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September 2022

Global Suppression of Women's Rights

Global Suppression of Women’s Rights

                        Robert A. Levine

Even as more women appear to be participating in the political process worldwide and holding high offices, women’s rights in many nations appear to be under attack by the patriarchal order. This is true in both democratic and autocratic countries where men want the power to control women and their bodies.

The most obvious and brutal suppression of women’s rights appear to be occurring in nations such as Iran and Afghanistan. But it is true in all Muslim nations where men still rule the roost, allowed to have up to four wives and to determine where and when women my go to school, the jobs they hold, and even whom they may marry. Saudi Arabia recently lifted some of its most restrictive rules regarding women’s lives, but men still control women to a large degree.

In Iran, riots and demonstrations have erupted led by women in multiple cities protesting the death of a young woman who was arrested by the morality police because her hijab wasn’t covering all of her hair. Her captors claimed she died of a heart attack while imprisoned but there were signs that she was beaten severely. In response, women have been burning their hijabs, setting fires to police cars and demonstrating in the streets along with men. The Revolutionary Guards have reacted by firing against the rioters with live ammunition and tear gas, killing a number of them. The rules regarding modest dress and Islamic law have been promulgated by elderly hard line mullahs who will not give way to the women and the youth of Iran who want more freedom. Women’s lives in Iran are completely dominated by men in what can be called “gender apartheid.”

In Afghanistan, since the Taliban took control of the country, they have reneged on all of their promises regarding freedom for women. Girls can only go to primary schools with no further education, cannot pursue careers, need male chaperones when they go out, and have arranged marriages decided by their fathers. Their fathers or their husbands run their lives.

In the United States, a conservative Supreme Court in the Dobbs decision had six Catholic justices overturn precedent in delegitimizing Roe v Wade, leaving abortion law up to individual states. Subsequently, a number of states have restricted abortions with various laws, taking control of women’s bodies. A restrictive abortion law in Kansas was soundly defeated by referendum, but legislatures are fighting against referenda in other states to maintain strict abortion laws. Whether or not Congress will pass a federal law in the future to legalize abortion nationwide again depends on the make-up of the House and Senate. And the glass ceiling still exists in many US businesses though women have been slowly climbing the ladder.

In China, their one child policy per family was too successful and their population started to shrink. The law was subsequently modified to allow two or three children per family to stabilize the population and help the economy. But many women remain happy having one or no children because of the cost and the desire for additional freedom. The Chinese Communist Party is anti-feminism, believing that all ideology should come from the Party itself. There have been no women leaders of China since the Party took over in the 1940s with the Communists supporting the primacy of men.

In Mexico, one of the most violent states in the world, women are being murdered, raped and often disappeared in what is known as “femacide.” The perpetrators are rarely caught or brought to justice.

Trafficking of women for sexual purposes is rampant in Eastern Europe and parts of Asia, but is a problem in virtually every nation. These enterprises are often run by gangs or cartels controlled by men and can be quite profitable.

Various other nations have also been trying to suppress women’s rights, viewing women as baby-making machines and being unwilling to provide them with agency. This is most prominent in conservative or religious countries where men are accustomed to power and do not wish to see women with equal rights challenging them. Many men are afraid of women achieving equality or superiority and taking control of politics and businesses. At universities, women generally perform better than men and their life expectancies are greater in all economically advanced nations.

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On and On and On

On and On and On

            Robert A. Levine

Donald Trump has been out of office now for almost two years, yet he continues to dominate the news. We can’t get rid of him from the front pages of our newspapers or the lead segments of our news programs. He sticks around like a piece of gum on your shoe that you can’t get off. Most of the news regarding the Donald is negative at this time, with him involved in multiple lawsuits and possible criminal actions. Though he continues to complain that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him, it appears that he stole classified documents from the White House when he was packing up and moving out. Though he claims to have declassified these documents, there is no actual evidence that he did so. The Department of Justice is pursuing Trump regarding these documents and it remains to be seen whether or not he will be indicted for this action.

Though he is being sued for tax fraud by New York State, the case has also been referred to the federal system in the Southern District of New York for possible criminal charges. For decades, Trump and his organization was shown to have falsified documents in terms of valuing his real estate assets up or down in ways that would save him money in taxes or for insurance. In addition, Trump is being investigated by a grand jury in Fulton County Georgia for possible criminal charges in trying to overturn the results of the election in Georgia. There is also legal action against Trump pending in Washington and various other venues.

Yet with all the legal problems involving Trump, both civil and possible criminal, the vast majority of the Republican Party continues to support him and defer to his judgement when conflicts arise. Most of the candidates for various offices that he backed in the Republican primaries won their contests and these election deniers will be the official candidates of the GOP. And the elected Republican politicians at all levels for the most part are elections deniers though privately they realize that Trump lost.

Trump is both a symptom and a cause of the precarious position of American democracy with threats of violence coming from his acolytes if he is criminally indicted. Unfortunately, most Trump supporters are misinformed about Trump’s illegal and unethical activities, as they get their news from sources that do not verify their stories. Misinformation and disinformation is circulated by the Trumpies on social media and considered accurate by those who are unwilling to dig deeper into supposed news. In a bizarre twist, on Fox News, Trump claimed the ability to declassify documents merely by thinking about it. I guess he also has the same power to change people’s ballots merely by thinking about it. Or perhaps change people’s minds by witchcraft.

But the main story is that Trump remains prominent in the public eye, often blocking out more important and relevant news. How do we get this piece of gum off our shoes when so many Americans still listen to what Trump has to say and believe him? Americans need to let Trump drift into obscurity instead of paying so much attention to his every move. His presence in our kitchens and living rooms just seems to go on and on.

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Choosing Trump and Party Over Country

Choosing Trump and Party Over Country

                                    Robert A. Levine 9-12-22

Republican politicians and a large portion of the Republican Party know that Donald Trump lost the 2020 presidential election by millions of votes. The popular vote totals showed 81,200,000+ for Joe Biden and 74,200,000+ for Donald Trump. The Electoral College totals were 306 for Biden and 232 for Trump. Yet despite these overwhelming totals, Donald Trump claimed and still claims that he won the election and that it was stolen from him. Refusing to accept the will of the people in the election, he tried to have election officials change the vote totals in several states where his losses were relatively close. In Georgia, a criminal investigation is now going on regarding Trump’s attempts to overturn the election.

Given Trump’s propensity to lie and cheat, his actions and refusal to acknowledge his loss is not surprising. What is truly astonishing is the willingness of other Republicans to support Trump’s denial of his loss and spout the fiction that the election was stolen. These are supposedly intelligent men and women who hold high offices in the federal, state and local governments. Yet they are willing to bolster Trumps claims and provide them with credibility knowing that this will lead to more support from the Republican base that has accepted Trump’s lies all along. It also casts doubt on the reliability of America’s election system and of democracy itself.

The willingness of Republican elected officials to support Trump’s lies about a stolen election is a major threat to American democracy, convincing many Americans of the veracity of Trump’s claims. It has made numerous Americans question the legitimacy of Biden’s presidency and the various accomplishments of the current administration. It has made partisanship much more rabid and more difficult for Republicans and Democrats to work together at all levels of government.

Why have all of these knowledgeable Republicans who are aware of Biden’s victory refused to accept it as fact and continue to argue that the election was stolen. They surely realize the corrosive effects it has had on American democracy and ignore what it has done and is doing. The GOP politicians are supporting Trump’s claims because they want his backing and that of his base in their future runs for office. Not only do Republican officeholders and aspirants want his verbal backing, they are also hoping for financial aid from Trump and his wealthy acolytes. They know that they are lying for Trump’s benefit, that their lies increases partisanship and divisiveness between Americans, increases the possibility of riots and violence, and are detrimental to America, but they simply do not care. Their belief in Trump’s power and his ability to hurt their political aspirations outweighs their devotion to America and the Constitution. Trumps political supporters are willing to ignore the damage they are causing to American democracy to further their own political goals.

Some in Trump’s base can be excused for their allegiance to their leader and the acceptance of his lies because they are ignorant of the truth and do not know any better. But those Republicans who are educated and knowledgeable about politics, particularly politicians and business people, cannot be forgiven for their collusion with Trump and willingness to sacrifice the nation’s democracy for the furtherance of Trump’s, the Republicans’ and their own ambitions. Shame on them.

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