Leaving a 'target nation'

Since I'm a dope I forgot to slip a reference to this into my last rant.

But it's good reading.

From "Cuenca High Life": For expats, leaving a 'target nation' behind means escaping high security and learning to relax again.

...within a minute, a well-dressed woman came out and introduced herself as the Consul. She asked me to bring my coffee, and we proceeded into her office where we had a pleasant talk...the following day, I headed for the U.S. consulate to get a signature notarized. Quite a different experience...


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And here I thought the interesting part was a random guy sharing coffee witth the Colombian Consul in a quiet room.

Hey. I still do.

And, re the discussion: Thanks, Mom. Great call. I'm forever glad you didn't want me hacked at birth, and also that the doctors listened. Since leaving your care I have continued to take great care of my pee-pee, and am proud to say that it is still all there.

True, I may be the only one who cares, but I am attached to my little buddy and plan on keeping him intact and happy.

No Sniveling!

Nothing wrong with having estrogen receptors

Ironically, I'm more aware of this as an issue because a lot of gay guys see circumcision as mutilation and go to rather great lengths sometimes to restore their foreskins. Also the part of the US that are the most sexist have the highest percentages of uterine removal, admittedly done under more sterile conditions.

Rebecca Brown

no doubt you have heard the phrase

Correlation does not imply causation.

In this case, there are other things that seem to me to show

...a general lesser regard for women's reproductive health, like higher infant mortality in the same states. Read some studies of unnecessary hysterectomies and the side effects. A bit more subtle than lopping external bits out, but one of the treatments in the past for "nymphomania."

As usual, Wikipedia is a good place to start: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hysterectomy

90% are for benign conditions. My NYC doctor (who was the best gyn doctor I ever had) was horrified that my NC doctors all thought a hysterectomy was necessary. I went through with it before checking further.

Cultures generally react with the most horror to other cultures doing more overt versions of their more evil practices, ignoring their own recent history of mutilating women (well, it was done under sterile conditions and stuff). Just like on an individual level, we hate in others the faults we don't admit in ourselves.

A number of people, including me, are rather horrified that the US is doing drone attacks on people who are not proven to be terrorists. Declaring all dead males of military age to be dead terrorists without really much oversight at all seems more problematic than Nicaraguan's gunning down people who have declared that they were at war with the current regime (which strikes me along the lines of the Chicago police killing sleeping Black Panthers, but a bit more benign and completely understandable if the guys were shooting back).

Meanwhile, it's Father's Day in Nicaragua. I called my father to wish him Feliz Dia de Padres, and he said whatever.

Rebecca Brown

A region that's generally

A region that's generally non-progressive demonstrates it in many ways. We've now been through the era of just surgically removing "extra" parts at the first problem, and not just female parts, because I don't know many children of the early 60s that kept their tonsils, but once the medical establishment figured out surgery was causing more problems, it still took time to educate everyone on the new treatment protocols. Progressive areas or doctors adopt new procedures first. The non-progressive areas still hold old ideas, procedures, technology and attitudes. Chances are they have less money for training too so things change slowly.

Not Just The US

but many other first world countries have been targets of terror attacks. The criteria for targeting seems to be whether women are treated as equals (still not perfect, I know, but clearly not like cattle or objects to be sexually mutilated at 3 years old like in much of the Islamic world). Gender equality seems to be something that the Islamists simply can't stomach, and they fear that it will spread to their countries.


I guess the trade-off for all the extra security is, we don't have regular suicide bombings , and have avoided any serious terror attacks since 911. This has come at a price for some, but not for most of us. The increased security at the airports is the only aggravation that most of have to routinely deal with. I find that a fair price to pay to avoid some crazed Muslim blowing up my plane.

Um, that's actually non-Islamic and very African

The thing isn't found in its classic forms outside of Africa and probably the parts of the near east that imported African slaves.

Sweden and Iceland treat women even more equally than does the US -- and haven't been the target of any fundamentalist attacks. Norway was attacked by a racist Fascist fundamentalist who was upset with Norway's lack of intolerance for Islam.

Most of the Islamic world doesn't practice female genital cutting; much of the Western world was practicing male genital mutilation based on some desert tribal customs as recently as my brothers (circumcision, which cuts tissue that detects estrogen).

Some African tribe do that when the boy is older -- whatever you want to think about the customs, it's not really something that is easy for people from countries that used to use Africans as cheap labor to address.

A friend of mine was stopped in Minnesota for photographing a foot bridge. The security theatre is a way of making people tolerate things that don't really stop terrorists (all the 9/11 terrorists were in the country legally; finding people like Muhammed Atta took a long while).

Studies showed that destroying the World Trade Centers would have a negative impact on the American economy. If it hadn't been for the people who brought down the third jet, they'd have taken out Congress, too. I hate the attack on the World Trade Center, but crazy wasn't the word for it, unfortunately.

The Muslim woman murdered by the right wing Russian in Germany was a career woman as well as a mother.

Spain was targeted because it had sent troops to fight in Iraq. Once they withdrew the troops, they've had no other attacks. Denmark received threats because of the cartoons of Muhammed. The UK has been supporting the US's adventures in state deconstruction and what have been perceived as attacks on Muslims.

France, for all its anti-Islamic actions and bigotry against Arabs, has not had a terrorist attack (they've had riots by underemployed youth, which some feel is due to police mistreatment, but not terrorist attacks per se).

Islam isn't all one thing -- Turkey is predominantly Islamic by religion, but is a secular democracy.

The official Catholic position on birth control is far whackier than the Islamic position:


Rebecca Brown

What we are talking about

What we are talking about here are the extremists, the fundamentalists. Don't ever underestimate the level of hate they have have for everyone who does not hold with their beliefs, including fellow Muslims. Anyone who has had to deal with these people will tell you the same, they want the world to follow their "way", and barring that they will kill until there are only "believers" plain and simple.

Just like Fundamentalist "Christians" in the US

and Settler Zionist Jews.

And the US when it's outside the US.

Rebecca Brown

the attack in France

On September 21, 2001, a chemical factory in Toulouse was leveled. 29 died and over 2,500 were seriously injured. It was widely believed to be a terrorist attack - note the date just after 9/11 so nobody in North America noticed - and the resulting investigation was inconclusive OR in the words of a friend of mine that lives there, "the french are famous for not telling you things that it doesn't benefit you to know." A terrorist group later adopted the plant name. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AZF_(factory) The explosion flattened a few blocks of houses. I arrived the next day and saw some of the damage and newspaper/TV reports at the time which didn't resemble the later reporting.

France has been historically bigoted to North Africans

Not to excuse what was done, but the reality is that countries that aren't anti-Islamic don't get the attacks -- Sweden, Norway, etc.

Iceland has never been attacked despite having a president who is a lesbian.

I highly recommend "Giovanni's Room" and "The Battle of Algiers" (plus I've seen the French claims in tourism advertising that they were going to fade Islam right out of North Africa).

My brother was in the south of Frances and said that the North Africans were basically in the position that blacks were in in the US South -- the field workers.

Spain also has history with Islam -- Catholicism destroyed a rather impressive multi-ethnic culture, burned people at the stake for not converting.

The point is that the countries that get attacked or which have riots are in much more direct conflict with various Muslim populations than are highly feminist countries with many women in positions of authority -- Scandinavia and Latin America aren't getting attacked, and Latin America is second to Scandinavia as far as countries who've had women Presidents or Prime Ministers.

Germany has treated Turkish workers rather shabbily, but there's not the reaction from those people that there is from the North Africans in France. This could be because Turks are from a more secular nation where Islam is the common religion but not the state religion.

As with many things, both sides are wrong. Which one is most wrong in France, I don't know (suspect it's the French as they occupied North Africa), but the US's rising bigotry toward Hispanics and its sniping continuous bigotry toward blacks is just embarrassingly stupid.

Rebecca Brown

direct conflict, yes

If you're a country that went to an Islamic country and fought the people there, then you're vulnerable. That has nothing to do with feminism and everything to do with creating enemies. They would call it retaliation.

The reason you have more riots in France than Germany is because unemployment is much higher and always affects a greater number of immigrants and youth - and yes, you can call it discrimination. There are many north African immigrants in France because it was comparatively easy to immigrate from former French colonies to France, and of course, they're familiar with the language. On the other hand, it had been difficult to immigrate to Germany for some time before the EU was formed.

Yeah, and if this was about secular countries vs. Shariah Law

...the US wouldn't have invaded the most secular country in the MIddle East after Turkey (Saddam Hussein had the most progressive programs for women this side of the non-Orthodox side of Israel (Orthodox behaviors toward women are very similar to Islamic ones). The issues in Afghanistan are more complex -- the UK made the decision not to aid the fundamentalists against the Soviets (and the Afghanis have had soviet governments before in the past, in the 1920s or 1930) and read the Russian intervention there as the Russians trying to stop fundamentalism before it infected the Soviet republics. The US couldn't resist the chance to aid anyone against the Russians, to really rather dismal ends. Afghanistan's leftists stayed in power longer than America's puppets stayed in power in Saigon.

Germany had "guest workers" and the issues there are also complex, but appear to be getting resolved with less out and out bigotry than in France (the man who shot the Muslim woman was a recent Russian immigrant. Turks are 5% of the population of Germany. Lots of prejudice but not official discrimination. "In 2000, legislation was passed which conferred German citizenship on the German-born children of foreigners (born after 1990), and the naturalisation process was made easier, although dual citizenship is only permitted to citizens of the EU and Switzerland and any other national possessing it (including citizens of Turkey) by virtue of birth must choose between the ages of 18 and 23 which citizenship she or he wishes to retain, and renounce their other passport.[104]" From Wikipedia.

France has a Muslim population of 5.7 percent, so more.

I don't know if you're aware of this, but the National Review has a new columnist who advocates banning the teaching of Islam in the US, complete with proposed prison sentences (http://thinkprogress.org/security/2010/09/20/176281/neocon-team-b-author...). There's a strain of anti-Islamic bias in the US that is becoming quite ugly (many Islamic students stopped attending US universities around the last year I was teaching). I don't think even fundamentalist Islam is any nuttier than the Hasidim who want women to give the right of way to men on public side walks in New York and segregate themselves by gender on New York public buses, or the Fundamentalist Christians who are sure Obama isn't really a natural born citizen of the US and believe that women shouldn't really have been given the vote, or the Catholics who try to legislate against abortion and birth control (Turkey just didn't reverse its own more liberal laws on abortion). Some are worse than others; some have historically been more brutal than they are now. My country isn't really invested by radical Islam as much as it's infested by the others.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_Muslim_population -- Indonesia, Pakistan, and India are the countries with the largest Muslim populations. Only about 20% of the world's followers of Islam live in Arab countries. I'd have to spend more time checking to see if any Sub-Saharan African county was an Islamic state, but my impression is not.

Nicaragua has 1,000 mas o menos. Cuba has 10,000 (being best buds with the left Palestinians, that's not a surprise). Costa Rica has less than a thousand (being a kinda racist country, that's not a surprise). HaitI has 1,000.

Lot of Muslim of long tradition (going back to the 16th Century) in Europe, too: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_in_Bosnia_and_Herzegovina

My gut impression is that the Christian right wingers don't pull terrorist acts that often (Oklahoma, Atlanta, various attacks on abortion providers and even on Planned Parenthood) is that the FBI has done a better job of infiltrating them on one hand and it's easier for them to get into politics through the Tea Party on the other. But, yeah, they murdered people during the Civil Rights era and blew up things, and Oklahoma City killed a rather large number of people compared to the first attack on the World Trade Center. Some of them apparently were stopped in an assassination attempt on Obama early in his term or just before it. Terrorist attacks on blacks were more common from the 1870s through the 1940s, race riots against blacks, and lynchings (the Klan didn't have its Christian support jerked out from under it until sometime in the 1990s when the Southern Baptists formally apologized for their racism from Antebellum times on.

As long as my country doesn't play interventionist games with culturally Islamic countries, we have more to fear from the Christian far right in the US that tried to claim, quite falsely, that the US was established as a Christian country (not all the people who were generals in the American Revolution were Christians and at least Tom Paine and Nathaniel Greene were atheists, and John Adams made a point of telling Islamic countries that the US was not a Christian nation. I don't know what sort of Christian lies like those people do, but they are rather more scary than whatever is or isn't happening in Iran.

Rebecca Brown

Let's Not Forget

the recent French school attack:


and thousands of cars have been burned in nightly "demonstrations" in French cities with Muslim populations, by Muslim youths. I agree that these are extremist elements, but the Muslim community seems to tolerate a significantly higher percentage of these "elements". It's an envy of Western accomplishment not matched by the Muslim community. When 50% of the potential of your community is purposely unschooled, institutionally and culturally denigrated, and limited to menial work and child bearing, it's no wonder the community's accomplishments mirror those attitudes. If Allah hadn't blessed them with all that oil . . . .a much greater percentage would still be living in tents and mud huts.

It's hard to compare a relatively innocuous male circumcision which is accomplished by a "bell" that simply restricts blood flow to a newborn baby's penis foreskin until the tissue sloughs off, to the physical and psychological barbarity of FGM -and the not infrequent loss of life to complications from the practice. This is a good place to start:


I DO feel bad for those African adolescents who endure circumcision as part of a coming of age ritual, (OUCH ! ) but the entire context is different, and unless the "doctor" is both drunk and incompetent, the end result is not life-threatening, nor does it lead to any loss of function. This is NOT the case in FGM.

Catholic attitudes towards birth control may be unrealistic and short-sighted, but they don't include "honor killings" or gang rapes of girls who stray from church teaching. I think that we have to compare apples to apples here.

Turkey IS a bright spot; let's hope they lead they way for Libya, Egypt and Syria.

One of the pleasing things about Nicaragua is the relative availability of opportunity to both genders. It's not a perfect world, but it's not perfect in the US either. The biggest point of gender inequality I see in Nicaragua is the women working their butts off, and the guys loafing.

I suggest that you visit the Cuban Interests building ....

...before you leave the US -- you have to be invited, but they've got a replica of Harry's Bar, Hemingway's old hangout, there. Some countries can be the target of a much larger country and keep their sense of humor and irony.

There's a reason everyone claps (maybe two reasons) when the Miami to Managua plane lands in Managua. It's a more forgiving place and a more humanly supportive place than a lot of other places (possibly I'm simply lucky with my neighborhood, but it is simply a nicer place for human beings than Fairfax County, Virginia (Washington, DC, suburb). In almost two years here, I know more neighbors, have been in more neighbor's houses, than I ever was in Annandale.

It's also great being able to buy art without having to get in a car.


Rebecca Brown