If anyone still doubted, or hadn't noticed, that misogyny is the fundamental pillar on which radical Islam is based, the news that poison gas was pumped into girls' schools in Afghanistan, likely by the Taliban, ought to confirm it.
The story, first reported in the U.S. in the New York Times two weeks ago, goes like this: For the last two years, girls and women in certain schools around Afghanistan have been turning up sickened by fumes in their schools. At first, authorities disregarded the reports, chalking them up to female hysteria due to nervousness over outright attacks on girls schools by murderous Taliban enforcers.
Then the U.N. went in and tested their blood, and voila -- it appears the Taliban, taking a page out of the Nazi playbook, has been pumping stuff like Zyklon B, the notorious Holocaust gas, into girls' schools, to further their goal of keeping their females illiterate. (A Taliban spokesman denied responsibility.)
This horrific story is only one of many pieces of evidence that should make it ever more obvious to the world that subjugating females is the driving force behind Islamist rage. It was there in 9/11 attacker Mohammed Atef's will, in which he demanded that no pregnant woman be allowed to come near his grave; it's there in the acid attacks on pretty girls who dare say no to their men in Pakistan; it's there in the stoning sentences in Iran and Somalia, it's there in the prohibition on women driving cars in Saudi Arabia, it's there in the black blankets millions of women think -- know -- they must throw over their heads whenever they dare step outside their homes.
Apparently, in these countries, men fear losing control of their women more than they fear death itself. Jihadists and their supporters are an entire movement afflicted with the syndrome psychologists have identified in garden variety domestic abusers everywhere: men who confuse love and power, and for whom losing their women is so painful that they would rather see them dead. For women affiliated with such men, the most dangerous moment comes when they try to leave. The possible awakening and emancipation of women worldwide has put women in these cultures at grave risk right now.
With so much evidence piled up that the status of women in the West is what radical Islamist fighters revile most about us, the only question left is why haven't the Western countries made support of women a fundamental element of the diplomatic, military and political response? Where is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on this subject? Where is President Obama?
For years, our governments have treated outrageous depredations against women as quaint cultural customs. Only the French have officially rejected the burka, and for that faced international criticism and drivel about "racism."
Of course womanhood is not a "race," and that's precisely the problem in getting supported. If blacks or Jews were consistently mistreated the way women are from Saudi Arabia to Afghanistan, and in many of the nations in between, the United Nations, the Europeans and the people of the United States wouldn't stand for it, and our elected representatives would be holding hearings, issuing sanctions, putting the issue front and center every single day.
On the contrary, those on the right who support the "War on Terror" talk about supporting the troops, or about the almost nonexistent threat (since 9/11) of violence on our shores. The practice of wholesale annihilation of females isn't much discussed.
Those on the left who want the troops out of Afghanistan by next week are also missing the point. There is a just and a good reason for our men and women to be over there bravely trying to eradicate the Taliban. It has to do with the fates of millions and millions of women, who face not just lifelong psychological abuse, but actual violence and death among these men.
And if no one stands up to these men and their supporters and enablers in the less warlike quarters of the Islamic world, on that fundamental tenet, here's what happens:
Today, we read that the lunatic American Imam Al-Awlaki has issued a "fatwa" against a Seattle newspaper cartoonist named (not for long) Molly Norris, who has apparently been told to change her name and go into hiding. Now, an American woman joins Salman Rushdie and the Danish cartoonist in the long list of individuals the "pure" men in white robes are trying to cow into silence.
It's time for all American women and their elected officials, on the right and the left, to stand up against this nonsense, support free speech and expose and oppose, in the strongest and loudest terms possible, the misogyny that is a tenet of this vile, so-called holy war.
Follow Nina Burleigh on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ninaburleigh