The cover of the latest edition of TIME magazine shows the noseless face of an 18 year-old Afghan girl, who was disfigured as a result of running away from a forced marriage. The cover suggested that this is what would happen when the US left Afghanistan.
Like many on the Left side of the political equation, I vehemently oppose the continuation of this war. Like many on the Left side of the politcal equation, I knew from the getgo that Iraq was a lie. Like many on the Left side of the political equation, I am a woman, who came of age during the decade of the 70s, that era in which great strides of gender equality were achieved.
Many on the Left side of the political equation cry out that this heart-rending picture is nothing less than blatant emotional blackmail. It may be; I don’t know, but it makes me uneasy.
I have a friend from my college years, a lifelong Republican and conservative, an educated man and a lawyer, who’s served several hitches in Iraq and Afghanistan as a JAG lawyer. We often disagree politically, but I appreciate his insight and respect his opinion. Even before the TIME cover became a topic of conversation this week, he made my conscience squirm.
“You were always at the forefront of feminism in college,” he remarked once in an online exchange. “Yet I wonder at how you and your fellow Lefties can just turn a blind eye to the mistreatment of women in Afghanistan. I mean, that’s supposed to be your thing, isn’t it?”
I suppose it is, and it makes me uncomfortable. The picture of Aisha on the cover of TIME made me more uncomfortable, but the reaction to some people, who purport to be from the Progressive Left, made me downright shameful. A woman, who is a regular commentator on Huffington Post flatly stated that she didn’t give a rat’s ass about the women in Afghanistan, that if they didn’t stand up to the men controlling for their rights, they, basically got what they deserved.
Charming. And oh-so-au courant-liberal. Actually, that attitude positively reeks of the attitude promoted by the likes of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan during the Eighties – the meme of “I’m all right, Jack; fuck you.” I know that Ronald Reagan’s supposed to be to the Left of the current crop of retrograde Republicanism, but since when did Progressives morph into exponents of Ronald Reagan’s philosophy?
Other than that woman’s reaction, the rest of the commentary was filled with people one could visualise squirming in their chairs as they typed painfully constructed rigamaroles of sound bites gleaned from the latest fashionable infotainment pundit, trying to justify that Aisha’s punishment was everything to do with the way her culture was intended to be and simply wasn’t worth our effort and expenditure in lives and money.
But Aisha’s treatment has everything to do with us, because we enabled the Taliban. Once we decided to look the other way, in the wake of Russia withdrawing from Afghanistan, leaving a trail of chaos, as the warlords battled to outdo one another, we allowed the Taliban to rise from the rubble, and we condemned a whole generation of women and girls to the darkness of ignorance and brutality.
And now the Left are looking away again.
Look, I’m not advocating staying in Afghanistan any longer than is necessary. I’d have the troops home tomorrow if I could. I’m not even sure what can be done to help women like Aisha, but the attitude I found from the Left towards this – and especially the crass comment made by the woman on HuffPo, amazes me that there’s an attitude towards women here that ranges from abject indifference to callous cruelty.
Last Sunday night, Bill Maher finished a three-night stint through the Midwest, ending up in Madison, Wisconsin. The next day, Bill posted a raving review of the Madison gig on his Facebook page. The reviewer, clearly a fan, literally bent over for Bill in praise. One of the funniest aspects of the evening, the writer gushed, was Bill’s take on Sarah Palin (a staple for Bill Maher – more than any other commentator or fundit he goes out of his way to bring the subject of Palin into the discussion, even when she hasn’t been in the news.)
The reviewer thought it an absolute riot that Bill managed to call Palin a c*nt no less than six times in a minute – in a New York minute, knowing Maher’s delivery.
I thought it appalling.
I am not a Palin fan. I loathe the woman. I despair that this willfully ignorant woman, someone disdains quality higher education as exclusive and elitist, blaming the latter for all that’s wrong in the country, whilst elevating the mundane and ordinary to new heights of misconceived excellence. I find her divisive, hateful, and extremely derisive and disrespectful of our President. This is a would-be politician who begins by criticizing policy and ends with a full-on personal attack. She is unfamiliar with government and government processes, poorly eductated, inarticulate, quasi-illiterate, sly, untrustworthy, nepotistic, and blatantly untruthful. In short, she is a narcissistic liar.
But she is not, nor does she deserve to be called a c*nt – and certainly not six times in one minute in front of an audience in a public venue.
No woman does.
Yes, you’ll say, Palin is certainly capable of being just as vile, without resorting to crude, guttersnipe language (unless you want to count her pathetic and misspelled attempt at bilingualism – always better to say “balls” if you can’t spell cojones. And she certainly does deserve to be hit hard verbally and discredited.
But any man who resorts to calling a woman a c*nt in public is certainly less of a man, in himself, and shows a singular lack of intelligence in doing so.
Congratulations, Bill … you’ve just joined the ranks of celebrated men whom you’ve previously criticized as their moral equals:-
*John McCain, who famously referred to his wife by the c-word in 1992, and
Mel Gibson, whom you recently flayed in a tweet, referring to his very ugly verbal abuse of the mother of his younger child, whom he called – yes – a cnt.
To your credit, Bill, you’re nothing, if not genuinely fair and balanced, because in February 2008, you famously referred to Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, by the c-word on Real Time, in frustration at her refusal to give up the ghost in favour of your candidate of the moment; so maybe there’s a place for you on Fox News after all.
When I objected to this on Facebook, I was met with a torrent of criticism – some rational, most blindly loyal to Bill to the point that people began to sound like blithering and blathering followers of a religious cult.
Some of those arguing actually called the word “quite beautiful” and pointed out that Shakespeare used it regularly. Wrong. Shakespeare used it alliteratively in allusion and as a clever play on words, never actually saying the word directly. Bill deals in directness. He called Palin and Clinton the actual word.
Others maintained that it’s used in quite normal conversation both in Australia and in Europe. Again, mostly wrong. I can’t speak for the Australians, but the British have the filthiset mouths in Europe when it comes to swearing. Even then, it’s a word used in the extremest and ugliest cases and by the lower gene pool of society (which seems to be expanding rapidly). And it’s understood that a man who refers to a woman as that word is living at the extreme of society at best. It’s something that’s never heard in polite company on the Continent.
Worse than the rational arguments, were the reckoning, by men and also by women, that Palin deserved this epithet, for all the reasons I listed above. One mature woman with grown children purported to use the word all the time, and saw noting wrong with it.
But would she like to be called a c*nt?
No reply to my question. When she carried on in a wild fervour about how Bill was the ultimate purveyor of truth in the United States, I asked her the question again: would she mind if someone called her a c*nt?
She finally said she’d rather be called a c*nt than a Republican.
I then replied, “Consider it done. You’re a c*nt, and by the way, you’re more than halfway to being a Repuiblican, with your attitude to fellow women and your narrow-mindedness intact.” And then I blocked her.
But the one question no one deigned to answer was this: If they’re OK with Bill calling Palin a c*nt, does that mean they were OK with him calling Hillary the same?
Budding politicians came to the fore, mouthing words which said nothing. Not even sentences made sense. Waffle. I sensed the disciples of the man who purports to speak power to truth suffered a singular Aisha moment.
What a quandry! How could Bill be wrong about calling Hillary a c*nt and right about calling Palin the same? For people on the Right, surely Hillary is just as fearsome, just as divisive, an Ivy League elitist who encompasses everything that is wrong with this country (in their eyes). One side’s c*nt is another side’s Queen Mother, only Bill didn’t differentiate.
Bill is the only political satirist-cum-pundit, other than Glenn Beck, who consitently brings Obama’s race into the fray; but not in a positive manner. Thus far this year, Obama’s been “President Sanford and Son”, the “tanner of two evils” and the ineffectual, professorial President who needs to “black it up a little” with some stereotypical ghetto culture. His disciples decry criticism of such things as harmless, considering Bill’s “only a comedian.” Yet if Beck or O’Reilly had said the same things, they’d be all over their asses like a duck on a june bug. It seems one man’s perceived racism is another man’s comedy, depending on which side of the political coin on which you be found.
Because we on the Left are never racist, are we? And we can never be accused of being sexit either, can we? Or even homophobic, now that Prop 8’s on its way to being ruled unconstitutional.
And if we are, we can laugh it off, can’t we, as comedy. After all, we on the Left, who occupy themoral high ground, we kknow, don’t we, who really puts c*ntry first and who puts the c*nt in country.
Wow, I saw the headline for this … and it made me think of something else that’s happened recently. 🙂
Why, what ever could you be talking about? 😉
Jackhole has a post on that.
Daughter of Afghanistan
Some people are born with, or later develop the basic human instinct of caring about others less fortunate, it’s what makes us humans unique. I don’t believe for one second that the majority of concern shown to the women and girls in Afghanistan is due to any “feel good” goals to stir up propaganda for failed policies, but comes from a place where we can identify with their suffering because we are free from it in countries where women are more or less respected. Maybe some men might feel this way, but I’m sure that women viewing their situation, never would.
If everyone thought as you do in your comment BT, the world would be a very sad and lonely place. Compassion is not an emotion most people can put on hold, either we have it, or we don’t, and without it we will find that fulfillment in our lives will be hard to obtain.
Even if just a few people care enough, and want to do something to make the lives of women around the world better, it is something, and far more rewarding than doing nothing. A movement for change, as with the “grassroots” groups who helped to elect your President, can start with just a handful of people. The number of people who care deeply is irrelevant, the number of people who will try to make a difference and are committed enough to continue, if only in tiny steps at a time, is.
I salute every single person who has persevered to make a difference, no matter how small, in the lives of the women and children of our world, and cheer them on as they continue their tireless work, the work of caring about others. Being kind to others, allowing ourselves to feel empathy and keeping them in our thoughts, costs us nothing.
Thanks, Marion, for writing on a topic so near and dear to my heart. And CL, I agree with you. Khirad
AB, I’m so glad you took the time to reconstruct your “vaporized” comment, because it’s so well worth reading.
These kids are so fortunate to have you in their lives. You’re truly changing their world a little bit at a time. And think of the ripple effects that will have down the road.
In Van Jones’ speech at Netroots Nation, he took humorous note of the “little, tiny, teensy, weensy, teeny little cheat” that BP pulled off when they opted not to install a shut off valve on their drilling operation in the Gulf. He pointed to the huge, terrible consequences of that seemingly minor act. But then he flipped the anecdote to the positive side. He pointed out that small positive decisions can have potentially enormous consequences, too. Good ones!
But I think you already know that!
In your significant way, you’re doing the thing I wished for: airlifting this kids out of there and into a world of freer exchange of ideas and greater opportunities to learn. I say back to you: What a gift!
Thanks, kesmarn. But the amazing thing is – this is a TRUE exchange – and what they learn from me, I also learn from them. Recently we had a problem with a stalker from a past life. Who rushed FIRST to defend me? My Afghans! I heard from children in Germany and children in Afghanistan, and those here. All wanted to assure me that they would offer me their undying love and protection – a rather Napolean Dynamite moment, I must say. Pedro offers you his protection……
Helping a refugee family get “settled” – going and having tea with them once a week, having them to your home – or working with a student, who one day will have the opportunity to affect real change back home (I remind them they are younger and healthier than most of the old farts) can be uplifting. Not only do you get the idea of “wow, I’m doing some good” – BUT you get love back in spades. I feel I am the lucky one and the one to whom good is done.
Thank you for your nursing care. My refugee dad is in the hospital now, very very sick w/ sepsis from a long term untreated infection. I made “American mom” threat to “Pashtun dad”, and told him NEVER again would I take “no, I don’t need doctor” for an answer. He had one chance, blew it, and now must answer to me. I threatened to carry him on my back to the doctor if I needed to,next time. I wish you had seen his grin!!! I think he is glad to not have to always be the one in charge, just like we all enjoy the break.
Mostly, I think of you and all those who so tirelessly serve those in need. We are very very lucky to live in such a place. I wonder what my Afghan boy will think when he reads the story about the attack on the medical team? I’ll try and let you know.
Love the Napoleon Dynamite reference, AB! What a wonderful movie.
And thank you for your kind words on nursing. Coming off of a truly awful shift last night, this is balm to my soul!
And now — I’m off to the Islamic Cultural Festival which is being held this weekend at our local mosque. I’ll think of you and the rest of the Planeteers as I enjoy some delicious food and hear some great music!
Guys! I just spent over 30 minutes writing a LONG message on this, thanking Marion for bringing up a subject so dear to my heart, and explaining what I’ve been doing and how my kids have taught me so much. I tried to post, but couldn’t due to maintenance. My free time is now up and I must go back to work. But I will try and reconstruct and post later. Much love to you all.
AB – Try to use the “Back” button on your browser and it should retrieve your work! Sorry about that!!!
Tried – failed, but I did the best to reconstruct. Thanks.
Whew Marion – wow. This is THE conundrum I have about Afghanistan since a good friend (you may recall – she’s the one in hiding from the Christian Identity, skinheads, and KKK folks)once read the statement from RAWA at a convening in Stockhold about 2002. She, and I, and groups such as Feminist Majority Foundation have been working long and hard to help those brave women find ways to stop the anti-women violence that has beset them for decades. There has been progress, and Karzai has had a role in it. Khirad – the Right does NOT care about these women, and yes, their hand-wringing is deeply cynical especially since it turns out the Afghanistan has great mineral wealth, BUT – that does not make the plight of women less true.
So – what I see, and it’s pretty minimal – is that we are inch by inch making some difference in this non-nation of valleys. Will we be able to help stabilize these folks who’ve been under siege since at least 1980? I don’t know. But yes – leaving after what we’ve done is indeed like hit and run. It just feels dreadfully wrong to me to abandon the very women we’ve worked so long and hard to help through interventions such as the Feminist Majority’s work which now cannot proceed.
For Bill Maher and leftie feminists to dump on these women whose resources are virtually nil and sneer at them so that we can have our little anti-war snit disgusts me beyond measure. (I’ll leave Bill’s potty mouth for another time but agree with you 100 percent, marion!)
The Left is beginning to disgust me. I’ve seen so much that is utterly unprincipled and heard so much spewing from their mouths, that is must mean and despicable. I consider myself quite radical, but I’m finding that too many of the Left are actually quite conservative.
The comment from the so-called feminist about having no regard for Afghan women is a case in point – the new meme in leftie circles is that people create their own victimhood. Thus, we don’t actually have to care about them since they are all equally and perfectly capable of “reinventing” themselves. It began when Lefties started talking about “lifestyles” of poor and oppressed people. When I mentioned to one professor of mine that it implied CHOICE that way too many don’t have, he sniffily dismissed my objectiona and said everyone had a lifestyle. No – they have a way of LIFE but often not of their own choosing. So Lefties have converged with yuppies and now believe there is NO reason for social justice work since the victims are victims by choice.
And can someone please tell me how this differs from the neo con position? Anyone? Anyone at all?
So marion – you can see how what you wrote made me breathe again. I was beginning to think I was alone in worrying that YES we might have to stay because it is the MORAL thing to do cleaning up your own mess and making sure you have righted the wrongs you helped create.
THANK YOU marion. You have really helped me renew my deliberations on this and to feel I’m not standing here alone. Whew.
You’re right, I was simplifying the role of Karzai there. Like here, he has factional realities to contend with, and I may have been exaggerating his role in Hudood ordinances. And, while minimal, the gains made are not worth nothing.
It is worth noting though that the view we have been shown of the transformation of women in Afghanistan was a little too peachy.
You would know better than I, but from its material I’ve read, RAWA isn’t too keen on the current US policy.
I never meant to diminish the small gains made, but I’m just in between a rock and a hard place on this issue.
Thanks again, Marion, for another excellent, thought-provoking article. This subject came up in last Friday’s Vox Populi, and the one thing we could agree on was that it’s just amazingly complex and difficult to sort through.
As women, it seems we have to care about the women in Afghanistan. If we don’t, who will? I know full well it would probably never be seriously entertained, but, to me, the idea of getting as many women and children out of Afghanistan as we possibly can before our established withdrawal time seems like the only humane thing to do. Even if it’s 15,000,000 people, I think we should do it. If Europe and Canada would be willing to help, so much the better. I realize how “out there” it sounds, but a virtually woman and child-free country might be the best near term option available. The example of evacuating a sinking ship has something to be said for it: women and children first.
As for the c-word: my feeling is that it is basically the n-word for women. If someone is comfortable with using the n-word in casual conversation, most of us know what we think of and where we stand with that person. The same goes for this word. I don’t understand how any one who calls him/herself a liberal would use either term. There is no comparable term for white males, because that’s just how oppressor/oppressed situations play out verbally. And it wouldn’t help to “return the favor” anyway, because that’s just how things go from bad to even worse.
Great post, Marion. I just finished watching the series “Deadwood” so I am actually somewhat blase about the use of “that” word now. I’m sure I’ll get over that. I admit I have never once watched Bill Maher but he sure sounds like a complete jackass. Why do you watch him?
I am also torn about Afghanistan and the Taliban and the way they treat women. I’d like to pull the plug on those bastards once and for all and I shudder when I hear American diplomats like Clinton say we need to buddy up to the more “moderate” elements in the Taliban.
On the other hand, I don’t think we can “fix” Afghanistan, just as we can’t fix any other country. We can’t even fix ourselves, fergawdsakes.
Billy Boy used to be funny (primarily because he made sense and was sensitive), now he is insensitive and going for ratings. As I wrote earlier he is a d*ck. Name calling is so demeaning, arrogant, and insensitive — I so dislike me for wallowing in the mud with the likes of him or anyone else who does. However, sometimes one has to be an a$$hole to make a point.
*edit* I totally agree – if we can’t fix ourselves, why do we continue to fix every other country but us? I asked Marion the very same thing a couple of “Bill” posts ago.
Oh my, I’m feeling my age, in memories at least…Perry Como is a PBS fundraiser, and I actually remember him and the WORDS (small child that I was :lol:). Scary!!!!
Bill is a d*ck…not a dAck, not a dEck, not dOck, and not a dUck. He’s a d*ck and he isn’t funny. He’s an aging, formerly funny, sensitive stand up comedian, who is no longer funny, and only promotes divisiveness for ratings; not giving a flying fig about his influence and the Yahoos who actually listen to him. Apologies for the run on sentence. Just pisses me off!
I’m really getting tired of the blame everything on the US attitude from progressives.
The Russians killed over 2,000,000 Afganies we were on the right side but did not finish the job. Now people don’t want us to finish the job again and magically expect different results. Our objectives in Afghanistan are far less pollyanic now than what there were under Bush. It’s a far more pragmatic policy of arresting advances by the Taliban and containment of the threat strategically. Afghanistan is not going to be a beacon of democracy and freedom they just don’t have the history or institutions. But it might just be a reasonably safe place for many if not most little girls to go to school.
Sorry but there is a logical breakdown by many progressives thinking a summary withdraw will result in anything that did not happen before and by some wizardry the Taliban will not subjugate women and children to torture again.
The hard truth is the only successful post war strategy is nation building even though it takes time.
Hi K. I agree that to leave Afghanistan when it is still in political turmoil would be the equivalent of being the perpetrator of a “hit and run” incident.
The country and it’s people were practically ignored and forgotten while the Bush gang fought their illegal war in Iraq. When attention finally returned to Afghanistan, the Taliban had managed to gain back their foothold in strategic areas around the country.
There are no winners in wars, but I believe that to throw in the towel before the job is completed means that there will be losers, the Afghans, especially the women and girls. Knowing their fate if after we leave the situation reverts to the prewar horrors of Talban rule, can we ever say that we were successful in making life better for these people with a clear conscience, I doubt it.
No one is for wars except the people who will profit from them, but a “hit and run” would surely denigrate our efforts so far in the eyes of the people it affects the most, the people who will have to deal with the still unstable situation we are sure to leave behind us, and I fear for the women and girls when we finally leave them to their fate.
There is still a year left before the troops are to pull out of Afghanistan, for us to teach them how to strengthen their own security forces. isn’t it more beneficial to concentrate on leaving the country in a better state than we found it in, I believe it is.
As for calling any woman by the “c” word, either in public or even in private, it just goes to show Maher for the low class pos shit that he really is. He’d fit right in with some of the beer swilling, gun toting yobs you might find in any trailer park in your country. Maybe “yobs” is not really the right choice of word, as it refers to “a noisy, rude and obnoxious young man” but then again, he is an aging, noisy, rude and obnoxious man. If someone used that term to me, I would, without a moment’s hesitation, either smack them in the mouth or spit directly into their faces.
“YOBS” yes, SCORE!! Age has absolutely nothing to do with it. Responsibility does — he has no sense of it.
😆 Yobs it is then boomer. People like Maher remind me of sniggering, pimpled faced boys in their early teens, who drool over “rude” pictures in a naughty magazine they keep hidden. My advice to him would be to acquire some manners, find some integrity, and then grow up or shut up.
I agree to do as much to try to build stable institution in the time left there, but fear the proverbial moving of the goalposts into perpetuity.
I almost wonder if it wouldn’t be more wise to pull back to the cities and establish something there that could be built off of to expand.
And, it sure would be helpful if Karzai and the parliament were only corrupt, and not anti-woman themselves. Of course it’s very likely – though I do not share the same view that this guarantees the Taliban take back over – that the situation will return to what it was. But as it is, the current changes are largely cosmetic anyway.
This may sound really wrong and callous – but I almost think the first short-term goal should be to stress education for boys – with Arabic grammar. A first step in defeating the Taliban is defeating the ignorance spread by illiterate mullahs whom can merely recite verses from memory for marriages, funerals, etc.
I’m also for a limited continued presence in an advisory role, but while not pollyanish, this counterinsurgency surge has not been successful in my view – nor will it be. You may argue that and convince me otherwise, though. 🙂
Khirad, I think the recent revelation that the Combined NATO Forces have only been able to move and secure 20k in the last year shows the plans for Afghanistan are dismal failures and that would include the “Surge”…
Speaking of all the horribly stupid things we hear and are disappointed by from the left (or those concern trolling) here are two positive gems I saved and thought I’d share:
You see Bill, you can be funny without being a complete sexist dick or impersonating Laura Ingraham’s tongue-out-of-cheek racial slurs.
On a side note, the idea that the collective right wing gives a s**t about anyone’s life other than their own is a riot.
That was pretty much my message in a nutshell. 😉
Perfect example: the 92 Republicans who voted against the “Tribal Law and Order Act” and speaks volumes about every single one of them. Such lack of character and compassion is utterly dispicable.
I’m REALLY against military spending. That being said, the raw concept of “saving the world” is not something I’m opposed to.
What bothers me is that I would like to see an even distribution of money and responsibility between all industrialized nations.
This idea that the USA has to be the world police is seriously disturbing to me.
Actually, what bothers me the most about the ‘Aisha’s of Afghanistan are those from the right all of a sudden feigning to care about people in third world countries – mostly as a cynical rhetorical tactic to guilt the left into staying.
I’m not saying all the right doesn’t care, I was in rare agreement with Bush’s aid to Africa (minus the abstinence foolishness). But forgive me if they just seem to care more when we’re about to invade or pull out of an occupation, or are trying to spread the Gospel.
My answer to this? It sucks. But it’s likely gonna happen whether we pull out now or in another 10 years. Maybe we’re culpable for empowering the Taliban in the first place – and maybe we’re culpable for funneling more money through Pakistan now.
First is first though. The miraculous salvation of women in Afghanistan is a propaganda myth.
Instead, let’s help support NGO’s and organizations like RAWA. While even though a few schools may offer women education and women are in parliament, can this be supported forever by occupation? Does not occupation itself strengthen the Taliban’s appeal?
I recently saw something like a 1/100 ratio for militant/civilian casualties. There is no moral equivalency between accidental and intentional, but this goes to my last point of legitimizing the Taliban as a resistance force among a segment of the Pashtun population.
While I find this talk, which I don’t really encounter much (though I do) from the left disgusting, I don’t put much currency into crocodile tears from the right either (whom really can shove it as far as I’m concerned). They are merely trying to exploit the plight of these women for continued occupation. At least, that’s my humble opinion.
Accompanying the video, Juan Cole has a few more relevant links considering the situation of women in Afghanistan.
I do hate to say this too: There is so much pain and suffering in the world. We can’t solve it all. But, we can try to help through charities, awareness and action. It’s not a question of turning our backs.
Continued war is not necessary.
Well said, Khirad. I agree. The women of Afghanistan need our help but occupying the country isn’t the way to do it.
Hi, Marion. Another well-done piece, and thank you. I won’t even go into the whole Afghanistan part of this, however, as I was absolutely appalled by your experiences on HP. I am very glad I wasn’t there when it was going on, because those people would have gotten the riot act from me. I loathe that word, and I feel the same toward people who use it so freely- it’s despicable. Thanks for that.