CQ Radio: Tom Bevan, Real Clear Politics

Update: Libby loses his appeal (see below). We’ll take your calls on this in the first half hour — be sure to tune in!
blog radio
Today on CQ Radio (2 pm CT), we’ll have Tom Bevan from Real Clear Politics to talk about Barack Obama’s big fundraising quarter and what it means for Hillary Clinton and the Republicans. We’ll also catch up on their latest polls for the presidential primaries and talk more about RCP’s expanding role in political punditry. The first half of the show will be an open forum for CQ Radio listeners to call about their hot topics of the day.
Call 646-652-4889 to join the conversation! Also, you can subscribe to CQ Radio through iTunes now by clicking this link:
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UPDATE II: Rick Moran is liveblogging Congress — the Continental Congress, that is! Be sure to keep up with Rick’s celebration of Independence Day. I wonder if he’ll live-blog the post-Declaration party, which as I recall was a meltdown of alcohol and heat …

Why Is This Man Smiling?

Doesn’t Lindsey Graham know that his poll numbers are sliding downhill? Hasn’t the national spotlight on his angry attacks against opponents of his immigration bill made him nervous about his re-election bid next year? At Heading Right, we look at The Politico’s report on Graham’s prospects and discover why he felt so comfortable in going apoplectic this summer.

CQ Radio: Mark Tapscott, NZ Bear, And Contest Winner!

blog radio
Today on CQ Radio (2 pm CT), Mark Tapscott joins us for the first half of the show. Mark and I will discuss the LA Times’ poll as it regards party identification, and we’ll also talk about porkbusting and earmark news on the Hill today. Mark will join me in naming the winner of our Rename Earmarks contest as well.
NZ Bear will join me afterwards to continue the review of David Obey’s machinations on earmarks, the pork-laden energy bill, the Sopranos finale, Paris Hilton’s jail sentence, and anything else that crosses our minds! You can join the conversation by calling 646-652-4889.
Tomorrow, I’ll have two excellent guests. U.S. Congressman Tim Walberg joins me in the first half of the show to talk about his new tax hike prevention bill, which already has 80 co-sponsors, as well as his impressions about being a freshman Republican in a Democratic majority. In the second half, Senator John Ensign joins me to talk about the NRSC and its efforts to win back the majority — and we’ll be sure to ask him about his Nevada colleague Harry Reid and the immigration bill. If you want a chance to talk directly to the Senate about this bill, you’ll have your chance tomorrow!
Next Thursday evening, I will debate James Boyce of the Huffington Post at BlogTalkRadio’s Debate Central at 7:30 pm ET. The topics: Fred Thompson’s impact on the Republican race, and Bill Richardson’s policy on Iraq. Don’t miss it!
The live player will start automatically if you click on the link to the extended entry. You can also listen from the player on the sidebar.

Continue reading “CQ Radio: Mark Tapscott, NZ Bear, And Contest Winner!”

Muslims For Peace – Women Need Not Apply


Some 3 million Muslims put aside their country’s violent struggle with political corruption and Islamic extremists and raised their hands in prayer for global peace at one of the world’s largest religious gatherings.
The final prayer Sunday capped a three-day Islamic gathering on the sandy banks of the River Turag in a small industrial town just north of Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital.
Pilgrims, many of whom left work early to join the prayer, streamed into the site stretching 190 acres along both banks of the river. As the crowd overflowed the space, people arrived at the site on packed boats or climbed onto the rooftops of nearby buildings.
The annual gathering shuns politics, which have become increasingly bloody in Bangladesh, and focuses on reviving the tenets of Islam and promoting peace and harmony.

Or, not so much:

Female Muslims, with the exception of high-ranking officials, were not allowed to attend, but hundreds gathered in nearby villages to take part in the event.

The effort should be applauded and noted. Muslim moderates exist, and it’s about time we see them take to the streets to demonstrate for something other than death to editorial cartoonists. It’s even more impressive to see this kind of demonstration in a country with as much political tension as Bangladesh.
However, the exclusion of women keeps us from taking it too seriously. If moderates truly want to gain control of Islam from the lunatics, they have to free their wives and daughters.

A Limit To Media Bashing

Rich Lowry wrote a provocative column at National Review Online yesterday — a challenge of sorts to his conservative readers regarding their war against the mainstream media. Lowry warns against building up an image of the media as a vast liberal conspiracy, an image as false as the media’s own self-image of objectivity:

The conservative campaign against the mainstream media has scored notable successes. It exposed Dan Rather’s forged National Guard memo and jumped all over Newsweek’s absurd report of a Koran-flushing incident at Guantanamo Bay. The mainstream media is biased, arrogant, prone to stultifying group-think and much more fallible than its exalted self-image allows it to admit. It also, however, can be right, and this is most confounding to conservatives. …
The “good news” that conservatives have accused the media of not reporting has generally been pretty weak. The Iraqi elections were indeed major accomplishments. But the opening of schools and hospitals is not particularly newsworthy, at least not compared with American casualties and with sectarian attacks meant to bring Iraq down around everyone’s heads in a full-scale civil war. An old conservative chestnut has it that only four of Iraq’s 18 provinces are beset by violence. True, but those provinces include 40 percent of the population, as well as the capital city, where the battle over the country’s future is being waged.
In their distrust of the mainstream media, their defensiveness over President Bush and the war, and their understandable urge to buck up the nation’s will, many conservatives lost touch with reality on Iraq. They thought that they were contributing to our success, but they were only helping to forestall a cold look at conditions there and the change in strategy and tactics that would be dictated by it.

I suspect that Lowry has it more right than many of us in the blogosphere would like to admit. Certainly the media has its biases, but it simply cannot be as wrong as many of us would like to believe. Unfortunately, mainstream media outlets undermine their own credibility when they continue to insist that obvious examples of egregious malfeasance, such as Rathergate and the Eason Jordan scandals, never occurred.
Someone commented here a few days ago that we go to war with the media we have. In this case, we have done better than that — we have found sources on the front lines who report directly to us, so that we can hear good news when it occurs. However, the bad news is also occurring, and we cannot write all of it off to bias. Lowry talks about realism in the non-political sense, which is to base policy and decisions on fact and not wishful thinking. Again, though, the issue is still one of credibility: can we trust the media sources that have played fast and loose in the past?
The only solution is for news consumers to get their information through multiple sources, a lesson that bloggers learned long ago. Talk to the prime movers directly when possible, insist on metrics when they exist, and compare and contrast versions of events told from several perspectives. None of this is new advice, but it is good advice. We cannot become so paranoid that we fail to listen to anyone except ourselves, because as Lowry points out, that’s when bad decisions and disastrous policies occur.
Mainstream media outlets have their biases; they also have plenty of good reporting on which one can rely. It’s up to us as discriminating consumers to find the difference.
Addendum: Of course, we could do without the sneering and condescending attitude towards their readers, embodied today by Joseph Rago. Too often the self-appointed high priests of journalistic purity forget that bloggers represent their most committed readers, and wind up issuing silly pronouncements about the failings of the blogosphere — and poorly edited pronouncements at that, as Chris Muir points out in today’s DBD.
Also, make sure you read Jules Crittenden’s take.
UPDATE: I made a mistake with Jules’ name, which I just corrected. At least I had it right in the link …

Michael J. Fox on CBS and the goo of victimhood

Michael J. Fox is going to do a couple of minutes with Katie Couric this evening on the CBS Evening News. In considering what that will be like, I realize that 30-minute broadcast news shows are essentially pointless. In the space of a few minutes, Couric cannot be more penetrating than a prop knife, and between greetings, sympathetic murmurings and a background briefing to get viewers up to speed (and time to thwack the deserving Rush Limbaugh) there will be no time to ask a question that someone really needs to ask Mr. Fox:
If your ads are not meant merely to generally paint Republicans as heartless science-hating bastards content to see you suffer, why did you make an ad similar similar to the McCaskill one for the Maryland race, supporting Cardin…WHO DOES NOT SUPPORT ESCR?
I am sure Couric will not ask that question with the excuse that there is no time. Which begs the this question: aside from making money, what’s the freaking point of a nightly news broadcast, if you can’t ask a question that gets to the heart of a thing?
Like Betsy Newmark, I basically think – from what I’ve read – that Limbaugh was very foolish in his initial response to the McCaskill ad by Fox. I’m not excusing his bloviating, but I do think I understand why Limbaugh lost it. He saw, once again, a Democrat gambit that was built on establishing “absolute moral authority” on the suffering of an individual simply because that individual was advocating an agreeable position (ala, for example Cindy Sheehan). Just as, during the heyday of Cindy Sheehan’s presidential stalking one never saw news stories profiling grieving mothers of dead soldiers who support the war, you will never see a Parkinson’s Sufferer such as the Rev. Billy Graham, being asked his thoughts about Embryonic Stem Cell Research. No one ever asked Pope John Paul II about it, either. They wouldn’t give the agreeable answers, you know.
It’s very unlikely that the GOP would ever create an ad using – fer instance – Billy Graham, or Muhammed Ali – to rebut the Fox ad, but perhaps it should. Maybe the Rev. Graham should make such an ad and proclaim that he’d rather deal with the cards he has been handed than destroy human embryos – beings of identifiably human species – to get out of his situation. THAT would certainly enliven things, wouldn’t it? Don’t you think?
The Democrats would be filled with umbrage at the implied message within, that they are craven and selfish and faithless. PLEASE NOTE: I do not call Mr. Fox craven, selfish or faithless for wanting and hoping for a cure – I am merely positing a theory of how such an ad would be perceived.
I will, though, call Fox a little disingenuous in how he is portraying the research and the politics of the issue he has raised.
Such an ad would provoke a response that would be ugly, ugly, ugly, for sure…but it might make the Democrats understand what it feels like to have their positions and beliefs so portrayed. It might, finally, put an end to the “scorched earth” crap that has ruled politics since…well…1992.
And it might finally blow an everlasting hole in the “sympathetic victim” political ploy – one clearly promulgated by the lawyers who have overrun politics. The “sympathetic victim” sways juries, so he will sway voters, too. It’s time to stop it. I don’t want public policy built on the emotionalism of our own tender sensibilities any more than I want a good but misguided, feisty email opponant to tell me he doesn’t want to fight me any more because now that he has seen my childhood victimization he can’t dislike me so much; “now you’re more human to me,” he says.
You know what I say? Screw that! If two years and almost 4,000 posts have not amply displayed my humanity – if I cannot be “fully human” to this guy until I am given some sort of credibility via victimhood, then it seems to me he (and his ilk) needs to consider that he has put entirely too much faith in defining people by convenient labels (Conservative! Liberal! Christianist! Victim!) rather than by the content and exposition of a persons character.
The sufferings or privileges of a person’s past should have no bearing on whether or not you will deign to give them an ordinary measure of respect, and victimhood should never confer instant credibility (or unquestioning moral authority) on anyone, and I will not accept the empathetic and well-meaning gesture of my correspondant. I am still the exact same person I was last week, when he considered me more than worth a good tussle, and I will be damned if anyone is going to kid-glove and soft-focus me. Put up yer dukes, pally…you and me ain’t done fighting by a long shot, and don’t you dare freaking pity me and just roll over, or I’ll hammer you senseless.
And that is precisely the issue with Michael J. Fox. He is misinforming a lot of people on a serious scientific issue, and he is hoping to sway their thinking based upon nothing but their sympathies. And he cannot be fought with because to fight with him is to be “mean” and unfeeling. So, we’re supposed to just lay down and concede, deciding that “because we feel badly for Fox, everything he says is unassailable and only heartless bastards would dare to ask him straight questions.”
If you want to enter an arena of ideas, you can’t stuff your glove with “don’t you feel bad for me” brass knuckles and then call it a fair match. You cannot sucker-punch your opponant by playing on a ref’s sympathies. And I’m a little disappointed in Fox, that he is content to do so. And I’m disappointed in the rest of the people who are content to let him. Sorry, but to my way of thinking, emotionally surrendering to Michael J. Fox’s ads simply because he’s suffering is to show him – and our whole democratic process – tremendous disrespect.
And hey, I should know, right? You should listen to me, because I’ve suffered too…so I must know what I’m talking about.
Crossposted at http://theanchoressonline.com/2006/10/26/fox-on-couric-tonight/

Diagnoising Death through Demographics

As a long-time fan of Mark Steyn I looked forward to reading this interview with him out of Human Events, just as I have long-anticipated his book America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It.
One of Steyn’s consistant themes over the past few years is a warning that Europe was not merely the sick patient of the West – that she was actively transitioning from life unto death, and death will bring no victory, only only backward momentum:
Basically the European nations are dying and the populations in them are turning into relatively hostile Muslim populations, not all of them terrorists, but all of them, almost all of those people not sympathetic to America and American interests. And I feel that the great assumption that we all have, that the present tense is somehow permanent, or that it’s like technological progress. You know, it’s like, cars don’t go backwards. You don’t suddenly have a Cadillac Escalade and you go out into the yard one morning and it’s turned into a Ford Model T and it’s got a rumble seat and all kinds of other stuff in it. You take the view that—we think that social progress is like technological progress, that it can never be reversed, but I think it can be reversed and I think a lot of the world is going to be re-primitivized in the decades ahead and America has to change.
For as long as I have been reading Steyn, he has used demographics to powerfully make his point. He does so in this book as well, and the numbers are sobering. America Alone is a book you will want to read, and I urge you to. The world is going to look very, very different in another generation, and your children will be dealing with it. You need to anticipate it.
As if to whet your appetite, Brussels Journal has today a piece along the same lines, and just as sobering and demonstrative:

The German author Henryk M. Broder recently told the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant (12 October) that young Europeans who love freedom, better emigrate. Europe as we know it will no longer exist 20 years from now. Whilst sitting on a terrace in Berlin, Broder pointed to the other customers and the passers-by and said melancholically: “We are watching the world of yesterday.”
Europe is turning Muslim. As Broder is sixty years old he is not going to emigrate himself. “I am too old,” he said. However, he urged young people to get out and “move to Australia or New Zealand. That is the only option they have if they want to avoid the plagues that will turn the old continent uninhabitable.”
Many Germans and Dutch, apparently, did not wait for Broder’s advice. The number of emigrants leaving the Netherlands and Germany has already surpassed the number of immigrants moving in. [emphasis mine – anchoress] One does not have to be prophetic to predict, like Henryk Broder, that Europe is becoming Islamic. Just consider the demographics. The number of Muslims in contemporary Europe is estimated to be 50 million. It is expected to double in twenty years. By 2025, one third of all European children will be born to Muslim families. Today Mohammed is already the most popular name for new-born boys in Brussels, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and other major European cities.

This article also addresses the inability and disinterest of secularist cultures (not, mind you secular governments, but the culture of the secular elite) to fight to keep what they have: In a recent op-ed piece in the Brussels newspaper De Standaard (23 October) the Dutch (gay and self-declared “humanist”) author Oscar Van den Boogaard refers to Broder’s interview. Van den Boogaard says that to him coping with the islamization of Europe is like “a process of mourning.” He is overwhelmed by a “feeling of sadness.” “I am not a warrior,” he says, “but who is? I have never learned to fight for my freedom. I was only good at enjoying it.”
We are in for an interesting few decades. The last few weeks have seen releases of books like Damon Linker’s The Theocons: Secular America Under Siege, which sound the warning bell that American liberty is in danger from the Christian people – you know, the ones who built the Europe which now lies gasping and moribund under secularism. Linker and his ilk take the extreme view that Christians in America are the equivalent of the Taliban.
But in worrying about what they perceive to be a turn toward religious governance in America (which would not be a particularly good thing, btw, but which I am also quite sure Americans would never ascent to) the fearful secularists are missing an important truth that is going to be meaningful to our own survival: eventually it is going to come down to America and Islamic regimes. If America is going to effectively fight people who have sensibilities which are locked not only into the here-and-now, but into the supernatural side, as well…then we’d damn well better not lose touch with our own supernatural sensibilities, with our own disposition of faith.
The Brussels Journal piece ends thusly: “If faith collapses, civilization goes with it,” says [Tom] Bethell. That is the real cause of the closing of civilization in Europe. Islamization is simply the consequence. The very word Islam means “submission” and the secularists have submitted already. Many Europeans have already become Muslims, though they do not realize it or do not want to admit it.
People, particularly the hardline secularists, do not want to admit it but America is going to be forced to play things out on both a secular and supernatural stage, if she is going to stay alive, and not just alive but comprehensively American. Those, like Rosie O’ Donnell, who would lump the Taliban and American Christians into the same boat do not realize that in doing so they are consigning themselves to Europe’s fate. And Europe is dying. Europe will not fight.
UPDATE: Meanwhile, Paris is Burning. Coverage of the turmoil will continue to be light, and the obit is being prepared. And Michelle Malkin is interviewing Mark Steyn.
*Crossposted at The Anchoress Online
Since the Captain is feeling punk today, I offered to throw a few pieces up on the board!

Anchoress raises anchor to depart…

Now that the good Captain and his First Mate have returned from their sojourn, I am going to take this opportunity to hoist anchor (is that the phrase) and detach my dingy from the Captain’s accomodating vessel. Ed is back (he’s probably watching football…) so, this extra pair of hands can stand down.
I want to take this opportunity to heartfully thank Ed for inviting me to guest-blog for him; it was both terrifying and fun. I don’t think I embarrassed him too badly, but I am quite aware of my limitations and therefore admit that now he’s returned the quality of the blog will rise like a fresh incoming tide, lifting all posts – which is good, because it will clear out my debris. [See my note below — CE.]
The truth is, I have to go make a Brandy Alexander Pie for a friend who keeps asking for them and telling me they are for her poor elderly mother. I’m beginning to wonder about how true that is, though. Seems to me her mother would be quite pickled, by now. The recipe (with disclaimer) if you’d like to try it:
Brandy Alexander Pie
1 env. unflavored gelatin
1/2 c cold water
2/3 c sugar
1/2 tspn salt
3 eggs, seperated
1/4 c cognac. Don’t be cheap, use the good stuff.
1/4 c creme de cacao
2 c heavy cream
1 tspn sugar
1 9″ graham cracker crust
chocolate curls for garnish
Sprinkle gelatin over the cold water in a saucepan. Add 1/3 c of the sugar, the salt and the egg yolks. Stir to blend.
Heat over low flame while stirring until the gelatin dissolves and the mixture thickens. DO NOT BOIL.
Remove from heat and stir in the cognac and creme de cacao. Chill until mixture starts to set slightly.
Beat egg whites until stiff. Gradually beat in the remaining sugar and fold into the thickened mixture
Whip 1 c cream into whipped cream and fold into the mixture. Turn it all into the crust and chill for several hours or overnight.
Before serving, whip second c of cream with tspn of sugar and use to garnish pie, then sprinkle with chocolate curls. WARNING: Do not drive or operate machinery after eating this thing. Also, have a defribulator nearby.
Note: I owe The Anchoress a big round of thanks, and maybe a big round of Guinness. She did a wonderful job of filling in for me — don’t let her modesty fool you. And she’s right … I am watching football and trying to get some rest after an intense Encounter weekend. I’ll have more later!

Funniest Headline EVER!

I read this headline and almost died laughing:
GOP Losses Could Spark Partisan Warfare
Because clearly we’ve been living through an era of sweetness and light as far as politics and political theater are concerned. There have been no partisan snipings, no “scorched earth” policies over the past 6 years.
Of course, from what we’re seeing elsewhere, another headline could be quickly written: Dem Losses Could Spark Limited Rioting.
You see, there are some paranoid types on the left who are predicting nothing less than a Bush Administration declaration of Marial Law. Sister Toldjah posts some gorgeous hysteria/paranoia from one Lyn Lear Davis, Beverly Hills Matron type:
When I asked Gore Vidal at dinner why the White House seemed so serene and at ease about the vote, he replied that, this time around, the Bush-Cheney henchmen could simply call on martial law. He glumly noted that we are so far down the road toward totalitarianism that, even if Democrats do win back the Congress, it would take at least two generations before the last six years of damage to the nation could be reversed. Gore frankly despaired that any amount of time could ever return the country to where and what it previously was. This prediction left me reaching for some Fernet Branca.
I doubt this woman realizes that she sounds like a perfect parody of the deluded, imaginative, name-dropping limo liberal. Too damn funny. But this is the best part. Lyn Lear Davis writes:
But whether it is hubris, loony tunes, or both, the White House’s freakish calm about the elections makes me as nervous as the hell we seem to be headed for. Therefore we should all be on alert. If for whatever reason we don’t win back Congress in November the only real answer will be to take to the streets.
Blue Crab Boulevard suspects any taking it to the streets will likely be done by the help.
The truth is, there are so many stories being floated by the press right now, “The Dems have it in the bag,” “The deal isn’t closed,” “Voter fraud may be an issue,” (yes, I believe that’s quite true, and Gateway Pundit is the genius at keeping track of it, and not just in St. Louis. Voter fraud does seem to be a predominantly leftish proclivity) “Bush is eerily calm…” There are seeds of all sorts of ideas being planted in these final weeks before the election, so that no matter what actually sprouts up on election day (or post-election) each story harvested can claim to have been “predicted” by someone. Politics in the 21st century is pure insanity. In my morbid curiosity, I cannot look away.
Crossposted at The Anchoress Online.

WaPo gives three veiled perspectives

Interestingly, the Washington Post is carrying three op-ed pieces today touching on women and Islam, Clothes Aren’t the Issue, by Asra Q. Nomani, How I Came to Love the Veil by Yvonne Ridley and Coverings Uncovered by Farzaneh Milani.
In Nomani’s piece, the veil is incidental to the rest of the article, which focuses on the problem of domestic violence within Islamic houses, and how that “permitted” violence can be extrapolated as permissable violence within the world:
Western leaders, including British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, have recently focused on Muslim women’s veils as an obstacle to integration in the West. But to me, it is 4:34 that poses the much deeper challenge of integration. How the Muslim world interprets this passage will reveal whether Islam can be compatible with life in the 21st century. As Hadayai Majeed, an African American Muslim who had opened a shelter in Atlanta to serve Muslim women, put it, “If it’s okay for me to be a savage in my home, it’s okay for me to be a savage in the world.”
Not long after… Mahmoud Shalash, an imam from Lexington, Ky., stood at the pulpit of my mosque and offered marital advice to the 100 or so men sitting before him. He repeated the three-step plan, with “beat them” as his final suggestion. Upstairs, in the women’s balcony, sat a Muslim friend who had recently left her husband, who she said had abused her; her spouse sat among the men in the main hall.
At the sermon’s end, I approached Shalash. “This is America,” I protested. “How can you tell men to beat their wives?”
“They should beat them lightly,” he explained. “It’s in the Koran.”

Nomani also writes: As long as the beating of women is acceptable in Islam, the problem of suicide bombers, jihadists and others who espouse violence will not go away; to me, they form part of a continuum.
Interestingly, she ends her piece with some anecdotal evidence: should a woman make it clear to her husband that she would tolerate nothing so much as “a crack with a rolled-up newspaper,” this whole question of wife-beating would disappear.
Which suggests that if target countries and civilizations were to make it clear that they will not tolerate terrorism…ah, well. You can finish that sentence.
Milani’s piece looks at the ancient and recent history of the veil and points out that there have always been Islamic women who loved the veil, and who hated it.
The most interesting, passionate and defensive of these three pieces is Yvonne Ridley’s How I Came to Love the Veil. Ridley’s conversion to Islam came after briefly being held captive by the Taliban in Afghanistan, during which time she promised her captives she would “study” Islam when set free:

Back home in London, I kept my word about studying Islam — and was amazed by what I discovered. I’d been expecting Koran chapters on how to beat your wife and oppress your daughters; instead, I found passages promoting the liberation of women. Two-and-a-half years after my capture, I converted to Islam…
Having been on both sides of the veil, I can tell you that most Western male politicians and journalists who lament the oppression of women in the Islamic world have no idea what they are talking about.

Riley makes a heady defense for the veil and – in fine Western feminist fashion – she lashes out at the Western men who dare to critique the mandatory wearing of it She conveniently forgets to mention that Western men have been trained over decades – by women like herself – to find this Muslim garb objectionable. She also seems not to realize that one of the first Western voices raised against enforced coverage was a woman’s voice, as Mavis Leno, wife of Jay Leno, worked for years to bring attention to the subjegation of Muslim women.
Her piece is a fascinating hodgepodge of past and present prejudices all jumbling about as Riley works to justify her conversion from a feminist standpoint. Whether intending to or not, she demonstrates the mystery of voluntary surrender and the Pauline paradox, “when I am weak, then I am strong.” In this case, the paradox is the often true one that with (voluntary, I reiterate) subjugation comes freedom:
A careful reading of the Koran shows that just about everything that Western feminists fought for in the 1970s was available to Muslim women 1,400 years ago. Women in Islam are considered equal to men in spirituality, education and worth, and a woman’s gift for childbirth and child-rearing is regarded as a positive attribute.
Hmph. I think I could say precisely the same thing about Catholicism – in fact I have – but I somehow doubt a woman like Riley would concur with my assertions. I doubt very much that she would look at, for instance, a Catholic nun in a traditional habit and see a woman who has been freed from social conformities (no fretting over hair, clothing, boob size) and is thus able to be reckoned with simply as and for herself, as a woman in full, and yet this is what she now declares she finds under the veil:

I was a Western feminist for many years, but I’ve discovered that Muslim feminists are more radical than their secular counterparts. We hate those ghastly beauty pageants, and tried to stop laughing in 2003 when judges of the Miss Earth competition hailed the emergence of a bikini-clad Miss Afghanistan, Vida Samadzai, as a giant leap for women’s liberation…
Some young Muslim feminists consider the hijab and the nikab political symbols, too, a way of rejecting Western excesses such as binge drinking, casual sex and drug use. What is more liberating: being judged on the length of your skirt and the size of your surgically enhanced breasts, or being judged on your character and intelligence? In Islam, superiority is achieved through piety — not beauty, wealth, power, position or sex.
Under Islam, I am respected. It tells me that I have a right to an education and that it is my duty to seek out knowledge, regardless of whether I am single or married. Nowhere in the framework of Islam are we told that women must wash, clean or cook for men. As for how Muslim men are allowed to beat their wives — it’s simply not true. Critics of Islam will quote random Koranic verses or hadith, but usually out of context. If a man does raise a finger against his wife, he is not allowed to leave a mark on her body, which is the Koran’s way of saying, “Don’t beat your wife, stupid.”

Clearly, as demonstrated in the other two featured op-eds, Riley’s interpretation of that Koranic verse is not everyone’s. Further, I would argue that under any religious system, not merely Islam, all of the things she is claiming for herself would be equally available to her. Riley probably doesn’t realize this because very likely her previous religion was the religion of PC secularism, which is all about rhetoric and illusion. Having fully embraced its illusions, she can never again claim for herself a “Western” religion without losing her feminist face. Hence she has turned Eastward, and covered it.
In some ways, Riley certainly does make it sound attractive. I have spoken with nuns who wear traditional or near-traditional habits and they tell me they appreciate the freedom of the garb, that it unshackles them from concerns of hair-dressing and wardrobe fussing, leaving them free to do what they think of as their “proper” work, so I can appreciate Riley’s sense of liberation under the veil. But some of what she has written here sounds like protesting too much.
It would not surprise me, though, to see other feminist women decide to take the veil of Islam in order to declare themselves liberated, partly because so many feminists, particularly radical feminists, are all about rejection of Western norms, extreme action and, yes, trendy thought. I’ve wondered for a year or more whether we might see a number of Western women go “undercover” because it seems glamorous, rebellious and edgy, and I wonder if this Sunday Hajib Edition of the Washington Post is not going to be the catalyst for such a trend. Perhaps.
And perhaps the feminist embrasure of head coverings and veils might be a boon and a saving adjustment to Islam…depending, I suppose, on just how tightly rolled is the newspaper.
UPDATE: Beth gives us some interesting background on Yvonne Riley.
Crossposted at The Anchoress Online