The cover of the latest edition of TIME magazine shows the noseless face of an 18 year-old Afghan girl, who was disfigured as a result of running away from a forced marriage. The cover suggested that this is what would happen when the US left Afghanistan.
Like many on the Left side of the political equation, I vehemently oppose the continuation of this war. Like many on the Left side of the politcal equation, I knew from the getgo that Iraq was a lie. Like many on the Left side of the political equation, I am a woman, who came of age during the decade of the 70s, that era in which great strides of gender equality were achieved.
Many on the Left side of the political equation cry out that this heart-rending picture is nothing less than blatant emotional blackmail. It may be; I don’t know, but it makes me uneasy.
I have a friend from my college years, a lifelong Republican and conservative, an educated man and a lawyer, who’s served several hitches in Iraq and Afghanistan as a JAG lawyer. We often disagree politically, but I appreciate his insight and respect his opinion. Even before the TIME cover became a topic of conversation this week, he made my conscience squirm.
"You were always at the forefront of feminism in college," he remarked once in an online exchange. "Yet I wonder at how you and your fellow Lefties can just turn a blind eye to the mistreatment of women in Afghanistan. I mean, that’s supposed to be your thing, isn’t it?"
I suppose it is, and it makes me uncomfortable. The picture of Aisha on the cover of TIME made me more uncomfortable, but the reaction to some people, who purport to be from the Progressive Left, made me downright shameful. A woman, who is a regular commentator on Huffington Post flatly stated that she didn’t give a rat’s ass about the women in Afghanistan, that if they didn’t stand up to the men controlling for their rights, they, basically got what they deserved.
Charming. And oh-so-au courant-liberal. Actually, that attitude positively reeks of the attitude promoted by the likes of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan during the Eighties – the meme of "I’m all right, Jack; fuck you." I know that Ronald Reagan’s supposed to be to the Left of the current crop of retrograde Republicanism, but since when did Progressives morph into exponents of Ronald Reagan’s philosophy?
Other than that woman’s reaction, the rest of the commentary was filled with people one could visualise squirming in their chairs as they typed painfully constructed rigamaroles of sound bites gleaned from the latest fashionable infotainment pundit, trying to justify that Aisha’s punishment was everything to do with the way her culture was intended to be and simply wasn’t worth our effort and expenditure in lives and money.
But Aisha’s treatment has everything to do with us, because we enabled the Taliban. Once we decided to look the other way, in the wake of Russia withdrawing from Afghanistan, leaving a trail of chaos, as the warlords battled to outdo one another, we allowed the Taliban to rise from the rubble, and we condemned a whole generation of women and girls to the darkness of ignorance and brutality.
And now the Left are looking away again.
Look, I’m not advocating staying in Afghanistan any longer than is necessary. I’d have the troops home tomorrow if I could. I’m not even sure what can be done to help women like Aisha, but the attitude I found from the Left towards this – and especially the crass comment made by the woman on HuffPo, amazes me that there’s an attitude towards women here that ranges from abject indifference to callous cruelty.
Last Sunday night, Bill Maher finished a three-night stint through the Midwest, ending up in Madison, Wisconsin. The next day, Bill posted a raving review of the Madison gig on his Facebook page. The reviewer, clearly a fan, literally bent over for Bill in praise. One of the funniest aspects of the evening, the writer gushed, was Bill’s take on Sarah Palin (a staple for Bill Maher – more than any other commentator or fundit he goes out of his way to bring the subject of Palin into the discussion, even when she hasn’t been in the news.)
The reviewer thought it an absolute riot that Bill managed to call Palin a c*nt no less than six times in a minute – in a New York minute, knowing Maher’s delivery.
I thought it appalling.
I am not a Palin fan. I loathe the woman. I despair that this willfully ignorant woman, someone disdains quality higher education as exclusive and elitist, blaming the latter for all that’s wrong in the country, whilst elevating the mundane and ordinary to new heights of misconceived excellence. I find her divisive, hateful, and extremely derisive and disrespectful of our President. This is a would-be politician who begins by criticizing policy and ends with a full-on personal attack. She is unfamiliar with government and government processes, poorly eductated, inarticulate, quasi-illiterate, sly, untrustworthy, nepotistic, and blatantly untruthful. In short, she is a narcissistic liar.
But she is not, nor does she deserve to be called a c*nt – and certainly not six times in one minute in front of an audience in a public venue.
No woman does.
Yes, you’ll say, Palin is certainly capable of being just as vile, without resorting to crude, guttersnipe language (unless you want to count her pathetic and misspelled attempt at bilingualism – always better to say "balls" if you can’t spell cojones. And she certainly does deserve to be hit hard verbally and discredited.
But any man who resorts to calling a woman a c*nt in public is certainly less of a man, in himself, and shows a singular lack of intelligence in doing so.
Congratulations, Bill ... you’ve just joined the ranks of celebrated men whom you’ve previously criticized as their moral equals:-
*John McCain, who famously referred to his wife by the c-word in 1992, and
Mel Gibson, whom you recently flayed in a tweet, referring to his very ugly verbal abuse of the mother of his younger child, whom he called – yes – a cnt.
To your credit, Bill, you’re nothing, if not genuinely fair and balanced, because in February 2008, you famously referred to Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, by the c-word on Real Time, in frustration at her refusal to give up the ghost in favour of your candidate of the moment; so maybe there’s a place for you on Fox News after all.
When I objected to this on Facebook, I was met with a torrent of criticism - some rational, most blindly loyal to Bill to the point that people began to sound like blithering and blathering followers of a religious cult.
Some of those arguing actually called the word "quite beautiful" and pointed out that Shakespeare used it regularly. Wrong. Shakespeare used it alliteratively in allusion and as a clever play on words, never actually saying the word directly. Bill deals in directness. He called Palin and Clinton the actual word.
Others maintained that it’s used in quite normal conversation both in Australia and in Europe. Again, mostly wrong. I can’t speak for the Australians, but the British have the filthiset mouths in Europe when it comes to swearing. Even then, it’s a word used in the extremest and ugliest cases and by the lower gene pool of society (which seems to be expanding rapidly). And it’s understood that a man who refers to a woman as that word is living at the extreme of society at best. It’s something that’s never heard in polite company on the Continent.
Worse than the rational arguments, were the reckoning, by men and also by women, that Palin deserved this epithet, for all the reasons I listed above. One mature woman with grown children purported to use the word all the time, and saw noting wrong with it.
But would she like to be called a c*nt?
No reply to my question. When she carried on in a wild fervour about how Bill was the ultimate purveyor of truth in the United States, I asked her the question again: would she mind if someone called her a c*nt?
She finally said she’d rather be called a c*nt than a Republican.
I then replied, "Consider it done. You’re a c*nt, and by the way, you’re more than halfway to being a Repuiblican, with your attitude to fellow women and your narrow-mindedness intact." And then I blocked her.
But the one question no one deigned to answer was this: If they’re OK with Bill calling Palin a c*nt, does that mean they were OK with him calling Hillary the same?
Budding politicians came to the fore, mouthing words which said nothing. Not even sentences made sense. Waffle. I sensed the disciples of the man who purports to speak power to truth suffered a singular Aisha moment.
What a quandry! How could Bill be wrong about calling Hillary a c*nt and right about calling Palin the same? For people on the Right, surely Hillary is just as fearsome, just as divisive, an Ivy League elitist who encompasses everything that is wrong with this country (in their eyes). One side’s c*nt is another side’s Queen Mother, only Bill didn't differentiate.
Bill is the only political satirist-cum-pundit, other than Glenn Beck, who consitently brings Obama’s race into the fray; but not in a positive manner. Thus far this year, Obama’s been "President Sanford and Son", the "tanner of two evils" and the ineffectual, professorial President who needs to "black it up a little" with some stereotypical ghetto culture. His disciples decry criticism of such things as harmless, considering Bill’s "only a comedian." Yet if Beck or O’Reilly had said the same things, they’d be all over their asses like a duck on a june bug. It seems one man’s perceived racism is another man’s comedy, depending on which side of the political coin on which you be found.
Because we on the Left are never racist, are we? And we can never be accused of being sexit either, can we? Or even homophobic, now that Prop 8’s on its way to being ruled unconstitutional.
And if we are, we can laugh it off, can’t we, as comedy. After all, we on the Left, who occupy themoral high ground, we kknow, don’t we, who really puts c*ntry first and who puts the c*nt in country.