One of the advantages of not being a partisan of either the Democrats or Republicans is that I have more flexibility to actually say what I believe, without worrying that something I am saying might actually give aid and comfort to my political enemies. I have always felt that it is really, really difficult and rare to become actively political without sacrificing consistency in your deeply held beliefs, particularly since both parties represent such an inconsistent hodge-podge of positions. The irony of this has been, at least until the advent of blogging, that I could be smug about maintaining my philosophic virginity but I left myself no avenue to make any impact with my strongly held beliefs.
Given this, I was therefore struck by this, from Cathy Young at Reason, writing about Yale's future Taliban student:
One striking aspect of this controversy is the reaction from Yale's liberal
community. Della Sentilles, a Yale senior, recently
for the Yale Herald denouncing such manifestations of rampant
misogyny at Yale as the shortage of tenured female professors and poor
childcare options. On her blog, a reader asked Sentilles about the presence
at Yale of a former spokesman for one of the world's most misogynistic
"As a white American feminist, I do not feel comfortable making statements
or judgments about other cultures, especially statements that suggest one
culture is more sexist and repressive than another. American feminism is
often linked to and manipulated by the state in order to further its own
It appears Ms. Sentilles, beyond having a lot of multi-cultural baggage, is terrified that if she actually criticizes Afghanistan in any way, she is somehow giving aid and comfort to the Bush administration, which feminists have declared enemy #1. The politics of US presidential elections, in this case, trump criticizing a regime that treated women worse (by far) than the US has at any time in its history. Which of course is one of the reasons* that women's groups in this country are sliding into irrelevance, putting their support of a broad range of leftish causes above speaking out on what is essentially apartheid-for-women in the Middle East (I say essentially, because women are actually far worse off in much of the Middle East than blacks ever were in South Africa). Whereas a decade ago the left was marching in the street to better the lot of blacks in South Africa, they are strangely mum on women in the Middle East.
As a result, I can lament the condition of women in the Middle East, acknowledge that Saddam was a blight on humanity, but still oppose the war in Iraq as not worth the cost (when "cost" is defined broadly enough to include not must money and men but also opportunity cost). I can adopt this position because I am not required to put on the Republican happy face or Democratic America-always-sucks face.
* Another reason is that it may be time for women to declare victory.