Saving Those Who Won’t Save Themselves

muslim-womenMaybe this is something you’ve seen as well, it’s certainly something I come across quite often, both on blogs and Twitter.  There are lots of atheists who yell and scream about the plight of Muslim women in Muslim countries who are being abused, raped, beaten and murdered.  We ought to do something about that, shouldn’t we?

Or should we?  This is going to sound heartless, but haven’t those women made a choice, conscious or otherwise, to live under those regimes?  Haven’t they, as a collective, decided they will accept the abusive behavior because it’s easier than fighting against it?  Maybe they’re deluded by their religion.  Maybe they’ve just been raised to think that’s how things ought to be.  Regardless, I just don’t see where people in the West feel it is their right or their duty to impose Western values on people who do not share them.

See, we have a really good example of this in the United States.  Back in 1775, the Revolutionary War was fought against England and our victory allowed us to break away from British rule and gain our independence.  What if our forefathers had just shrugged their shoulders and said “we’re subjects of the British, that’s how things ought to be”?  The only reason we improved was because we were willing, as a people, to stand up for what we believed in.  Many people died in the fight because they believed that their children and their children’s children deserved a better future.

So where are we seeing this amongst Muslim women?  It’s not like the Islamic world is incapable of such things, look at the people who put their lives on the line in places like Egypt and Libya to overthrow unwanted regimes.  Those were not people with access to heavy weapons, nor did they violently depose their leader, they had the guts to stand up, put themselves in harm’s way and demand change.  But where are the Muslim women doing this?  Where are the public protests, the large gatherings, the people willing to die to change a system they don’t agree with?

It just doesn’t happen.  Oh sure, occasionally you get one or two women who speak up and, unfortunately, get silenced.  You get poor girls who just want an education getting shot in the head.  It happens and my heart goes out to these people, but it’s just not a mandate by the people.  The people most affected by the inequalities in the culture are not willing to stand up and say enough is enough.  What does happen though, you get people who aren’t even a part of the culture affected, who stand up and demand that outsiders, typically the U.S. military, of which they are almost certainly not a part of, go in and impose western values on these heathens so Americans watching the news won’t be uncomfortable.

Let’s be honest, that’s all it is.  We’re uncomfortable, we think our way of life is magically superior to everyone else and since we have certain rights, we think everyone else ought to have them too, whether they want them or not.  The reality is though, we have these rights because we fought for them.  We created a system and we gave ourselves these rights, nobody came along and just handed them to us.  So why do we think we should just wander around the planet handing people the rights we were willing to fight and die for, especially when they don’t seem all that interested?

When a large portion of Muslim women stand up and say they want to be free, I’m fine with helping them.  If a representative comes before the UN and begs for military intervention to help change the system, I’m all in, let’s go.  Until then though, we need to stop thinking our job in life is to turn every other nation out there into a mini-U.S., where all of the rights that we enjoy are magically applicable to people who just don’t seem to want them.  It’s nothing more than imperialism, reminiscent of the old British Empire that went around to less developed nations and imposed their views on them because “they knew better”.

Shouldn’t we have outgrown that kind of thinking by now?

7 thoughts on “Saving Those Who Won’t Save Themselves

  1. How exactly are Muslim women supposed to organize themselves to fight misogynist customs and laws? How many are allowed out of their homes without a male guardian? What would you suggest when they face possible imprisonment, mutilation, and/or ostracization for even thinking about such goals? How can these women stand up and say "Enough is enough" when it may cost them their lives? Interesting that you would put the onus of change back on the victims of oppression. Do you know all the intimate details of the culture that promotes the suppression of women? Until you have full understanding of what these humans face, hold your condemnation of their silence.

    1. How did men do it, how did the people of Libya or Egypt or many other countries who have stood up against oppressive rule in the past several years do it? There were plenty of people in these countries who stood up and exposed themselves to being shot, taken into custody and tortured, etc. Many people did end up being killed or seriously harmed for what they believed in. Are you saying that women are somehow incapable of this? Go back to the Revolutionary War example I gave. Between 11-12,000 people were seriously wounded or killed in the conflict. These are not people enlisted in an organized military, these are people who came out of their homes and decided that the ideals that they were fighting for, the freedom of their friends and families and future generations were more important to them than their very lives.

      Muslim women are not victims of oppression, they are willing partners in it. They are willing to put up with it every day of their lives, they are willing to raise their daughters to buy into the same absurdities that they do, they are willing to openly oppose attempts by courageous women to change the status quo. If they even recognize that they are being abused, they are not willing to take risks, including their own deaths, to do what they must to improve the situation of all women in their culture.

      I condemn that cowardice, as should anyone else who recognizes that change does not come without risk.

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