A NYT columnist accuses extremists on both Left and Right of erasing women

July 4, 2022 • 12:30 pm

Glory be! Here we have Pamela Paul, a new opinion columnist for the New York Times (she was editor of the NYT book reviews for nine years and has written eight books), actually criticizing the extreme Left—the part of the Left that won’t use the word “woman” unless it includes transsexual women. (She also criticizes the Right, too, because, after all, this is the NYT.) But to see a NYT bigwig like Paul go after the “progressive” Left for their language policing, and what she calls their “erasure of women” does my heart good.

Just look at the title of this piece! Click to read (and thanks to the many readers who sent me this link). What Paul writes about the bad behavior of the progressive Left toward women, and their “making nice” to extreme trans activists instead of debating them, instantiates what I’ve called “MacPherson’s” rule, after reader Diana. It goes like this (I believe she suggested a version of this in a comment):

“Whenever the Left is caught between two conflicting ideological positions, and one of them involves women, the women always lose.”

That holds for the treatment of women under Islam, it holds for transwomen’s desire to compete with cis-women in athletics, and it holds, as Paul shows, in the craven acceptance—and avoidance of debate—of extreme claims of trans activists, including their denial of biological women as a real category.

The denigration of women, or their reduction to their reproductive organs, is a well known tendency of the Right; that’s what the “pro life” Republicans and their new laws are about. But Paul sees the Left as aping that behavior, too: “women” are now defined by their bodily functions, and biological women must immediately accept the claims of that group of women born as biological men.

But let me quote Paul instead of paraphrasing her:

The right’s position here is the better known, the movement having aggressively dedicated itself to stripping women of fundamental rights for decades. Thanks in part to two Supreme Court justices who have been credibly accused of abusive behavior toward women, Roe v. Wade, nearly 50 years a target, has been ruthlessly overturned.

Far more bewildering has been the fringe left jumping in with its own perhaps unintentionally but effectively misogynist agenda. There was a time when campus groups and activist organizations advocated strenuously on behalf of women. Women’s rights were human rights and something to fight for. Though the Equal Rights Amendment was never ratified, legal scholars and advocacy groups spent years working to otherwise establish women as a protected class.

But today, a number of academics, uber-progressives, transgender activists, civil liberties organizations and medical organizations are working toward an opposite end: to deny women their humanity, reducing them to a mix of body parts and gender stereotypes.

As reported by my colleague Michael Powell, even the word “women” has become verboten. Previously a commonly understood term for half the world’s population, the word had a specific meaning tied to genetics, biology, history, politics and culture. No longer. In its place are unwieldy terms like “pregnant people,” “menstruators” and “bodies with vaginas.”

Planned Parenthood, once a stalwart defender of women’s rights, omits the word “women” from its home page. NARAL Pro-Choice America has used “birthing people” in lieu of “women.” The American Civil Liberties Union, a longtime defender of women’s rights, last month tweeted its outrage over the possible overturning of Roe v. Wade as a threat to several groups: “Black, Indigenous and other people of color, the L.G.B.T.Q. community, immigrants, young people.”

It left out those threatened most of all: women. Talk about a bitter way to mark the 50th anniversary of Title IX.

And don’t forget when the ACLU put out a pro-choice tweet with the words of RBG, but with the word “women” and “her” actually omitted! Remember this?

Paul is of course no transphobe, but she’ll be called one for saying stuff like this:

Women didn’t fight this long and this hard only to be told we couldn’t call ourselves women anymore. This isn’t just a semantic issue; it’s also a question of moral harm, an affront to our very sense of ourselves.

It wasn’t so long ago — and in some places the belief persists — that women were considered a mere rib to Adam’s whole. Seeing women as their own complete entities, not just a collection of derivative parts, was an important part of the struggle for sexual equality.

But here we go again, parsing women into organs. Last year the British medical journal The Lancet patted itself on the back for a cover article on menstruation. Yet instead of mentioning the human beings who get to enjoy this monthly biological activity, the cover referred to “bodies with vaginas.” It’s almost as if the other bits and bobs — uteruses, ovaries or even something relatively gender-neutral like brains — were inconsequential. That such things tend to be wrapped together in a human package with two X sex chromosomes is apparently unmentionable.

“What are we, chopped liver?” a woman might be tempted to joke, but in this organ-centric and largely humorless atmosphere, perhaps she would be wiser not to.

That last sentence is excellent!

Paul then turns the language of the Purity Patrol back on them:

But in a world of chosen gender identities, women as a biological category don’t exist. Some might even call this kind of thing erasure.

For that she well could have been kicked off Twitter. But she removed herself this April (see her explanation here).

It’s heartening to see someone of Paul’s stature at a paper as influential as the NYT pushing back on irrational wokeness. Is this a trend now? Will it go away? I doubt it, but voices of dissent from Leftists themselves are beginning to be heard, and this article—I’ve quoted only a bit of it—is one. I’ll just add her ending:

Tolerance for one group need not mean intolerance for another. We can respect transgender women without castigating females who point out that biological women still constitute a category of their own — with their own specific needs and prerogatives.

If only women’s voices were routinely welcomed and respected on these issues. But whether Trumpist or traditionalist, fringe left activist or academic ideologue, misogynists from both extremes of the political spectrum relish equally the power to shut women up.

I expect that Ms. Paul knows what she’s in for, but she gets only kudos from me.

h/t: Carl

J. K. Rowling again demonized on bogus grounds

September 17, 2020 • 9:00 am

There is no middle ground on J. K. Rowling; you consider her either an unrepentant transphobe or a feminist who, while accepting transgendered women’s self-identification in most respects, doesn’t think that they should always be treated the same as biological women. I hold the latter point of view, as I’ve read her explanation for the statements that got her “canceled” and find it convincing. For the Woke, though, no explanation is good enough, and Rowling will always be considered beyond the pale. There are even TikTok videos circulating of people burning her books! If anybody is being fully canceled, it’s Rowling, but her cancellation isn’t very thorough because too many people like her writing. (I’ve read only one Harry Potter novel, and thought it was just okay—but didn’t develop a taste for more.)

Rowling has a new detective novel, Troubled Blood, that people are criticizing as transphobic without having read it. (It came out Tuesday.) It’s in her Cormoran Strike series (the name of the private dick), and she writes under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith (at this point I don’t know why).

The novel is “problematic” for the Excessive Left because it features a serial killer who occasionally dons women’s clothing to disguise himself. This is apparently not a major element in the story, but has been picked up by the Outrage Brigade as another instance of transphobia. But of course transvestites—those who dress in clothing of the opposite sex—are not transsexuals. This is conflated in many of the nasty reviews, like this predictable one in HuffPost (click on the screenshot). The statements of the reviewer, and of the predictably outraged on Twitter, show clearly that they haven’t read the book; for one thing, it’s wasn’t even out before the hating started. Nick Cohen did read the book, and has a different view (see below).

 

HuffPo goes after the book as transphobic, dishonestly quoting a Times of London review with the HuffPost author apparently not having read the book either. She takes everything from the Times piece, but takes it out of context.

HuffPost:

J.K. Rowling is apparently dissatisfied with merely sharing her transphobic views on Twitter and in 3,600-word essays.

According to an early review in The Telegraph, “Troubled Blood,” the fifth installment in her Cormoran Strike series written under her pseudonym Robert Galbraith, is about a cold case from 1974 that involves “a transvestite serial killer.”

“One wonders what critics of Rowling’s stance on trans issues will make of a book whose moral seems to be: never trust a man in a dress,” the reviewer wrote of the book that comes out Tuesday.

“Reviewer” Elyse Wanshel then quotes a bunch of tweets, some accusing the book of making fun of transsexuals, like this one, which apparently didn’t read the Pink News quote that the book is about a cis man:

 

Another:

You can see the same kind of demonization in this Vanity Fair article, which again uses the Times phrase to damn the whole book:

An excerpt:

According to an early review in The Telegraph, Troubled Blood—the fifth installment in Rowling’s Cormoran Strike series written under the pen name Robert Galbraith—deals with the cold case of a woman who disappeared in 1974 and is believed to be the victim of Dennis Creed, “a transvestite serial killer.” (Transvestite is considered an outdated and derogatory term for cross-dressing, which is not the same as being trans.) The review goes on to say, “One wonders what critics of Rowling’s stance on trans issues will make of a book whose moral seems to be: never trust a man in a dress.”

How lazy can a reporter be?

Ah, such vehement virtue signaling. The thing is, there are no transsexuals in the book, nor a killer who wears a dress. You can see this from reading Nick Cohen’s piece in The Spectator (click on screenshot):

First, his summary:

The ‘evidence’ that provoked the malice [against Rowling] was so flimsy, even Twitter should have been embarrassed to publish it. Pink News, which dominates the LGBTQ+ outrage market, gave the case for the prosecution. According to the first review, ‘JK Rowling’s latest book is about a murderous cis man who dresses as a woman to kill his victims’, it announced.

It is about nothing of the sort, I thought. And I could say that with authority because I had just finished a review copy of Troubled Blood, the fifth novel in Rowling’s Cormoran Strike series, as research for a long piece on her politics and art I’m working on for the Critic. No honest person who takes the trouble to read it can see the novel as transphobic. But then honest people are hard to find in a culture war.

About the Times quote that forms HuffPost’s sole basis for damning the book, Cohen says this:

One wonders what critics of Rowling’s stance on trans issues will make of a book whose moral seems to be: never trust a man in a dress’.

That slippery ‘seems’ should have put readers on their guard. The moral of the book is not ‘never trust a man in a dress’. Transvestism barely features. When it does, nothing is made of the fact that the killer wears a wig and a woman’s coat (not a dress) as a disguise when approaching one of his victims. Maybe this tiny detail is enough for the wilfully ignorant to damn Rowling as a ‘witch’ – I’m not making it up, for this is how Everton goalkeeper turned Twitter celebrity Neville Southall described her. But no one else should be satisfied.

Cohen’s assessment of the book’s merits is mixed, saying that it’s “Dickensian in its scope and gallery of characters” but also that Rowling’s theme of opposition to Scottish nationalism is “clumsy.”  But he adds that claims that the novel is transphobic are nonsense.

Cohen reveals, without giving away too much of the plot, that:

1.) The killer is, as seen above, not a transsexual but a transvestite cis man. Transphobia has nothing to do with transvestites. Further, the transvestite wears a woman’s wig and coat (not a dress!) to disguise himself as a killer.

2.) The transvestite serial killer is only one of several suspects, and is apparently apprehended when he tries to abduct a woman without wearing his wig and woman’s coat.

3.) The wig and coat are worn when the killer approaches only one of his victims, and nothing is made of it save that it’s a disguise.

4.) The totality of the damnation hurled on the book comes from this passage, described by Cohen:

You have to search hard to find a justification for the belief that the book’s moral ‘seems’ to be ‘never trust a man in a dress’. But then relentless searches for the tiniest evidence of guilt are the marks of heresy hunters

It amounts to this. On page 75, Strike is listening to the son of an investigating officer tell him what he knows about Creed.

He had his failures you know. Penny Hiskett, she got away from him and gave the police a description in ’71, but that didn’t help them much. She said he was dark and stocky, because he was wearing a wig at the time and all padded out in a woman’s coat. They caught him in the end because of Melody Bower. Nightclub singer, looked like Diana Ross. Creed got chatting to her at the bus stop, offered her a lift, then tried to drag her into the van when she said no. She escaped, gave the police a proper description and told them he’d said his house was of Paradise Park.

Creed mentions the advantage of lipstick and a wig in making women think he’s ‘a harmless old queer’ when Strike interviews him, and that’s about that. A novelist uses a passing detail to explain how a murderer got close to one of his victims – for presumably the victim who gave the police a ‘proper description’ did not see him in a woman’s coat and wig. A critic, unintentionally or not, whips up a rage, and thousands allow themselves to be whipped. Pavlov’s dogs showed more critical independence.

Cohen adds, “when you reach the last pages the full absurdity of the statement that Rowling’s ‘moral seems to be: never trust a man in a dress’ will be revealed.” But he won’t give away the ending; this is, after all, a crime novel. He then argues that Rowling’s writing is becoming not more transphobic, but more feminist, portraying how men repeatedly condescend to and mistreat Robin Ellacott, Strike’s female partner.  Rowling, of course, experienced this kind of sexism when trying to get started as a writer. As Cohen concludes, “In this sense, if nothing else, Rowling’s latest work honestly mirrors her online life. She knows, as her characters know, that women who speak out of turn find themselves alone in a free-fire zone.”

This still leaves the question about why people are going so hard after Rowling, even in a case where she’s not transphobic by any stretch of the imagination. Well, we know the answer. Arguing that transsexual women aren’t 100% identical to biological women, and in some cases (like sports) should not be treated like them, is seen as a grave sin in the religion of Wokism, punishable by placement in the lowest circle of Hell. And everything you write after that will be damned, even if it has nothing to do with transsexuals.

Over at Spiked, Brendan O’Neill goes a bit deeper when attacking those who demonize Rowling and burn her books:

The blinkered philistinism of the anti-Rowling mob is confirmed in the fact that none of them has read her new Strike novel. It isn’t even published yet. But when did censorious mobs ever stop to read or observe or properly think about the book or painting or movie that they want to boycott or burn? Mobs are not known for reasoned engagement. Nor do they have any respect for the right of writers and artists to depict whatever they want. So just as National Socialists sought to erase degenerate art, and Mary Whitehouse types wanted to ban rude plays, so the anti-Rowling mob fantasises about setting fire to a novel they haven’t read because it’s by a woman they irrationally loathe.

Why is the hatred for Rowling so heated, so unstable? It strikes me that there are two reasons. First, the very uncancellable nature of Rowling infuriates these mobs who are so used to extracting mea culpas from every public figure they set upon. Rowling is too big, too established, too global to be easily slain by the PC speechpolice. Her refusal to abandon her beliefs and opinions on sex and gender drives these self-styled moral guardians insane because it reminds them of the limitations to their censorious power. Rowling’s resoluteness is a beacon to everyone else, too, reminding people that even in this darkly censorious era you can cling to your principles. And that is intolerable to PC mobs who want nothing less than unflinching, society-wide conformity to their political and moral dogmas.

And secondly, Rowling’s rejection of the idea that people can self-identify as whatever sex they like represents a challenge to the entire church of identitarianism. . ..

The second paragraph, I think, is right on the mark.

 

J. K. Rowling (from Biography). Photo by Mike Marsland/Wireimage

Iran’s only woman Olympic medalist defects to Europe

January 13, 2020 • 8:30 am

I weep for the people of Iran. They’re not nearly as religious as their theocratic rulers, they used to be much more “modern” and secular before the Revolution, and, after surviving a brutal war with Iraq, are now demonstrating both for and against the government, with supplies low, gas prices high, and an oppressive religious regime controlling their every move. If you’re a woman and take off your hijab, you’re bound for jail, often for many years, assuming you survive there.  Homosexuality is a capital crime. It’s awful.

It’s no surprise, then, that this happened. According to many sources, Kimia Alizadeh, the only woman Olympic medalist in Iranian history (she won a bronze in taekwondo, and is just 21) has defected to the West. And, as she announced, it’s because she was oppressed and controlled. Here’s the New York Times story:

An excerpt:

The only female athlete to win an Olympic medal for Iran announced this weekend that she had defected from the nation because of “hypocrisy, lies, injustice and flattery” and said she had been used as a “tool.”

The Olympian, Kimia Alizadeh, 21, announced her decision in an Instagram post accompanied by a photo from the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, where she won a bronze medal in taekwondo.

“They took me wherever they wanted,” she wrote. “Whatever they said, I wore. Every sentence they ordered, I repeated.”

Here’s her Instagram post announcing her defection:

After a long hunt, I finally found a translation on The Daily Wire done by four Iranians.  It’s a pretty powerful statement:

How do I start? With a hello, a goodbye or to offer my condolences? Hello to the oppressed people of Iran, goodbye to the noble people of Iran, and my condolences to the perpetually mourning people of Iran. How well do you know me? Have you only seen me in sports matches, on television, or in the presence of government leaders?

Allow me to now freely and without censorship introduce myself.  They will say after this I will amount to nothing. I myself believe that even before this I was nothing. I am Kimia Alizadeh; I am not a historian nor a champion nor a flag-bearing representative of Iran. I am one of millions of oppressed Iranian women who has been a pawn of the regime for years.

They have taken me wherever they have wanted. They dictated the way I should dress and every sentence that they asked me to say, I repeated. At any time they wanted, they paraded me around. They even sacrificed my medals and victories for their oppressive dress code and hijab. I was not important to them. None of us were. We were just tools.

They only cared about our medals. They were only as valuable as the political leverage that they could offer. At the same time, they tell you “a woman should not stretch her legs.” Every morning I wake up my legs are unknowingly spinning like a fan and they expect not to be the flexible athlete that I am? In a live television interview they invited me to specifically ask me about this.

Now they I have left l, they say I sold out. “Mr. Saee, I have left so that I don’t become like all of you. And that I do not take even one further step in the direction that you have taken. If I had, I would have become much more successful much sooner.”

I turned my back because I am a human and I want to stay a human. In your male dominated and female oppressing minds you always thought ‘Kimia is a woman and will not speak.’ My tortured soul will no longer serve your filthy political endeavors nor your dirty economic dealings.

Other than Tae-kwon-do, the only thing i want is a happy and healthy life. To the kind and oppressed people of Iran: I did not want to climb to a pedestal whose steps are paved with lies and deceit and no one from Europe has invited me and no one has offered me anything, but I am willing to bear the difficulty of living in exile because I could no longer stay at a table where dishonesty, con-artistry and injustice were being served. Making this decision was more difficult than earning the Olympic gold medal, But please know that wherever I am I will forever remain a child of my native country. I will count on you and my only wish is to have the support of my people.

It’s not clear where Alizadeh is right now, but she seems to be in the Netherlands, as there is a photo of her and her fiancé in that country standing by a flower-laden memorial to those who died on the Ukrainian flight shot down by Iran (you can see a Twitter thread here). And in the photo (below), she’s not wearing a hijab:

Another excerpt:

Ms. Alizadeh’s announcement came four months after Saeid Mollaei, one of Iran’s biggest judo stars, defected to Germany. During last year’s judo World Championships, Iranian officials pressured Mr. Mollaei to either withdraw or intentionally lose his semifinal bout, to avoid being matched in the final against an Israeli rival.

Iranian athletes are forbidden to compete against Israelis.

“A lot of our athletes are forced to deal with these matters — and their suffering is growing by the day,” Mr. Mollaei told the German news outlet Deutsche Welle in September. “Many athletes have left their country and left their personal lives there behind to pursue their dreams.”

Ms. Alizadeh said that she had embarked on a “difficult path,” but that she “didn’t want to sit at the table of hypocrisy, lies, injustice and flattery.”

“This decision is even harder than winning the Olympic gold,” Ms. Alizadeh wrote, “but I remain the daughter of Iran wherever I am.”

Here’s a video of Alizadeh in action:

 

A suffragette cartoon

January 10, 2020 • 11:45 am

Well, I’m not sure the cartoon I found is in favor of women voting, but I saw it as part of an exhibit in our Regenstein Library across the street. One good thing about where I work is that the main library is directly across the street, so I can get any book available within about 10 minutes. As lagniappe, the Collections Department often puts up cool displays of rare and archival material. Today, when I went over to get the book Zorba the Greek (I’ll tell you why later), there was a suffragette exhibit of old materials published before women got the vote in the U.S.

Women’s suffrage didn’t in fact become law in this country until 1920,after the states ratified the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution. But the movement began well before that—in the mid 1800s.  This cartoon, from a local Chicago paper, appeared 7 years before women got the right to vote. I put it up because the women are being helped in their cause by CATS. I took pictures through the glass with my iPhone.

The source:

The cartoon (note the caption: “college boys” are perceived as anti-suffrage!)

It’s cats, of course, because d*gs don’t care about women’s rights!

This time the Women’s March is serious: anti-Semite Zahra Biloo kicked off the board

September 20, 2019 • 8:30 am

I could find this news only on right-wing and Israeli sites, and I’m not sure why other Western media didn’t report it. As I mentioned the other day, after the Women’s March dumped (euphemistically called “resignation”) three of its former leaders, Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory, and Bob Bland, they appointed a diverse but much less polarizing board of 15 women. The lone exception was Zahra Billoo, characterized as “a civil rights attorney and executive director of the San Francisco Bay area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.” The CAIR affiliation is worrisome, but far more worrisome was Billoo’s history of unhinged anti-Semitic and anti-Israel tweets, which was the reason the Women’s March (WM) fractured in the first place—and surely why they let Sarsour et al. go (Sarsour is now campaigning for Bernie Sanders, so much the worse for The Bern).

Here is some of what Billoo tweeted several years ago, and you can bet your tuchas that her views haven’t changed (she says as much in her response below):

This one is insane:

The details of Billoo’s deep-sixing can be found, among other places, at the Jerusalem Post (but not at the New York Times or Washington Post). Click on the screenshot:

Billoo responded with a Twitter tantrum. As the Post notes:

Billoo announced that she was voted off the board in a 25-tweet-long thread. “Since this is going to be in your newsfeeds in the morning – here’s a thread about me being voted off the board of @WomensMarch
tonight,” she started the series of tweets.

She described the reports about her as “an Islamophobic smear campaign led by the usual antagonists, who have long targeted me, my colleagues, and anyone else who dares speak out in support of Palestinian human rights and the right to self-determination.”

I won’t put up her entire defiant series of tweets (there are 25), except for three, one of which accuses the WM of letting her go because she was a Muslim woman of color:

Billoo’s Women’s March page is blank now.

Well, I’m heartened that the Women’s March is taking a stand for unity and against anti-Semitism, though I worry that it is too late. For the WM has fractured, with many branches having become independent of the original organization because of Sarsour et al.’s anti-Semitism and Mallory’s refusal to disassociate herself from hatemonger Louis Farrakhan.

I wish the organization well, and applaud them for being one of the more prominent groups to publicly act this way against the hatred of Jews.

The good news and the bad: Sarsour, Mallory, and Bland out as Women’s March leaders, but Sarsour in as a Bernie Sanders “surrogate”

September 17, 2019 • 8:00 am

After both Tablet and and the New York Times exposed the anti-Semitism present among some Women’s March (WM) leaders dating from the group’s formation in 2016, the organization has been racked with disunity and discontent. None of the leaders, including Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez, and Bob Bland, were free from the taint of anti-Semitism, and I wrote a bunch of posts on the organization, urging that they dump these leaders in the cause of unity.

Well, that’s finally happened. As the New York Times (below) and Washington Post report, three of the four leaders (Perez is the exception) have “resigned”, though I suspect they were nudged to resign, since none of them previously showed any desire to leave in the face of criticism. (The official WM announcement is here.)

From the NYT:

The organization said in a statement that their terms expired and that 17 new board members had been appointed after a national search.

Their departure, earlier reported by The Washington Post, follows complaints from some local women’s march leaders that the New York-based group was too insular to lead a national movement. It comes after two of the earliest organizers of the march on Washington accused Ms. Mallory and a fourth co-chair, Carmen Perez-Jordan, of making anti-Semitic remarks.

. . . The group angered some activists in other parts of the country when members tried to trademark the name Women’s March in the wake of the 2017 march, which was put together by loosely connected volunteers, many of whom found one another on Facebook.

. . .Ms. Mallory’s close ties to the Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who is respected in the black community, but is widely reviled in the Jewish community for virulently anti-Semitic remarks, had long raised eyebrows in New York.

The accusations, made public before the 2019 march, heightened a sense of infighting. In some cities, including New York and Philadelphia, two separate women’s marches were held.

There are many new board members, and nobody can accuse the WM of not being diverse. From the Post:

A diverse cast of 16 new board members that includes three Jewish women, a transgender woman, a former legislator, two religious leaders and a member of the Oglala tribe of the Lakota nation will inherit an organization recovering from a failed attempt to trademark the Women’s March name and fractured relationships with local activist groups and the Jewish community.

• Samia Assed, a Palestinian American activist from New Mexico who serves on the board of the Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice and leads the organization’s New Mexico chapter.

• Zahra Billoo, a civil rights attorney and executive director of the San Francisco Bay area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

• Mrinalini Chakraborty, executive director of Men4Choice, who has been a Women’s March organizer and national field director, and founded Women’s March Illinois.

• Rabbi Tamara Cohen, who runs innovation for Moving Traditions, a national organization focused on teens and gender and Jewish identity, who spearheaded the creation of Tzelem, a group for transgender and non-binary youth.

• The Rev. T. Sheri Dickerson, a co-founder of Black Lives Matter in Oklahoma.

• Sarah Eagle Heart, a member of the Oglala Lakota Nation of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota and the former CEO of Native Americans in Philanthropy.

• Lucy Flores, a former Democratic state assemblywoman from Nevada who made headlines this year for accusing former vice president Joe Biden of inappropriate touching. She lives in Los Angeles, where she runs Luz Collective, an organization focused on empowering Latinas.

• Ginny Goldman, a political strategist who founded the Texas Organizing Project in Houston.

• Ginna Green, who runs the strategy arm of liberal Jewish group Bend the Arc and was among a group of Jewish women to lead the 2019 Women’s March on Washington.

• Shawna Knipper, an advocate for organ transplants who received a kidney donation in 2014 and an organizer with Women’s March Pennsylvania.

• Isa Noyola, a Latina transgender activist who serves as deputy director for Mijente, a national grass-roots hub for activism in the Latino community. She is the former deputy director of the Transgender Law Center and in 2015 organized the first national protest of violence against transgender people.

• Kelley Robinson of the District, who serves as Planned Parenthood’s national organizing director.

• Rinku Sen, an Indian American writer and civil rights activist who is the former executive director of racial-justice group Race Forward and publisher of Colorlines.com.

• Leslie Templeton, a youth activist who has focused on disability, health care and drug policy and has served on the Women’s March Disability Caucus.

• Lu-Shawn Thompson, widow of Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson. She has worked to get more black women elected to political office.

Among these, only Billoo (who works for the Council on American-Islamic Relations) poses a potential problem, as she has a history of pretty strong anti-Israel and anti-Zionist (ergo anti-Semitic) remarks, which you can see in this article from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency:
I suspect that any of the previous anti-Semitic shenanigans by the WM will be forestalled this time by the Jews on the board, who include a rabbi.

The bad news is that, according to several sources, including the Jerusalem Post (click on screenshot below), Linda Sarsour, whom I regard as an anti-Semite and an Islamist sotto voce, has been chosen by Bernie Sanders as a “surrogate”. What’s that? According to the Jerusalem Post, it’s “another politician, celebrity or person of influence, campaigning on a candidate’s behalf.”

Sanders appears to be like me: a nonbelieving Jew, and that will garner some of the Jewish vote in 2020. But using Sarsour as a surrogate, while not a good way to get votes from Jews (we know what she’s about), may be a good way to get votes from the anti-Israel Left. This choice alone is enough to make me not vote for Sanders in a primary (I would of course vote for him if he ran against Trump), but I don’t think there’s much chance of Bernie being a Presidential candidate next year.

In the meantime, Sarsour is already acting as a surrogate:

h/t: j. j.

International Women’s Day in Iran

March 8, 2019 • 12:00 pm

It’s International Women’s Day, and in the international spirit I present some women who are fighting very serious oppression—by religion. These are the women who are deemed by Iran and other such countries to be second-class (if not third-class) citizens, and who must adhere to antiquated morality, including covering themselves in veils and sacks lest they excite the lust of men. It’s very odd that the responsibility for this rests on the women rather than the men, but it’s Islam, Jake. Before the revolution in 1979, the women were much freer, and demonstrated against veiling when that regulation was quickly put in place. Now, beneath the covering, burns a spirit of equality. Who knows what these women could achieve if they were given full equality?

I find the video below very touching, and the women, who have broken the law by removing their hijabs, are very brave. If anybody can understand Farsi, please give us a sense of what the women are saying in the video. (When you click on the tweet, you’ll be transferred to Twitter to watch the video. Be sure to turn the sound up.)

From Masih Alinejad, the Iranian-born activist who started the “My Stealthy Freedom” campaign. She was of course jailed, and now lives in exile in America. Again, Farsi translation much appreciated.

Watch the video below by clicking on the tweet, which takes you to the Twitter page. This one has some pretty distressing scenes (not gore but misogyny).

Here’s an article from Foreign Policy, and I give one excerpt below (click on screenshot):

Forty years on, Iranian women—still on the streets making the very same demands—have turned into Tehran’s most indomitable opposition. Young and old, veiled and unveiled, they are staging the boldest acts of civil disobedience the nation has seen since the heady days of 1978. Last year, dozens of unveiled women mounted benches throughout the country and waved white scarves in peaceful defiance of the mandatory dress code laws. Peeling off their headscarves, girls walk on the streets filming themselves and their confrontations with busybodies and morality police. When two such women were arrested in Tehran and forced into a security van to be taken into detention, crowds surrounded the vehicle, took the door off its hinges, and set them free. What is taking place in Iran today can best be described as a rebellious sequel to the suffragettes to gain the right to dress just as their predecessors had helped women get the right to vote. Millett saw this trend decades ago, when she presciently said, “All the things we have fought for since the commencement of the women’s movement in 1847 are in great jeopardy in this society.”

Today, ordinary Iranian women, fed up with their second-class status, are refusing to obey the laws that do not protect them. . . Why are the feminists who so fervently defend the rights of Muslim women to don the hijab in Western countries silent about the plight of Iranian women who demand to have choice? As the leading voice of the anti-mandatory veiling movement, Masih Alinejad once eloquently said before the European Parliament, “We’re not asking you to come and save us. We’ll save ourselves.” Instead, she wanted Western leaders, especially women, to see that Iranian women simply want the same right that European women take for granted: the choice to dress as they wish.

And the money paragraph:

Defending the right of Muslims to don the veil is perfectly appropriate in Western societies where nativists and xenophobes are gathering political momentum. But failing to speak against the veil as a symbol of gender apartheid in countries where it is enforced by law is the betrayal of all the feminist and democratic values they hold dear. Often those who keep silent do so in the name of cultural relativism. Citing the sins of colonialism, they argue that meddling in the matter of the veil is meddling in the indigenous traditions of another people. But if the chief moral flaw of the colonial perspective was its inability to see those whom they ruled over as equals, then the current tolerant liberals can be accused of the same. They fail to see that freedom of choice—in this case, to dress—is not a luxury belonging only to those in the West but a universal right for all. As long as a group of powerful Iranian men impose their will on half of the nation, the right to choose how to dress must remain a global human rights struggle.

 

Masih Alinejad talks about “My Stealthy Freedom”, “White Wednesdays”, and other travails of women in Iran

May 31, 2018 • 11:00 am

Reader J. J. sent me a link to a National Public Radio interview which, if you have a spare half-hour, will both make you angry (at the oppression of women in Iran and what happens to those who protest), but also happy (at the cheerful and optimistic personality of the subject). But let me just copy J. J.’s email, adding a few comments and links:

Perhaps other followers of WEIT have already sent you the link to today’s “Fresh Air”, but in case not, it’s here.

Terry Gross interviews the exiled Iranian journalist, Masih Alinejad, who started “My Stealthy Freedom” campaign on twitter, against compulsory hijab [JAC: She also started the White Wednesdays campaign in which Iranian women wear white one day a week to protest oppression], and who has just published her memoir, The Wind in My Hair: My Fight for Freedom in Modern Iran. Given the nature of her campaign, the import of the title is obvious.  I’m listening right now and must get back to it because I don’t want to miss a second, but I can listen again online. You absolutely must listen from the very beginning to the end (it’s just over 30 min).  She is is amazing.  What a rebuke to Sarsour and all those odious pseudo-feminists with their through-the-looking-glass morals and ethics and sense of freedom (not to mention fashion). She starts off with her experiences wearing the hijab, and goes on from there.

Yes, this is definitely worth a listen. Alinejad, though she’s suffered exile, the inability to see her beloved mother, and the disapprobation of her strict Islamic father (she now lives in the U.S.), not to mention arrest and death threats that continue, is relentlessly upbeat throughout. She’s also a wonderful singer, and gives us two examples of songs. (I didn’t realize that women aren’t allowed to sing in Iran.)

No doubt she’ll be written off as a “native informant” by over-the-top defenders of Islam like Khaled A. Beydoun (if you want to see an unhinged hit job on people like Maajid Nawaz, Asra Nomani, and other reformist Muslims, see Beydoun’s new Guardian article), but to me she’s a hero. As I said yesterday, some people just carp about oppression to flaunt their moral bona fides, but Alinejad has sacrificed her country, her family, and her safety by standing up for women’s rights.  Why aren’t people like Linda Sarsour using her as a role model instead of bigots like Louis Farrakhan? Well, you know the answer to that one.

Here’s Alinejad singing in her car.

Ireland repeals its 8th amendment

May 26, 2018 • 10:30 am

by Grania Spingies

When I look at the video of Savita Halappanavar dancing in the streets of Galway back in 2011, it brings tears to my eyes, because she will never dance or smile or laugh again. Ireland killed her. When she miscarried a year later, Ireland’s draconian position on abortion prevented her from getting the medical intervention she so desperately needed, and she died a few days later from septicemia.  I cannot even contemplate the anguish and anger of her husband and parents. This should never have happened in the 21st century.

Savita’s harrowing story was by no means unique, however it sparked a nationwide conversation in Ireland, one that was many decades overdue.

The campaign to repeal Ireland’s 8th Amendment has steadily grown in numbers and intensity from a time when few thought that a referendum would ever happen, to the point when the Repeal Campaign not only had the support of Taoiseach (prime minister) Leo Varadkar, but also the leader of the major opposition party Micheál Martin.

Only a few years ago this seemed unthinkable, not because many people did not want provision to be made for abortion, but because people genuinely feared that there would be little support in a country where traditionally so many of the laws were written under the influence of the Catholic Church. Under Irish law, a rape victim who procured an abortion was liable to serve a longer jail sentence than her rapist.

In recent years however, the Catholic Church has lost nearly all of its influence over the people of Ireland, in spite of still nominally being the majority religion of the country. The scandals of child abuse by the clergy, the exploitation of women in “Laundries” and the steady march of modernity and socioeconomic affluence has caused the Church to steadily lose members. More importantly, the Divorce referendum in 1995 and the Same-Sex Marriage referendum of 2015 showed that Irish Catholics no longer took their cues from the clergy.

 

So tarnished is the Church’s reputation that they deliberately tried to play a muted role in the No campaign, although they just couldn’t quite contain themselves, and the Bishops had Pro-Life letters read out in as many parishes as they could manage during Sunday Mass a couple of weeks ago. There is no such thing as separation of Church and State over here. The No side has fought a vigorous if at times bizarre campaign over the months leading up to the referendum. It’s been marked by unapologetic misinformation, scaremongering and outright lies that have had to be combated by doctors who publicly campaigned to repeal the amendment. I don’t mean to be glib. I am sure that there are anti-abortion people who have honest arguments for their position. The No campaign, however, chose to go with sensational and lurid schlock and horror instead, displaying crimson photos of unborn fetuses and an outright denial of medical reality.

There’s also been a visible presence of Pro-Life American evangelicals who blagged their way into Ireland for the purpose of trying to sway the vote against Pro-Choice. This may unintentionally have done more damage than good to their cause. Ireland is a small country, and it doesn’t take much for news to spread across the entire land. In addition, American-style religious witnessing and testifying doesn’t play well over here. Not only does it not generate a currency of respect, it is regarded as bad manners at best and more likely as the sign of an unhinged mind.

 

A sample of the No campaign’s supporters on Twitter: short on facts, high on melodrama, incapable of hiding their religious roots. Many of the below are also not Irish accounts which created a false impression of how much support the No side had. Tactically this isn’t smart as it generated a sense of urgency on the side of the Yes campaign to ensure maximal turnout at the voting station.

A final verdict on Friday night once the Exit Polls were published, and that verdict is Dances With Goats.

Some points worth noting:

Although the older demographic was expected to be guaranteed to vote ‘No’, a surprising number publicly chose to support the Yes to Repeal campaign. Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising at all, as they—more so than anyone else—have lived through the worst human rights horrors in Ireland.

 

Around 40,000 Irish ex-pats are still eligible to vote and many of them returned to cast their ballot, as they did during the 2015 Same-Sex Marriage referendum. There are a multitude of stories of people crowd-sourcing the funds to purchase tickets to travel from all over the world, many of them Millennials who largely supported the Repeal campaign.

People also posted thoughts as they voted.

Final tallies of the vote confirm what last night’s exit polls promised. Ireland has voted to repeal its Eight Amendment allowing for legislation to make provision for abortion to be passed. The No campaign has conceded defeat. The mood is triumphant but emotional: the cost of reaching this point has been high and the cruelty of the past can never really be undone.

https://twitter.com/b_m_hughes/status/1000336866867138560

On a more long-term note, the Catholic Church has lost another major battle for the hearts and minds of the Irish people. Two last places remain to it: schools and hospitals. I predict that at least one of those will fall too once the Church tries to undermine abortion procedures (and it will) carried out in hospitals that it claims authority over. Just to be clear, the hospitals are entirely funded by Irish taxpayers. However the Catholic Church still has control over some hospitals as members of Boards of Directors. Legislators are going to have to address this in the coming months.

Grania explains today’s Irish referendum on abortion

May 25, 2018 • 8:30 am

Today Ireland is at last holding a referendum on abortion. Grania, who of course lives in that country, explains it to us concisely:

Today Ireland is holding a referendum to poll whether the people wish to repeal the 8th amendment. Here’s some background.

Article 40.3.3, known as the Eighth Amendment, was voted into the Irish Constitution by referendum in 1983. The amendment states: “The state acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.:

The amendment equates the life of a pregnant woman with that of an embryo or foetus, and has created an unworkable distinction between a pregnant woman’s life and her health.

The amendment was set in place specifically and deliberately to prevent abortion in Ireland. As a direct result, pregnant women were denied life-saving medical interventions if such interventions could interfere with the health of the fetus. In addition to this, it meant that nobody could obtain abortion under any circumstance—not rape, incest, fatal fetal abnormalities.

Women in Ireland have only one option, to travel to the UK where they could obtain an abortion—dependent of course on whether they are physically or financially able to do so.

In 1992, Ireland held a referendum to try to ban women from travelling outside of Ireland to obtain an abortion. Fortunately, this attempt failed and Ireland was left with the hypocritical, dangerous and bizarre position of having condoned abortion so long as it happens outside of the country’s borders.

The need for the referendum is because the Irish Constitution cannot be amended unless ratified by a simple majority.

The effect of the referendum is only to repeal the Eighth Amendment. Later legislation will have to be enacted. Currently proposed legislation would allow for unlimited abortion up to 12 weeks, and afterwards only for medical reasons.

Grania will report tomorrow on the outcome, but people are hopeful it will pass. The Catholic Church, of course, is weighing in heavily on the “no repeal” side, but polls show that more than 50% of voters are in favor of repeal.  I am heartened by the many people on Twitter supporting the repeal. This one, in particular, warmed my heart: these people all met at the airport; they were independently returning to Ireland just to vote:

Grania found these tweets and pictures; three Twitter hashtags are Together for YES, Repeal the Eighth, and Home to Vote (see also here).