This morning on Fox News Sunday, Laura Bush forcefully dismissed conservatives who attacked her for wearing a Muslim headscarf during her visit last wek to the Middle East. "Oh, you've got to be kidding me," she said, before disagreeing with one Weekly Standard columnist's claim that she had given "a tacit endorsement of Islam's subjugation of women."
"[T]hey saw this as giving me a gift from their culture," Bush said. "And it was the scarf with the pink ribbons and the pink edging on it, the breast cancer scarf, that I put on." She added later, "I think we all have these stereotypes of each other, Americans and Arabs, and it's a really good thing to be able to break those stereotypes down and get to know each other."
WALLACE: Of course, Mrs. Bush, with a higher profile almost inevitably comes criticism. And some conservatives in this country are upset with you -- and we have a picture up there on the screen...
BUSH: Oh, you've got to be kidding.
WALLACE: ... for putting on a scarf given to you...
BUSH: Oh, really?
WALLACE: ... by a Saudi doctor. And let me put up a blast, if you will, from The Weekly Standard. That she would oblige her hosts by wearing a shmata, which is Yiddish for a scarf, on her head is a tacit endorsement of Islam's subjugation of women.
BUSH: Well, I did not see it that way at all. In fact, I'd had the meeting with them totally uncovered. I mean, you saw other photographs, obviously.
BUSH: And they saw this as giving me a gift from their culture. And it was the scarf with the pink ribbons and the pink edging on it, the breast cancer scarf, that I put on.
I will say that I told them that I had always felt like they were closed to me, that I wouldn't be able to reach them because of the way they're covered, and one of the women said to me -- she said, You know, I may be all dressed in black, but I am transparent.
And what they were saying to me is they want to reach out. They want American women to know what they're like. And these women do not see covering as some sort of subjugation of women, this group of women that I was with.
That's their culture. That's their tradition. That's a religious choice of theirs.
Now, I did meet, on the other hand, in Kuwait, where women just got the vote in 2005, with a group of women activists, several of them who had run for office the first parliamentary election after women got the vote -- didn't win, any of them, but they made the first step, certainly, by getting in the political process.
And in that meeting, very few women were covered. And they don't feel like they have to be. But you know, I think we all have these stereotypes of each other, Americans and Arabs, and it's a really good thing to be able to break those stereotypes down and get to know each other.