Monday, September 17, 2012

Enough Shame to Go Around

R. Cort Kirkwood, managing editor of the Harrisonburg Daily News-Record, writes this*

Given the refusal of Moslems [sic] to assimilate**, as well as the range of successful Moslem demands upon European elites for heretofore unimagined 'rights' and public and corporate policies, one wonders when Christendom’s benighted lands will relent and sanction not only honor killing but also bride burning, genital mutilation and the other merry folkways the Islamic horde brought with them...White Swedish women are suffering a wave of unprecedented rape and mayhem at the hands of their country’s Mohammedan [sic] guests***. ... The inevitable Islamic conquest of Europe and its affiliated horrors would never have been possible had Europe remained true to its Catholic faith, the bulwark that stood firmly against Islamic conquest for 10 centuries...Until the West awakens from its spiritual slumber and raises the Cross, it will continue losing the fight not against 'terror' but against Islam itself.

Female genital mutilation (FGM) originates not with Islam, but with Ancient Egypt under the Pharaohs and the Roman Empire.  Wikipedia: FGM Indeed, some Islamic scholars have issued fatwas (legal ruling or interpretation of Islamic law by one in authority to so rule) against FGM.

Rembrandt portrays himself as the Levite
placing his concubine on an ass to be
carried home and spark a war
The majority of so-called honor killings in the world today are committed by Muslims, until one expands one’s definition of ‘honor killing’ to include what in the West are called ‘crimes of passion’ (the husband who kills his wife in a fit of rage over her real or perceived infidelity, for example).  Then the shift is dramatic.  Moreover, there is a history of honor killings across Islam, Hinduism, Christianity and Judaism.  The Bible contains what modern-day feminists refer to as ‘texts of terror’ against women, one of the most notable being the murder of the Levite’s concubine (Judges 19).

In this story of a woman who is sacrificed by her husband for rape and murder in order to preserve his own honor and life, it is worthy of note that at the beginning of the story, the woman is identified as being ‘unfaithful’ to her husband.  Her offense?  She left him and returned to her father.  Why include such a detail in the first place?  Perhaps to suggest that her death and mistreatment by all in the story was somehow warranted or justified.

Mr. Kirkwood, you may have forgotten your own religious history, but trust me on this: women have not.  Even today, orthodox Jewish men insist in the United States that they should not be required to ride the bus with women (does this remind anyone of a woman in Alabama who sparked a revolution by staying seated?).  Christians around the world – the majority of them, in fact, as most Christians are Roman Catholic – insist that women are inferior to the point that they may not serve in leadership roles within their own church, based in part on the teachings of a man (St. Augustine) who held that women do not have souls.

And by the way, the Catholic faith that was, as you put it, “the bulwark that stood firmly against Islamic conquest for 10 centuries” is the same faith that gave the world the Crusades.  And ten centuries later, the people of Iraq still remember, carrying as they do the genetic reminder in the random child with red hair or green eyes, the invasion of their lands ‘for Jesus’.

That you still insist on using the language of ‘Christendom’ says much.  Your language choice reveals a willingness and desire to cling to the worldview that Christianity is a conquering force engaged not in spiritual, but temporal, battle.  This, sir, is the worst kind of theology, betraying the man who did not use his cross as a sword, but mounted it as a shield behind which we all may stand.  God may require my allegiance, but the Divine neither needs nor requires my defense, especially when that defense would require me to do violence against others whom God has also created in the divine image and declared ‘very good’ from before the beginning of time.

Do I support the mistreatment of women under any guise?  Of course not.  But please, please, please, do not make your arguments against Islam in general and believing Muslims in particular, on the mistreatment of women.  The mistreatment of women knows no religious, social or cultural bounds.  It is an issue not of religion, but of power.  So, please, climb down off our backs and make your arguments elsewhere.  For the fact is your own heritage, which includes burning women as witches, the torture and murder of Joan d’Arc for the ‘offense’ of wearing trousers, the exclusion and excoriation of women throughout history, the modern-day sanction against women for daring to get on yet another bus and speaking their minds (Nuns on the Bus), the erasure of women from the history of our faith, is one in which you can take no pride, sir.****

*Taken from a FB entry on We Are All Harrisonburg.  Best research indicates that this appeared as part of a blog post by Mr. Kirkwood in 2007 at Taki's Magazine.  In the posting, Mr. Kirkwood also claims that what he calls Western Europe's 'Catholic culture' of chivalry and the good treatment of women was eroded by Islam.  One hardly knows where to begin.  Medieval poets may have waxed eloquent about chivalry, but women were hardly 'elevated' as Mr. Kirkwood claims.  In point of fact, until very recently in the history of the world, violence against women has been viewed as a male prerogative.

**I never know what folks mean about someone’s refusal to ‘assimilate’.  I can only guess Mr. Krikwood’s intentions here, but I also remember growing up in Fairmont, West Virginia, where there was a huge immigrant population formed during the heyday of the coal mines, when workers were needed to go underground and were sought after from far-away lands.  Thus growing up in Fairmont, many of my friends’ grandmothers did not speak English.  They were all Christians, largely from southern Italy and central Europe.  And I have never taken it as a negative to society as a whole or to me personally that these women largely remained at home.  The impact on them is another question.  But we cannot overstate how very hard it must have been to enter into a society whose language they did not speak and whose ways they did not know.  If there was a problem, maybe it wasn’t theirs.  Maybe it was ‘ours’ – for not making the women more welcome.  In my mother’s hometown of Williamson, West Virginia, an immigrant family from the Middle East rejected the church denomination they had been accustomed to and instead came to the Presbyterian Church my mother attended as a girl because the women there, unlike the other church, made his wife welcome.  Whatever happened to hospitality, Mr. Kirkwood?

***This claim is widespread amongst conservative media outlets in the US, but it is difficult, if not impossible, to locate any accurate, unbiased reportage on the claimed phenomena from any source.  One source reported a gang rape by children against children, claiming that authorities had not released the identities of the perpetrators, but ‘we all know they were Muslims’.  This is hardly objective reporting.

****And if there is to be religious shaming, let us not forget the systematic rape of Bosnian Muslim women by Christian Serbs during the Bosnian War of the 1990s.  Wikipedia

1 comment:

  1. Bravo, Beth! I hope this or at least a portion of it is published in Mr. Kirkwood's newspaper! More Christians need to speak out about the condemnation of all Muslims due to the actions of the extremist minority!

    You go, girl!