary of State
Powell, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Biden and
U.N. Secretary General Annan.
The Washington-based Women's Alliance for Peace and Human
Rights in Afghanistan, along with other feminist groups, is asking
not only the U.S. but also the United Nations to make recognition
of women's rights a precondition for peace. They have already
delivered a rough draft peace plan to the U.N.
This is not a call to fund refugee camps, schools or hospitals -
humanitarian measures with no necessary political overtones.
The demand that Afghan women be fully represented in the
peace negotiations and post-war government is a blatantly
political demand for equality for women.
To their credit, NOW and the Feminist Majority have publicized
the horrors of the Taliban. To their shame, they are now trying to
use the war and U.S. foreign policy as a tool to impose a social
agenda upon Afghanistan and, perhaps, upon some allies as well.
An increasing amount of criticism is being directed specifically
toward Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt.
Such demands might be dismissed as wartime opportunism by
a special interest group if Senators were not listening and nodding
their heads in approval.
On October 15th, the Feminist Majority proudly announced that
Senator Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., had won passage of an amendment
to the Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill that included Afghan
women in the establishment of a new Afghan government. Boxer
reportedly called the war on terrorism, "an opportunity to return
women to their rightful place in Afghan society."
Under Boxer's amendment, the U.S. government's foreign policy
would be used to impose a "social good" on a foreign nation. The
American military would be used as leverage to force a non-western
culture to abandon its attitudes and some of its religious practices
Feminists are being hypocritical. On the "700 Club" television show
of Sept. 13, Rev. Jerry Falwell declared that feminists and gays bore
some responsibility for the terrorist events of Sept. 11. The backlash
was swift. On Sept. 14, the Feminist Majority excoriated Falwell for
attaching his own agenda to the tragedy.
Now it's the feminists who are viewing the war as an opportunity.
Consider one example. Afghanistan's powerful Northern Alliance -
the military and political opponents of the Taliban - has been
openly critical of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of
Afghanistan, the group that has emerged as the main voice of
Afghan women. NA representatives have accused RAWA of being
a communist front. Whether the accusation is accurate or not, it
illustrates the difficulties "feminist" demands would create at a
For arguing that the war is not a feminist issue, I will be branded
as "anti-woman." What I am really trying to do is separate
humanitarian issues from political ones in order to help women. A
lasting peace is the prerequisite for improving the lives of every human
being in Afghanistan. It is in that peace where Afghan women will
almost certainly make remarkable advances. The global attention and
money now directed at their cause almost guarantees this progress.
It can occur through diplomacy, global pressure, the funding of women's
rights agencies. But any "advance" for Afghan women that occurs due
to a fear of U.S. or U.N. military action is unlikely to last.
Equality for women should not be put on the peace table for
negotiation because it is not part of the war and could be an obstacle
to peace; and it is an enduring peace that is the key to restoring
human rights to women in Afghanistan.
McElroy is the editor of Ifeminists.com. She also edited Freedom,
Feminism, and the State (Independent Institute, 1999) and Sexual
Correctness: The Gender Feminist Attack on Women (McFarland,
1996). She lives with her husband in Canada.
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