Henry VIII of England had a problem having children. Boys, anyway, who would live past their teens. Although, given his bed-hopping habits, it wouldn't have been hard to claim that just about boy whose mother was in or near London was an illegitimate son of the "Defender of the Faith" (who later set up his own church).
That was then, this is now. These days, heads of state are expected to keep their shenanigans discretely under wraps: although some still do get a little carried away. (Reuters)
Ishmael to Internet in One LifetimeI've made the point before, that many Muslims have been dragged across several thousand years of history and cultural change in one or two generations. Stable cultures, carrying on traditions which had been ancient when Abraham moved out of Ur, were relatively isolated until Western civilization needed petroleum.
Then, the world of individual rights, Barbies, beer, bikinis and Mickey Mouse dropped into their quiet world. It must have been like a retirement community suddenly having a frat house near the golf course.
'I Can't Get My Wife Pregnant: It Must Be Her Fault!'Afghanistan is an Islamic country. It's also in the Middle East - or just outside that region, depending on who you're reading.1 And, it's not the best spot in the world to live if you're a woman.
Take Shameen, for instance. She's had a rough time lately. She and her husband haven't had children. He blames her, and apparently Afghan culture backs him up.
"... After one severe beating, she ran from her home and to the police station. Her husband promised the police he would not attack her anymore, so she gave in and agreed to go back home with him.
Days later, Shameen's husband took her on a trip to visit her sister's grave -- a 15-year-old sister who was burned to death for displeasing her husband.
"Shameen says her younger sister was 11 years old when she was forced to marry an older man. He would beat and abuse her until one day he killed her.
"As Shameen walked along the graveyard with her husband he took her near a shrine where he forced her to the ground, lifted her burqa and raped her. He then threatened her with a knife and asked her who was going to help her now. She was screaming as he slashed her throat and body.
"A passerby saved her.
"Now, she has no one to turn to -- not even her own parents. In their eyes, she has brought them shame, an offense punishable by death.
"In Afghanistan, a woman is blamed for the injustices she must live through. Shameen says when her sister was killed, her parents turned a blind eye...."
Rape isn't Nice, and We Shouldn't Do ItRape is a serious offense. And, yes: a husband can rape his wife. It's wrong, it's bad, and it's a monumentally stupid thing to do. But, it's possible.
This definition and discussion of rape might help clarify my views:
"Rape is the forcible violation of the sexual intimacy of another person. It does injury to justice and charity. Rape deeply wounds the respect, freedom, and physical and moral integrity to which every person has a right...."A key word here is "forcible." Shameen's husband forced himself on her. That may be okay in some cultures - but I don't buy into the multicultural ethic that says morality is determined by culture. Some things are wrong anywhere, and rape is one of them.
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2356)
"A passerby saved her."I think there's some hope for Afghanistan. The CNN article says: "A passerby saved her." At least one person in the country doesn't think that sexual assault in a cemetery is okay. And, the Afghan government not only allows shelters for abused women to exist, but cooperates with them.
"... Authorities brought Shameen to a shelter run by Women for Afghan Women (WAW). The organization started in New York to provide humanitarian assistance to women who do not know they have rights.I was doing time in a university in the eighties, when political correctness was in flower, so I've got - ambivalent? - feelings 'women's rights' and other PC dogmas. But the CNN article gives no clear indication that political indoctrination is part the WAW shelter's program: And those women desperately need a place to stay.
"In this safe house, WAW is currently providing care, security and an education for 54 women and children.
"Nearly 90 percent of Afghan women suffer from domestic abuse, according to the United Nations Development Fund for Women...."
Islam, Culture, Rape and AttitudeThere are more Muslims in America today then there were when I was growing up: but they're still a tiny minority here. My guess is that many Americans get their impression of what Islam is from the antics of Sudan's government, Saudi clerics, and people like Shameen's husband.
It's sort of like knowing Christianity from the activities of the Westboro Baptist Church and the KKK in the sixties. (November 26, 2007) Yes, those outfits claim to be Christian - and their members may believe it sincerely - but their actions are not typical of Christianity as a whole.
With Islam, it really is different. It looks to me like we've got a situation equivalent to entire nations being controlled by analogs of the Ku Klux Klan, as was in the sixties, at least; and the Westboro Baptist Church, with it's notions about the American military being part of a homosexual plot. (October 31, 2007)
But, based on what I've read - and correspondence with Muslims and Muslimas who do not think terrorism is a good idea - I think that Islamic belief is highly influenced by the culture of whatever region Muslims live it. I see a strong analogy to the "Bible truths" preached by some Christian groups: like 'alcohol is the work of the Devil' or 'rock music is Satanic,' which appear to stem more from the personal preferences of the pastor and mores of the local culture, than anything else.2
I've used Indonesia as an example of a very Islamic country that doesn't act like Sudan or Saudi Arabia. I don't think Indonesia is perfect, by any means. (August 22, 2008) Indonesia's officials may be struggling with reconciling their own beliefs, demands by Islamic crazies, and awareness of what's happened since the Magna Carta: and trying to run a country where terrorists have a limited - but significant - number of supporters.
For that matter, I don't think America is perfect. Which is another topic. (July 3, 2008)
I'm old enough to remember the 'good old days,' when significant numbers of Americans - including judges - figured that if a woman got raped, she must have been asking for it. Okay: In some cases, the victim was behaving imprudently. But that wasn't an excuse for rape. Not. At. All.
That attitude, and an indulgent view of drunk driving, seem to be on the wane. At least, I sincerely hope so.
Afghanistan is in Bad Shape - Abandoning Them to the Taliban Won't HelpI've said, often, that who wins the war on terror matters (July 30, 2009, for starters) Abandoning Afghanistan and the rest of the Islamic world to the Taliban and Saudi clerics isn't just wrong, it's a bad idea. There are Muslims - many, I hope - who would say "this is not us" about jihad as imagined by Bin Laden's Al Qaeda and the Taliban. (August 9, 2007)
If they're not given an opportunity to develop an Islamic world that's a bit more post-18th-century than what the Taliban and Al Shabaab have in mind, I don't think it would be long before the rest of the world had a relatively united block of terrorist nations to deal with.
- "Sudan, Women, Trousers, Culture and Common Sense"
(September 7, 2009)
- "The War on Terror: Yes, Who Wins Does Matter"
(July 30, 2009)
- "Eight-Year-Old Raped - Time to Think and Pray"
A Catholic Citizen in America (July 25, 2009)
- "Marriott, Ritz-Carlton in Indonesia Bombed: It Could Have Been Worse"
(July 18, 2009)
- "Mickey Mouse Must Die! Agent of Satan Targeted by Saudi Cleric"
(September 19, 2008)
- "Sandeela Kanwal, Chaudhry Rashid: Honor Killing? Maybe, Maybe Not"
(July 9, 2008)
- "The West and Today's Somali President: The Enemy of Your Enemy is Your Friend?"
(March 19, 2009)
- "Muzzammil Hassan's Beheaded Wife No Honor Killing - Move Along"
(February 19, 2009)
- "Lebanon, Israel, Pakistan, India, and the Lizard People"
(January 14, 2009)
- "Saudi Cleric Wants Women to Use One Eye - I'm Not Making This Up"
(October 4, 2008)
- "United States of America: 232 Years in the Freedom Business"
(July 3, 2008)
- "Indonesian Deradicalization Program Working: In Indonesia, at Least"
(January 15, 2008)
- "Indonesia, 'Allah Akbar,' and Muslim Tolerance"
(August 22, 2008)
- "Islam, Christianity, Culture, and Kooks"
(November 26, 2007)
- "Tolerance Only Goes So Far"
(October 31, 2007)
- "More about 'Yeh Hum Naheen' / 'This is Not Us' "
(August 9, 2007)
- "Afghan women hiding for their lives"
CNN (September 24, 2009)
1 With a world population of a bit over 6,000,000,000, somebody's going to have a passionate opinion about whether or not the term "Middle East" should be used at all.
I try to use terms that most people who understand English are familiar with. And "Middle East" is a whole lot shorter than "the-swath-of-countries-along-the-south-and-east-shores-of-the-Mediterranean-around-the-Caspian-and-south-shore-of-the-Black-Sea-and-eastwards-to-India."
Sure, "Western Asia" sounds cool - but leaves out the northern tier of nations in Africa, and Sudan: which have more-or-less-strong cultural similarities to the other Middle Eastern countries.
2 There's an anecdote, which I haven't traced to its source, about a Christian denomination with members on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line. Sometime in the 20th century, when transportation technology made a national convention practical, delegates from north and south got together.
The 'Bible truth' that one set believed was that alcohol was okay, but tobacco was the work of the Devil. The other was okay with smoking - health problems notwithstanding - but knew that God Himself had declared alcohol to be the work of the Devil.
They had, I heard, quite a lively theological discussion before thrashing out a compromise.