The David Horowitz Freedom Center has succeeded in putting the feminists and Islamists on the defensive. As David Horowitz and Robert Spencer note in the article below, the DHFC's exposure of the feminist movement's lack of attention to women's rights in the Muslim world has caused many of the movement's most prominent activists to sign a letter protesting that they originated concern for Muslim women. The letter, drafted by feminist writer Katha Pollitt, has been signed by such notables as:
The letter spread quickly, beginning on the website of the far-Left's flagship publication, The Nation. (The Nation's piece was also picked up by Yahoo News). Soon, it had been posted on Mother Jones, the Islamic Forum, the University of Maine, and many other sites -- including that of a woman named Heart who is running for president. Not all are pleased; at least one insists U.S. immigration laws and Israeli treatment of Palestinians are a more direct affront to women's rights than clitorectomies. (She asks, "Does Ms. Pollitt think that 'Muslim countries' are particularly hostile to women’s rights for some reason?") Nonetheless, the very fact that the Left, so long silent about the crimes countenanced by its Islamic partners in the antiwar movement, now feels that it must mount a rousing defense is a vindication of our efforts. -- The Editors.
- Susan Faludi, the author of Backlash: The Undeclared War Against Women, which argues conservatives are trying to suppress American womyn, and The Terror Dream: Fear and Fantasy in Post-9/11 America, which claims terrorism provided a handy excuse for the American Right to begin binding women's feet again;
- Julianne Malveaux, who expressed her feelings about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on PBS' To the Contrary, "I hope his wife feeds him lots of eggs and butter and he dies early like many black men do, of heart disease"
- Jennifer Baumgardner, a Nation writer whose idea of fighting female oppression is staging productions of The Vagina Monologues;
- Dana Goldstein, an employee of the Soros-funded Center for American Progress and a writing fellow at the Soros-funded The American Prospect; and
- More than 700 more leftists.
This week, seven hundred feminists signed an Open Letter complaining that “columnists and opinion writers from The Weekly Standard to the Washington Post to Slate have recently accused American feminists of focusing obsessively on minor or even nonexistent injustices in the United States while ignoring atrocities against women in other countries, especially the Muslim world.”
We recognize this Open Letter as a delayed response to the Freedom Center’s Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, which protested the silence of feminists over the “Oppression of Women in Islam” on campuses all over the country last fall, organized sit-ins at a dozen Women’s Studies Departments to protest the absence of courses and department-sponsored events confronting the issue, and made this a matter of national discussion and debate. This is why the signers of the Open Letter complain that “‘Women’s rights are human rights’ was not a slogan dreamed up by David Horowitz or Christina Hoff Sommers,” two of our speakers for Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week. (We never claimed it was.)
The signers of this Letter claim that, “contrary to the accusations of pundits,” they support Muslim feminists in “their struggle against female genital mutilation, ‘honor’ murder, forced marriage, child marriage, compulsory Islamic dress codes, the criminalization of sex outside marriage, brutal punishments like lashing and stoning, family laws that favor men and that place adult women under the legal power of fathers, brothers, and husbands, and laws that discount legal testimony made by women.”
Well, we welcome these avowals of support for the rights of Muslim women. However, forgive us for doubting their sincerity. As one of us pointed out in a speech given at the University of Wisconsin during Islamo-Fascism Week:
“One of our concerns … is the failure of the Women’s Studies Movement to educate students about these atrocities. Our researchers looked at more than 600 Women’s Studies programs on fifteen American campuses, which focus on the unequal treatment of women in society. But they were unable to locate a single class which focuses on the oppression of women under Islamic law.”
What was true last October is still true today. As recently as December 10, a Muslim teenager was strangled by her father for refusing to wear a hijab without a protest from the American feminist movement. And that is only one of many crimes committed in the name of Islam against Muslim women over which the feminist movement continues to be silent.
On New Year’s Day, Amina Said, 18, and her sister Sarah, 17, were shot dead in Irving, Texas. Police are searching for their father, Yaser Abdel Said, on a warrant for capital murder. The girls’ great aunt, Gail Gartrell, told reporters, “This was an honor killing.” Apparently Yaser Said murdered his daughters because they had non-Muslim boyfriends.
The signers of the Open Letter say that they are against honor killing. Here is an honor killing in the United States. Where are these feminists on this issue? Why are they not supporting the hunt for Amina’s and Sarah’s killers and organizing a campaign in the Muslim community to stop such practices?
On Sunday, January 20, the New York Times published an article, “A Cutting Tradition,” which falsely described female genital mutilation practiced under Islamic law as “circumcision” and portrayed it in a generally positive light, and even warned against “blindly judging those who practice it.” The article made no mention of the physical effects of this barbaric practice, which affects 140 million Muslim girls who have their genitals sliced off yearly, and in some 15 million cases their vaginal tract sewn up. These effects, as enumerated by the British Medical Journal in 1993, are “Immediate physical complications include severe pain, shock, infection, bleeding, acute urinary infection, tetanus, and death. Long-term problems include chronic pain, difficulties with micturition and menstruation, pelvic infection leading to infertility, and prolonged and obstructed labor during childbirth.”
Where is the feminist outrage over the New York Times article? Where are the feminist demonstrations against this practice? Where are the campus teach-ins? Where are the candlelight parades? What Muslim organizations have been confronted for their complicity in this assault on female Muslim children? This is a horrific crime against the female gender -- global in extent -- and yet one would be hard-pressed to identify a single public event, protest or march organized by feminists to oppose it.
The Open Letter mentions the feminist “V-Day” organized to protest violence against women. We challenge the signers of this letter to identify the speeches given during “V-Day” that protested female genital mutilation in the Islamic world. We challenge them to identify the Vagina Monologue of Islamic misogyny.
We are encouraged by the fact that these American feminists feel the need to respond to our challenge over their silence as a movement on violence against Muslim women and to assert their opposition to these barbaric practices. We challenge them now to put actions behind their words.
Join us in sponsoring a campus tour on the Oppression of Women in Islam with speakers such as Nonie Darwish, Wafa Sultan and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Form academic committees to provide curricula on these subjects in Women’s Studies courses. Devote a major segment of your V-Day demonstrations to the plight of Muslim women. Join us during Islamo-Fascism Week II this spring in appealing to campus Muslim organizations to condemn these practices.
Then we’ll know you’re serious.