Should the U.S. Fight For Afghan Women?

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Making women's rights an issue in the United States' war on terrorism is not an agenda supported by readers, the majority of which agreed with Wendy McElroy's column arguing that fighting for equal rights for women in a post-Taliban Afghanistan would place an unnecessary obstacle in the path of peace. 

Most readers said they believed the purpose of the war is to ensure the safety of American citizens and prevent more attacks on American soil. However, many also believed that the U.S. at some point must liberate Afghan women from their desperate plight under the Taliban.

Here's a sample of this week's mail:

— Wouldn't the failure to make this an issue be like allowing Germany to keep the (anti-Jewish) Nuremberg Laws in effect after WW2? This is not just a matter of culture.  While most Muslim countries do not treat women as NOW would recommend, the Taliban is oppressive even by (modern) Islamic standards. Nor is it just an isolated issue.  The Taliban is a vicious theocratic dictatorship, and we normally don't allow defeated nations to continue as dictatorships.  

— We can fight for equal rights... only if every penny it takes comes out of the feminists'
pocket. Not the taxpayers.

— It seems unfair to call the demand for equality a "political issue."  While on the surface your claims may seem valid, it is unclear how you propose to restore any of the democratic ideals on which our nation was founded without requiring that fully half of the citizens of Afghanistan be recognized as even human, let alone as deserving of the rights of men. We demand a great deal of our soldiers and our diplomats, and I agree that demanding more is a bit unfair to them.  But this is not a minor point to be shuffled away in negotiations, but rather a test of our resolve to insist upon human rights globally.

— You're right on the mark.  It's a travesty when people use the current situation as an impetus to push forward their social or political agenda.  All of America MUST remember that this war was thrust upon us by the insidious attack on the Pentagon and the World Trade Centers with the loss of over 5,000 innocent men, women and children.  As an ex-Navy man who lived overseas, I can tell you that the imposition of our Western culture upon an Eastern culture WILL be looked upon as extremely arrogant and imperialistic.  Do we like it when Afghan women are subjected to the strict Sharia law of the Taliban?  Absolutely not!  But lest we forget, Afghanistan is NOT the 51st state of these United States of America.

— I lived in Kabul from 1973 through 1974, when I graduated from high school. Women were beginning to have rights and freedoms in the country.  Such rights more or less ended in 1979.  Now, rebuilding of Afghanistan, with schools, hospitals, and a functioning economic infrastructure must come before equal rights (although I hope such rights can be part of the program).  My friends and I that have lived with the Afghan people agree that we must provide education first and economic opportunity second before
more freedoms are born.

— This is not a war about women's rights, but a war to ensure our right to live in a free nation and not be murdered in our homes or offices.

— Feminists are not gaining volume in this fight or any other.  They have always had big mouths, resulting in loud voices from a small crowd.  Don't confuse feminists with "real women" and a lot of men who are equally concerned over the situation in which the women of Afghanistan find themselves.  Unfortunately, their situation is only a secondary issue, to be dealt with by removing the source of a much larger problem.

— The extreme feminists would have us believe that if we are against attaching the issue of liberation for Afghan women to the war on terrorism we are "anti-woman".  Just like we want children to get gunned down at school if we don't support gun control and we are racist if we do not support affirmative action.  The list goes on and on because this kind of polarized view is a major strategy of the liberal idiots.  The sad thing is that a large part of the American public fall for it.

— In this age of compassion, acceptance, and tolerance, I wish this small group of women would look around them and understand that theirs is not the only issues worthy of fighting for and that solving the problems faced by women in Afghanistan at the risk of setting the stage for even more resentment and another war later that will cost the lives of sons of mothers throughout the world is just not worth it.

— The "feminist demands" are actually increasing support  for the Taliban, Usama Bin Laden, and all those of similar "views" in all regions of the "non western" world. One of the strongest appeals to gain financial, moral and physical support for their actions that the Taliban and others are claiming is that the U.S. is trying to impose our "bankrupt moral and social values" through our foreign policy.  The "feminist conditions" that various groups  are demanding be the "cornerstone" of the peace process, if embraced by the U.S. will only harden the resolve of the Taliban and OBL and  will break up the anti-terror coalition.  Do these groups really want an end to terrorism, peace in Afghanistan and the full participation of women in all societies?  Or do they want to see the present administration fall?