Who would have thought centuries after the Enlightenment that sophisticated Europeans - in fear of radical Islamists - would be afraid to write a novel, put on an opera, draw a cartoon, film a documentary or have their pope discuss comparative theology?
The astonishing fact is not just that millions of women worldwide in 2006 are still veiled from head-to-toe, trapped in arranged marriages, subject to polygamy, honor killings and forced circumcision, or are without the right to vote or appear alone in public. What is more baffling is that in the West, liberal Europeans are often wary of protecting female citizens from the excesses of Sharia law - sometimes even fearful of asking women to unveil their faces for purposes of simple identification and official conversation.
Who these days is shocked that Israel is hated by Arab nations and threatened with annihilation by radical Iran? Instead, the surprise is that even in places like Paris or Seattle, Jews are singled out and killed for the apparent crime of being Jewish.
Since Sept. 11, the West has fought enemies who are determined to bring back the nightmarish world that we thought was long past....
civilization is forfeited with a whimper, not a bang. Insidiously, we have allowed radical Islamists to redefine the primordial into the not-so-bad. Perhaps women in head-to-toe burkas in Europe prefer them? Maybe that crass German opera was just too over the top after all? Aren't both parties equally to blame in the Palestinian, Iraqi and Afghan wars?
In the last two days, I have been writing about just one aspect of how the modern-day barbarians would like to take us back to the Middle/Dark Ages--and that is on the issue of women's pervasive oppression under Islam (see here and here). Let me make one last point that even a ditzy former feminist like Yvonne Ridley should be able to appreciate.
That issue for women is freedom of choice (surely even a former feminist and current dhimmi can appreciate the irony here).
It is too true that many Islamic women like Ridley happily defend their oppression and defend their oppressors. This is not a phenomenon that is exclusive to the situation under Islamic shar'ia and Arab misogyny; and I have witnessed the same psychological defense in battered women who ferociously defend the men who abuse them, even unto death. (I recount a personal experience with this in this post)
The only response to women who enable and support not only their own oppression, but that of other women, is to remind them that, how they live and under what conditions, is clearly their own free choice -- at least in the Western world.
However, as long as there are other women in their society who do not voluntarily choose to live that way, or are forced to continue to live that way when they have changed their mind; who are forced to wear certain clothing; prevented from driving or acting independently and freely of their own choosing---then the protestations of happiness and contentment have no validity whatsoever and cannot possibly be binding on anyone else.
They are only exhibiting the same symptoms of "identification with the oppressor", denial, and reaction formation that almost all battered women display --even toward those who would help them.
When women (and men for that matter) are free to choose or not to choose Islam; free to leave Islam; free to discard the restrictive clothing; free to move about independently and without fear of reprisals; free to achieve their own individual dreams and aspirations--then it will not be any of my concern that some women appear to enjoy the subjugation and humiliation that is institutionalized under Islam.
I'm sorry, but you will never convince me that this subjugation and second-class citizenship is what all women in Saudi Arabia; or under the Taliban; or even in an Islamic "gilded cage"-- truly desire.
Even if there is only one single woman anywhere under Islam's tyranny who desires to be free to live her life as she chooses, then I am completely, totally, and irrevocably on her side.
The attacks we are witnessing against not only freedom of choice, but also freedom of speech--indeed, freedom with all its blessings and challenges--clearly represent a return to the dark ages of mankind.
That is what Ridley and her "progressive" ilk are really arguing for.