Female Genital Mutilation, Islam and Leftist Silence
My recent NewsReal blog on Naomi Wolf and female genital mutilation (FGM) – also posted at Frontpagemag.com and Jihadwatch.org — has triggered a heated debate in the blogs’ comments sections on all three sites. The key arguments in these three sections personify some of the Left’s key tactics in its romance with tyranny and terror. It is crucial to shed light on these arguments in order to crystallize the malice, dishonesty and heartlessness which lie at the center of the leftist agenda. It also helps strengthen our efforts to fight on behalf of tyranny’s victims, which, in this case, are the hundreds of thousands of young girls who face the barbarity of female genital mutilation yearly around the world.
The recent controversy surrounds a Frontpage interview I did with Ines Laufer, an anti-FGM activist. Along with Lucy Mashua, a Kenyan victim of FGM, she is presently leading a new campaign, sponsoredgirl.com, to protect girls from this barbarity.
In my NewsReal blog, I raised the question of whether Naomi Wolf, who postures as a feminist concerned with women’s rights, will be at all interested in joining Laufer’s and Mashua’s campaign. The issue at stake here is that leftist feminists pretend they care about women, but when it comes to women who suffer under adversary cultures, they refuse to act, since doing so will legitimize their own societies which they despise and work to destroy. Thus, millions of women under Islamic gender apartheid have been abandoned by leftist feminists, whose devotions lie with their anti-Western and anti-American faiths. The scholar and true feminist Phyllis Chesler has documented this phenomenon powerfully in her book The Death of Feminism.
To stress the main essence of this problem regarding Wolf and the hypocrites in her “feminist” camp, I asked in my blog:
“Will Naomi Wolf join the battle? For instance, will she denounce the Islamic theology and teachings that lead to the mutilation of Muslim girls in Islamic countries?”
My critics who seek to delegitimize my main point have now come forward and think they are scoring a powerful blow against me by, typically, pointing out that FGM is not exclusively Muslim. This is a key traditional tactic of the Left. In order to whitewash the barbarity of adversary cultures, they consistently exonerate it by pointing out that some kind of injustice exists somewhere else — and, especially, of course, how it exists in our own society and civilization.
Thus, some of the critics revel in how Lucy Semiyan Mashua, who is leading the new campaign against FGM, is from Kenya and comes from the Massai, a Christian African tribe. This is how their mental gymnastics work: FGM is not just an Islamic practice, so we can’t say anything critical about Islam when it is connected to FGM. This way we can’t say that anything is really better than anything else, and we especially can’t say that our civilization is better than Islam’s or that we have anything to teach Islamic societies.
This kind of thinking deliberately incapacitates any action that could be implemented on behalf of Islam’s victims. If you try to do something on behalf of the victims, which begins with honesty about who is perpetrating the crime and why, the critics come forward and say: “Hey, but it isn’t just Muslims that do it.” Then the critics feel really good about themselves for pointing this out and, yes, go home and do nothing about the subject at hand. So in the case of FGM, the leftist feels self-satisfied that he’s pointed out that it’s not just Islam that does it, he engages in no action to help the victims and the mutilation of girls under Islam continues.
Naturally, Muslims are not the only ones who perpetrate FGM. Of course, FGM is practised outside of Islam, including under non-Islamic African tribal cultures. I never said anywhere that FGM is only practiced by Muslims. But the key issue here is that Muslims are the principal religious group that practices this sexual violence against women. And the reality is that if you are a victim of FGM, then the chances are very high that you live in a Muslim household and in a Muslim culture.
Now within the context of Islamic FGM, the barbarity is kept alive and legitimized by Islamic theology. This is the case in Egypt, where this crime against girls is waged on a massive scale. The Egyptian government banned FGM in 1996, but an Egyptian court overturned the ban in July 1997 because of the ferocious uprising of the Islamic clerics, who fervently pointed to Islamic teachings to re-implement this war against women’s sexuality. The Muslim mutilators pointed to traditional Islamic teachings that sanction FGM, which include the Prophet Muhammad’s instruction that circumcising girls is “a preservation of honor for women.” Also, a legal manual of the Shafi’i school of Islamic jurisprudence, ‘Umdat al-Salik, which is endorsed by Al-Azhar University of Cairo — the oldest and most prestigious university in the Islamic world — states that circumcision is obligatory for both boys and girls.
Keeping FGM institutionalized also helps the Islamic mutilators keep the structure of Islamic gender apartheid in place. Keeping FGM legitimized and at work is one of the most effective means of keeping women subjugated and caged. After all, the strategy behind amputating the clitoris is clearly to kill the woman’s sexual desire and pleasure, which, in this diseased misogynist mindset, reduces the chances that she will ever toy with the notions of autonomy, equality and self-determination.
Question: How can we possibly help Egyptian girls, and other girls who are targeted for FGM under Islam, if we do not confront the philosophy behind the institutionalization of this violence? You cannot save Muslim girls from FGM without crystallizing what it is within the religion that gives fertile soil and legitimization to FGM. The way to save human beings from this violence is to isolate those teachings and to have them nullified – and this involves confronting certain Islamic teachings.
Nowhere am I saying that we don’t work against FGM in non-Muslim environments. We do that too. We do it all. But we can’t save the victims of Islamic mutilation if we are not honest about the Islamic impulses for that mutilation.
So the main point of my Newsreal blog, where I asked whether Naomi Wolf would join the battle against FGM, was to point out the hypocrisy of the Left’s silence on this matter. It’s a silence that stems from the fact that leftists like Wolf know that admitting the inferiority of an adversarial culture will legitimize Western civilization, a recognition that they cannot make without risking their entire identities as social critics. That’s why the leftist forces in our society do their best to excuse FGM with the tired old mantra: it’s not only Muslims that do it – as if inaction to save human beings from evil is somehow justified because a sin might exist somewhere else.
What a revolting image: the smug leftist turning his or her back on the victims of Islamic FGM because a non-Muslim somewhere perpetrated FGM. How does this self-satisfied inhumanity save the Muslim girls who will be mutilated in the future? How does it help the non-Muslim girls?
Hypothetical question: if we could have saved the Jewish inmates from Auschwitz before they were murdered, would it have been right to abort the rescue operation (which would have involved an honesty about Nazi doctrine) upon discovering that someone, somewhere, in some other place, said or did something anti-Semitic? Hey, it’s not just the Nazis that do it. Would that have sufficed to justify not lifting a hand to rescue Auschwitz’s inmates?
Some other connected tactics surface in the debate in the comments sections on my blog. One critic thinks he is making a big point by stating that Morocco, one of the countries that Wolf visited during her political pilgrimage, does not practice FGM. But whatever the extent to which FGM is practiced or not in Morocco, the point is that it is practiced in Egypt and Jordan – where Wolf visited and says she found a vibrant sexuality lurking under the veil.
Another critic thinks she has scored a knockout blow against me by revealing that she did a Google search and found that Wolf has written about FGM. The issue is not whether Wolf has written about FGM. The issue is whether she has condemned the societies and cultures within which it is practiced, and whether she has done so on the premise that our society is more humane and has something to teach those societies and cultures. She has not. In The Beauty Myth, for instance, Wolf makes a critique of FGM only in passing, with a “everyone is guilty” theme that ends up comparing FGM with modern-day breast surgery.
The core issue is that Wolf does not voice her moral indignation against Islamic FGM and the Islamic theology that serves as its fertile soil. She does not condemn African tribal FGM for its African tribal roots, but in the context of how a universal misogyny is somehow responsible.
Thus, in the Islamic context, for instance, it is clear that someone like Wolf will never act, because protecting little girls’ genitals is less important for her than protecting herself from the charge of being Islamophobic. Her anti-Americanism, ultimately, has to be prioritized in a sacred and protected place.
In essence, because of Naomi Wolf and her like-minded feminist comrades, here is the situation: if you are a victimized girl being abused in a Muslim culture, then you have the unfortunate distinction of being part of a group that the West and FGM activists have difficulty helping, because the lib-Left has made sure that the Muslim culture and religion can never be criticized and, therefore, that its victims can never be protected or saved.
This is just another chapter of a long, dark and grotesque story – the story of the Left, with its hands drenched in human blood, sacrificing human beings on the altar of utopian ideals.
[Editors’ note: Read more about the Left’ complicity in Islamic gender apartheid in Jamie Glazov’s new book, United in Hate: The Left’s Romance with Tyranny and Terror]