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What can we do? - Religious Extremism


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Over in the Handmaid's Tale thread, shesinsane said

For those who believe it's too outlandish, consider that in the 70s/early 80s, a woman could walk down the streets of Kabul in a mini skirt and no one cared. I doubt you could have convinced any of the locals that in 20 years a woman walking down that same street without a full length burka could/would be beaten (maybe to the point of death), with government approval. You probably wouldn't even be able to convince them that girls would be banned from attending school, but that's what happened when the Taliban took over.

I didn’t know this before, as I don’t know that much about recent Middle Eastern history (obviously, I knew about the Taliban, I just didn't know how "liberal" those places had once been). It got me thinking, because I didn’t think such extreme regression would be possible. And now I’m wondering, how do we stop something like that from happening here?

I’m not saying this because I’m apathetic and I don’t care. I do care. I don’t want to live in a country like that. I just honestly don’t know how a person would go about doing their part to prevent it, beyond discussing it on the internet. If things like the recent flurry of anti-abortion laws really are the first step towards such a government, how do we make sure it doesn't go any further?

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I think the #1 thing you can do is work to get those who pass those laws and hold those beliefs out of office.

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I agree with Alecto and I would also say, remember that when you vote for a president, you're also voting for the person who fills vacant Supreme Court nominations, which is one of our most important protections against tyranny. Also, I think taking every opportunity to expose the extremism out there is important. These people look harmless to a lot of people, but then they are shocked to discover what they really believe.

I'd also say, while I do believe that this is important and that it's something we should remember and guard against, part of the reason that Afghanistan became so liberal toward women was that the Russians were essentially in power. There was no inherent modern history of women being treated equally -- it didn't come about naturally, say. It was imposed upon the Afghan people by an outside power. And some of the extremism was a result of a backlash against the invasion and imperialism of the Russians. I thought the Afghans were a lot better off under Russian rule in terms of standard of living and women's rights, but the reaction to imperialism is often extreme because you've taken away a nation's sovereignty.

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I think the #1 thing you can do is work to get those who pass those laws and hold those beliefs out of office.

Yep.

Don't let them get power.

Or the weapons and advanced military training. (See response to USSR annexation - not the finest moment US foreign policy moment)

Agree with DG on reactions to imperialism.

btw OLatin - don't let any Afghanis hear you say their country is in the Middle East! :) Iran sits between Afghanistan and the start of the Middle East/Arab world. Very much Central Asia.

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Rent the Afghani movie Osama to get a picture of women's life under the Taliban. The titular character isn't bin Laden, but a twelve-year-old girl forced to pass as a boy in order to support her all-female family. I also recommend the book and the movie Persepolis, about a young woman's life in Iran.

In countries like these, in fairly recent decades, women enjoyed many of the freedoms Western women do, as a result of the "friendships" between their countries and those like the US. Now that the political pendulum has shifted, women's rights are among the first to take a direct hit.

Many years back, knowing the second-class-citizen status of Saudi Arabian women, I was shocked to learn how many of them are highly educated professionals--doctors, professors, and engineers--but their intelligence and education doesn't protect them from being arrested for "acting like a whore" when they drive a car, or being drowned in the family swimming pool for daring to flirt with a guy. Read Princess for true-life information.

And here in the US, in most places, it's harder to get an abortion than it was in 1973--and it's harder to get on a plane anywhere.

Yes--always elect your respresentatives with a view to people's human rights--and elect your President with an eye for whom he'll pick for the Supreme Court. Too many people are getting screwed by the 5-4 conservative majority we have now.

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Osama is a sad movie. Your library may have it or be able to get it for you; that's where I "rented" it.

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Yes--always elect your respresentatives with a view to people's human rights--and elect your President with an eye for whom he'll pick for the Supreme Court. Too many people are getting screwed by the 5-4 conservative majority we have now.

I couldn't agree with you more. At this point in history, even one more conservative or quasi-conservative on the Supreme Court will mean very bad news for women. Even if people "disagree" with abortion, I don't know that many people (who are not extremists) who do not believe in or utilize contraception where applicable (clearly, most Americans are not having 10 and 12 or more children). There are many in the anti-choice movement who are only too happy to see women stripped of any reproductive rights and they've got allies on the court now.

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In addition to the above recommendations I'd strongly suggest reading Azar Nafisi's book "Reading Lolita in Tehran." It's a really interesting look at the evolution of theocracy in Iran through the eyes of a female Iranian college literature professor. Also it's just a really good book.

But I agree with everyone above - the best way to fight this is to make your voice heard and do whatever you can to keep the religious nuts out of the government.

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Read Princess for true-life information.

Total side track - I know a woman who lived in Saudi for many years, and knew the author quite well. She told me the book was a work of fiction; what wasn't was greatly embellished.

I have no idea *at all* of the veracity of the claim - I would love to know of any resources that could confirm or deny.

also:

In countries like these, in fairly recent decades, women enjoyed many of the freedoms Western women do, as a result of the "friendships" between their countries and those like the US.

The freedoms were a result of friendships with the US? Much of the Saudi oppression is a result of friendships with the US (and the Hashamite monarchies need to firm up its grip on power: to keep the $, and the Guardians of the Rock surrender religion to the wackjobs). Most of the Afghan advancements were the result of the USSR, the Taliban was funded by the US. Women's rights in Pakistan are deflating each day - again, the "friendship" with the US is fuelling the need for politicians to sacrifice an expedient local offering in return for domestic support while the $$ rush in. And women are thrown under the cart again.

I really don't think "friendship" with the US is a cause for celebration for local women. Pretty much ever.

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I didn’t know this before, as I don’t know that much about recent Middle Eastern history (obviously, I knew about the Taliban, I just didn't know how "liberal" those places had once been). It got me thinking, because I didn’t think such extreme regression would be possible. And now I’m wondering, how do we stop something like that from happening here?

Kabul was once called the Paris of the East, and was an educated, sophisticated, thriving city before the Taliban took over. It can happen anywhere. I agree with what everyone else has said about voting in every election, every single time. Even the small local ones, which often suffer from very low turnout and will have a bigger impact on your community's daily life than the big national campaigns. Your vote counts just that much more in cases like that. Make informed choices: do your research and use what you learn to think critically about each candidate and ballot proposal that comes up for a vote. Talk with your friends and family about issues that are important to you and why. And never, ever forget that the President chooses the Supreme Court justices and your Senators confirm them, and unlike the President and Congress, their terms are for life.

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Some people may disagree with this, but I think using what I'm going to term "defensive voting" is extremely useful as well. The right and the Evangelical right especially has mastered voting in blocks. If they vote, they determine elections in a lot of areas. I feel like on the left there is a lot of apathy and a lack of unity. It might come down to voting in blocks to *prevent* a notjob from getting into office if no desirable candidate is available. I know it isn't ideal, but it might prove to useful. Also, we need to energize youth and get youths voting. They were a huge part of the reason Obama won and here in Canada the youth vote brought huge gains to the NDP. It wasn't enough for a majority but it was the biggest gain in the party's history.

I think civic education and an understanding of government is crucial. If more young people are interested then perhaps some will go on to be representatives in the future. The right is really good at politicizing their children. While I can't say I believe in it, I do think it is a very useful tactic.

I'd like to believe time is on our side. The massive amount of boomers we have will start to die soon and younger people will be getting older and become a more powerful voting demographic. The politics will likely swing left because of demographics.

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I'd like to believe time is on our side. The massive amount of boomers we have will start to die soon and younger people will be getting older and become a more powerful voting demographic. The politics will likely swing left because of demographics.

I wish this were true, but I don't think it is a generational thing. After all, these boomers were, a couple decades ago, the war-resisting, establishment-resisting hippies. And most of the fundies we snark on are young.

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