Soviet Nuclear Weapons Good, British Nuclear Weapons Bad!

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The Sunday Times - Review

The Sunday Times August 13, 2006

Wimmin at War
It is 25 years since the Greenham Common protests began. Sarah Baxter was there, but now asks why feminist ideals have become twisted into support for groups like Hezbollah

As a supporter of the peace movement in the 1980s, I could never have imagined that many of the same crowd I hung out with then would today be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with militantly anti-feminist Islamic fundamentalist groups, whose views on women make western patriarchy look like a Greenham peace picnic. Nor would I have predicted that today’s feminists would be so indulgent towards Iran, a theocratic nation where it is an act of resistance to show an inch or two of female hair beneath the veil and whose president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is not joking about his murderous intentions towards Israel and the Jews.

On the defining issue of our times, the rise of Islamic extremism, what is left of the sisterhood has almost nothing to say. Instead of “I am woman, hear me roar”, there is a loud silence, punctuated only by remonstrations against Tony Blair and George Bush — “the world’s number one terrorist” as the marchers would have it.

Women are perfectly entitled to oppose the war in Iraq or to feel that Israel is brutally overreacting to Hezbollah’s provocation. But where is the parallel, equally vital debate about how to combat Islamic fundamentalism? And why don’t more peace-loving feminists regard it as a threat? Kira Cochrane, 29, is the new editor of The Guardian women’s page, the bible of the Greenham years, where so many women writers made their names by staking out positions on the peace movement. She has noticed that today’s feminists are inclined to keep quiet about the march of radical Islam. “There’s a great fear of tackling the subject because of cultural relativism. People are scared of being called racist,” Cochrane observes.
Looking back I think I was wrong about Reagan and too sympathetic towards the Soviet Union. There were plenty of fellow travellers in the peace movement who were cheering on the Soviet Union under their breath. I can remember making a lot of silly excuses about it myself.
Hassan Nasrallah, the Shi’ite cleric who leads Hezbollah, Iran’s proxy in Lebanon, regularly issues bloodcurdling threats against the Jews. “If they (the Jews all gather in Israel,” he has said, “it will save us the trouble of going after them on a worldwide basis.”

For some on the left such words are merely understandable hyperbole, provoked by decades of Israeli ill-treatment of the Palestinians, but I prefer to take Islamic fundamentalists at their word when they spout insults about Jews being the descendants of “pigs and apes” and launch their chillingly apocalyptic tirades.

Why? Because they not only talk centuries-old nonsense about the place of women in society, but they also purposely oppress the female sex whenever they are given the chance. As regards their treatment of women, there is no discernible difference between their acts and their words.
Phyllis Chesler, 65, the writer and a founder feminist in the 1960s, has experienced some of the more disturbing aspects of Muslim patriarchy at first hand.

In the summer of 1961 Chesler married Ali, her western-educated college sweetheart, and went to live with him in Afghanistan. Nothing had prepared her for the restrictions and humiliations which Muslim women endured there, nor the gradual personality change that her husband underwent. The worst of it, she discovered, was “nothing unique happened to me”. It was the way of the world.

“The Afghanistan I knew was a prison, a police state, a feudal monarchy, a theocracy rank with fear and paranoia,” Chesler recalls in The Death of Feminism, published last year. “Afghanistan had never been colonised. My Afghan relatives were very proud of this fact. ‘Not even the British could occupy us’, they told me, not once but many times.

“I was ultimately forced to conclude that Afghan barbarism, tyranny and misogyny were entirely of their own making and not attributable to colonialism or imperialism. It is what they themselves would say.”
“The compassion for people of colour has been translated into feminists standing with terrorists who are terrorising their own women,” she says. In the week when a massive bomb plot against civilians was uncovered in Britain, Chesler’s critique of women’s complacency in her book is prophetic. “The Islamists who are beheading Jews and American civilians, stoning Muslim women to death, jailing Muslim dissidents and bombing civilians on every continent are now moving among us both in the East and in the West,” she writes.
“I fear that the ‘peace and love’ crowd in the West refuses to understand how Islamism endangers our values and our lives, beginning with our commitment to women’s rights and human rights.” Women’s studies programmes should have been the first to sound the alarm, she points out: “They did not.”
Recently Kate Hudson, chairwoman of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, wrote a breathtaking apologia for the Iranian nuclear energy programme, which took at face value Ahmadinejad’s claims to be developing it for “strictly peaceful” purposes. (Since when, by the way, has CND regarded Britain’s nuclear power plants so benignly?) Never mind the preposterous dancing with enriched uranium around the doves of peace nor the missiles marked “Tel Aviv” paraded in the streets.
The Middle East is engaged in a titanic struggle between modernity and theocracy. Whatever one’s views about the Iraq war or the conflict in Lebanon, it deserves more than slogans about “We are all Hezbollah now” and fury against Bush and Blair.

I don’t agree with Chesler that we are witnessing the death of feminism, but for now it is MIA: missing in action.,,2092-2309812_1,00.html

Saludos Amigos
Generic telling of Zapata that he's a mong post.
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