This article came out a few days ago, but didn’t want to neglect to put it up, as it illustrates an important aspect of the radical Muslim mindset towards women. From Phyllis Chesler and Nancy H. Kobrin at FrontPage:
“We never thought the high commander of the U.S. would leave 50,000 of his citizens in both towers to face the horrors by themselves when they most needed him because he thought listening to a child [this was poorly translated from the Arabic as it had specified a female child] discussing her goat and its ramming was more important than paying attention to planes and their ramming of the skyscrapers which gave us three times the time to execute the operation, thanks be to God.”
Again, he is not telling the truth. Nothing could have stopped the planes.
But now, he gives himself away, both culturally and autobiographically. Osama is scornful, contemptuous–heartbroken? — because President Bush dared to patiently listen to a “little girl” for many minutes when, damn it, he should have been paying attention to what he, Osama, had just done: crash two planes into the Twin Towers and another plane into the Pentagon.
Incredibly, Osama seems to be competing with a little girl for President Bush’s attention. Where Osama comes from, girls (and women) simply do not count. Only grown men and boys do. It is an insult that President Bush does not immediately pay attention to Osama. Worse: Perhaps President Bush’s quiet and visible commitment to literacy for girls as well as boys actually enrages Osama. Why do girls need an education anyway? Or, (sorry Michael Moore), is Osama somehow undone by President Bush’s ability to contain his emotions in order not to frighten the classroom children?
In Osama’s world, grown men are allowed to become emotionally “hysterical;” the fact that this may frighten, even traumatize children, does not matter. (Think of the Islamic Arab street and the “hysterical” quality of the funerals of homicidal suicide bombers, replete with fully armed, masked men and ululating, veiled women.) Arab Muslim adults do not have to contain their emotions and remain calm; they can act out both privately and publicly, and in front of the children….
More importantly: Osama’s mother, Hamida, was a Syrian whose father gave her to Mohammed bin Laden as part of a business deal. Hamida was known as “Al Abeda,” (“the slave.)” But, she was also known for being outspoken and western. (She liked designer pants and suits by Chanel). Poor Hamida was also the fourth wife–an unlucky position since Mohammed bin Laden engaged in the convenient practice of divorcing his fourth wife so he could remarry. (Muslims can only have four legal wives). In addition, Mohammed bin Laden punished Hamida by permanently exiling her to another city. He did so when Osama was not yet two years old. He was brought up by a stepmother, Mohammed’s first wife, Al-Khalifa.
Thus, Osama not only lost his mother at a very young age. He also had to live with her devalued status as a woman, a “slave,” a divorced wife, and as an admirer of western couture. Osama had to overcome not only the “shame” that all Arab Muslim men unconsciously suffer, namely, being of (devalued) woman born; he also had to overcome the shame of being abandoned by a divorced, “slave,” and pro-western mother.
Are we saying that Osama’s tape can be reduced entirely to autobiographical ravings? No. But we cannot afford to neglect this dimension. Focusing precisely on such childhood and cultural variables will be crucial in any attempt to bring democracy to this region.
The overall status of women, as well as specific practices such as polygamy, female illiteracy, veiling, stonings to death, and Arab honor killings all shape Arab Muslim psychology and national character. It is important that we pay attention to such Arab and Muslim cultural values in order to understand how these values have affected someone like Osama bin Laden –and there’s more like him where he came from.