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Posted in: Islamic Gender & Religious Apartheid, Feminism

Published on Oct 31, 2007 by Phyllis Chesler

Written for Pajamas Media

"Hillary's Going to Wellesley Tomorrow. Where Does She Stand on the Veiling of Muslim Students at Wellesley?"


On May 31st, 1969, Hillary Rodham delivered the Commencement address at Wellesley. I have just read her speech and in my view, it says very little about a great deal. You just can't pin her down–not then, not now. She tries to include everyone, offend no one, and she does so in an even-tempered, non-passionate way. She says:

"Part of the problem with empathy with professed goals is that empathy doesn't do us anything. We've had lots of empathy; we've had lots of sympathy, but we feel that for too long our leaders have used politics as the art of making what appears to be impossible, possible."

And she closes by quoting a long (and rather harmless) poem written by Nancy Scheibner, which ends this way:

"Earth could be fair. And you and I must be free
Not to save the world in a glorious crusade
Not to kill ourselves with a nameless gnawing pain
But to practice with all the skill of our being
The art of making possible."

Thus, it is possible that Hillary is not being micro-managed by a team of hired hands and focus groups so much as she has hired a team to reflect her own character and political strategy.

She is a Nice Girl. (Yes, I know, she has done some awful things in order to "stand by her man" and hang onto power but this is precisely what Nice Girls are supposed to do).

By definition, being a Nice Girl means trying to, or at least appearing to try to please everyone and offend no one; but above all, it means keeping your true opinions hidden. All direct expressions of one's own point of view or of one's own naked, raw, ambition or passion must be repressed, hidden. Sometimes even from oneself.

But folks: This is 1969 that we're talking about. Our country spent this decade marching for civil rights and against the war in Vietnam. President John F. Kennedy, Civil rights leaders Martin Luther King and Malcolm X had all been assasinated. Feminism had been on the move since the mid-60s as well. Max Yasgur's farm in Woodstock, New York was about to receive 450,000 young people who wanted to revel in "sex, drugs, and rock and roll."

The best and the brightest of our college graduates were challenging both authority and tradition. In retrospect, however thrilling (and make no mistake, there were thrilling moments), nevertheless, these pitched campus confrontations also turned out to have some very unfortunate consequences. But Hillary was not one of us. She was elsewhere, doing something else; perhaps she was "inhaling" our ideas and using them but only to gain power for herself. Like guys do. No crime by the way, but it's information.

Now, onward to Wellesley.

Democrat and Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, donned a headscarf when she visited Syria. More recently, First Lady, Laura Bush, also did so when she visited the Arab Middle East on a campaign about breast cancer. Representatives of both sides of the aisle have donned shmattas abroad.

Hillary will be visting Wellesley tommorrow. I am told that she wishes to encourage or inspire young "Hillaries" to campaign for her or to follow her path in the future. I have only one question to ask Hillary and here it is.

Hillary Rodham Clinton: Where do you stand on the veiling of female Muslim students as encouraged by the female Muslim chaplain at Wellesley? Are you aware that Wellesley students have either been funded or peer-pressured into attending Islamist gatherings in Boston in which Wellesly girls are made to feel ashamed if they are not veiled, play contact sports, merely run too quickly?

Perhaps my information is incorrect. Maybe this is not really happening. But assuming that it is: Can you say something about the place of private religious beliefs and religious practices in the American public square? And please, I implore you: can you express yourself both clearly and directly?

A Muslim headscarf, face veil, or full body covering and the ideology that accompanies it at this moment in history are not the same as an orthodox Jewish headcovering, a Catholic nun's headcovering, or a Sikh's turban.

As our President, you will have to make crucial decisions about the Islamification of America which in my view is currently underway.

The floor is yours, Madame Senator.


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