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2004: A Hypocrophobia Odyssey
By Ed Driscoll · October 17, 2004 01:51 PM · The Future and its Enemies · War And Anti-War

Back in December of 2002, Jonah Goldberg wrote a great essay on what he dubbed "hypocrophobia"--short hand for the left's crippling fear of being taken seriously:

Feminists demanded that "something" be done about the Taliban's treatment of women for years. Conservatives scoffed. But when the Bush administration saw fit to liberate the women of Afghanistan for reasons larger than merely their freedom feminists drew circles in the floor with their open-toed shoes and grumbled about how they didn't like war. But I guarantee you if Bill Clinton had unleashed the 10th Mountain Division on Kabul to ensure reproductive choice for Afghan women, Gloria Steinem would have done cartwheels.
In the new Weekly Standard, Katherine Mangu-Ward writes that hard-core feminists are still yawning over the remarkable improvement in the lives of Afghani women:

HERE'S A CHUNK of President Bush's standard stump speech: "Think about what happened in Afghanistan. It wasn't all that long ago that the Taliban ran that country. Young girls couldn't even go to school. They were not only harboring terrorists, they had this dark ideology of hate. And people showed up in droves to vote. Freedom is powerful. People have gone from darkness to light because of liberty. The first voter in the Afghan presidential election was a 19-year-old woman."

And here's Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women: "In only three-and-a-half years, George W. Bush and the right-wing leadership in Congress have undermined and eroded more than four decades of advancements for women. . . . We are declaring a State of Emergency for women's rights and calling upon all of our allies and supporters to get involved in the election process to put an end to the relentless attacks on women."

Before the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan following the attacks of September 11, the Taliban regime was the gold standard for horrifying treatment of women. The burqa became the symbol of female oppression. It was invoked by women's rights activists of various stripes worldwide as the worst of the worst. The writer Azar Nafisi quotes a woman functionary of the straitlaced Iranian regime as saying, "Look at Somalia or Afghanistan. Compared to them, we live like queens."

In 2001, NOW regularly issued "Action Alerts" on the plight of Afghan women. One of them reported that "when the Taliban took over the capital city of Kabul in September 1996, it issued an edict that stripped women and girls of their rights, holding the Afghan people hostage under a brutal system of gender apartheid. . . . Women were prohibited from being seen or heard. The windows of their homes were painted, and they could not appear in public unless wearing the full-body covering, the burqa. Women were beaten for showing a bit of ankle or wearing noisy shoes."

Fast forward to October 9, 2004, when about 4 million women voted for the first time ever in Afghanistan. A statement on the election from the United Nations' Division for the Advancement of Women begins by noting that "insufficient information is available on the actual participation of women on election day," but does wanly concede that "this first election has been an important process to increase women's participation in the political life of their country." Exhibiting the usual U.N. preference for progress on paper, the statement closes by noting with approval that Afghanistan ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women last year.

The folks over at NOW seem even less enthusiastic about the progress in Afghanistan. The NOW "Issues" page headed "Women in Afghanistan" hasn't been updated for two-and-a-half years. And there is no mention of the Afghan election on the main pages of the NOW website. Calls requesting a statement went unreturned.

Orrin Judd adds, "For the feminists, history stopped at the moment George Bush effected the greatest women's liberation anyone's ever seen."

As I wrote back in 2002, "instead, we get whining, because the 'wrong people' (i.e. conservatives) are finally doing what liberals long thought was the right thing to do".

Update: One other thing: At the start of Jonah's column, he wrote:

There are some professions American colleges simply don't prepare you for. Consider Aziz Salih Ahmed. He works for the Iraqi government. His technical specialty? He's a "violator of women's honor," according to his Iraqi identity card. In other words, he rapes women. Presumably he likes it. But he does it on the government's dime so whether he likes brutally raping women or not, he's probably good at it or at least he's good enough for government work.

Mr. Ahmed is just one of the examples cited in the British government's dossier on Iraqi human-rights violations. The report includes evidence of political prisoners slowly dipped into tubs of acid, the use of eye gouging, drilling hands, mock executions, real executions, mass-murder, run-of-the-mill torture, confinement in coffin-like cages, and so on. According to the report, since about two years ago, the official punishment for publicly insulting or criticizing Saddam Hussein or any members of his family was to have your tongue cut out. These punishments were actually broadcast on Iraqi TV. If we had a similar policy in the United States, the editorial board of the New York Times would have to conduct its editorial meetings using hand puppets.
These folks don't seem to care that Mr. Ahmed is--at a minimum--off the Iraqi government dole these days.


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