Cinnamon Stillwell

I’m the West Coast Representative for Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum that focuses on Middle East studies. I was a political columnist for SFGate.com (San Francisco Chronicle online) from 2004-2008. I've written for the American Thinker, Frontpage Magazine, Family Security Matters, Accuracy In Media, Newsbusters, Israel National News, The Jewish Policy Center, J-The Jewish News Weekly of N. CA, Intellectual Conservative and many others. More info at CinnamonStillwell.com.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Western Feminists Feeling the Sting of Criticism?

Like many others on the right, I have been a consistent critic of the Western feminist movement's veritable silence on the oppression of women in Muslim culture. Putting multiculturalism and leftist political preoccupations such as being anti-American and anti-Israel ahead of women's (and, indeed, human) rights, the movement is out to lunch on the great feminist calling of our time.

In a recent SFGate column on the rise of so-called honor killings in the West, I elaborated on the subject:
Fearful of giving offense or being branded with the ubiquitous "Islamophobia" label, law enforcement, journalists, social workers, government officials and, most of all, Western feminists are allowing a grave threat to women's rights go unaddressed. The misguided purveyors of multiculturalism — an ideology that holds that all cultures or religions are equivalent and none (save for the dominant, or Western, culture) worthy of condemnation — have rendered the West incapable of addressing evils where Third World cultures are to blame. But the truth is Western culture offers the greatest boon to women's rights and must therefore be vigorously defended, even if that means stepping into the realm of the politically incorrect.

Feminist groups such as the National Organization for Women, which put out an occasional press release decrying honor killings, need to make combating this practice as high a priority as defending "choice" and railing against "glass ceilings." Instead, it is a precious few who are telling it like it is when it comes to the oppression of women in Muslim culture. Ironically, many of them are on the right side of the political spectrum or, like author, blogger and activist Phyllis Chesler, have been cast out of the leftist-dominated feminist movement for speaking the uncomfortable truth.

As I have noted previously, the challenges posed by the Muslim world are the next frontier for women's rights and all those interested in advancing such goals will have to rise to the occasion. It is up to every one of us to speak out where, not only women's, but human rights are in question. Young women's lives are at stake.
And in that earlier column (which highlighted the work of true feminists such as Phyllis Chesler, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Wafa Sultan, Irshad Manji, Brigitte Gabriel, Nonie Darwish, the late Oriana Fallaci, and, in a sense, the U.S. military), I had this to say:

...Today's true heroines are those who do battle with the gender apartheid, violence and oppression practiced against women in the Muslim world. There, women face not just phantom infringements to their civil rights and perceived slights to their sensitivities, but threats to their lives. With the call for reform in the Muslim world come the inevitable requirements of round-the-clock security.

...Restoring freedoms and providing medical care, humanitarian aid and protection, women in the military are the true feminists. So are the valiant men who work and fight alongside them.

Unfortunately, one will rarely catch a self-proclaimed feminist willing to admit as much. To do so would be to acknowledge that the United States can be a force for good, and this must be avoided at all costs, even at the expense of women's rights. What they don't seem to realize is that the war they oppose is a battle against the very forces of fascism they routinely decry.

The oppression of women in Muslim culture and the threat it poses to women's rights all over the world is clearly the next frontier for the feminist movement. Either feminists will rise to the occasion or be rendered meaningless by their hypocrisy.

Now it seems the Western feminist movement is starting to feel the heat. An open letter penned by Katha Pollitt of The Nation on behalf of "American Feminists" has been circulating throughout the Internet expressing the movement's rejection of said criticism and its alleged commitment to fighting for "women in the developing and/or Muslim world." Over 700 of the feminist movement's leading lights, including at least one Middle East studies professor (a sphere notorious for being more anti-Western than anti-sexism), have signed the letter so far.

David Horowitz, the originator of Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week (which brought speakers to U.S. college campuses to address this very topic, among others) has responded to Pollitt's open letter at Frontpage Magazine. Along with Islam scholar Robert Spencer, Horowitz seems to feel that the letter can only be evidence that all the criticism is beginning to have an effect. And I suspect as much myself. Whether or not this produces results, and not simply declarations of indignation, remains to be seen.

One thing's for sure, the crimes against Muslim women and the threat to all women's rights from the encroachments of Sharia law, demand action, not just words.

Update: The Weekly Standard addresses the Pollitt letter here (subscription required).

Update II: Michelle Malkin links to my post, and has a few suggestions of her own on the subject.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Paul said...

Thesxe women (femists) ought to be ashamed of themselves for being soft on Muslims who repress and oppress women !

Thursday, January 31, 2008 5:31:00 AM  
Blogger David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 02/01/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

Thursday, January 31, 2008 9:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I totally agree with your statements about the pseudo - feminists (ie. politically - correct deafening silence and dumbness on the blatant oppression of women), and I enjoyed hearing you on "the gathering storm" radio, Cinnamon.
Thank goodness for the few women like Phyllis Chesler who have got some bottle and 'tell it like it is'! Keep strutting your stuff Cinnamon.

Friday, February 01, 2008 8:06:00 AM  
Blogger Hellfireblogs said...

Whenever I was (often mildly)critical of "feminists" like staff at Pandagon I got berated for not really caring about women, once the gals there wrote a response to my a post I wrote calling me a gay civil war re-enactor.

They don't care even a little about the real oppression of women, only left wing posturing and getting the approval of the Muslims they've decided are part of the "struggle" It's time we stopped calling them feminists and made them admit they're nothing but a group of hateful, immature, spoiled rich kids playing at political activism while their parents foot the bill.

Saturday, February 02, 2008 7:53:00 AM  
Blogger Donald Douglas said...

Great job, Cinnamon!

Keep it up!

Saturday, February 02, 2008 6:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Laughing at "Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week"

October 8, 2007 |
Huffington Post

An ex-senator that opposes individual rights of women; a pundit that calls people "faggots" and considers Islam a "cult"; a Christian scholar who is considered a "polemicist" and an "Islamophobe" by conservative Christians themselves; and an intellectual who has received millions from "far right" organizations since 2001, are rising up for the rights of women, gays, and religious minorities in the Muslim world. This laughable spectacle is called the Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week. It will be coming to a university near you on October 22 - 26.

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Why are they going to universities? Why not these people go to Saudi Arabia or Pakistan and tackle extremism directly? Simple: They consider the university "the institutional base of the left." The same left which "is the enabler and abettor of the terrorist jihad."

In order, thus, to attack the left, these crusaders will be seeking to purposefully trap and target Muslim student groups at various universities. Mathrew Yglesias describes their tactics as follows: "In short, the main goal of the 'David Horowitz Freedom Center' here is to write up a petition deliberately designed to be unlikely for Muslim groups to sign and then to use Muslim groups' failure to sign the petition as evidence that they're on the side of 'our terrorist adversaries.'" The Petition has rightly been described in the blogosphere as akin to The Great Loyalty Oath from the novel Catch-22.

These compassionate crusaders plan on making "the oppression of women in Islam" a "major theme of the week."

Yet, the reality is that the American universities are some of the staunchest supporters of the rights of Muslim women. It was at a university where I met Riffat Hassan, the well-known anti-honor killing activist from the University of Louisville. It was at a university where I met Amina Wadud, the Quran scholar, who was the first woman to lead a mixed-congregation prayer in recent Muslim history and quite courageously challenged Muslim patriarchy. It was at a university where I met Abdullahi An-Naim, the Sudanese Islamic scholar whose message calls for the equality of men and women in and whose teacher was executed in 1983 for such ideas. It was a university where I met Rafia Zakaria, the feminist activist whose commentary on issues affecting Muslim women is published in Pakistan and India. It was at a university where I heard of Laleh Bakhtiar who has now published a feminist translation of the Quran (and we know how important translations of the Quran are in the fight against extremism). It was at a university where I encountered the work of Ziba Mir-Hosseini, the Iranian activist whose speciality is Muslim divorce law, with a focus on women's rights.

It is these universities that the organizers of this initiative are calling "enablers and abettors" of terrorism.

In fact, the universities have been on the forefront of supporting many Muslim reform projects, and the area of Muslim women is not the only one they have supported.

It was at a university where Iranian dissenter and Nobel Prize Winner Shirin Ebadi went to make her speeches (where she extolled not attacking her country). It was at a university where Akbar Ganji, the Iranian dissenter, went to consult with leading left wing philosopher Richard Rorty. It was at a university where a Jewish Studies professor Deborah Lipstadt started to translate anti-holocaust-denial books into Arabic and Farsi. It was a university that gave shelter to Muslim scholars from South Africa whose homes were firebombed.

So, the question to be posed to the organizers of Islamofascism Awareness Week is this: what have they done to support any of the aforementioned academics and activists? By calling the universities "abettors of terrorism", they reveal their contempt of the aforementioned efforts, not support. With the amount of hooting and hollering they have done about women's rights in Islam, I would imagine the next step would be take some of their millions and donate the money to these activists, or better yet, to Muslim women around the world, such as this initiative belonging to Mukhtaran Mai, the survivor of gang-rape and leading feminist activist in Pakistan.

Yet, I suspect that is quite unlikely, because this "awareness" week is not about awareness at all, but using anti-Muslim animus to achieve political ends. The primary political end is to continue the war in Iraq. For example Santorum, one of the featured speakers of the week has previously urged Bush, for "public relations" reasons, to depict the war in Iraq as a greater war against "Islamic Fascism."

Further, one has to wonder what someone like Ann Coulter will be able to accomplish while discussing feminism in the Muslim world when it appears she doesn't find women intellectually capable of having the right to vote. While on the subject of Coulter I find it quite interesting that in the span of a year she has gone from calling Muslims "ragheads" to turning into a Mother Theresa for Muslim women.

Just the other day at one of our universities, a woman-hating, fundamentalist, gay-bashing, religious-supremacist, made a fool of himself, providing a hearty chuckle at his expense. In the last days of October, there will be more opportunities for such amusements. This time from some of our own. I encourage our universities to welcome these speakers.

Monday, February 04, 2008 8:08:00 PM  

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