09 May 2011

Heaven forbid women should serve at the highest levels of government

Did you hear the one about the religious zealots who are so upset at women serving at high levels in the national government that they illegally wipe them out of official photographs in which they appear?

Brooklyn's Hasidic newspaper Di Tzeitung printed, on the front page and above the fold, the White House's official photo of President Obama and his security team watching the bin Laden raid. You've seen the photo, I'm sure. But the image you've seen isn't the one the newspaper printed. Rather, they censored it, removing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (who is in an office that is "three chickenbones" away from the Presidency) and national security official Audrey Tomason, Director for Counterterrorism.

Trying to figure out why the newspaper editors cut the two women from the photograph. Tomason's shirt was too low-cut? Both women's heads were unshaved, and uncovered at that? Did the newspaper find that they hadn't yet had their post-menstrual mikveh and their panties checked? (BTW, that second link there makes for some fantastic lunch break reading. Start at page 1 of 9.) That is to say, presumably, the newspaper wiped them from the photo for religious woman-hating reasons. But isn't there also a religious admonition against deceit?

So here's the censored photo, via Failed Messiah, the blog that I understand to have first broken this story. I can't seem to find the Di Tzeitung newspaper online (because the Internet is too contaminated by all the immodest, unclean women who use it?) EDIT: because everybody misspelled it, and differently, so I couldn't successfully Google it the day I wrote this post:

A bunch of men

And here's the original, which a few people have pointed out was released with the express instruction from the government that it not be "manipulated in any way":

A bunch of men and two highly powerful women

And here's one that's been making the rounds, proscription on manipulation be damned:


But my point, and I do have one, is this. Imagine if women had not been oppressed for the past 5,000 years. And I don't mean to say that there is zero oppression of women any more; for just the latest example, see Indiana's plan to cut off its federal family planning dollars nose to spite its face, or recent figures of the ratio of men to women in engineering education (some 20%). But just imagine. If girls and women had been allowed into schools of philosophy, medicine, sciences, and engineering over the centuries, how far along in technology would the world be now? Would we still be spinning our wheels with fossil fuels? How many problems, challenges, wars could have been resolved more quickly, and intellectual advances been made sooner, if half the world's population had not been barred from participating on account of their sex?

Take that Audrey Tomason, for instance. I don't know what a Director for Counterterrorism does, or even exactly what agency or office her directorship is in. But I assume that she was the most qualified individual for the job. And something about her job and her expertise won her a ticket to be in that room to watch the live video of Navy SEALs popping terrorists. My guess is that she, or the people she directs, were indispensable for the operation to succeed, or actually probably simply to take place. What if she were barred from her job merely because she's a woman? What if the next most qualified person were also a woman? In other words, what if the most qualified man for the job had gotten the directorship over Tomason and who knows how many other women due solely to his sex, even though he wasn't as well qualified for the work as Tomason? The President stated that the mission had barely more than even odds of succeeding. Who wants to make the odds worse by not allowing the best people to fill the highest posts in the government?

Religious zealots, that's who.

Di Tzeitung published the doctored photo on Friday. Will any mainstream news outlets call them out on their front-page lies, or will it just be low-level bloggers like me? Oh, and the New York Daily News.

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