Wednesday, April 04, 2007

It's Mostly A Non-Issue, But...

A lot of hubbub and borderline hysteria has risen around the not-that-big-of-a-deal story of Nancy Pelosi's diplomatic trip to Syria. At the end of the day, there's no scandal here, because it's not as if Pelosi will be promoting anything else but the American foreign policy consensus concerning Syria.

I don't think the trip itself sends mixed signals, but I have to agree that this sure as hell does.

HT: Instapundit

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Rafique,

I agree with you in that it is not scandal for her visit, as long that it is a fact finding mission. I think many of our congress electors should gather their own independent intelligence on foreign matters. Congress is an equal partner with the executive branch in all public policy approaches.

As for her wearing the headscarf, I believe she made a mistake. A diplomat should be aware of customs and cultural norms. However, in the modern world the hijab symbolizes a backwards rite of gender inequality. Let's say, that if it is the custom to wear a thong, would or should she wear one?

Anonymous said...

Was the message mixed when Laura Bush and Condi don the same kind of scarf for visits to Mosques?

Anonymous said...

http://www.mahablog.com/2007/04/04/pelosi-wears-scarf-righties-bark-at-moon/

c.q. banks said...

Comparing Ms. Pelosi to to Ms. Bush and Ms. Rice is a false comparison.

Ms. Pelosi position as the speaker of the house puts her in the chain of command to assume the Presidency in the case of the removal of the Prez and VP. She must understand this and that her image in this situation may cause other nations' leaders not to take her seriously as a politician or diplomat if and when the opportunity presents itself.

Anonymous said...

She must understand this and that her image in this situation may cause other nations' leaders not to take her seriously as a politician or diplomat if and when the opportunity presents itself.

The comparison to them had nothing to do with their position it had to do with the idea that hear showing proper respect for a religious symbol of your host some how sends a mixed signal. To the contrary, it shows a level of respect that too often Americans are accused of not having. It in no way however diminishes Ms Pelosi's stature ( and I am not a fan of hers for lots of other reasons). The whole notion of the scarf has been batted around the net as somehow Ms Pelosi is giving in to some notion of Islam subservent treatment of women. If that was not Rafique mixed signal message then I stand corrected.

Back to your statement however...are you telling me that the President and the Vice President have not show similar kind of respect. Remember the handholding of the Saudi leader from President Bush. I thought at the time that making a fuss over that was trivial....as I do about Ms Pelosi. There are serious issues facing us as a nation and the world and the sooner we realize that this kind of sniping gets us nowhere except help us take our eye off the ball. The Administration has repeatedly inferred that we are in the seminal struggle of our existence as a people, yet he and the Congress are on vacation and the rest of us are going about our lives as if all is well. We need real leadership but we also need to have followers that will demand that leadership and stop this viewing EVERYTHING in some partisan window. I think Rafique had it right when he said Non-Issue....he should have not included the but!!

He is Risen!!

jonwash (having trouble with your comment window)

c.q. banks said...

Anon,

Perception in the near east means a lot. As a diplomat you must be perceive as one. When she wore the scarf she is seen as a woman first, before she is seen as a politician or diplomat.

Public officials holding hands, regardless of gender, is usually interpreted as a sign of unity. However, it is common knowledge that women in the near east world are treated as second class citizens. And the hijab is a symbol to reinforce that status. When she wore the scarf, she indirectly insinuate that she is in agreement with the gender apartheid. Although wearing the hijab may seem trifling, but to the millions of near east and south Asian women that are suffering for equality, it is not.

In this case, I believe feminists have a legitimate beef with Rep. Pelosi. Remember, the little things do mean a lot.

Rafique Tucker said...

When she wore the scarf, she indirectly insinuate that she is in agreement with the gender apartheid. Although wearing the hijab may seem trifling, but to the millions of near east and south Asian women that are suffering for equality, it is not.

Ditto.

jonwash said...

The idea that the likes of many on the right being concerned about the feminist movement is a little laughable ( I do not know where you sit on the political spectrum so I am not throwing that comment to you) I will admit that your comment above made me rethink my previous comments (anon/Jonwash) because I was hearing most of the complaints about Ms Pelosi coming from the right and the hijab was an convienient hook to hang on. But you are right there is also some anger on the left specifically about the hijab and the message it sends. However I still think this is a tempest in a teapot and Ms Pelosi is being held to a standard that others have not been. You are right she is a very high ranking American woman but you want it both ways....you seem to want to have her thought of as a woman first when it comes to the hijab but the Speaker when it comes to Laura Bush and Condi Rice. As I was scanning other blogs these are some of the comments that best express my thoughts on this subject:


So what? You propose that the Speaker of the House visit a foreign country and flagrantly disrespect their cultural and religious norms? How undiplomatic.

guess the FACT that she had the courage to go to Damascus has to be overshadowed by her respect for their cultural traditions. NO, not to me

Someone here does not understand the concept of adhereing to the customs of the a culture. Politeness is important, especially so if attempting diplomacy.

It is _most_ certainly NOT disrespectful to don coverings, when in a foreign land.
As an Army wife, I travelled around Turkey and other parts of the MidEast, and even though I didn't always wear a scarf (although I did when visiting mosques), I always made sure that I didn't wear short skirts or sleeveless blouses (full sleeves would have been even better).
To not conform at least _somewhat_ to the sensibilities of the country that you are a guest in, is to be the Ugly American.


Happy Easter.

c. q. banks said...

Jonwash,

Tourism and a Stateswoman's visit are two different venues. If Speaker Pelosi was on a site seeing trip, I wouldn't have a problem with her wearing the hijab. But she wasn't.

Speaker Pelosi's visit was a statemanship mission. She was in the capacity of statescraft and as a representative of the freest nation in the world.

Global eyes are always watching the behavior of US politicians, diplomats, and statepersons. This is because the US is the symbol of liberty for the billions of oppressed people in the world.

When oppressed women see Speaker Pelosi wear the hijab, it is seen as a betrayal of the liberty and freedom that she advocates. As I said before, in the near east and in southwest Asia the hijab is a symbol of subjugation, because the women there are forced to wear it.

Most Americans do not understand the implications of wearing a symbol of oppression because we live in a free society. But in the unfree world it hurts.

Rafique Tucker said...

Jonwash:

First off, let me be clear: I am not a right-winger. Not even close. I kinda thought the whole "Liberal War Journal" title was a good clue. Honestly, after thinking it over, you're probably right that it's not a big a deal as it first appeared. I do think though, that it is a bit strange to see Pelosi talk about the ascendancy of women on one hand, yet wear the scarf that has been used as a symbol of repression of women on the other. It's a just something a noticed.

Rachel said...

the big issue was not the hijab - big deal. but the fact that she tried to represent Israel and US interests when she talked to neither country. That is what's getting her onions roasted.

Rafique Tucker said...

Well yeah, there's that too, which I think is a problem. She get herself in over her head, which is proof that diplomacy is best left to the diplomats.