Tuesday, May 10, 2011
The Women Who Weren't There
I really didn't mean for it to turn into Chez-vs.-God day around here, but it's admittedly been a while since we've done a theme day, so maybe we're due.
Chances are by now you've either seen the above photograph or heard about it. I'm of course not talking about the instantly iconic original image of the scene in the White House Situation Room as a Navy SEAL raid was ending the life of Osama bin Laden; I'm talking about the picture as it appeared in the Brooklyn Hasidic newspaper Der Tzitung, the one with the noticeably photoshopped space where Hillary Clinton should be. The paper admits to removing both Clinton and former counter-terrorism director Audrey Tomason -- who was at the back of the room -- from the picture because it says it has a policy of not displaying a female image of any kind because it might be interpreted as "sexually suggestive."
Setting aside the idea that anyone can be so sexually repressed that he's afraid the sight of Hillary Clinton in harsh light and a pant-suit will get him hard, I need a question answered: Why am I supposed to respect a belief system this ridiculously backward? Keep in mind that while Hasidic Judaism is extreme by its very nature, it's still a legitimate part of the Jewish faith, and that faith is something that overall we're expected to at the very least show deference to even if we don't necessarily subscribe to it. This isn't the much-maligned Heaven's Gate cult or a bunch of Raelians worshiping an alien god -- it's a supposedly "acceptable" religion, whose tenets are adhered to by millions, and yet you can see the irony. We're now in the second decade of the 21st century and there are people for whom the need to appease a lunatic superstition -- an incomprehensible vestigial remnant of a time when man didn't know anything about anything -- demands that they excise all images of women from photographs. What's more, the rest of us are expected to show respect to this nonsense simply because enough people happen to subscribe to it; it somehow stopped being crazy through sheer force of democracy and we're supposed to now pretend that it's off-limits to the kind of ridicule it's always deserved.
The editors at Der Tzitung shouldn't be able to hide behind the impenetrable shield of their "religious beliefs" because the rest of us shouldn't accept that kind of horseshit excuse as impenetrable. This case acts as a perfect snapshot, literally, of how faith-based religion adjusts notions like reality and the truth in order to create the kind of conditions in which it can survive. Just because these idiots don't want to believe that Hillary Clinton was in the Situation Room, standing toe-to-toe with men, when Osama bin Laden was killed doesn't mean she wasn't there. Just like the absurdly archaic belief that their god exists and cares one way or the other about them doesn't mean he does.