Category Archives: Politics

Why Huma Can’t Leave, And Why She Should

Huma Abedin in presumably happier times

 

 

Let’s set aside ambition. Although Huma Abedin, the wife of Anthony Weiner – currently regarded as manna from heaven by late-night comics who regard Weiner’s continued sexting with his self-chosen handle “Carlos Danger” as unbelievable fodder for gags – is no shrinking violet, she lacks the rip-the-baby-from-the-breast mania of Lady Macbeth. Ambitious, yes. For herself, not so much these days, when she’s riding her husband’s soiled coattails.

 

Let’s also put away, for the moment, the history of embarrassed American political wives. Hillary Clinton was not the first First Lady – when can we alter that to the useful First Spouse? – to stand by her man. American political newspapers, television, and now Twitter-sphere have been littered with the wreckage of broken marital vows and betrayed hearts. Huma Abedin is following in those women’s footsteps in pronouncing herself “supportive” of her ridiculously immature husband – a bad move in the 21st century, as we will see below – but she need not. Jenny Sanford of South Carolina did not do so, thank goodness, after her then-governor then-husband was discovered not on the Appalachian Trail but in another nation entirely. In 2013, one need not follow a script dictating that one trot oneself out and publicly “forgive” the jerk one married years before.

 

So, back-burnering ambition and American custom, let’s look, instead, at Huma’s past. As therapists know, what we grow up with is incredibly influential in how we make decisions as adults.

 

Huma’s parents were from South Asia. Her father, Syed Zainul Abedin, born in India in 1928, received his first college degree from Aligarh Muslim University, southeast of Delhi, and later earned a PhD at the University of Pennsylvania. He was an Islamic scholar, founded the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs (consulting and advising where Muslims are a religious minority, as in India), acted as a consultant to the Muslim World League, and died in 1993 when Huma was a teenager (her father was 48 when Huma was born in 1976).

 

Huma’s mother, Saleha Mahmood Abedin, was born in northwest India (now Pakistan) in 1940. Twelve years younger than her husband, she met him at the University of Pennsylvania, where she received a PhD in sociology in 1977. For many years she has taught sociology at Dar Al-Hekma College, a women’s college in Saudi Arabia.

 

Not long after Huma’s mother finished her PhD, the family packed up and moved to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Huma was two years old, and did not live in the US again until she attended college at George Washington University.

 

If it’s me reading the signs, here’s what we have:

 

Both parents from South Asia but with a desire to experience a purer form of Muslim life in Saudi Arabia. Willing to put their only child under the heavy strictures that Saudi Arabia imposes on girls and women. An Islamic scholar father, much older than his wife. Perhaps dictatorial, certainly deferred to. A man whose power was backed up by Saudi law.

 

In Jeddah, Huma’s father would have been entitled to up to four legal wives. There’s no evidence that he married anyone other than Huma’s mother, but no evidence that he remained monogamous, either. Considering his work, he might have been ridiculed by other men had he not taken additional wives.

 

At least one writer regards Huma’s mother as an “influential sharia activist” who has, in her writings, provided justification for the legal subordination of women to men, and appallingly, female genital mutilation (FGM), which pre-dates Islam (it was inflicted in ancient Egypt) and is slowly losing ground – due in part to its demonstrated harm to women’s reproductive lives. (In that context, it’s worth wondering if as a child Huma herself was subjected to cutting, and if her health has been imperiled as a result.)

 

In addition, Huma herself was raised, not in India, but in sectarian, dogmatic Saudi Arabia, with its strictures on females of all ages. It would be ridiculous to assume that she only experienced societal limits after menarche. In fact, Saudi girls routinely watch their mothers, aunts and older sisters being inhibited and punished, and they hear from friends about their own families. Secrets are kept, but the truth also emerges.

 

If in Saudi Arabia, Huma’s father had sexted a young woman, if he had promised her an apartment to be shared as a lovenest, if he had held lewd conversations with her (all of which Anthony Weiner has done, in an incredible display of hubris and power-wielding), how would Huma’s mother have acted?

 

What would Mommy do?

 

Mommy would have grinned and borne it. She would have let it go. She would have regarded it as one more thing permitted to husbands in a society where being male confers incredible license. She would have remembered that under Saudi law, divorce might see Huma legally snatched from her mother and deposited with her father, forever.

 

Most of all, Huma’s mother would feel relieved that her husband was merely using social media, not taking to wife a newer, younger woman who would perhaps turn the husband against the mother of his child.

 

All of the above help us understand why Huma has chosen a path that made the New York Post front-page, in its frustration, “What’s Wrong With You?”. If the Post were published in the Arab world, however, it might be blazoned with “Fantastic Job, Huma!” or “Setting a Good Example for Girls”. Even when her husband, at last count, now admits to sexting three different women since resigning from Congress, layering lie upon lie, and when according to polls his political stock among voters has taken a nosedive.

 

The problems with Huma’s approach go to the heart of why she ought to choose a different path: she no longer lives in Saudi Arabia, and she’s not married to a strict Muslim husband – though Weiner’s brash sense of entitlement and arrogance seem to fit him for the role. She lives in the US. She might have political aspirations of her own. If she does, she’s going about this all wrong. Huma is playing 21st-century politics with an old-fashioned game plan.

 

Plus, she’s setting her son up to be an abuser, and any future daughter (or daughter-in-law) to be abused.

 

As a Guardian reader commented: “… Would anyone out there want to see their daughter in Huma’s position, defending a man with zero understanding of his problems, shrugging off these incidents as if he was caught shoplifting instead of texting nude shots of himself to a young woman whom he not only wanted to set up in a Chicago apartment but declared his undying love for?” Answer: no, not in the US.

 

Huma, listen up: In America, smart women aren’t doormats. We don’t put up with abuse. You’re a very intelligent woman, but IQ does not equal EQ, and on this subject, you’re bog-standard stupid. In five years, or ten, or twenty, whenever you feel like running for office yourself, do you really think American women will praise the memory of your getting up there and defending your abuser? Puh-leez! We’re much more likely to say, oh, here’s that idiot, the woman who knew her husband sexted under the handle of “Carlos Danger”, who knew he lied about it, who did not insist on ongoing therapy, and stayed with him. And excused him, and encouraged us to excuse him, too.

 

Vote for Huma? Not on your life.

 

Do you get it? Gut the oldie-goldie behaviors you learned as a child. If your mother’s suggesting you stay with your abusive husband – when the rest of the US is aghast – figure out what you want. Do you want to run for public office? Want people to vote for you? The path you’re taking will not lead to success, not these days.

 

The New York Post suggests Huma might have a “pathological need to be publicly humiliated”. What she has looks like, instead, a pathological need to be regarded as a perfect wife according to outdated and harmful models, the models she learned as a child.

 

“When I was a child, I spoke like a child.” It’s time for Huma Abedin to speak like an adult. Otherwise, we the people will infer that she and her husband richly deserve each other.

 

 

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Filed under Abuse, Anthony Weiner, Cruelty, FGM, Guardian, Huma Abedin, India, Law, Menarche, Mental health, Mental illness, Misogyny, Muslim, New York City, News, Pain, Politics, Relationships, Sexism

The Elephant-Caused Moral Crisis

Well, you know, corporations are people, too -- get vaccinated against measles, ride bikes, give birth, send their kids to school . . . like real humans. Not.

 

Today’s Washington Post carries a terrifically awesome piece by the fabulously monikered Katrina vanden Heuvel, entitled “Republicans are causing a moral crisis in America”.

 

Please click this link and take a look. It’s that good.

 

We’re all getting a little tired of the GOP, that bastion of cloth coats and smarmy pseudo-religious types, as they advise the rest of us how we ought to think, and what we ought to be up in arms about. It’s been particularly hard to hear that drivel from the mouth of a serial philanderer; from a man who would like to enter the bedroom of every woman in the US, to make sure she’s following his rules; and from someone who changes position with each puff of . . . wind, of course it’s wind.

 

The moral problem, as vanden Heuvel points out, is not with us. It’s with them, the guys running on the poorest slate the Republican Party has fielded in the last hundred years.

 

“It’s hard to point to a single priority of the Republican Party these days that isn’t steeped in moral failing while being dressed up in moral righteousness”, vanden Heuvel writes. So true. Look at the cafeteria Catholicism of Santorum. Big on moral outrage over abortion, but once the baby’s born, there’s no compassion there.

 

He and his fellow pachyderms are all about tax cuts for the very rich. They’re all about war, and invasions, because those provide excuses for defense spending. They’re absolutely for less regulation of, say, banking, when anyone with even the tiniest bit of vision can see that the economic mess we’re in is due to lack of regulation.

 

But you want contraception? Gay marriage? The stability of a nation that has a healthcare system, rather than a marketplace? Money for decent schools and roads? Fuggeddaboutit.

 

If they could, these guys would take America back to pre-World War I. Call it 1912, two years before the archduke’s assassination. Pre-income tax, pre-civil rights law, pre-women’s votes. A time when many black men didn’t feel they could vote, because someone white would make sure they hobbled home . . . if they lived. A time before divorce became no-fault (though spouse-on-spouse murders were rampant – one reason for liberalizing divorce laws), a time when abortion wasn’t safe even if you had money . . . because it was pre-antibiotics time, too.

 

Don’t know about you, but I don’t want the US to roll back a century of history and hard-won victories for people who don’t necessarily fit the profile of the first American voters (white, male, over 21, and owners of property – in other words, like the GOP slate).

 

I’d like the US to move ahead, to become better than it is. There’s always room for self-improvement, right?

 

Who was that man who said something about not paying attention to the speck in the other person’s eye, but get rid of the log in your own eye? He was onto something.

 

To the GOP: Your own moral failings are blinding you. You’ve got to clear your vision.

 

Or not. If you go down, few will mourn. We’ll be too busy, building a nation where moral choices are made visible.

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Filed under GOP, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Morality, News, Politics

The Long Knives Are Out

Oh, those happier times when . . . happy? Are you joking?

 

Why did Newt Gingrich not see this coming? Was the swords’ reflection too bright? He thought it was the sun playing off, oh, I don’t know, DVDs of his latest debate tussle with Mitt Romney?

I’m speaking of the subject of this Washington Post article (playfully titled “The GOP empire strikes back”) that discusses the moves of the powerful, anti-Tea Party, GOP establishment to shoo Newt into a corner where he belongs so that Romney becomes the sole great white hope of the Republicans in their effort to oust Obama in November.

While I think Romney will have his earflaps handed to him in the fall, I couldn’t be more delighted that the knives are out for Newt.

The sad part is, why not before? Why let it get this far? Why allow Gingrich to scrape and claw at Romney in the death of a thousand cuts?

It’s been fun to watch, sort of. If it didn’t involve the future of the US, that is. And if it didn’t bring anguished howls of, “My kingdom for a GOP centrist!”.

Sorry. Those appear to have been cut down to extinction, as a play on the Australian “tall poppy” syndrome. Any Republican who shows signs of centrism, of humanity, of playing well with the Democrats, whoosh! Lopped off at the knees.

This conservative slugfest – where Ronald Reagan, were he still alive, would be regarded as a snot-nosed liberal – has astonished not just Americans. Our friends overseas are fascinated and frightened. What does this mean, they ask, that the GOP produced a slate of eight weirdos? Now it’s down to four. Or, as someone suggested the other day, two-point-five.

Romney, check. Gingrich, unfortunately check. The other two are Santorum and Paul, who threatens to be an applecart bouncer and run as a third-party candidate, which would be delightfully European of him. You would think that Paul, who dislikes all government except the part that deals with guns and missiles, would eschew corrupt European ways, but no.

So let’s look at why the GOP pundits (the word comes from Sanskrit, “learned man”) want to boot Gingrich out.

First (and last), Newt is unelectable. He just cannot beat Obama. Enough said. No matter how smart the man thinks he is, he’s not. Plus, while he may be a great debater, debate skills don’t run nations.

Second, remember those nasty ethics violations of Newt’s? The ones that cost him the highest Congressional fine in the history of the House? Yes, those. Gone and forgotten? No way. Newt’s like a hyena, protesting that it was a long time since he slashed at little Caroline.

Third, he has no playground skills. People in Congress with him despise the man. They don’t support him, why should anyone else?

Fourth, historian? Really? Scads of money from federal entities and he says they were for his historian skills? Really???

Fifth . . . this comes under the heading of “Life’s Not A Waffle, Life Is Linguini”. Remember when your brother poured syrup into one corner square of the waffle, and showed you it was contained, it didn’t leak toward every square? Yeah, well, life is linguini. Meaning every strand likely touches every other strand, and unethical behavior in one quarter indicates a man with an Ethics Quotient (EQ) of 50 in every other portion of his life.

Newt Exhibit A: Wife #1 ill with cancer, Newt wants divorce. After shtupping another woman, who becomes:

Newt Exhibit B: Wife #2 ill with MS, Newt wants divorce. After shtupping another woman, who becomes:

Newt Exhibit C: Wife #3, still healthy and Tiffany’s diamond-wearing, and do not tell me he’s not panting after other women because he’s, like, grown a conscience. Getouttahere! He’s 68 years old. He’s kept on a tight rein by Callista, who is as Machiavellian as he. He’s pretending to be a man who retains it is his trousers.

Although, as Yorkshiremen would say, “Newt’s all mouth and no trousers”, meaning he’s bombast without substance.

Five reasons are enough. Hell, the first one is enough. The long knives are coming out because Repub bigshots have had enough. They want Romney, and – like the coach who sends his unscathed quarterback unscathed into the fourth quarter after the rest of the team has slogged – they want him in tiptop shape. They cannot afford to let Gingrich toss mudballs and flick-knives at him.

Some of it might actually stick.

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Filed under Election 2012, Knives, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Politics

Oppression Is Bad . . . For Business

These days, not as many visitors are seeing this

 

A recent article in the London Guardian dealt with the drop in tourists to Egypt, which depends on them. Since Mubarak stepped down – and liberation rallies continued – Egypt has seen tourism plummet. The extent of the fall depends on who you read, but may be up to 50% what it was in 2010. Fewer tourists visit Cairo than other sites (no surprise, since protests tend to take place in the city), but even the Sphinx is now largely unseen.

Worries about safety are high on the list of what keeps tourists away, but there’s another aspect of the changing Egypt that has people declining to book rooms in the country’s hotels. That’s the shifting political landscape. According to the Guardian, “The first post-Mubarak parliamentary elections have swept political Islamists into office with an overwhelming majority; 70% of seats in the legislature look set to be occupied by the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafist al-Nour party. The latter has mooted the possibility of new restrictions on alcohol sales and bikinis on beaches, a move which many believe would deal an irrecoverable blow to Egypt’s reputation as a major tourist destination.”

Egypt without its beaches swarming with bikinied women from northern Europe is practically unthinkable. Except that it’s already happening. I don’t mean the bikini ban is on, but that fewer visitors mean fewer swimsuits of any sort. If the al-Nour party wants to see the end of the vibrant Egyptian economy, it need only visit a few seaside towns and look toward the water. Imagine that view undisturbed by Westerners in bathing suits, holding alcoholic drinks. Undisturbed by Westerners at all.

Empty beaches, empty coffers.

Some scoff at the notion that politics will drive away the good times. “’Maybe 20,000 out of 80 million Egyptians drink alcohol,’ said a party spokesperson recently, with evident irritation. ‘Forty million don’t have sanitary water. Do you think that, in parliament, I’ll busy myself with people who don’t have water, or people who get drunk?’”

Well, you might. Working on one issue doesn’t forestall working on the other. And if the price for rising within one’s party is compliance with hardcore conservatives, many men in office comply.

It’s not just hotels and beach bars that are affected by the drop in tourism. Anyone who supplies food and beverages is hurt, too. From chickens to milk, lettuce to lemons, farmers and middlemen have seen their sources of revenue dry up. Taxi drivers can no longer rely on fares. Shopkeepers lament the open purses of tourists, now disappeared. Hotels have laid off staff.

The world is watching Egypt. If it kowtows to the reactionaries’ wishes, the world will keep away. Tourists will hunt for other places, safer places along the easy-to-reach Mediterranean. It’s a big sea with plenty of coastline. Numerous countries have more relaxed attitudes toward beach attire and alcohol. There are lovely beaches in Croatia and Israel. And in Greece, which could certainly use an influx of euros, dollars, pounds and krone.

Tourists might even opt for the tried and true Italy. They just won’t book a cruise.

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Filed under al-Nour Party, Egyptian beaches, Egyptian tourism, Misogyny, News, Politics, Pyramids

How To Gain Legal Status In The US Without Really Trying

Better than the flag

 

It’s pretty clear to me that the rise of hordes of single men in China, India, and other Asian nations – even former SSRs like Armenia and Georgia – is going to place enormous pressure on first-world nations in a multiplicity of ways. The current long lines of people begging for visas to the US, Canada, European nations, Australia, New Zealand is going to look like empty streets at 3 AM compared to the impending crush of Asian citizens – especially women and girls – pleading to escape nations where gang warfare and the disappearance of females of all ages has become endemic.

But did you know there already exist immigration policies in the US which foreign citizens can use to do an end-run around the usual pleas?

One of them is the U-visa program. This program offers temporary legal status to illegal alien victims of abuse who help police investigate crimes, though often those crimes are committed against other nations’ citizens who are in the US illegally. The Los Angeles Times illustrates U-visa with the case of Norma, who was in deportation proceedings – and scheduled for a hearing that could terminate her stay in the US – when she alleged sexual abuse against her minor daughters by their father, also an illegal alien. With her testimony, the man was imprisoned for six years. Norma and her children were, through the U-visa program, given the right to stay in the US “long term” – the Times reporter did not detail the length of the term. Norma has since become a legal permanent resident. Her children are with her. In a few years, their father will be released from prison. He may be deported.

I’m generally a centrist, politically. I tend not to go to the seesaw extremes. But this U-visa program looks like an underhanded way to keep people in the US without their having to go through the channels and waiting that other people must do.

From the Times piece: “. . . with increasing awareness has come increasing demand. In the three years that the program has been in place, more than 30,000 applications have been filed and more than 25,600 have been approved. Soon after a visit to Los Angeles this month to promote the program, immigration officials announced that all 10,000 available U-visas had been issued for the fiscal year, which ends Friday.  ‘We can see the volume already. At some point it’s going to be an issue,’ said Betty Song, an attorney with the Asian Pacific American Legal Center in Los Angeles.  ‘I don’t know what purpose the cap serves, because if people are eligible, they are eligible.’

Wait. These people are not supposed to be in the US at all. The cap that Song refers to should not even exist.

I like France. I’d love to live there. I’m also fond of Denmark, a beautiful little nation with a wonderful, collaborative feel. Offered an apartment in Copenhagen, I’d say yes.

But if I visited Denmark or France and overstayed my visa – or had myself smuggled in with no visa at all – either country would be well within its rights to demand that I leave, even if I could testify to another person’s crimes. Giving me legal status would be, in their eyes, simply rewarding bad behavior.

Rewarding bad behavior is what the US is doing.

Did Norma’s children endure molestation and rape? Yes. Do they deserve therapy and kindness? Yes. Does their mother’s testimony against their father entitle them, or their mother, to years in the US?  No. Why should it? What’s the connection? Why are we granting them status ahead of people who go through the effort of persuading the US that their presence here will benefit all of us?

Another immigration program, called EB-5, involves money, quite a bit of it. At least $500,000, to be precise. This practically unknown program grants foreign citizens US visas, fast-tracking them toward citizenship, on the basis of their investing in the US.

They buy their way in.

Again, the Los Angeles Times: “David Joyce marched his way to the front of the U.S. immigration line using his pocketbook, sinking half a million dollars into a Vermont ski resort. The British citizen had spent years in a futile effort to secure green cards for himself, his wife and their 9-year-old son so they could relocate to sunny Florida. Then, a fellow emigré tipped him off to a little-known federal program that helps foreigners gain permanent U.S. residency by investing in American businesses. ‘In six months, we had our green cards,’ said Joyce, 51. ‘Considering everything we’ve been through, this was easy.’ Joyce is one of thousands of foreigners speeding through the U.S. immigration labyrinth — for a price.”

The money is supposed to be invested in approved projects, namely, companies/firms/start-ups that will need at least 10 employees, located in “a rural area or a community with a high unemployment rate”. Whether those projects are legitimate, or actually get off the ground, is questionable, and not particularly well-followed.  Communities used for EB-5 projects have included places in California, Florida, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas and Vermont, often with enterprises whose owners have had problems gaining bank financing.

The Times: “U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the federal agency that administers the program, can’t say how many net new jobs have been created. Under USCIS rules, the projects don’t even have to hire 10 workers. Instead, an investor’s money can be used to preserve 10 jobs that economic models show, and the government concludes, would otherwise disappear without such funding. The USCIS, by its own admission, has failed to closely track the flow of EB-5 money, how the projects are being sold to investors or whether the projects were successful. Instead, its focus has been on making sure jobs are created — but not that the jobs will last.”

Some would-be immigrants have faced deportation when their projects fell through or didn’t meet the guidelines. Some have lost their entire half-million-dollar investment.

Yet for wealthy people overseas – especially the Chinese, with new riches, a desire to see their children in American schools, and a concern over the impending catastrophic rise in the population of young men, with a resulting increase in violence and lawlessness – the EB-5 program, capped at 10,000,  is a quick path toward citizenship, nearly as fast as marrying a US citizen to gain a green card. The investor doesn’t need to work in the business. He doesn’t even need to visit it.

Who benefits? Critics charge that foreign investors are benefiting much more than the US, and that it is sordid to sell fast-tracking toward US citizenship, especially in an absence of any investigation into fitness to be a citizen. One could be a drug-dealer in China, for example, or traffic children for slavery and enforced prostitution, and, with $500,000, buy into the EB-5 program and settle here.

Near your children.

I don’t know what the solution is in protecting US citizenship from abuse, but I believe we can do better than EB-5 and U-visa.

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Filed under Activism, China, EB-5, Family, Health, Immigration, India, Law, News, Politics, U-visa

Afghan Women Write Their Lives

Afghan women in burqas

 

Afghanistan is, according to a survey of the world’s nations, the most dangerous country in the world for women. Because women there have few rights (including, in many places, the right to even leave their home without a male relative chaperoning – however, the male relative can be a young son), and live in a society indifferent or hostile to their health, education and well-being, the pain Afghan women suffer is constant and intense.

 

If they wish to write about their perceptions, how do they even start? Where is the outlet?

 

There is one . . . online. A recent NYTimes story explored the Afghan Women’s Writing Project, whose 75 participants live in almost every part of the country. They write whatever they want – personal perspectives, political commentaries, poetry, family stories – with the assurance that an assortment of female activists and their own fellow writers will mentor them. There are three rules: writers must be female, live in Afghanistan, and contribute at least one piece per month.

 

They must be secret to avoid detection from officials and, in many cases, from their own families. Many use computers at an internet center in Kabul. Most use false names, common first names, or demand total anonymity.

 

Yet they write, and in writing unburden themselves and give others a glimpse into lives of restriction: how they learn, their work at home, the mandated burqa, whom they are expected to marry. Like Holocaust writers in concentration camps, sometimes their writing is about the wonders of nature, all the world seen in a blade of grass. No matter the subject, that they write at all is enormously important, a form of quiet activism in the face of afflictions no Afghan man is expected to suffer, especially when the planned pullout of foreign troops will take place in three years.

 

I wish that Afghanistan’s attitude toward women were the sole example of such benighted oppression in Asia. Unfortunately, in a few years it is likely to be the model. It will be imitated in India and China as the number of their women grows smaller and the number – and power – of men rises to heretofore unseen levels. Where women are regarded as chattel to be hoarded and hidden, they will need “protection” so that their services belong to one, perhaps two, men. Where they are protected from the outside world, their access to it tumbles. No longer are they part of society, or even part of female society, since female society – to paraphrase the infamous and unhappy words of Margaret Thatcher – will cease to exist. There will only be small numbers of women and girls held within families or gangs.

 

I wish it weren’t so, but I’m afraid within 20 years it will inevitably come to pass that, in reworking social systems so that men are benefitted – to the cost of women and children — even more than their current levels, China and India will look west toward Afghanistan for their inspiration.

 

Let’s hope the Women’s Writing Project will spill beyond Afghan borders.

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Filed under Activism, Afghanistan, Burqa, China, Domestic terrorism, Family, Gendercide, India, Law, Misogyny, Politics, Writing

Irony: Breaking The Law To Protest

English Defence League members -- but why hide their identity?

The extreme right-wing English Defence League (EDL) held a “protest” gathering recently on the streets of East London, presumably to gather more support, as effective police work prevented them from going far. Despite bottles and firecrackers being thrown at officers, the metropolitan riot police – admirably restrained and controlled, unlike scenes where they have “kettled” innocently marching students (see my earlier post on the increasingly worrisome practice of kettling) – held the EDL within set boundaries and arrested at least 16 people for breaking the law, including assaults on officers.

The most vivid example, however, of law-breaking came with the declaration by EDL leader Tommy Lennon that he had broken the conditions of his bail in order to be present. Lennon, who was heavily disguised in a beard and hat – in fact, he was dressed remarkably like an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man, which was perhaps his intent – took pride in the fact that he’d thumbed his nose at the law which had dared to set limits on his behavior.

Is there anything more discouraging than witnessing an adult who fails to act like one? Somewhere along the line, Lennon failed to learn that the “naughty stair” is simply a metaphor for the consequences that arise when bad behavior emerges from someone old enough to be prosecuted.

I’m not singling out the EDL alone (though its members need to rethink their attitudes toward mature behavior) – the same non-recognition of healthy limits has been demonstrated in the UK by: rioters and looters in various English towns; News International phone hackers and those who approved the hacking (and, since we now learn that former Prime Minister Tony Blair is godfather to one of NI mogul Rupert Murdoch’s daughters, it’s safe to wonder where the buck actually stopped); and English bankers and money-marketeers who wedged their country – and the US – into a financial corner.

I’m willing to bet that the nannies they hire are given leave to employ the naughty stair or time-outs for the privileged offspring those same nannies are paid to rear.

The problem is, when chronological adults act up, act out, too seldom are their friends and colleagues willing to say “enough”. It’s only when the behavior becomes egregious that brakes are applied – by the law. Suddenly, instead of facing the “don’t do that” of friends and family, people face legal sanctions.

By that time, they’re often too far down the road of self-congratulation at having gotten away with their behavior to stop. It’s a dead shock when they abruptly need to hire legal representation, or face – as Lennon will – more sanctions and possible jail time.

If only they’d employed, earlier, the “naughty stair” in their mind.

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Filed under Domestic terrorism, England, Family, Law, Murdoch, News, Politics, UK, Violence