This is the week in which two Catholic politicians, vying for the second highest office in the United States, offered starkly different views of the role their faith plays in how they shape public policy.
This is the week in which 14 year old Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head and neck by a Taliban thug as she made her way home from school for the crime of seeking an education for herself and for other girls in Pakistan.
This is the week when the United Nations marked the first International Day of the Girl on October 11.
Some week. Some day.
Vatican II: Wasn’t that a move away from blind “obedience” to thinking about faith in terms of how we give meaning to our lives in the world? Wasn’t Vatican II a challenge to grow and to give freely, not take and extract mercilessly?
Joe Biden versus Paul Ryan: I confess a bias towards the Catholic whose faith expresses itself in compassion for the needy rather than in the need to exercise dominion over women. Note to Congressman Ryan: That Bible verse about not letting “a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence (1 Timothy 2:12) is sort of old. Let it go.
Why is it that the same men who are quick to rattle sabers and drop bombs believe they are morally better equipped to make decisions about what women should do about their pregnancies than the women, their partners and their doctors? Why don’t these men express their “pro-lifeness” by turning their swords into ploughshares? By ending the death penalty? By feeding the hungry and giving aid to the poor?
Somewhere in the 30% of Americans that Congressman Ryan sees as “takers” and the 47% that Gov. Romney sees as simply “not taking responsibility for their lives” are people who have run out of options through no fault of their own. These are people who have been “legitimately screwed” by a system that is stacked against them. Those who have get more. Those who don’t have—well, they have boot-straps.
But women perhaps do the greatest disservice to women when they minimize the threats to rights hard won and now under attack. Columnist Kathleen Parker said today that the flurry of laws by Republican lawmakers mandating transvaginal ultrasounds, Rush Limbaugh’s gutter rhetoric about “sluts” and Senate aspirant, Todd Akin’s science of “legitimate rape” [and co-sponsorship with Congressman Ryan of a bill on “forcible rape”] are but “handy faces for dart practice.”
Parker argues that they “constitute a war on women only if all women find these positions reprehensible. And only if all women care more about contraception and reproductive rights above all other issues, which is not the case.”
What, I wonder would Parker say to the family of Malala Yousafzai? Would she want to take a poll of all the women in Pakistan to determine if they all want an education as much as Malala does before she will acknowledge that there is a war being waged on women in Pakistan?
Parker wants us to “ditch the gender nonsense and declare this the Year of the American.”
We, who can get the kind of health and reproductive services and education we need because we have the means to pay for it, need to ditch the smug self-satisfaction and remember that what we have today did not come without a hard fight. And a price that others paid.
To dismiss the resurgence of threats to women’s rights is to dishonor those who fought for those rights. And it dishonors a little girl fighting for her life in Pakistan because of the perverted use of another faith to justify misogynist thuggery.