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Libyan Writer Ghoma

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Friday, 5 October, 2007

CHAUVINISM'S LATEST SHIBBOLETH:
Children of Libyans Are Foreigners in Their Birthplace?

By: Ghoma


        Hail, hail ye, fare thou well, yo sources of wisdom! The puppeteer has tweaked his, rubber-stamping, boy gang, Government, in Libya, to lately issue a directive, a decree, or what-you-call-it, strange as it may sound, declaring the offsprings of Libyan women, who are married to non-Libyan men to be foreigners, and as such they're unqualified to receive whatever meager services the same Government provides! In other words, they must pay the charges for services, though as bad these maybe, education, health, etc., received.

        To start with, there's no room in the world for contemplating such an absurdity! Declaring children who were born, from a Libyan parent, just because she's a female, to be "foreigners" in the country of their birthplace has no other precedents even in the Nazis' laws against miscegenational marriages. The act would've been wrong even if it had included the offsprings of Libyan men who're married to non-Libyan women too -who, by the way must be more numerous compared to the number of Libyan women who're married to non-Libyan men. It's not a riddle: from under which rock the people, who, have enacted such a plain, in your face, discriminatory law, crawled out, it's from the many scrubby hills and dales making up the Jamahiriya? The creme de la creme of that Utopia's elitist crop! The question: Why a Government laden with cash (oil at $80+ /barrel) wanted some more petty changes? What was behind taking such a misstep? And, what kind of humans out there and who's allowed them to screed such a nonsense in the 21st century without an apparent shame, blush, or the slightest shade of embarrassment? This clutch has worked hard to show how, the so-called "people's collective wisdom," the product of 6-million noggins, is still no more than a puke of a retrograde throwback belonging to the Dark Ages - if Libya had ever gotten out of them! A kneejerk reaction of an uncivilized caveman?

        Chauvinism and discrimination come in different garbs and stripes. Some of them are against people of different color or ethnicity, others against one believer or another, one faith or another, but the biggest blunder royal involves policies and stands against women, for no other reason except being women! The root causes of such outmoded way of thinking have deep roots and go back to the beginnings of things and had been one of the main streams which penetrated and fed into history's shapers and their (false) consciousness. For the reasons are manifold and too numerous to enlist, and go beyond the scope of this piece. Suffice it to say, humanity must have had stumbled on its head while climbing up from the cave of its birth. Head down first, humans had indeed hit the bottom rock of baseness when men went berserk and thought of themselves as "superior" to their mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters! Since then, the road to recovery was long and arduous with all kinds of bends, twists, turns, pumps and suchlike dead-ends! All these times, along the way, humanity has been groping in the darkness of its own ignorance, as a voyager without a compass or a destination -or moral grounding- straying on the wayside in the deserts of its own history. Patriarchy had taken hold of the steering wheel of the vessel, leading it into the swamped jungles -and desert's sandmires- where some had lost their way and apparently never been trapped to get out of the mess. If there's any outcome to such wanderings, it came in the form of such extreme aberrations which, from to time, were able to excrete. Patriarchy, in its essence, the logic of Scare. Fear which generated the Hatred that drove human actions. Patriarchy, from the get-go, felt a need to justify, at the level of ideas, its actions and stands. Thus, came Religion to oblige! That's to fulfill the ideological cover for those far-fetched claims. Religions, for whatever reasons, saw nothing the matter with the ideas behind "inclusion and exclusion." Since one of their main purposes was to distinguish one group from another, they took "Fear of God" as the basis for moral conduct; while in the same time tolerated slavery, instigated discrimination and closed an eye on racism, but above all Religions had accepted (or established) misogyny -the hate of women- as a fundamental sine quo none of their tenets and practices! The result, in culture after culture women had been vilified, scorned, and made to be ashamed of their bodies. Women became temptresses! And thus in Religion after Religion women were/are seen and treated as mere appendages to men's history -or the folly campaigns of mutual slaughterings and the laying waste to the little achievements they'd made.

        However, even amid such bleak pictures there always will be some sparks of light and of hope. The Chinese have a saying that women hold up half of the sky, and indeed most of the Orient partakes of the yin-and-yang symbol and as an emblem of gender equality at least at the level of metaphors. Throughout the globe there were scattered, here and there, some glimpses of light, nice gestures generated by cultures which appeared, at least in their appearances, even though not in practice, to be aiming toward a fairer, if not always equal treatment, in practice, between the sexes. Since there was never absolute equality, however, in some less severe than in others. It all became a matter of degree.[Culture, as the result of human interactions, the repository to their values, nay depository of their debris, to their legacies, and a conditioner to their behaviors, is a good barometer to gauge the group's subterranean and conscious sensibilities toward each other, toward Nature and toward the rest of the human race]. The West, now, vaunts to have produced the finest culture(s), had endured, like almost anywhere else a long history of misogyny though lately have shown some hopeful signs of coming out of their slumber and starting to correcting some the erroneous practices of treating women as less than full humans.

        No social group has ever escaped from the scourge of chauvinism, some groups fare better than others. In the metrics of social evolution, all made some progress. Only those groups along the middle belt of the planet, including our corner of the woods, the plain parched deserts in every sense of the word, the center of the boondocks and hicks of this world, the generators and followers of the so-called culture(s) of " Honor and Shame," the Arab/Islamic World, chauvinism is still rampant, tolerated, and in some places even was worn as badge of honor. Women, in this hodgepodge of arrested development, are still seen, treated, and codified in the laws, both Divine and human, as no more than a chattel, property to whomever, name it from the male gender. In country after country woman is a walking "obscenity," a gnome sent to corrupt the male-angel! From South Asia to the Atlantic women were forced to accept the lowest rank of all -as last in the hierarchy of creatures. For instance, in the birthplace of Islam, Saudi-run-fiefdom, women are not able to drive a car or even walk on the same sidewalk where males walk! In Afghanistan and Iran they fare no better, walking ghosts. A mere shrouded specters in the ghosted landscapes of those forsaken lands. And in the promised-never- realized-heaven-on-earth, the Libyan Jamahiriya, of Qaddafi & Sons, Inc., you just have heard the latest of the nauseating pukes the regime is still able to pull out of its sleeves.

        Is this peculiar to Libya or something new to its latent or blatant savoi fare? In other words, is this an aberration? Are ideology, politics, and culture are OK but only few misguided ignoramuses have taken hold of them? Does Libya's government have more chauvinists than the rest of the country? Not really! Perhaps there's some room for exception among Libya women but among the male population, it's almost a universal norm to be a chauvinist. While the regime's ideology has never gone beyond slogans; its politics fared no better since a lack of clear and well-thought out policies and procedures made it swing back and forth and every which way it goes in an opportunistic whirling down a sinking hole of its own making. What remains at the end, then, which has given, and as long it lasts as it is will give, the necessary justifications to this and other similar jives, is Culture. A culture which has long been reduced to One- line-Verse or One-Sentence Hadith. Such a culture was not known for producing diehard liberals nor is it prone to entice enlightened social relations. That may explain why then Libya is an exception even to its neighbors in being such a staunch conservative? Dictatorship, backwardness, lack of a national conversation... (you fill the blank) were never catalysts for change, however, when supported by a decadent culture these tend to grow and prosper even faster. In all these years, for instance, personal status, family, etc., laws, were never part of any talk or conversation. These as well as other issues were considered settled once and for good! So this action, of the Government, was not new or for the first time. It had done something similar before, when it issued some directive banning Libyan women from traveling without a 'male Guardian', only to rescind it under pressure, which, must have come certainly from the oppressed half! Libyan culture, in noce, is a religious culture, and as such was saturated to the brim by misogynistic practices. Because of this, not many notice the daily practices of humiliations or consider them to be something wrong! Not many have ever contested, nor there's any opposition or condemnation of keeping women -who're confined in virtually prisoners, the so-called "life's graves," (houses) or keeping them out of public life was an egregious and gross violations to their basic Human Rights. In other words, not many think that women must be guaranteed a life in dignity and free of abuses. For, such practices, of sexism, are viewed as sacrosancts, and taken to be normal by the majority of the population and thus no meaningful oppositions to them ever existed!

        Since his take-over, the Colonel has spent most of his energy chasing after and fighting what he'd called fundamentalists. But fundamentalism, as an ideological genre, comes in the variegated shades of the spectrum. It has more than one facet and more than one color. What the Colonel and his government have just done was no less fundamentalist than what some disgruntled ignoramus of a sheikh in al-Azhar-lecture-halls or in some Wahhabis-la-la-Land, from time-to-time, would spit out in the form of Fatwas. Perhaps the Colonel was practicing an old tactic, to fight fire with fire; that's, fundamentalism must be fought with more fundamentalism? The sad fact, though no one from both sides of the barricade was counting the collateral damages each inflicted on those who have nothing to do with both causes. Women, as usual, being easy prey, on them would receive the brunt of the negative consequences of any skirmishes. It's just another factoid: the weak receive as much of the brunt as it's ready to take.

        Some apologists of both the regime and its ideological covers, would hesitate to paint such actions and procedures in any other color than that in favor of women! They think they're doing them favor by keeping them oppressed. Had it ever occur to them to ask: Why women have any interest in prolonging the dark night of dictatorship or to perpetuate the wrong practices of Religion? Is it conceivable that women would support a culture that gives cover to some people, in positions of power, to dare to take such decisions with immunity? And, Wouldn't be no different than slaves supporting the culture of slavery? Aren't such attitudes only indicative of how far deep the society which gave them rise and still contains them has to climb up to reach where some other fellow humans already are perched?.

        So, the "Government" was not an insolent bunch of Neanderthals. No. Those who took such a decision actually considered themselves, the standards of Libya, a good sample to their environment, the average Joe. One even could say they embodied both the "average man's" view and the collective wisdom of Libya! In other words, these folks are not fishes out of water. A good part of the male population and a not small part, sadly to say it! from the females too, are up to their eyebrows wallowing in the myths and sophistries of other ages and bygone traditions. To these people, human Experience and Reason are still strange enigmas which were/are constantly, scorned and disregarded in favor of some frozen life-mold of once-upon-a-time fairy tales. The tragic thing is the so-called reformists are no better lot. In the best cases, they intend to dusting off the dirt and brushing up the colors without ever coming close to touch the big picture. Putting bandages on cancerous body! Doubt on anything never entered the jargon of Libyan opposition groups. They're as absolutes as the regime they fight and the culture they follow. There're no radicals in Libya brand of oppositionists! Timid as they're, a mere misguided bunch, if not frankly reactionaries, their campaigns are bound in one of these days to hit the rock. Once the contradictions come to the fore and encounter the grinding realty, when the little oxygen keeping them alive was exhausted, then, their ill-thought programs and phony dreams would have smothered to death whatever little their work may have achieved. By then also, it'll be further discovered that the soil on which those intended grandiose "infrastructures" of the "reformists" were erected on a brittle and poisoned mud inadequate for any foundations, and less so for a new society.

Ghoma
Ghoma47@hotmail.com

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