As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t have a great love of politics or the news. That amounts to the same thing.
I remember as a child, I was deeply irritated at the news. I didn’t understand why there was never anything GOOD on TV at six o’clock. The news was really boring, and had nothing to do with me.
In the seventh grade, my teacher had been a photojournalist. He was very excited about the news, and he had us get very involved in current events. We followed the story of what was happening with Khadafi. He made it sound very exciting, and we were supposed to clip articles out of the paper that told us what was going on.
That made the news interesting. But they stopped talking about Khadafi, so I lost interest. No one explained to me about anyone else.
But then a few years later, a new excitement hit. My born-again Christian family was getting swept up in the new Christian craze:
Pat Robertson for President.
Suddenly, ELECTIONS were important. Not only was it important to become registered to vote, but all kinds of strategy was discussed. Electoral votes and all kinds of other things.
Wow. I remember we went to a rally, to get support for Robertson for president. It was hard for me to understand what the big deal was. And even more, why we had to rally about it.
“It’s a political rally! For Pat Robertson for President!”
Well, it honestly took a little time for me to remember who Par Robertson was at first.
“You know! He’s the preacher on TV”
Oh. But I remember thinking there was something funny about that. Sure, maybe he was a really good preacher, but that did not really tell us if he would be a good president.
I asked, “Has he ever held public office before?”
“Well, Maybe he shouldn’t just jump into being president. I think it must be a hard job. I mean, the president is really important. He has to make difficult decisions.”
Well, actually, that had been considered. There was something of a debate about whether Robertson had a chance, and whether we would be “throwing the vote away” by choosing a candidate that was not a republican or a democrat.
“Perhaps voting for George Bush would be better than letting a democrat win.”
I thought that was a good idea. George Bush had been vice president, and that seemed to be good training for the job of president. I felt much more comfortable with that idea.
So why was everyone trying to elect Robertson?
To abolish abortions.
Now, whatever I may feel about that situation now, and however I felt about it then, I certainly realized that there was more than just one issue involved in being president.
As important as that one issue was to all the people at the rally by the lake, I felt like it was foolish not to consider the other responsibilities the president shouldered.
That was my earliest political conviction.
One-issue politics is stupid.
You are going to miss something important, and not further your cause by ignoring complexity. Nothing is quite that simple, and you will seem a fool if you don’t see the other side and other issues. The person in power to effect the changes you wish to occur knows that it’s more complicated than a one-issue activist gives credit for.
Fools are easily dismissed. You hurt your own cause by not fully understanding the issue.
This leads me up to the issue at hand. I just got a newsletter from a Woman’s studies program. They are quite concerned with the “war on terrorism.” One article in particular, concerned me.
It was called “Race, Gender, and the War” by Andrea Smith. She was reporting on a forum of the same name. She reports:
This forum provided an opportunity to more fully explore the gender dimensions of the war. Some critical questions raised included: Why would George Bush, who has so solidly supported the Christian Right’s anti-feminist agenda, actually care about the status of women in Afghanistan? How can state violence provide true peace and security for anyone, including women?
This paragraph bothers me. It seems to indicate a tried-and convicted mentality, prejudging the issue before they have talked about it.
Granted, I was not there; I have not heard the discussion. But such questions are set up to receive negative answers. They seem rhetorical, not inviting true questions. Even if the forums included open and free discussion, this author did not give that impression.
This group has already decided that “if they are not in total agreement with us, they are against us.” Bush’s alignment with the Christian Right on matters of abortion may be well understood. But, God help us! There are many more issues that face women’s lives today than just that one.
Diplomacy requires talking out, understanding each other’s position, and working on broadening the places of agreement. It’s not a matter of one person shouting down the other.
In terms of attitude, I see very little different in the political tactics of the far right and this women’s rights group. Neither one is behaving in a politically savvy way.
Especially in light of the second question “How can state violence provide true peace…?”
I assume the alternative to state violence would be diplomatic negotiation. But the lack of diplomatic skills is writ large in the actions and speeches of this group.
I am very interested in the welfare of women all over the world. I am disappointed that this group does not demonstrate proficiency in the methods they approve of.