Thursday, December 29, 2005

Agents Provocateur?

| by TFLS | 5:48 PM |

There is a seeming seeming illogic on the face of it when you see a Phyllis Shafley or Ann Coulter flogging for something that will eventually rise up and bite them in the ass. It’s baffling, I know – but there are two possibilities for this form of blindness. One - they really don't believe what they say, and are doing it for the money. Case in point: Rush Limbaugh, a button-pushing, right-wing radio talk show host who makes his living edging those less educated towards outright violence. Why do I say his opinions are bogus? A number of year’s back I heard Mr. Limbaugh interviewed by Phil Donohue and Vladimir Posner (these men had a political show geared toward open understanding between the US and the then USSR). Limbaugh openly admitted that the face he presents to the public on his radio show was a character he created in order to drive ratings, and gain notoriety. When queried as to his own personal belief structure, Mr. Limbaugh indicated he did not necessarily agree with everything he said, but, what the fuck, it padded the bank account.

Now, I believe you have to have a real hole in your soul to foment universal discontent in order to line your pockets. Unfortunately, this practice seems to be a kind of disease with the Limbaugh’s and O’Reilly’s of the world. Perhaps Ms.’s Shafley and Coulter suffer from it as well. Certainly many so-called journalists do – how many is it now that have been caught with their hands in the cookie jar? Both here and abroad? The second possibility is one I do not think is limited to opponents of women’s rights et all (though I think it manifests itself in that arena most often); and that is an aura of invulnerability. It could be that these women consider themselves essentially immune from whatever fallout may occur should their opinions codify into law. It is too simple to berate them as traitors to their sex; it goes far beyond that. They fail to see that they are essentially being tolerated – like a kind of pet – by the men whose hands they so earnestly lick.

Let me offer this up as an analogy. I knew someone - a Saudi doctor - female, and fully in support of all the laws and restrictions governing women in that society - including the wearing of full Purdah at all times. We met while she was attending a medical conference in Dublin, and kept in touch over many years. Our discussions were always open, fulsome, and fully inclusive regarding our differing cultures and attitudes toward women and society in general. I often expressed concern over the relative inflexibility of Sharia law. She pooh-poohed me, claiming what restrictions existed were all for the good – helping women as opposed to harming them. It didn’t bother her that she had to receive written permission to leave her town, let alone the country; because she could never conceive of a time when it would be denied her. Nothing she truly wanted had ever been denied her, you see – not as the only daughter of a loving and indulgent (for Saudi standards) father.

Well, that all changed when she married (arranged, of course). She didn’t conceive - even after several years – and her husband’s family demanded she be ‘put aside’ in favor of a younger wife that would. Maimoona (her name, ironically means beloved one) suddenly found herself at the mercy of those laws and customs she had so vigorously defended. Suddenly, her formally sweet and adoring father refused to take her back in as she was (according to strict Islamic law), no longer his responsibility; leaving her to the mercy of her husband and his hateful family. My heart hurt when she wrote me about this. I told her she would always be welcome with me; though the offer was an empty one – how could she, when it was illegal for women to travel without express permission from the male members of their family? She wasn’t likely to get that – not from anybody. I wish I could tell you it turned out all right, but she stopped writing me shortly after 9/11, and repeated calls to the hospital she worked at have turned up nothing.

Perhaps Ann Coulter and her ilk truly believe they will remain in favor; as if carrying water in the trenches grants them some special privilege or exemption. It has escaped them that history is rife with examples of collaborators, along with their eventual, sticky ends. You see, people who hate, or court hatred, like to feel they are special; as if God singled them out for some kind of sainthood. What they never seem to realize is, when all the supposed ‘riff-raff’ has been disposed of – the hate still remains. And those in power will simply transfer that hatred somewhere else. They will look around at who is left standing, and choose.

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