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"The radical Muslims on American campuses are getting more belligerent, far more militant," author and lecturer Nonie Darwish tells me. "They have perfected their intimidation and disruption techniques."
Darwish is a beautiful and passionate speaker. She is an expressive, emotional orator, dramatically thrilling (as so many Arabs can be), but Darwish is also soft, almost maternal when she speaks. She is also very clear, very firm, and totally uncompromising. She grew up in Cairo and in Gaza and now lives in America. She has founded Arabs for Israel. She is pro-American and also concerned with women's rights. Her first book, Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror, is clear-sighted, well-written, and extremely brave.
Darwish is the daughter of a high-ranking Egyptian military officer who died in battle against the Israelis and who is considered a "shahid," or martyr. While she continues to love her father, she has "shaken off," renounced, the hate propaganda with which she was raised.
Last week, on October 18, 2007, our hero Darwish spoke at the all-female Wellesley College as the guest of Hillel on campus. She was not treated as a hero; then again, maybe she was, maybe her treatment is precisely how heroes are greeted on American campuses today.
About 80-100 students came. Far more Muslim than Jewish students came and "so many" of the Muslim girls were wearing head-scarves.
According to Darwish, the female students in head-scarves did the following: As she spoke, they made exaggerated, "mean girl" faces at her. They rolled their eyes, practiced "disbelieving" facial expressions -- did everything but stick out their tongues. And they continued to talk to each other in loud whispers while Darwish spoke: "How can she tell such lies!" "I was never, ever indoctrinated against Jews!" "Can you believe what she is saying?" "We do not call Jews pigs and apes, how can she lie about her own people?"
In addition to the "mean girl" faces and the continual loud whispering, one by one, at least four to five head-scarved girls, got up to leave the room during Darwish's speech. This meant that each girl took two minutes to move to the end of her row, physically causing the other students to get up or twist aside, causing the entire room to look at the departing student, not at their invited guest -- and then each girl did precisely the same thing when she returned two minutes later, presumably from a bathroom break.
They quadruple-teamed Darwish and did not stop until Darwish ended her lecture. Twenty to thirty minutes of soft-core, well-choreographed, goon squad behavior. "They are Hamas-trained" says Darwish.
"And all the while," Darwish says, "the Jewish students cringed and cowered, so afraid that they might have hurt Muslim feelings. (Or rather, that the Muslims might physically hurt them afterwards. According to Darwish, one Jewish student told her that "she "was locking her door. I am scared.")
She is probably right to be. During the Question and Answer period, many of the head-scarved students expressed calculated, injured outrage. "How dare (Hillel) bring this woman to our campus? How dare she insult Islam, tell lies about Islam" etc. "We are free under Islam, how can she deny this?"
Darwish had first been asked to speak about Muslim women who live under Muslim religious law. Then, at the last minute, Hillel had asked her to talk about something, anything else -- about Israel, not about Islam. Apparently, the female Muslim chaplain on campus [Nancy Khalil] had warned the Hillel students not to allow Darwish to "say anything bad about Islam."
One must not expose Islam's long record of gender and religious apartheid and if one does, one is treated as a traitor and a liar and silenced in violent ways.
Ironically, the flyer describing Darwish's visit advertised her speech as one about "peace." Darwish was the last to know about it. Still, she rode the wave. "We can't have peace unless each group engages in self-criticism which is what I am doing."
The Muslim chaplain at Wellesley herself wears a headscarf, and arrived accompanied by a bearded male companion. Darwish asks: "Who is paying for all these Muslim chaplains on every American campus? Why are they needed? What is their real role?"
In Darwish's view, "the happiest Muslims on earth are those who live under Judeo-Christian laws, not under Shari'a law." These young girls are "disconnected from the reality of Islam." Or, they are exercising the "only power anyone, men or women, are allowed to have: the power to enforce the status quo and to further the Muslim jihadic mission."
Darwish repeated, many times, that "not all Muslims are terrorists, but so many terrorists are Muslims"; that she is "not speaking about peaceful Muslims or about each and every Muslim" but about Muslims who uphold a reactionary status quo."
Darwish concludes: "Muslim girls like these are like gangsters. They know more about their rights in America than the Jewish girls do. The Muslim girls all have a chip on their shoulders."
And then she is silent. Softly, she says: "We are fighting an avalanche. We are too few. I am frightened by my culture of origin. I am scared of my own people."
I do not think that campus lecturers should have to face disruption and intimidation; such working conditions are far too hostile.
However, one of the approximately ten students who gratefully crowded around Darwish after her speech was over, wrote to thank her for her "powerful testimony." This student apologized for how "disrespectfully" so many Wellesley students had treated Darwish. But she ended her note this way: "You are giving me the hope and strength to stand against extremism."
All in all, it was a good day for heroes.
This was a speech given at Columbia University on October 24, 2007
It is an honor and a privilege to be here today. Talking about Islamo-fascism and the violent Islamic oppression of Muslim women, Muslim intellectuals, and Muslim homosexuals is exactly the right thing to do at this moment in history. The western university campus is exactly the right place to do so since it is the university that has been hijacked, Palestinianized, Stalinized, Edward Said-ized, by a series of truly Great Lies.
It is time to take the campus back so that the rights of "free speech" and "academic freedom" also apply to those who tell the truth about Islam and who espouse minority and dissident intellectual points of view. Such rights also belong to those of us who are pro-American and pro-Israel and not only to those who demonize the West and valorize Islamist misogyny, death-cult terrorism, and Wahabi and Salafi fundamentalism.
Telling the truth about Islam is, apparently, "provocative." One risks everything for doing so. In my opinion, one risks even more for failing to do so.
I want to thank the students at Columbia who have made this evening possible as well as David Horowitz and the Horowitz Freedom Center which has organized similar panels all over the country this week and has, in addition, published a pamphlet which I co-authored together with Robert Spencer which is titled "The Violent Oppression of Women in Islam".
It is both extraordinary and tragic that one needs serious security in order to be heard on campus, that one must run a gauntlet of hostility for the right to teach. Please note who needs the security and who does not. Who disrupts and protests speeches and who does not. Goon-squad tactics of intimidation and disruption should have absolutely no place in the free exchange of ideas. We should exchange competing ideas civilly, with an open mind, and our ideas should be based on facts and truth, not on propaganda.
I have spoken at Barnard and Columbia many times over the years. Long ago, in the 1960s and 1970s, when I was a politically correct "rebel-girl," I was more than welcome here.
More recently, in 2003, my words about Islamic gender and religious Apartheid caused a near-riot at a feminist conference at Barnard and I had to be hustled out for my safety. [To read "Brownshirts of our Time" click here.]
In 2006 or 2007, I was persona non grata at Barnard at a panel organized by the Veteran Feminists of America. Although I am a founding member, my own group would not allow me to speak about the Islamist War Against Women. Here's why.
No western academic is supposed to criticize anything that a formerly colonized man of color does -- including gang-rape or stone women of color to death. Nor can he or she focus on the savage persecution of homosexuals or on the epidemic of homosexual pederasty in the Islamic world; or on the persecution of heroic Muslim and ex-Muslim intellectuals and human rights activists.
Muslim-on-Muslim homicide and genocide are also "unmentionables." Any western academic who dares discuss such tabooed subjects will be defamed as a "racist" and "colonialist." Fear of this allegation is so great that false concerns about racism have inevitably trumped all feminist concerns about sexism. This is the new McCarthyism and it is coming to us from the left.
In the early 1960s, I was held captive in Kabul, Afghanistan, in
fairly posh purdah. I was a young bride. I escaped, I survived, I
learned a thing or two. I write about this in The Death of
Feminism which describes Islamic gender apartheid both way back
then and now, as it is penetrating the West. [To read about Chesler's
own experiences as a young bride married and living in Aghanistan and
her escape home -- "How Afghan Captivity Shaped My Feminism" -- click
I LEARNED THAT WHAT CHARACTERIZES Islam (not Islamism) is mainly indigenous to the culture, the region, and the religion and is not necessarily caused by Western imperialism, colonialism, or capitalism.
The Christian crusades did not "cause" Arab or Muslim slavery, racism, polygamy, arranged child marriage, female genital mutilation, honor murders, forced face-veiling, capital punishment for apostates (Muslims who leave Islam), or the segregation of women. It did not cause Islamic jihad or Islamic imperialism which preceded the Crusades by centuries.
In the early 1970s, American imperialism and Israeli policies of self-defense did not force Bangladeshi Muslims to murder their own women for the crime of having been raped by enemy Muslim soldiers.
In the 1980s, when Iranian village mullahs ordered that women be lynched, the villagers did not stone their daughters, mothers, and sisters because America had, in the past, interfered with Iranian politics.
No American or European oil company ordered the men of Saudi Arabia to prohibit Saudi women from driving, or from going out without a male escort, nor did they order the be-heading of a Saudi Princess for daring to choose a love match.
No Israeli law forced Palestinians to honor-murder their women, beat their wives and daughters, or to force-veil women against their will. Only Hamas did that.
MY SECOND WAVE FEMINIST CREDENTIALS are rooted in a universalist vision of human rights. Because I believe that all women and men are equal, I am therefore, not a multi-cultural relativist. I believe that all human beings deserve certain unalienable rights, whether they live in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, or in New York City.
I especially support such human rights for the most heroic of heroes today who are fighting against Islamism in their own countries and who are themselves Muslims, ex-Muslims, or Arab and Asian Christians. Their extraordinary heroism is in sharp contrast to and puts the blindness and cowardice of our tenured western radicals to shame.
Such secular and religious activists, influenced by western concepts of democracy, freedom, human rights, and women's rights, are now fighting for those very rights in their own countries. They are being murdered, imprisoned, tortured, and censored for daring to hold the ideas that we safely take for granted in the West.
Fatwas (or death threats) have been issued against them. Some who live in hiding require serious, round-the-clock protection. Some must write under pseudonyms. Many such dissidents live in exile and simply cannot understand why western multi-cultural relativists refuse to side with them and instead, side with their persecutors.
Think Salman Rushdie, Taslima Nasrin, Ayaan Hirsi Ali for starters.
For daring to defend them I (and many others) are being censored in both Europe and America, whose Islamification is well under way.
Western dissidents have also been sued for telling the truth about Islam and about the Saudi and Islamic funding for terrorism against Western civilian targets.
Think Oriana Fallaci, Rachel Ehrenfeld.
Western feminists and pro-woman academics must understand that like women everywhere, Arab and Muslim women have internalized their culture's views of women. Therefore, like men, some women will justify wife-beating, purdah, polygamy, veiling, and female genital mutilation. Thus, just because Muslim women can be trotted out to support Islamic Gender Apartheid, does not necessarily mean that their words on such subjects are any more inviolate than those of their male counterparts.
In America, in the 1960s, most women denied that they were economically discriminated against or, if proven wrong, insisted that it did not bother them. They blamed themselves entirely when they were sexually harassed, raped, or beaten. Only years of education and struggle have begun to change these attitudes among American women and men.
If Western feminists are not committed to the same struggle for Muslim, Arab, and Third World women they have betrayed their own moral vision of equality for all women and men.
TODAY, IN MUSLIM COUNTRIES, women are being more forcefully and fully veiled. They are being imprisoned, gang-raped, flogged, and in Iran, often hung or stoned to death when they allege rape or run away from unusually cruel and life-threatening-families. Honor murders are either increasing or have become more visible -- perhaps because Western and Western influenced feminists and human rights activists have begun to document them.
Recently, in the fall of 2006 (the end of Ramadan), perhaps a thousand men conducted a 'sexual wilding' in Cairo. They surrounded individual girls and women who were fully veiled, partly veiled, and unveiled, and groped and assaulted them. Individuals tried to help these women -- who escaped from the male crowds naked and half-naked. The police refused to make any arrests and the media did not cover it. I and others only learned of this incident because some foreign journalists blogged it -- and because one brave Egyptian woman spoke about it on a live Egyptian television programme.
Pro-Islamists are perfectly free to criticize, even to demonize the West in the West, because they live in a democracy where academic freedom and free speech are (still) taken seriously. Were they to dare criticize the barbarism, misogyny, and despotism of Third World countries, were they to do so in Afghanistan, Algeria, Iran, Bangladesh or Saudi Arabia (to name only a few such countries), they would be in serious danger of being shot to death in her own home, as happened recently to an Afghan woman journalist, or of being imprisoned, tortured, and murdered. This has happened to many Muslim dissidents and feminists.
In 2003, Wajeha Al-Huwaider was barred from publishing in the Saudi Kingdom; in 2006 she was arrested, interrogated, and forced to sign a statement agreeing to cease her human rights activities.
Bangladeshi writer Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, had his office bombed, was jailed for two years and is now on trial for his life. His crime? 'Praising the Jew and Christians', 'attempting to travel to Israel', and 'predicting the rise of Islamist militancy'. These charges may carry a death sentence.
Women are not yet free from violence and inequality in America but really, we do not face these conditions.
In The Death of Feminism, I also describe another incident which took place in July 2001 in Hassi Messaoud, Algeria, in which a mob of three hundred men conducted a three-day pogrom against thirty-nine economically impoverished Algerian women. In his Friday sermons, the local mullah, Amar Taleb, had described these women as 'immoral' because they were working for a foreign company. The men tortured, stabbed, mutilated, gang-raped, buried alive and murdered these women.
FEMINISTS ESPECIALLY NEED TO ACKNOWLEDGE that this is happening. We need to wrestle with it and take a stand against it. We need to make common cause with Third World and Muslim feminists and dissidents who want to create alliances.
Western feminists and academics must end their unnatural obsession with the so-called "occupation" of Palestine and focus of the occupation of women's bodies throughout the Muslim world. If they care about women, they must confront the issues that characterize Islamic gender apartheid and affect at least half a billion women in the Islamic world.
Western feminist academics have now become allied with Islamists -- against Muslim and ex-Muslim women and against their own feminist principles. Now is the time for western intellectuals who claim to be antiracists or committed to human and women's rights to stand with Muslim and ex-Muslim dissidents. To do so, requires that we adopt a universal standard of human rights and abandon our loyalty to multicultural relativism which justifies, even romanticizes, indigenous barbarism, totalitarian terrorism and the persecution of women, religious minorities, homosexuals, and intellectuals.
Our abject refusal to judge between civilization and barbarism, and
between enlightened rationalism and theocratic fundamentalism
endangers and condemns the victims of Islamic tyranny even further.
Last week, in a letter, 138 Muslim clerics sought to find "common ground" but only with Christians. In my view, they did so because Christians are the only religious group that outnumbers the Muslims demographically, by about six to seven hundred million.
In a sense, from a psycho-analytic point of view, this is an example of "literal" or "concrete" thinking. The World Trade Center and The Pentagon are symbols of American might. Hence, destroying these structures is "literally" the same as destroying American infidel power.
But, when one thinks psycho-analytically, nothing is exactly as it seems. Often, such thinking also provokes people's unconscious anxieties about ... you guessed it, about their own mothers and their own relations to women.
According to Dr. Nancy Hartevelt Kobrin, a psycho-analyst, Arabist, and counter-terrorism expert with whom I have written a series of articles about Islamic suicide killers, and whom I have also quoted:
"The Letter is an overture. They want to pull us close but they also need to push us away. This is similar to the classic unconscious behavior of a batterer. They want to stir up all our hopes for peace but they do not know how to relate or engage in genuine intimacy. They can f*** a lot of women but they have no ability to relate to women. It is tragic. Psychologically, they are completely tone deaf."
Dr. Kobrin is also the author of an important book: The Sheiks' New Clothes: The Naked Truth about Islamic Suicide Terrorism for which I wrote the Introduction. Her publisher, Looseleaf Law, cancelled the contract when they decided that if Muslims could launch riots because of the Pope's comments about Islam, that they, a small American publisher, could not economically afford to protect their employees from Islamist violence -- were it to occur. As yet, no other publisher has stepped forward.
Dr. Kobrin has terrified many a counter-terrorism expert with her ideas about the psychological importance of the Mother to Arab Islamist suicide killers and to their handlers. She notes that according to Al-Qaeda expert, Rohan Gunaratna, many an intercepted terrorist (in the Middle East and in Pakistan) has wept and "named names" once the police bring his mother into the interrogation room and undress her.
A man's honor is literally located in his mother's genitalia. If she is shamed and therefore shames him, he is undone unless he can kill her and whoever has shamed them both. This is also true for every other close female relative. This is how a "shame and honor" society works.
Recently, Michael Moss and Souad Mekhennet have described how
jihadists download their internet messages of hate and violence.
First, "someone with al-Qaeda uploads the video, probably at an
internet cafe, to password-protected sites. Then they call a friend
say, in Australia or Brasilia, and say, "Hi Johnny, your MOM is
traveling today." That is the code to download the video"
ALTHOUGH WOMEN ARE DENIGRATED and deeply devalued in Arab Muslim culture (a culture which has been "Arabizing" the non-Arab Muslim world), psychologically speaking, Arab Muslim men exhibit a very "heliotropic" orientation to the mother. They are always searching for, relating to, disconnecting from, re-connecting to the Mother.
Often, an Arab Muslim suicide killer will stand right next to a pregnant woman or a mother with small children before they blow themselves up. This is not a contradiction. It is an expression of the struggle between Eros (Life) and Thanatos (Death), an example of what it means to "come close," and to "push away" a "literal" enactment of what it means to have to kill the object of forbidden or dangerous love. Palestinian terrorists claim to despise Jews as sub-human -- and yet they choose to mingle their blood with that of the despised Other in their suicide murders.
The full name of Al Qaeda is "Al Qaeda Al Subah." "Al Qaeda" means "Base" and "Al Subah" means "Solid." Hence, bin Laden's cult both promises and desires a "Solid Base". According to Dr. Kobrin, this phrase, both linguistically and psychologically refers to a "secure attachment to Ummi" (Mommy!). The concept of a universal nation-state to which all religious Muslims must be loyal, is the "umma." Dr. Kobrin says that "the maternal figure looms large in the psyche of the Muslim group self."
Thus, one might conclude that there is something intrinsic to Arab Muslim psychology which is obsessed with what it fears can shame and destroy it: Jews, Women, and Infidels, in no particular order. The need to control these three groups is very great -- especially since Muslim dependence upon them is both very great and greatly despised.
Therefore, the Muslim clerical Letter may not represent a sincere desire to live in peace with a religion with whom they profoundly disagree as much as it may represent a first step towards trying to persuade Christians to understand that God has "no associate" (no Christ, no partner). Once Christians understand this they will realize that in order to have the "peace" they so treasure they will have to convert to Islam. If not, Muslims will have no choice but to continue to wage war against them.
Maybe if we are lucky, jihadists will simply tax the hell out of us (aren't they already doing that with the high price of oil? -- dependence can be a wonderfully mutual thing); drive us out of Muslim lands (isn't that wherever Muslims happen to live?); veil or rape our naked (unveiled) women?
Phyllis Chesler, PhD, is an Emerita Professor of Psychology and
Women's Studies and the author of twelve books including the
best-selling "Women And Madness" and most recently, "The New
Anti-Semitism. The Current Crisis And What We Must Do About It"
(Jossey-Bass/John Wiley). She is currently on the board of Scholars
for Peace in the Middle East and may be contacted through her website,
Nonie Darwish's article "'Arab' Means Never Having To Say You're
Sorry" can be read here.
To read more about Nancy Kobrin and The Psychoanalytic Roots Of
Islamic Terrorism, click
This article was published as separate essays.
The first essay describes a way Muslims are countering bad press on
campus. They intimidate speakers who talk about how Muslim women are
treated and they summon their "reassurers" who soothe us and tell us
Muslim women are happy and adore looking like misshapen penquins.
The second essay is entitled "A Dissident American's Fighting
Words. My Speech At Columbia On 10/24/07." It was published on The third article originally appeared on The Chesler Chronicles
Phyllis Chesler, PhD, is an Emerita Professor of Psychology and Women's Studies and the author of twelve books including the best-selling "Women And Madness" and most recently, "The New Anti-Semitism. The Current Crisis And What We Must Do About It" (Jossey-Bass/John Wiley). She is currently on the board of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East and may be contacted through her website, www.phyllis-chesler.com.
Nonie Darwish's article "'Arab' Means Never Having To Say You're Sorry" can be read here.
To read more about Nancy Kobrin and The Psychoanalytic Roots Of Islamic Terrorism, click here.
This article was published as separate essays.
The first essay describes a way Muslims are countering bad press on campus. They intimidate speakers who talk about how Muslim women are treated and they summon their "reassurers" who soothe us and tell us Muslim women are happy and adore looking like misshapen penquins.
The second essay is entitled "A Dissident American's Fighting
Words. My Speech At Columbia On 10/24/07." It was published on
The third article originally appeared on The Chesler Chronicles
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