Tag Archives: Iraq War

Women, War, and Economics: NYTimes Special Issue

Today’s Times Sunday magazine is all about the women. From Hillary Clinton on a government agenda that actually pays attention to women and girls, to Liberia’s first female president on what things would look like if women ruled the world, to the rising power of female philanthropists, we’re seeing a lot of focus on the X-chromosome.

Two articles in particular caught my attention. First, one on a topic I’ve posted on before: Feminist Hawks. While I thought the Feminist Majority Foundation’s stance came out of the blue, the Times indicates that the feminist Hawk position has not only had web prescence since the 90s, but that it’s provided an argument for conservative warmongers like David Horowitz to appropriate. Of course, I had noticed before that the only time the Bush administration seemed particularly worried about women’s freedom was when using it as a talking point to support war in the Middle East.

Even though the article’s main focuses is the evolving web presence of feminist hawks in terms of Afghanistan, its failure to mention anything about the “War on Terror” in Iraq is still a problematic oversight. After all, any discussion of feminist hawks and the Middle East should point out that Iraq was the most secular country there pre-invasion. Now? Well, if you want a long read, check out What Kind of Liberation?: Women and the Occupation of Iraq. In brief, they’re way worse off. The state has moved much closer to a theocracy, restricting the rights and freedoms of women, while a March Amnesty International report details the rising violence against women–violence that wars tend to provoke, not solve.

Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn’s “The Women’s Crusade,” which discusses the power of improving the position of women in fixing a slew of global ills, was a more impressive piece that you should click over and read immediately. Rather than suggesting invasion as a quick-fix for women’s rights, Kristoff and WuDunn spend a lot of attention on the potential of microfinance, probably the most interesting economic subject in ages. Seriously, if I’d been studying microfinance I might have stuck with my economic major; although, speaking of campus activities, my college did launch a microfinance organization, SEEDS, a couple years ago, and other student activist groups with an international focus have been getting onboard, too. Microfinance is sexy.

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Filed under Feminism, International, Iraq War

Silence from the Pulpit: Torture and a Moral Voice

Until I was 17-years-old, I was what you could refer to as a “Christmas Catholic.” I’d had the baptismal waters flicked on my face as a baby, and from that point on my sole connection with the Church were the annual trips to Christmas mass with my dad; though by then agnostic and on my way to atheist, Christmas mass attracts many once-a-year Catholics and non-believers who enjoy the carols. Thus, I might have continued tagging along, if not for the unfortunate circumstance of missing Christmas mass that year, and attending the Sunday after as a substitute.

Christmas mass always presented a love and peace affair, so I’d never discovered that the priest in my dad’s town was one of the more political preachers, fond of mixing extremely conservative rhetoric in with his Bible passages. Between the lurid denunciation of murdering unborn babies and exhortations to support the war in Iraq (the war, not the soldiers, completely separate issues), I determined that I would not be attending any mass again. I couldn’t find any pleasure in the carols, knowing what the congregation supported.

Liberal Catholic friends assure me that political priests like this are unusual; I’m not sure whether this is true or not. I’m also not sure whether it’s a positive fact.

A Consortium News article clued me in to an April Pew survey that found a positive correlation between church attendance and support for torture. 54 percent of people who attend religious services at least weekly believed torture was often or sometimes justified, versus 42% of those who go seldom or never. Furthermore, people unaffiliated with any religious organization were the least likely to believe that torture is often justified; white Protestant evangelicals the most. Kudos to mainline Protestants (Episcopalians, Lutherans and Presbyterians), who are the most likely to state that torture is never justified.

I’m an atheist, and I’d fall in the “torture is never justified” bracket. But what interests me–and what Consortium News author Ray McGovern also considers–is that belief in God is not being measured here, but rather affiliation with and attendance for organized religion. McGovern hypothesizes: “My guess is that those who go to church on Sunday expect a modicum of moral leadership.  If the pastor is silent on torture, then torture must somehow be okay.” So, unlike my dad’s priest on abortion and the war, it’s not about what is being said from the pulpit–it’s about what isn’t. Continue reading

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Filed under Religion, Torture

Murky Water: Murder and Crusades by America’s Favorite Mercenary

Blackwater Founder Implicated in Murder.

I’ve been thinking about this story, published at thenation.com, all day, but am still lacking in words to respond.

It’s not exactly disbelief that stops my train of thought: we’ve been aware of a lot of dirty dealings at the infamous Blackwater, so why not that owner Erik Prince had whistle-blowers against his corrupt company murdered? It’s just a bit much, especially as the first thing I see in the morning before I’ve even eaten. (I’m not a morning person.)

It’s especially disturbing when combined with the allegations that Prince also considered himself a “Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe” who “encouraged and rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life.” (This is from just the opening paragraph of Jeremy Scahill’s article.) The Christian supremacists he attracted even borrowed call signs from the historical crusaders themselves, the Knights of Templar.

I guess when the US President even used the term crusade offhand to describe American military force (oh, George W., when will your memory fade away?), this shouldn’t be all that surprising either.

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Filed under International, Iraq War, Religion

Tax $$ and the Right to Abortion: Pay Up, Even If You Oppose It

“No matter what your views are on abortion, you shouldn’t ask people to use their tax dollars if they think that abortion is taking a life,” Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H. claimed in reference to the current debate over covering abortion in the new health care bill.

What a strange concept, being voiced by a Senator (*cough hypocrite*) who supported the Iraq War and is pro-death penalty, both of which are, oh yeah, tax payer funded (to the tune of $86 billion for military spending in Iraq and Afghanistan, to name one 2003 vote). And I think it’d be hard to deny that war and capital punishment take lives.

Do I hate that my taxes fund killing? Yes. Do I wish the death penalty was illegal and that the U.S. didn’t go around invading other countries?  Yes. Do I support protesting these policies? Yes. Do I think civil disobedience in the form of not paying taxes is a legitimate tactic? Yes.

I strongly disagree with abortion rights opponents, but not with their right to engage in activism around their beliefs (when it doesn’t involve violent rhetoric and “taking the life” of people like Dr. George Tiller). On an individual level, that could mean acts of civil disobedience like refusing to pay taxes.

I support the taxation system as whole (despite flaws), so I consider it important to pay up and utilize other means toward social change. However, I understand the motivation for this form of protest, if anti-abortion rights activist chose to pursue it: I personally am disturbed by a sense of complicity in the war and criminal justice system because my (meager) taxes in part head that way, and civil disobedience has an honorable history around the world.

But this idea that abortion shouldn’t be funded because some–not even all–people think it’s taking a life, when we don’t say, “Whoops, can’t fund this war, even those there’s no controversy over the fact that we are indeed taking lives,” is not an argument any of our legislators should be listening to, much less voicing. I don’t agree with a lot of decisions elected representative make about my tax dollar; nonetheless, I accept it because that’s how our system works.

Not to mention, even if you see abortion as “taking a life” (which I don’t), many people still realize (as they ought) it’s a woman’s right, and it deserves to be an economically viable, insurance-covered, right. Due to this, I don’t like comparing funding abortion with funding capital punishment or the Iraq War, both of which I consider massive injustices that we have no right to engage in–but as I’m not arguing in this post why the right to an abortion is just, I’ve tried to restrict myself to examples that align with an anti-reproductive rights frame of mind.

Or–and perhaps more importantly–the frame of mind of pro-rights legislators who might be swayed by this argument and sacrifice women’s body in the health care bill. Democrats have an unfortunate tendency not to stand firm for abortion rights, treating it with kid gloves as a delicate issue people have strong feelings about. Buck up, Democrats! Abortion is a human right and a legal medical procedure in this country, and it deserves its place in federally funded health insurance. Sensitivity to other people’s beliefs does not require you to abandon your own.

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Filed under Reproductive Justice