Blargh Blog

Monday, May 08, 2006

Who said that Saddam Hussein was a Feminist?

Ah, the sublime beauty of a self-refuting blog post. Today's example comes under the banner Saddam Wasn't a Feminist courtesy of Jim Lindgren at The Volokh Conspiracy, who could not have produced this aesthetic achievement without the fine folks at the Wall Street Journal editorial website. [Update: Jim has since ruined the elegant simplicity of yesterday's post by tacking on an update.] Jim writes:
There is an interesting article by A. Yasmine Rassam at on how the plight of women under Saddam compares to the current efforts to whitewash that record:
The rest of his post consists of an extensive quotation from that article, with one bracketed addition that disguises its power to swallow the post whole. He quotes Rassam:
A recent report by "Global Exchange" and "Code Pink" entitled "Iraqi Women Under Siege" [available here] concluded that "the occupation of Iraq has not resulted in greater equality and freedom for women" than they had under Saddam Hussein. Published by two radical feminist anti-war groups whose primary activities include protesting military recruiting stations, organizing anti-WTO protests and sympathizing with the regimes in North Korea and Cuba, this report echoes a long line of blatant pronouncements. Hillary Clinton who once said that after liberation there were "pullbacks in the rights that [women] were given under Saddam Hussein" and Howard Dean's infamous remark that "Iraqi women were better off under Saddam Hussein."
To witness the magic of a self-refuting blog post, all you need to do is click that link hiding right there in plain sight. Once the link is clicked (and, in this case, once you have scrolled to page four), the innards of the post are exposed, and we are free to watch it prey on itself, like monsters of the deep. Let us meditate on these excerpts from Rassam's editorial (here dressed in their finest italics) and that revisionist "Global Exchange"/"Code Pink" report (here wearing bold).
Much of the anti-war propagandists' defense of Saddam as a champion of women's rights rests on his willingness to allow women to vote (for him), drive cars, own property, get an education and work. What they choose to ignore, however, is the systematic rapes, torture, beheadings, honor killings, forced fertility programs, and declining literacy rates that also characterized Saddam's regime.

Although a great deal of policy and law continued to women’s advantage when Saddam Hussein became president, his voracious appetite for dictatorial power over the entire population could not but undermine women’s gains. Women, like men, were jailed, tortured, raped, and murdered.

One torture technique favored by Saddam's henchman and his sons involved raping a detainee's mother or sister in front of him until he talked.

To extract information from dissidents, suspected dissidents, and opposition members abroad, Hussein was fond of sending them video tapes showing their female relatives raped by members of the secret police.

After the Gulf War--particularly after crushing the Shiite and Kurdish uprisings of 1991--Saddam reverted to tribal and "Islamic" traditions as a means to consolidate power. Iraqi women paid the heaviest price for his new-found piety. Many women were removed from government jobs and were not allowed to travel without the permission of a male relative.

By 1990 Hussein was courting support for his warweary regime from neighboring Islamic states and from religious and tribal leaders. Hussein’s public embrace of Islam’s moral authority changed many of the laws governing divorce, child custody, and inheritance rights so as to limit women’s rights and freedoms. Laws restricted women’s ability to travel abroad without a male relative and reintroduced single-sex education in high school.

Men were exempted from punishment for "honor" killings--killings carried out on female relatives who had supposedly "shamed" their family. An estimated 4,000 women died from honor killings in the ensuing years.

Honor killings of women who were suspected of pre-marital sex or victims of rape, thereby “dishonoring” the family name, dramatically increased after Hussein reduced the prison sentences of male perpetrators from 8 years to no more than 6 months—a punishment in any case rarely imposed.

By 2000, Iraqi women, once considered the most highly educated in the Middle East, had literacy levels of only 23%.

The GFIW stopped promoting women’s rights to work and education and focused primarily on humanitarian aid and health care. ... Impoverishment forced families to keep their female children out of school, and illiteracy soared.

Under the pretext of fighting prostitution in 2000, Saddam's Fedayeen forces beheaded 200 women "dissidents" and dumped their head on their families doorsteps for public display. These women obviously lost whatever "rights" granted to them once they got in Saddam's way.

By 2000, a militia founded by Hussein’s son, Uday, was beheading women in a campaign against prostitution.
And thus the post devoured itself.

Fade to white...


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