Phyllis Chesler: Woman of Fear

Following is an article, word-for-word by ex-feminist Phyllis Chesler, which she published today. All footnotes are mine. I am nothing less than astonished at how a woman, whom I once counted among my heroes (notably for her book, Women and Madness) has fallen so far into a fear that has begotten the worst of racism, xenophobia and saddeningly anti-feminist beliefs.

On that note, ENJOY!

* * *

I’m your average iconoclast. I try to think for myself, I am no party loyalist, I care deeply about seemingly opposite issues and about very diverse kinds of people[1], I’ve been burned by ideolologues[2] and am wary of party lines, both left and right.

Thus, there are things I like and dislike about both Presidential tickets. I do not like it one bit that Senator McCain voted not once but twice against the Violence Against Women Act; I despair over this and over his party’s opposition to abortion. I find Sarah Palin bright, zesty, charming, and admirably tough-and yet her anti-abortion stance and deep silence, at least so far, about other equality-for-women issues pains me as does her lack of experience on the national and international stage[3].

On the other hand: I do not like the people whom Senator Obama has chosen to work with and who his supporters, well hidden by the mainstream media, really are: the Chicago political machine, Tony Rezko, Weatherman-turned-educational philanthropist, Bill Ayers, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, the Nation of Islam, alleged Saudi funders[4], George Soros, lawyers who represent CAIR, etc. I don’t like it when Obama denies his connections, pretends he is a Cosmic Change Artist[5], when he is merely… an exceptionally charismatic and hard-working politician, very much in touch with the media, music, and internet of his generation[6].

I like the idea of electing an African-American President[7]. As a proud veteran of the 1960s civil rights movement, it thrills me. Obama certainly looks African-American[8] and in one way he is more of an African-American than most[9]. But, now you see it, now you don’t. Obama is the biological son of a Kenyan national and the adoptive son of an Indonesian national, both of whom were Muslims[10]. This ancestry is no crime[11], it is, rather, quite timely and very interesting, and Obama could have talked about how great America is, compared to the Islamic world, in terms of giving its’ citizens freedom of religious choice. But he didn’t do that[12].

Instead, he presented himself as a very solid “black” Christian, (no nuance here)[13], thus downplaying the fact that his biological father did not come over in chains on a slave ship four hundred+ years ago but left Africa in the mid-twentieth century for a brief American sojourn and then returned home for good. Obama is not an African-American in the usual sense-he is really bi-racial[14]. Obama’s mother was a white American woman. He has not lied about this or hidden it but it sure has gotten lost[15]. Obama is not running as a bi-racial American (that too would be interesting, a mind-stretcher), but as an African-American[16].

But, in a sense, Obama’s whole African-American “shtik” is also somewhat deceptive. Obama is truly his mother’s son. Like her, he is an anthropologist in the Ivy Leagues, peering in, fitting in, being hoisted on Ivy League liberal shoulders because, as it turns out, the stranger who came to dinner is really one of them, a first-class member of this super-elite tribe[17]. Obama turned out to be their leader and he has used his Chicago political machine and his Kenyan genes to maximum advantage.

Yeah, and even though he struts his stuff like Denzel Washington and has excited a scary base of True Believers, Obama’s cute as hell and I can’t help but like his anti-sexist, anti-racist language[18], his soaring rhetoric and dreams which, now that I’ve lived long enough, fear[19] can never put into practice, at least not right away, not all at once. (He may not know this yet). His VP choice, insider[20] Joe Biden, did sponsor the Violence Against Women Act and remains staunchly pro-abortion. As I said: I care about these issues.[21]

Now, as for Senator John McCain: I find him one amazingly genial warrior. He comes across as likable, experienced, heroic. I like how he sounds about Israel-and about Iran and Al-Qaeda[22]. He and Palin “get”[23] the jihadic-terrorist-nuclear threat better than their opponents do. I admit it, I’ve had it with those who believe that we can and must sit down, lie down, get down with intractable enemies, that there is still time to do so.[24]

I think we’re running out of time. And I don’t think that we can use traditional diplomacy with groups like Hezbollah, Hamas, or Al-Qaeda[25]. It won’t work. And, just as Europe has been Islamified[26], (and in a bad way), so, too, does civilian America stand at risk of being attacked again….and again; seeing its intelligentsia and its mainstream media turn more and more people against their own country[27], so much so that they don’t notice being taken over by “soft jihad.” Saudi funded pro-Islamist conferences are proliferating at our universities. American publishers, including Random House, are refusing to publish the truth about Islam lest their offices be bombed and their staffs attacked[28]. Horrifyingly, they are not wrong. The potential London publisher of The Jewel of Medina, whose publication Random house canceled, has just had his London home fire-bombed; he himself is now under police protection. He has temporarily suspended publication.

Just as I like the idea of having an African-American president-well, I would have liked the idea of having a female President too. Obama refused to offer even the Vice Presidential spot to Senator Clinton[29]. McCain, improbably, offered it to a firecracker of a newcomer, an outdoorswoman, and sometime athlete. Palin is the living embodiment of what some feminists once yearned for, (“Having it All”), but pronounced an impossible dream for most women, for mothers especially, and for the mothers of young children-even more so. But here’s Sarah, a living legend[30].

No, I do not think that Palin is really Dick Cheney or that she and McCain will usher in a new Dark Atwoodian Dystopia. And no, I do not think that Obama is a Manchurian candidate who will usher in the Islamic Kingdom of the United States.

But who will I vote for? Who will you vote for? In this most important election, we cannot afford to throw our votes away. Whatever will we do?[31]

NEWSFLASH! First, I just looked at my copy of The Weekly Standard and discovered-to my amazement and pleasure-that there is an article in it by none other than Fred Barnes titled “The Warrior and the Priest.” Let us say that we are on a wave-length but have not written the same article[32].

Second, please read the Comment by MJEquality which I posted because in it she argues that Biden is not all that pro-abortion[33]. Thus, in addition to the fourteen misstatements or “lies” that Biden told last night (the blogosphere is recycling this list like crazy), add to that his position on abortion. See how easily we, the people are fooled by an authoritative, highly respected, clearly qualified and experienced man.


[1] Except for Muslims.

[2] What?

[3] Despite Shakespeare, this is the real world. Lack of experience is extraordinarily dangerous in, you know, real life, when you’re a real elected leader making decisions that affect real people’s real lives. Are we so solipsistic as to think politics does not exist outside the media? Palin may be a joke, but she’s not just that.

[4] If you’re going to allege something Ms. Chesler, you ought to cite who else is making said allegations. Otherwise it’s not only poor journalism (I hold bloggers to the same standard as I do mainstream journalists), it makes you sound whiplash-crazy.

[5] Because McCain-Palin aren’t promising any change, right? They’re sticking with the Bush Doctrine, since, you know, it’s worked out so well.

[6] Oh, Obama is merely in-touch with real people and their modes of communication? I’d never want a leader who knew what the hell was going on.

[7] Oh hey! Good for you! Yeah, I’m pulling The Card early. Dig it.

[8] Can you tell Asian people apart too? Quick! What’s Margaret Cho?

[9] He’s more African-American than most who? African-Americans? White people who descended from Africans thousands of years ago? In other words, (1) Huh? (2) And this matters because…

[10] And Jesus was Jewish. Again, your point?

[11] Oh! Thanks for clarifying. You’re obviously aware of the implications you’re making then.

[12] Because the greatness of America for religious freedom (remember Ms. Chesler, that means American Muslims too) should be given and understood. He could have talked about how fantastic the produce is in California and Florida, and how they don’t have the good shit over in the desert, but you know, that might be…what is it…oh, a waste of breath!

[13] Because scare quotes are hardly nuanced. And, let’s get this straight, Madame: Barack Obama identifies as Black. And you know what? His entire life, everyone else has identified him as Black, too. That is to say, potential employers, police officers, shopkeepers, neighbors, voters…everyone. So, ya think his entire life experience might be somewhat similar to, I don’t know, other Black American men? Maybe? A little?

[14] No, he really is Black. Africa or not. And furthermore, who are you to say who someone “really is”? Do you feel for the genitals of the Queer community? If I was born with both sets of sex organs, but learned my gender as male, would it be okay for you to slap your yardstick on my desk and announce, “Holden here is really bi-gendered!” No. Not okay.

[15] You know why? Because: who cares? My god, woman. You may be the most racist ex-feminist I’ve ever encountered. How far will you take this?

[16] I heard somewhere that he was running as a Democrat.

[17] Oh right. Because Obama’s education was just handed to him. He grew up in the suburbs going to country clubs and escorting debs. He didn’t have to pay for it, and he’s obviously not smart enough to have actually earned a place in a prestigious university. Isn’t there Obama Hall somewhere on campus?

[18] Nice choice there. “Language.” As if his language didn’t translate to his beliefs.

[19] Tactics of which, of course, the GOP never uses.

[20] So, a lifetime of service in the Senate translating to…what’s that word…oh, experience, makes one not “fit for leadership” but an “insider” like a tabloid-tipper. That makes sense.

[21] If only you cared as much about these issues as you care about preaching your xenophobic, intolerant and racist rhetoric.

[22] And really, isn’t it all about how you sound? Hell, I like how “Mission Accomplished” sounds, let’s go with it.

[23] I think it’s abundantly clear that Palin doesn’t “get” much of anything.

[24] Then you’ve apparently “had it” with most of the Western world. Forget discussion, fuck diplomacy, let’s just bomb the shit out of everyone!

[25] Which is why you use a multitude of tactics. Diplomacy may not work with terrorist groups, but it sure as hell has a chance with those who fund them. Think, here, okay? Think beyond the fear. Think about just how much funding has been given to terrorists, not merely by supposed allies, but by the United States Government itself.

[26] Are you going to back this preposterous terminology up with some kind of explanation as to what exactly you’re talking about? Immigration? Again, what?!

[27] Oh yes, because American intelligentsia and mainstream media want to live under terrorist rule. We’ve tasted what George W. Bush has to offer and we just won’t stop until we’re ruled by Osama Bin Laden himself.

[28] You fool. Major publishing houses are afraid they won’t make sales. If they think a book will sell, trust me, a ticking sound as loud as Big Ben won’t stop them from getting it on the shelves.

[29] Nice point. Because that’s what feminists want, a consolation prize. A handout.

[30] And because she’s pretty and spunky and so-well put-together (most of the time), we’re sure Sarah Palin is a fantastic mother. Just look at how well she’s raised her pregnant daughter! Obviously that girl listens to and respects her mother. (NOTE: I by NO MEANS am implying that working mothers can’t be great moms…I know many of them, as I’m sure you do, but Sarah Palin is an awful example.)

[31] I know! Let’s wring our hands and write about it on our blogs!

[32] No shit you’re excited. Someone agreed with you.

[33] Correct you are! Biden, is, in fact, pro-choice. Who the hell is pro-abortion?

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3 Responses to “Phyllis Chesler: Woman of Fear”

  1. Jonathan Eunice Says:

    This is really superb. I cannot possibly say enough good things about your deconstruction of Chesler’s point of view. Just “wow!”

  2. Victoria Marinelli Says:

    This was just amazingly well done. Seriously, brilliant – and perhaps more importantly, energetic. (I’m so burned out right now, I couldn’t have begun to truly take this on, despite knowing how badly it needed to be taken on.)

    Thank you so much.

  3. Jody Says:

    I thought Chesler was a feminist icon? What happened to her? She sounds nutty.

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