The New York Times is reporting on the increasing phenomenon of Afghan women setting themselves on fire to protest the lack of human rights and the oppressive discrimination they face in a fundamentalist Afghan society. It is difficult to understand the mentality which would treat women worse than the animals used for farming and we find it so foreign to American sensibilities...or do we?
South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint is a rising political star in this country. He is a supporter of tea parties and, in the last election, a king maker in a number of races all over the nation. DeMint wants to reshape the Republican party, and this nation, in his own image and likeness. In an article in the Wall Street Journal, DeMint gives some hints about how he wishes to change the laws of the land to "save the country". He believes in laws which would prohibit gays and unwed pregnant women fro teaching in the public schools. He would outlaw abortion and deny women access to the morning after pill and other birth control technologies. He opposes any minimum wage and wants deeper tax cuts for the richest Americans. He has written a book which advocated laws which would outlaw or punish promiscuity, (whose definition?)...divorce (battered women rejoice)...illegitimacy (lock up the women? We know men will be untouchable)...pornography (the government watching what you view or write or the m movies and TV shows allowed on the air?)...as well as drug abuse (outlaw alchohol?) and gambling. (no more football pools I guess). He claims to be a conservative who believes in small government, however, he would expand government's power over our private lives exponentially. All of the cultural attacks are justified by his religious faith. He is just doing God's work. There is little difference between Senator DeMint and the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Maybe you are thinking, hey he's only one guy. He's one Senator. He 's a cook and a flake. He cant cause that much damage. There's nothing to worry about. Really?
More and more, regressive advocates want to use government to enforce their cultural biases. they want to enshrine their intolerance in law. All religions are not equal. Being a woman means you lose control of your m most private intimacies and life. If you are gay, you are morally suspect and somehow dangerous around children in a classroom. These people , like DeMint, are the same ones leading the movement in Texas to re-write history and science books and eliminate or water down discussions ranging from evolution to civil rights. Add to all of this more than 26 states ready to pass laws similar to the law in Arizona giving police the power to stop anyone and demand proof of citizenship and it isn't hard to envision a march backwards in time to a day when only wealthy, white men were allowed to vote or serve in office and control the power in this land.
What is it about Americans and the antipathy about civil liberties and toleration? Newly elected Kentucky Senator Rand Paul says it was wrong to pass civil rights legislation forcing businesses to treat all employees equally. New Yorkers dont want an Islamic center to be built near ground zero because of their hatred of Islam. Fox pundit Juan Williams had no qualms about publically expressing worry and anxiety any time he boards a plane which also carries Muslims. The first gay Episcopalian bishop is retiring because he cant endure all the hate and tension his ordination has caused. (hate and tension from his fellow Christians) Americans have rolled over and given the government extraordinary powers to spy on us, read our mail and email, track us on the internet, demand to know what books we take out of a library and listen in on our phone calls. Can you imagine what Jim DeMint or the people in Texas or Arizona would do if they got their hands on the reins of power?
The fundamentalists in Afghanistan who are so oppressive and so bent on denying women any rights, are not that different from the American fundamentalists and regressives who would be more than happy to impose their cultural values on the rest of us and use the power of government not to expand rights, not to broaden the tent, but to put them on top and anyone who disagrees with them disenfranchised and denied access to the Constitution. All it takes is for people of good will to stay silent.