Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A bad man who did good things

It sort of bothers me that I still need to listen to people who think women were denied education in Iraq (although I can't pretend I really listened to what this guy had to say). Anyone who thinks Saddam didn't let little girls go to school needs to Google "Tigris Secondary School for Girls," and then they need to sit down and be quiet. It's pretty well-known that Iraqi women were some of the best-treated in the Middle East. There were compulsory primary education laws for both sexes, and there were laws prohibiting sexual discrimination in the workplace; Iraqi women held roughly 25% of professional jobs; Iraq was one of the first countries to ratify the CEDAW (the United States, you may not know, never did).

It wasn't until after the Gulf War, when Saddam decided to embrace Islamic tribal traditions in order to preserve his political power (because no one in this country ever catered to religious groups for their own political purposes), that women's position began to deteriorate. In addition, the poverty and economic collapse that resulted from the UN sanctions meant that sending their daughters to school was a financial impossibility for most Iraqis. So if we're going to blame someone, let's pull an Israel and blame the UN. I agree Saddam was a jerk, but we should all try to keep a better bearing on our facts, because this really is one of the reasons why the Islamic world isn't too nuts about us: we get them all confused.

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