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Posted in: Islamic Gender & Religious Apartheid

Published on Feb 22, 2011 by Phyllis Chesler

Written for NewsRealBlog

We Are All Lara Logan


Thank you, Amanda Marcotte!

You have given me an opportunity to tear my hair out—yet again; indeed, you have actually driven me to "tweet" in response to your tweet.

I never tweet. You have dragged me, kicking and screaming, into the future.

Ah, Marcotte: You are too thin-skinned. Just because I've criticized your piece in the London Guardian about the Lara Logan tragedy does not mean that you have to insult the critic—and in so few words! Why not really take me on at length, but on the issues, not personally? Better yet: Why not consider talking to me? I'd do it.

You have expended a mere 140 characters on Twitter. This is not insulting enough. While you still credit me with being "amazing," you also refer to me as someone who has "what was once an interesting mind." According to your tweet, that mind has been destroyed by "racism."

Ah, Marcotte! Where were you when I began marching for civil rights for African-Americans in the early 1960s and tutoring black children in Harlem? It's not your fault, but you weren't even born yet. Have you read any of my books? If you have, you cannot call me a "racist." Read 'em. Go on, I dare you. Read all or any of my articles about what life is like for women in the Middle East and in central Asia, read my studies about honor killings and about the work I've been doing on behalf of girls and women who have applied for asylum in the United States and who are in flight from being honor murdered.

These girls and women are not white women. They are all women of color. Do you believe that men of color have the right to treat "their" women barbarically? And that we are obliged to collaborate in sexism in order to be on the right side of racism?

Marcotte: Your accusation of "racism" constitutes a new and terribly fashionable McCarthyism, one that plagues our world. (Yes, I know: McCarthy was also before your time.)

Today, when real racists (think of the ethnic Arab Muslims in Sudan who have committed genocide and gender cleansing against the African Muslims and Christians in Darfur), real fascists, real totalitarians, real barbarians, want to brand, shame, delegitimize, and silence anyone who dares to expose their racism and misogyny, they simply call her a "racist." The accusation functions as a leper's bell around one's neck. It is meant to keep others away, meant to warn people that if, they, too, say similar things or associate with a known "racist," that they will also be branded as "racists."

The accusation of "racism" is the new, politically correct version of the old accusation of "communism." Today, those who level this accusation tend to be leftists, socialists, "progressives," faux feminists, and real communists.

Your piece in the Guardian was written mainly to condemn, protest, the fact that CBS journalist Logan's tragedy was something that "right wingers" might now use to make political hay. You write that "right wingers have an interest in stoking fear and loathing of Muslims." You also write that Egyptian-style sexual harassment is common in the United States and in the West.

It is not. In 2008, the BBC reported the following statistics on sexual harassment in Egypt:

  • Experienced by 98% of foreign women visitors
  • Experienced by 83% of Egyptian women
  • 62% of Egyptian men admitted harassing women
  • 53% of Egyptian men blame women for 'bringing it on'

Source: Egyptian Centre for Women's Rights

Marcotte: Have you ever lived in a Muslim country? I have.

The lives of women are…different, harder, not better. And no, American imperialism, colonialism, capitalism, and racism have not caused the shameful and endemic abuse of women in developing Muslim countries. In fact, Islam has quite a history of its own in terms of imperialism, colonialism, capitalism, and racism—and it is the largest practitioner of both gender and religious apartheid.

The bravest Muslim and ex-Muslim dissidents agree with me on this. There are Muslims, religious and secular, who oppose the kind of Islamism that you seem to support and that the London Guardian is willing to publish.

Try building a church, a Hindu Temple, or a synagogue in Saudi Arabia or anywhere else in the Islamic world. Building mosques in the West—yes; reciprocity, tolerance for other religions in the Muslim world—no.

American imperialism and Israel's existence have not caused Muslims to force their daughters to marry their first cousins when they are ten years old, nor has it forced Muslims to face veil women, flog or stone them to death if they've been raped, or to honor murder girls and women if they are even slightly "disobedient."

Saying so does not make me a racist. Does it?

But here's the point: Your refusal to tell the truth does, potentially, make you a racist. As a feminist, I have one universal standard of human rights for all people, everywhere. While I might favor multi-cultural diversity, I am not a multi-cultural relativist. By your politically correct statements of "anti-racism" (made on poor Lara Logan's back) you are actually holding Arab and Muslim countries to much lower ethical standards. You are condemning their inhabitants, both male and female, to continued Islamist and Islamic barbarism, which includes slavery, racism, and both religious and gender apartheid.

Lara Logan is a naked-faced infidel. Her brutalization was in part caused by the hate propaganda that has inundated Egyptian, Arab, and Muslim life for many decades. We continue that brutalization by minimizing it or by blaming the victim. We are all Lara Logan. You too, Marcotte.

What my generation of Second Wave feminists discovered about violence against women remains important, pioneering work. Today, I do my feminist work with Muslim and ex-Muslim feminists and dissidents. We work on Islamic gender apartheid. My vision of universal human rights has not changed. I now submit courtroom affidavits on behalf of girls and women who are seeking asylum from being honor murdered. It is quintessentially feminist human rights work.

Islamic gender apartheid is a human rights violation and cannot be justified in the name of cultural relativism, tolerance, anti-racism, diversity, or political correctness. Universal literacy, the separation of mosque and state, the separation of powers, a constitution—and women's rights are all central to the battle for Western values. It is a necessary part of true democracy, along with freedom of religion, tolerance for homosexuals, and freedom of dissent. Here, then, is exactly where the greatest battle of the twenty-first century is joined.


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