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Thursday, August 25, 2005

W says he loves the ladies - We know better

August 26 marks the 85th anniversary of the 19th amendment's adoption, giving women the right to vote. Appropriately, W will be honoring the `` Susan B. Anthony Amendment'' by issuing a proclamation tomorrow on ``Women's Equality Day 2005.''

Inappropriately, this proclamation doesn't make any mention of the threats to women's rights today -- namely the threats that W himself helped unleash in his ill-advised adventure in the desert. We found no WMD. Next lie to pop: we're midwifing liberty in Iraq.

And all this at a real expense in treasure and blood. As of Aug. 24 at 10 a.m. EDT, 1,867 American military personnel have died in Iraq. Another 14,120 have been wounded -- 6,770 gravely enough to require removal from the field . The war's price tag, by reasonable estimates, is topping $200 billion and counting.

Cornhuskerblogger first raised the notion that Iraqi women may soon have it worse than they did under Saddam Hussein more than a month ago -- ahead of the mainstream media. He didn't need Women's Equality Day as cover. Bush has this cover, but chooses not to say anything at all.

No, CHB isn't running for president. But you Americans could do worse. Much much much worse.


Anonymous bu$h ate my baby said...

Now, c'mon. The idea that "women may soon have it worse than they did under Saddam Hussein" is laughable. You can't possibly mean that women in a constitutionally-based democracy could have it worse off than under a dictatorship, even if (and this is hypothetical) those woman had greater "rights" under the old Iraqi constitution (if there was such a document) the same way that Soviet women and the Soviet population had innumerable "rights" under their constitution that were rights in name only.

The only thing I had ever read substantively about this so-called erosion of women's rights during the Iraqi process of constitutional development is (a) the removal of a provision requiring a certain percentage (I believe 10%) of women in the elected assembly and (b) the elimination of the guarantee (and mandating) of schooling through elementary school, which was viewed as potentially adverse to girls because girls were more likely to be pulled out of secondary education than boys.

To the first point, while such a quota for women may be viewed as some as desirable, there are plenty of democracies out there that survive just fine without a quota (and yes, I include the U.S. in that number). To the second point, I see such an educational measure as only tangentially related to women's rights issues, so if the lack of mandating schooling through a certain age is the main thrust of the concern, that's small beer indeed.

Good to be back!

9/01/2005 4:21 PM  
Blogger Jonah B. Gelbach said...


a couple of points:

1. Regarding this

You can't possibly mean that women in a constitutionally-based democracy could have it worse off than under a dictatorship,

well i guess that depends on what you mean by "constitutionally-based democracy". for example, i imagine you would consider the US a constitutionally-based democracy for pretty much its entire history. but how would you have enjoyed being a slave? or a black person living in the deep south (for instance) before the civil rights act (and after it in many places)? sure, many dictatorships might have been just as bad, and a few worse, than these examples. but not all dictatorships are brutal, and not all brutal dictatorships are brutal to everyone who lives under them, even excluding the rulers themselves.

obviously i do not support dictatorships and prefer constitutionally-based democracies. but the devil, as so many of the president's supporters likely would say, is in the details.

so the issue isn't necessarily "dictatorships" versus "c-b democracies". the facts on the ground will matter.

moreover, arguing to the contrary is tantamount to premising the conclusion: no iraqi will be worse off (conclusion), because no one can be worse off under a "c-b d" than under a dictatorship (premise).

if you are going to comment on chb's post, i think fairness suggests that you owe him a bit more than the rather weak argument you do make---namely that you are aware of only two "substantive" issues about the "so-called [that term sure is popular among republican lawyers when it comes to discussing gender differentials!] erosion of women's rights" (tho in fairness i will point out that one of your two was mentioned earlier by chb in the post to which he linked here).

which brings me to my second thing about your comment, peter. here is some text from the beginning of the proposed iraqi constitution. (i got it from a link at the washington times -- so no liberal bias to worry about there.)


Article (1): The Republic of Iraq is an independent, sovereign nation, and the system of rule in it is a democratic, federal, representative (parliamentary) republic.

Article (2):

1st _ Islam is the official religion of the state and is a basic source of legislation:

(a) No law can be passed that contradicts the undisputed rules of Islam.

Now, the constitution goes on to talk about basic liberties, etc. Which is great. If they mean it. Which Article 2 paragraph (a) of these "Basic Principles" makes me seriously doubt. It's possible that people can argue that the more extreme parts of Sharia are not "undisputed rules", so that maybe the only "undisputed rules" read like a Gloria Steinem book. (I say that not because I know it to be true -- for all i know Sharia *is* the collection of undisputed rules.)

But my understanding is that fundamentalist Islamic law (much like fundamentalist Jewish and fundamentalist Christian law, to pick two religions) is quite hostile to women and their rights.

Many news organizations ran detailed discussions of what this clause might mean. So I'm not sure why you haven't "ever read ... about this so-called erosion". perhaps you don't consider it substantive. but i think you'd be wrong not to do so.

9/01/2005 8:34 PM  
Anonymous bu$h ate my baby said...

I will admit my understanding of the issue of the women's rights erosion issue was based on what I had read prior to my trip out of the country. In all the MSM articles I had read up til then, the only one that actually mentioned the specific concern (I believe in the Washington Post) mentioned only the two issues I raised. I will readily admit that sharia law is not women-friendly, and would be terrible to live under.

With regard to your other general comment, let's talk specifics here. You're right, I shouldn't compare generic dictatorship, which could possibly be beneficient. You say "but not all dictatorships are brutal, and not all brutal dictatorships are brutal to everyone who lives under them, even excluding the rulers themselves." Agreed. But will you agree that Saddam's dictatorship was brutal, and was brutal to most everyone who lived under the regime? Is it not only possible but quite likely that the new Iraqi government holds more promise for the Iraqi people, men, women, Sunni, Shiite, marsh people, city dwellers? I realize this may be a different question than the original post. I also realize that there are real risks out there. Risks of civil war, risks that the new government will fail or become another dictatorship. What I am talking about is the potential of what this government can be. Looking at the possible future now, with its inherent risks and promise, are the Iraqi people as a whole better off than if a magic wand were waved and they were back under Saddam.

I'm not talking about whether the cost was worth it. Or whether America was justified in getting the Iraqi people to the place they are now. I'm simply looking at the here and now. And looking at the here and now, to me it is clear that they are better off.

9/02/2005 10:44 AM  

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