Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Fox News published an article by Wendy McElroy (link via Rob). The article is also published on McElroy implies most other feminist groups are apologists for Saddam Hussein. Three groups are mentioned: the Feminist Majority, the National Organization for Women (NOW), and Women's ENews.

It's a little hypocritical to ignore a set of outrages because it isn't convenient for your political position, but that doesn't make Feminist Majority into apologists for Saddam. It seems they have a button for "Help Afghan Women" because they have resources in Afghanistan, several programs in place to rebuild there. That's not wrong. It's true they have 6 articles on Afghanistan in recent global news and one article covering an anti-war mission to Iraq -- nowhere mentioning the rights of women in Iraq. But just because a group decries one crime doesn't mean they condone another. It may be hypocritical, but not evil.

On the other hand, I have a harder time forgiving NOW for this press release:

A U.S. invasion of Iraq will likely entail similar dangers to the safety and rights of Iraqi women—who currently enjoy more rights and freedoms than women in other Gulf nations, such as Saudi Arabia.
But I will point out that's four months old -- the Fox anti-feminist article should have dug up recent material or given up. The more recent press releases from NOW are somewhat more sane, opposing war because of domestic economic costs, for fear it will increase terrorism, and fearing "devastation of cities, towns, villages in Iraq, the loss of lives, the effect on the environment" (this is from their only press release press release since Jan 1 mentioning Iraq). It seems enough information has come out in the last four months about women in Iraq so that groups are no longer claiming they're better where they are

The third group criticized by McElroy was Women's ENews for publishing this article by Yasmine Bahrani. It's much more balanced than McElroy lets on. E.g.

"Thus, while many Iraqi women long for the basic rights that are denied them under Saddam, they have reason to be wary of the future as well... Iraqi women's concerns about the future regime are not theoretical. In fact, they have reason to mistrust Iraq's "opposition" movements, such as the Iraqi National Congress, because they have failed to include women members in key positions."
Really, it seems to me McElroy's article was written last November or December (only one article referenced was written after Oct 31 and none after Dec 31 2002), and held back until now. Perhaps McElroy waited until support for the war had grown enough to make this article seem reasonable?

To be clear, I'm happy to take potshots at both sides here. Both McElroy and the NOW press releases in particular paint the world in exaggerated black and white.

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