Differences over the war in Iraq are arising in families throughout our society. I know because they are arising within mine. With one relative in Qatar and a nephew at draft age, disagreements — even debate about nailing down the financial cost of war — can become emotionally charged.
And they should. The questions surrounding the war impact our futures and those of our children. There would be something wrong with us if we didn't care passionately about a pivotal event in our lives.
Yet the people with whom we argue are family members, friends, and neighbors beside whom we will live long after Saddam Hussein is buried in the sand. He is an enemy; they are not. And the very fact of the war's importance, increases — not eliminates — our need to talk together with good will and honesty.
Some voices are making that dialogue more difficult. These are political opportunists who use the blood of soldiers and civilians to score cheap points. They trivialize the war by attaching petty little agendas to it in an attempt "to make hay while the war shines."
On this score, the recent antics of left-leaning feminists have been reprehensible. Like petulant children who throw temper tantrums because the attention no longer centers on them, these feminists are using the war as a podium and a publicity stunt.
Consider Martha Burk. The shrill feminist has spearheaded a demand that the privately-owned Augusta National Golf Club, sponsor of the Masters Golf Tournament, admit women as members. Burk states, "The war ... has enhanced our message. We have women fighting for American values in Iraq. Women fighting for their country. But ... women can't get into Augusta."
As a matter of fact, almost every male soldier in Iraq can't get into the expensive and ultra-elite club either. But facts don't stop Burk. Nor does common decency.
She uses women soldiers — including POWs like Shoshana Johnson, whose terrified visage on TV haunts us all — to argue for the "right" of affluent women to play golf in a private club where they are not wanted. Speaking for Augusta National, Glenn Greenspan said it all: "If she is invoking the troops to draw more attention to herself, only three words apply 'shame on you'!"
Consider Suzanne Fields, a columnist for the Washington Times. She wrote an article entitled "A new front in the war (of the sexes)" in which she uses the Iraq war to slam the sexism in rap music.
Fields begins with a description of the women who make up 15 percent of active-duty soldiers. Then she writes, "but back on the home front men are reverting to big-time piggery as women invade traditional male turf. You can hear the snorts, grunts and oinks throughout the pop culture." Quoting another columnist for support, she continues, "'ho' and 'bitch' are just about the nicest words used [by rappers] to describe young women." She concludes that women at the "lower end of the social order" will pay "of resurgent male chauvinism as reflected in rap music" — a resurgence that she clearly connects to the war in Iraq.
Consider renowned feminist Dr. Helen Caldecott. Her recent speech for the anti-war organization Code Pink became an article entitled "Men: Natural Born Killers." She declared, "when the scent of blood metaphorically enters the male nostril, it triggers the psychological imperative to kill — a primitive autonomic reflex located in the male midbrain." I have news for Ms. Caldecott. One fear expressed about my nephew, who is deeply religious, is that he won't be able to kill another human being, even in self-defense.
Caldecott's solution for men's savagery? Remove men. She declares, "53 percent of us are women. We've had the majority and we've been absolute wimps. And it's time we smacked their [men's] bottoms, removed them, and we took over. I'm not just joking —this isn't funny. I am deadly serious." She is deadly contemptuous of the majority of adult, self-respecting women who are expressing their preferences but with whom she disagrees.
The next candidate for shame is Eve Ensler, famous for her play The Vagina Monologues, which centers around women speaking as though they were their vaginas. Ensler recently staged the play in Pakistan where Hibaaq Osman, the play's representative, declared, "having these Pakistani women talking about vibrators — that's what it's all about."
A scene from the original Monologues was not performed; it celebrated child molestation. Specifically, it featured a 13-year-old girl/vagina named 'coochi snorcher' who is plied with alcohol by a 24-year-old woman and sexually seduced. The child declares, "Now people say it was a kind of rape.... Well, I say if it was rape, it was a good rape." In Pakistan, the good rape was replaced by a bad rape: a Serbian woman raped by a group of soldiers.
The list of opportunists could scroll on.
It is ridiculous but necessary to state that the war in Iraq has nothing to do with "the right to golf," rap music, replacing men in society, or vibrators.
By attaching their wagons to the war, these feminists make it more difficult for others to discuss the real and complex issues surrounding Iraq. They manufacture conflict in a situation already overflowing with it. I can't say it better than "Shame on you!"
Wendy McElroy is the editor of ifeminists.com and a research fellow for The Independent Institute in Oakland, Calif. She is the author and editor of many books and articles, including the new book, Liberty for Women: Freedom and Feminism in the 21st Century (Ivan R. Dee/Independent Institute, 2002). She lives with her husband in Canada.