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Stop Assuming They Think Like Adults

A recent fight within the UK and between that nation and Turkey – a country that seeks admittance to the EU, even though only the small portion of it actually belongs in Europe; the majority is in Asia – has to do with teenage girls from Muslim families. Three of them left the UK the other day. The eldest had stolen her older sister’s passport. The UK does not keep track of who leaves the country. Although the rules state that minors may leave only when accompanied by a parent, the girls (one aged 16, the other two 15) were able to fly to Turkey all by themselves.

Why were they going? To cross Turkey into Syria, there to become the latest in a series of adolescent girls scammed and persuaded to become “jihadi brides”.

It appears now that they have entered Syria, despite their parents’ pleas and the Foreign Service tracking. Turkey, blamed for facilitating both female and male Isis devotees’ border crossing, has in turn become rather stroppy itself, complaining that the UK lost three days in informing Turkish officials of the girls’ intention.

Even the girls’ school has had to defend itself from finger-pointing, noting that it does not permit extremist doctrines and strives to teach its students to accept others. The three girls, it says, were not radicalized on its grounds.

That’s probably true. There are too many places online to read radical Islamist philosophy – who needs a brick-and-mortar school?

The parents, rather than accepting responsibility for teaching their daughters that what Muslim men want is more important than the desires of Muslim women, wants the UK to keep track of exits as well as entries. Not a bad idea.

The girls’ aim is to marry terrorists and murderers. Not the actions of sane, healthy women. And even Isis points out that jihadi brides must prepare to be jihadi widows – which means they will in turn be traded off, potentially sold into sexual enslavement, and almost certainly will die (of beatings, suicide, complications of pregnancy and childbirth) in Syria, probably within five years. The parents will never see their daughters again.

There may be good reasons for keeping them from the UK, as escapees from Isis have been indoctrinated in terrorism. Even when their primary role has been support and childbearing, creating more children to be molded into mini-terrorists.

But now comes the argument in The Guardian that the UK should let its adolescents leave because, well, look, they’ve made their decisions. Let them lie in it. Don’t stop them, even if they’re under 18 years old and legally minors to be protected. We’re better off without them. They want to support brutal and murderous regimes? Fine. They’re old enough to know better.

Except they’re not.

What that Guardian writer fails to understand is that although adolescents may look mature, inside they’re still growing. They certainly aren’t mature when it comes to childbearing, which is hugely more risky for teenagers than for women over 20. Even sex is risky, since their bodies have not finished developing. An immature vagina should not be entered by anyone’s engorged penis, including that of a jihadi “husband”.

And we have evidence that inside these girls’ brains, there is a whole lot of re-assembly going on. Dr. Jay Giedd of the US National Institutes of Health, among others, is engaged in longitudinal research on brain development. What he has found through fMRI examination of healthy people is that teenagers’ brains are entirely different from those of adults. The area really should be cordoned off with “Caution: Undergoing Construction” tape. Teens literally cannot think the way grown-ups do, and it’s wrong to blame them when they don’t.

As Giedd has said, “It’s sort of unfair to expect them to have adult levels of organizational skills or decision-making before their brains are finished being built.” Meaning, just because a brain has acquired adult size in terms of its weight does not mean it’s ready for full and complete use. That’s like saying a house that’s just been put under roof — meaning the slates or shingles are attached – is ready to be moved into. Wait a minute. What about walls? Plumbing? Electrical wiring, floor finishes, paint, all the other things we expect of a house? Not there! Well, it’s not freakin’ done, then, is it. Back to work!

No one in their right mind leaves to support Isis. We don’t see long lines of mature women ready to give up their freedom and families, do we? These girls are just the latest in a series from different Western countries who have been groomed and seduced online, who wish to exchange a fairly restrictive family existence for an entirely restrictive and ultimately painful and fatal one, while imagining they are more holy for doing what terrorists bid them do.

Prime Minister David Cameron has urged that more attention be paid to online radicalization by people promoting the “poisonous ideology” of terrorism, and Europol is enhancing cooperation among agencies to connect the dots between extremist recruiters and those who finance their activities.

Families need to make their children’s passports unobtainable. In a deposit box or held by a non-Muslim friend or colleague. In addition, they must have serious chats with their children in order to teach them of the risks of extremism. Also, the UK ought to be keeping track of the people who leave its shores, especially where they look young.

Because kids and adolescents do not, cannot, think like adults.

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You Don’t Know Jack About Isis

Their flag flying over . . . where?

Whatever it’s called – Isis, Isil, Islamic State – the men running this campaign of brutality are, according to them, reestablishing a caliphate that went out of business hundreds of years ago. They allege they follow the rules of Islam. Thus any apostates they capture deserve only the worst: beheading, burning alive, torture, sale as sexual slaves, forced “marriages” and resale to the highest bidder – sexual torture, in other words.

We’ve seen the reports. Hopefully have not watched the videos, since the mind cannot blank those images.

Just in case you’ve actually believed the spin, remember that every single week we find out more about the atrocities these men commit.

And how some non-Muslim people in the West are aiding them with money.

The Isis men started out making money through ransom paid for captives. They moved on to oil – smuggled and sold. And drugs. A great deal of heroin from Afghanistan is funneled through Isis coffers. Every heroin addict is financing brutality against innocent people.

Now it’s selling on the loot they retrieve from the Christian and Muslim buildings they tear down. The teardowns are carefully orchestrated. A man who knows antiquities and their value first organizes the removal of valuable artifacts. Only then is the building demolished. The treasures are sorted, catalogued, and offered for sale through intermediaries. Often, their buyers are wealthy collectors in Europe and the Americas. People who persuade themselves they’re saving irreplaceable artifacts are in fact helping Isis torture progress through the Middle East and now in North Africa. In Libya, they close in on Europe with plans to invade across the Mediterranean.

Crete is only 200 sea miles away. If Isis were to reach the northernmost part of Tunisia, Sicily is a hop of less than 100 miles.

The European buyers of looted artifacts are essentially financing threats to other Europeans.

The sale of antiquities is “clean”. A distinct contrast to the blood and pain that accompanies another new method of getting money: harvesting organs from captured, living people.

According to the Express, “Some 10,000 black market operations involving human organs take place each year across the globe – more than one an hour. Desperate patients will pay gangs more than $200,000 (nearly £128,000) for a kidney, WHO concluded.” This is especially true in nations like China where organ donation is uncommon.

The victims are not donors. They do not give consent. They are simply drugged, pushed into surgery, and slashed. Some do not survive. They are not meant to survive.

Unlike the novel and film Never Let Me Go – where children are brought up in a dystopian future as intended shells for their genetically matched organs, taken one by one – Isis demands money now. Now, now, now. Doctors who refuse to commit these crimes are themselves murdered.

This is brutality with no religious stamp.

Captured Isis fighters have indicated they were drugged with cocaine and hallucinogenics in order to fling themselves into battle without a care. That may be true.

What is also true is that after battle, the men of Isis stoke themselves up to brutalize women and children. This is the fate worse than death, being abused by a “husband” or captor high on liquor and Viagra. Who sees a frightened girl (as young as eight years old, according to escaped women) as someone to attack over and over. The brutality of their assaults has been viewed by doctors. Wounds, torn tissues, fistulas (which can be repaired only through surgery – denied under Isis, of course), unbearable pain.

This is Islamic behavior? No.

When an Isis man tires of his “bride”, he simply sells her on to another man. While girls and women cower, fearing the next man will be even more brutal. Suicides among captured girls and women are common. In killing themselves, they avoid beatings, torture, rape and sexual trafficking. The selling of sexual slaves is not just among Isis men, but also to local businessmen.

The girls who left European families to join jihad, like these, find they are not given the glorified role they assumed. They are quickly forced to marry, often become pregnant (with all the attendant risks for teenagers), and are cast aside. Even their Facebook accounts are hijacked. They disappear and may by now be dead. Or the punching bag for another man.

Meanwhile, very few escape Isis. Those who are caught are murdered. The traumatized few who make it to safety bear witness. We know very little about the brutal men who drive stolen trucks through Muslim-majority countries. That they resemble Nazis and the SS is patently true. Nazis with mobile phones and internet.

Imagine Hermann Goering or Reinhard Heydrich with modern technology. Gestapo men would have gotten their orders as they ran. The Holocaust machinery would have been assembled much more quickly. Millions would have died in a shorter time. Meanwhile, they would have been financed through sales of resources, smuggled drugs, snatched organs, stolen artifacts. (The Nazis did get money through many of those means, but in a slower time.)

In Isis, that’s what confronts the world.

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Paging Dr. Kegel

 

The man who made surgery unnecessary

 

Despair.

 

That’s the reaction I had when reading this article on young women opting for surgery to obtain what are termed “designer vaginas”.

 

Lest you think we’re confusing our V-words, no. They’re not attaching rings or gems to their vulvas (the part that can be seen), they’re paying surgeons to cut-and-stitch their birth canals.

 

And why? Well, porn, for one. They – or their partners – expect a certain experience that imaginary, pixelated characters presume to have. In other words, fiction. So if their own friction doesn’t live up to the low standards of their preferred fiction, well, off to the GYN to have that little “problem” resolved.

 

Of course it’s the woman who submits to surgery. Naturally. Never mind that surgery is supposed to be healing by way of a knife, and there’s no healing performed here because, well, there’s no disease or injury.

 

The mind boggles.

 

So she has her expensive surgery. She risks complications from the anesthesia, recovery, the many nasty germs that float through hospitals, post-surgical infection, and, let’s face it, from the potential mistakes of the surgeon himself. I say him, could be her, but most Western surgeons are male.

 

There she is, form-fitting and juuuussssst right. Maybe. She could end up dead from septicemia, or merely wounded and requiring hospitalization and perhaps months of recovery.

 

There has to be an easier way.

 

There is. Ta-daaah! Enter Arnold Kegel, MD, who in the 20th century designed a series of exercises so simple and discreet they can be done on public transportation, in meetings, even while watching TV with the family. Although Kegel – the man – designed Kegels – the exercises – in order to help women who had trouble with bladder control (they’re great for that, too), he soon found his patients reporting an odd side effect: sex with their husbands felt better, and the men were ecstatic.

 

Well, duh. What the exercise does is help the pelvic floor muscles become more elastic, stronger, tighter. It would be strange if that didn’t improve vaginal intercourse.

 

Kegel exercises are recommended to women of all ages. (Maybe the people choosing surgery missed that day in sex education class?)

 

So why pay thousands of dollars and run the risks of surgery when, in just a few minutes a day, you can build yourself a snappier little birth canal for free?

 

In any case, surgeons who do gynecological reconstruction have a far greater task ahead of them, one they could begin on immediately, both paid and volunteer, and that’s repairing the ravages of FGM (female genital mutilation), which is not only long-term torture in terms of sex, but also impairs a person’s ability to give birth and survive it.

 

Some surgeons, especially in France, have begun this work. It is like a miracle to people who for years have paid a very heavy price for their society’s inhumanity.

 

But there are hundreds of thousands – likely millions – of people who currently have no access to such surgeons. In Egypt, over 90% of female adults are survivors of knives that cut away their clitorises, inner lips, and sometimes the outer lips of their vulvas, as well.

 

While numbers in Egypt are very high – FGM started there in the time of the pharaohs, and Islam has yet to name it accurately as a pre-Muhammad cultural practice, thus pagan and forbidden – other nations have shockingly high percentages of mutilated people, too. Horribly, the practice continues, so that attacks on little girls in many Muslim families are regarded as just a part of growing up. (Note: Some of those little girls do not survive the assault. They die from blood loss, shock and trauma, and, days later, fevered and hallucinating from advanced septicemia.)

 

So instead of doing useless designer surgery, gynecologists, how about employing your skills to heal? Educate your colleagues, get together and devote one morning per month – per week – to FGM survivors, and know that you’re not just making life better . . . you’re making life bearable.

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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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