Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ophelia Benson and the Atheist Alliance International*

She coulda been a contender. Instead, a one-way ticket to Palookaville.

Don't count us out.

(By the way, I can't seem to find the video of the PBS film about Elia Kazan, Arthur Miller, and the blacklist online. A shame - it was one of their best.)

*Yes, I later corrected her name. No idea what happened, beyond too much time in the past 48 hours spent looking at a baby-name-mocking site. I blame Greg Laden.

Book Bits #2: There is No Novelist of History

I think I’ll make this a semi-regular feature! I recently provided a little snippet from a biography of Anne Hutchinson, and here I am again, offering not a full review of a work but just a few thoughts on a single passage within. In this case, I haven’t even read the work in question [!] (though I have read the exchange in question (this has all of the important links) and watched some interviews with the author. There are so many problems with this book in general that I wouldn’t even know where to begin; happily, Coyne and others have risen to the challenge.

I here address only Wright’s contentions regarding irony, which he refers to as “moral irony” but which, mealy mush aside, is more accurately depicted as historical irony. Here’s the quotation Jerry Coyne provides from Wright’s book:

This is the moral irony of the Koran. On the one hand, it is vengeful; people who read it after hearing only whitewashed summaries are often surprised at the recurring air of retribution. Yet most of the retributive passages don’t encourage retribution; almost always, it is God, not any Muslim, who is to punish the infidels. And if we confine ourselves to the Meccan years – most of the Koran –Muslims are encouraged to resist the impulse of vengeance.
Coyne’s response:

Here, as in much of his reply, Wright seems oblivious about the disparity between what scripture actually says, and how it bears on his main thesis. He admits that the Meccan verses are not only written earlier than the Medina ones, but are also superceded by the Medinan verses (in light of this, it’s completely irrelevant which verses make up “most of the Koran”). So what’s the point of emphasizing the sunny verses if they’re rendered obsolete by darker ones? And who cares whether it is God rather than the Muslims who is to punish the infidels? As Wright insists throughout The Evolution of God, it’s how the scripture is interpreted by humans that’s important. If Muslims, in the end, see the Qur’an as mandating vengeance, then Islamic theology has grown less moral.
Whenever I hear “irony” in reference to history, I reach for my…critical faculties. Coyne is completely correct, but I wish to raise a broader question – Is there such a thing as historical (or moral) irony? I’ll go out on a limb and say there isn’t. I think Coyne is right: the key issue is the historical reception of the relevant passages. But another question is – Can this historical reception really be ironic in any meaningful sense? I don’t think so. “[M]ost of the retributive passages don’t encourage retribution…God rather than the Muslims…is to punish infidels” is claptrap, which ignores the ways in which ideas have been interpreted. “Marxist-Leninism merely suggested that the kulaks were doomed by History. It's a historical irony that millions were deliberately killed”; “I merely said that homosexuals were engaging in sinful behavior that is repulsive to the Lord. I never told anyone to go out and beat them up.” The history of people believing themselves agents of the forces of necessarity/teleology is so evident that only the most naïve theorist would ignore it.

And that’s what we have here. Someone so enamored of his thesis that contrary evidence is not recognized as such, but viewed as irony. I’ve long considered it a rule of thumb in writing about events in the past and present that if I find myself resorting to claims of irony I should rethink my thesis. Irony only makes sense as a deviation from a narrative script – a literary device. There are no historical scripts.

I’m happy to hear arguments to the contrary or to discuss concrete examples of what people see as historical irony. I don’t see irony as having any place in the physical/natural/social sciences.

Monday, September 28, 2009



Tear gas and LRAD:

Radio Globo forced off the air (now playing music):

(I can't confirm their provenance, but these appeared within the past hour.)

HONDURAS - URGENT: Constitutional guarantees suspended for 45 days


Read it here:

"Honduras Coup Leader Micheletti Decrees 45-Day Suspension of Constitution"

Good thing Micheletti and his gang were around to protect democracy and the constitution from opinion polls. Clownish thugs.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Puritan Monster

The other day, I finished Eve LaPlante's American Jezebel, a biography of Anne Hutchinson:

I won't review it now, and may not do so here at all. Still haven't decided, though I'll recommend it generally. (I will give in to the temptation to yet again recommend Linebaugh and Rediker's The Many-Headed Hydra:)

But I did want to share one story from the book that struck me. It concerns a stillbirth of Mary Dyer in Boston in 1637 and the responses to it:

Only three weeks before her trial, on a balmy October night in 1637, Hutchinson had sought and received private advice from [John] Cotton about a matter that, had the other ministers learned of it, would have caused an outcry. The matter was the birth of a deformed stillborn to a Boston couple, an event that most of their neighbors would have seen as evidence of God’s displeasure with the baby’s parents.

On October 17, Mary Dyer, the twenty-six-year-old wife of the milliner, William Dyer, went into labor two months before her due date and lost consciousness. The midwife Jane Hawkins, who was attending her at home, sent a man on horseback to summon Mistress Anne Hutchinson to assist in the birth. Later that evening, with both midwives present, Mary Dyer delivered a stillborn female with extensive deformities of the head, spinal column, and extremities.

To protect Mary and her husband from public shame, Hutchinson and Hawkins swaddled the tiny corpse, concealing its deformities. When Mary Dyer regained consciousness, the midwives told her only that her baby had died. But what to do with the body? Anne Hutchinson proposed that they bury it and not speak of it again. The risk of this, as both she and Jane Hawkins knew, was that if townspeople heard what had happened, they would suspect evil intent, which would only intensify the Dyers’ shame. English common law allowed a midwife to bury a dead baby in private, as long as ‘neither hog nor dog nor any other beast come into it’, but the Massachusetts court had forbidden this practice as a way of preventing attempts at abortion. Anne Hutchinson thought to ask Reverend Cotton for his advice.

Well past midnight, she walked from the Dyers’ house, at the corner of what is now Summer Street, to the Cottons’ gabled mansion…

…Anne tapped on the parlor window, and the minister let her in. in the candlelight, she described Mary Dyer’s birthing and requested his counsel.

Yes, conceal it, Cotton agreed, aware of the English custom and law. She thanked him and went back out into the night. Before dawn, she and Jane Hawkins buried the baby. According to one account, Cotton accompanied the midwives and dug the grave. A few other women who had been present at the difficult birth knew of the baby’s state. But no man in the colony save John Cotton, William Dyer, and probably Will Hutchinson knew that the midwives and the minister had conspired to save the Dyers additional pain (pp. 88-9).
This seemed to me so compassionate and moral. Hutchinson and the others weren't just concerned with protecting Dyer socially, but emotionally as well. There was nothing to be gained from their actions socially or - to their imaginations - with their deity, and in fact they took a great risk, motivated only, it appears, by the desire to spare others pain. Which is why I found the denouement so sickening:

[At the conclusion of her church trial, at which she was publicly excummunicated] Holding her head high, [Hutchinson] stood, turned, and walked swiftly to the meetinghouse door. Now she took the proffered hand of her friend Mary Dyer, whom she had aided after her difficult birth. A group of Anne’s supporters, shrunken by the many banishments, disenfranchisements, and voluntary exiles from the colony, clustered around the rude wooden door that led out to the late-winter light.

[John] Winthrop was unaware, as he watched Mistresses Hutchinson and Dyer in the rear of the meetinghouse, of the events in October that had followed Dyer’s stillbirth. Within a week, however, word of the ‘monster’ that Dyer had borne – and that Hutchinson and Hawkins, with Cotton’s support, had secretly buried – would reach the governor, horrifying him. He had always admired the charming and attractive young Mary Dyer, but now she seemed ‘of a very proud spirit’, ‘much addicted to revelations’, and ‘notoriously infected with Mistress Hutchinson’s errors’. Of the Dyer baby, he would report in his journal:

It was so monstrous and misshapen as the like that scarce been heard of. It had no head but a face, which stood so low upon the breast, as the ears, which were like an ape’s, grew upon the shoulders.

The eyes stood far out, so did the mouth. The nose was hooking upward. The breast and back was full of sharp prickles, like a thornback [an ocean dweller with thornlike spines]. The navel and all the belly with the distinction of the sex were where lower part of the back and hips should have been, and those back parts were on the side the face stood.

The arms and hands, with the thighs and legs, were as other children’s, but instead of toes it had upon each foot three claws, with talons like a young fowl. Upon the back above the belly it had two great holes, like mouths, and in each of them stuck out a piece of flesh.

It had no forehead, but in the place thereof, above the eyes, four horns, whereof two were above an inch long, hard, and sharp.

The infant’s condition is consistent with a severe birth anomaly, anencephaly, the partial or total absence of the brain, according to modern medical experts. The horns, talons, and prickles are, however, embellishment.

‘Many things were observable in the birth and discovery of this monster’, the governor would note. The Dyers were ‘Familists, and very active in maintaining their party. The midwife, one Hawkin’s wife, of St. Ives, was notorious for familiarity with the Devil, and is now a prime Familist. This monster was concealed by three persons about five months’. Intimating a communal revulsion like that later associated with the witches of Salem Village, Winthrop reported that most women present at the birth ‘were suddenly taken with such a violent vomiting, as they were forced to go home, others had their children taken with convulsions, and so were sent home, so as none were left at the time of the birth but the midwife and two others, whereof one fell asleep. At such time as the child died, the bed where in the mother lay shook so violently as all in the room perceived it’.

Learning of the birth, Winthrop would order that Mistress Hawkins be questioned and the corpse exhumed. ‘The child was taken up’ from its grave, he reported, ‘and though it was much corrupted, yet the horns and claws and holes in the back and some scales were found and seen of above a hundred persons’ (pp. 205-6).
Monster, indeed.


  • The Keystone Koupists have demanded that the Brazilian government define the status of Manuel Zelaya - still resident in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa - within 10 days. The Brazilian government has rejected this ultimatum and noted that their embassy is protected by international law.

  • There are allegations that the Koupists have also denied entry to and/or detained a contingent of four representatives from the OAS seeking to promote negotiation.

  • There are reports (well, I've only seen one - in AFP, which I don't particularly trust and won't link to*) that Zelaya has issued a nationwide call for people to amass in Tegucigalpa tomorrow, which will be the three-month anniversary of the criminal coup.

  • Here's a link to an interview with Honduran activist Bertha Caceres.
If a showdown is looming, I hope it is peaceful. The oligarchs should realize that they have failed, and step aside.

*Their wording implies that he was urging a violent offensive; even without knowing more details, I'm sure that isn't the case.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Geoffrey Megargee on Nazi camps and ghettos

I watched an interview yesterday on Book TV with Geoffrey Megargee - author of Inside Hitler's High Command (2002) - about the set of reference volumes he and others have been working on for about a decade for the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, 1933–1945, from which Volume I has recently been released. Here's the link to the brief (18-minute) interview.

Pittsburgh LRAD video removed from WooTube

Thanks, Lab Boy.

I see that the Pittsburgh video I posted - and checked shortly thereafter - has since been "removed by the user." Lab Boy's suggested video is also "not available."

Let's try the one from WIRED

and *eyeroll* MSNBC (morons)

and see how long those last.

Greta Christina on race and gender in the atheist movement

[Catching up on my feeds. Still at G. :)]

Greta Christina is fabulous. Once again she brings together several key ideas and concrete suggestions in a concise, articulate set of posts:

"Getting It Right Early: Why Atheists Need to Act Now on Gender and Race"

"Race, Gender, and Atheism, Part 2: What We Need To Do -- And Why"


While some in the media try to present conditions in Honduras as having "normalized,"* Amnesty announces "Several reported dead in Honduras turmoil":
..."The de facto authorities must put an immediate halt to these repressive tactics and commit to respecting fundamental human rights," said Susan Lee, Amnesty International's Americas Director.

There has been a sharp rise in police beatings, mass arrests of demonstrators and intimidation of human rights defenders since the return to Honduras on Monday of deposed President Manuel Zelaya, who was expelled from the country in a coup in June....
Things continue to be precarious in the Brazilian embassy where Zelaya has taken refuge. Those in the embassy, the people in the surrounding area, and anyone trying to approach the building are subject to constant harassment. While some have tried to (misre)present Zelaya's claims about attacks on the building as paranoid, more and more evidence comes forward to support these allegations (the comments there contain more information), and the UN Security Council has demanded that the coup regime cease its harassment immediately.

One of the same devices, LRAD, is being used here in the US as well. Here it is rolling through the streets of Pittsburgh (*WARNING: You should turn down/off the sound before playing*):

This is the world we live in. Anyone who sees it as global democracy is deluded. Chris Hedges is hit or miss (especially on religion and atheism), but his recent "With Global Capitalism Exposed as a Sham, All the Global Elite Have Left Is Pure Force" is worth a read.

*I should note another recent piece by FAIR - "USA Today, AP Mislead on Honduran Coup." It provides email addresses for those to contact to demand more accurate reporting from these two sources.


From the Rights Action Network:

THERE IS NOTHING TO “NEGOTIATE” WITH THE HONDURAN REGIME: Its Calls for November Elections Is A Further Subversion of Honduran Democracy

By Grahame Russell, September 25, 2009- Rights Action
Day 90 of resistance to the coup and military regime

On September 23rd, following the return to Honduras of the legitimate President, Manuel “Mel” Zelaya, the illegal oligarchic-military regime again used lethal repression against the pro-democracy, anti-coup movement.

Different voices in the international community – notably the governments of the USA and Canada – again called for “both sides” to refrain from provoking violence and to “negotiate” a solution to the crisis.

These ostensibly neutral and reasonable-sounding calls to “both sides” for non-violence and negotiations serve to legitimize and prolong the regime which will again, sooner or later, carry out repression against the Honduran people. There is only one side using violence; there is only one side refusing to discuss, in any way at all, the restoration of the democratic, legal-constitutional order


When the foxes are in the hen house, one doesn’t call on both sides to step back from violence and work “their” problems out peacefully. If armed criminals break into your home and announce they are there to stay, one does not call on both sides to step back from violence and work “their” problems out peacefully.

There is one major problem in Honduras that needs to be resolved. 90 days ago, an oligarchic-military regime overthrew the democratic and legal-constitutional order. Since then, the regime has used repression against Hondurans protesting in favor of democracy, against the coup.

Despite what the regime claims, and what some international supporters repeat, there exists neither a democratic nor a legal-constitutional order in Honduras. It is an illegal, military State.

Until President Zelaya and his entire government have been returned to power - full power, including complete control over the Armed Forces - and until they have worked through a period of political transition, repairing the extensive harms and damages done by the regime, and are towards the re-establishment of the democratic and legal-constitutional order, nothing positive can happen, the situation can only deteriorate.


This includes, notably, the presidential elections slated for November 29, 2009. To pretend to carry out a fair electoral process in a country with a broken democratic and legal-constitutional order, controlled by an illegal repressive regime, is a contradiction in terms. Yet, this is what the regime is aiming for.

On June 28, 2009, the Honduran oligarchy conspired with the high command of the Armed Forces, and with the participation or acquiescence and support of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church and a majority of the Congress, and with the participation or acquiescence and support of wealthy and conservative ideological sectors across the Americas, to militarily oust the government of Honduran President Zelaya.

Those directly and indirectly supporting the conspiracy obviously thought the Honduran people would protest for a few weeks, and then fade away. No doubt they assumed that the international community - governments and institutions such as the Organization of American States, United Nations, World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, etc. – would (sooner or later) accept that a while some sort of ‘coup-lite’ had taken place, in the end what came about was a constitutional move to a transitional, civilian government headed by Roberto Micheletti.

All along, the regime has seen the elections as their end-game to legitimize the coup and fully “restore” the democratic order, thus ending the ‘constitutional transition period’.


While the oligarchic-military regime received public support from powerful political sectors linked to the Democratic and Republican parties in the USA, and indirect but crucial support due to the equivocating positions of the governments of the USA and Canada, they utterly miscalculated the strength, dignity and creativity of the peaceful and still growing pro-democracy, anti-coup movement in Honduras.

The people’s movement in Honduras, guided by the National Front Against the Coup, is deserving of the Nobel Peace prize. This movement exemplifies ‘another-world-is-possible-and-necessary’.

For 90 days, Hondurans have suffered waves of brutal repression. Dozens have been killed, hundreds illegally detained and tortured (including rape), many more have suffered injuries due to tear-gas, rubber and live bullets and beatings on the streets, and more.

Despite this, the movement – guided and encouraged, but not directed by the National Front Against the Coup - continues to protest peacefully, creatively and forcefully, day after day, in the poor barrios all around Tegucigalpa, in the centers of major cities, and spreading throughout Honduras to villages and remote mountainous regions.


The regime also miscalculated the reaction of the “other” international community. Across the Americas, and inside Honduras, solidarity activists, NGOs, alternative media journalists, religious communities, human rights accompaniers and more are working directly with and/or supporting the National Front Against the Coup and community based organizations across Honduras in the pro-democracy, anti-coup movement.

The regime and its supporters inside the country and internationally got it all wrong. Yes, they are carrying out widespread repression. Yes, the Honduran people are suffering a great deal, for their dignity and heroic struggle. But, the regime and its supporters are wrong; they will not prevail.


All of this has come to a point of maximum tension when the regime unleashed another wave of massive repression on Wednesday, September 23rd. They did so because President Zelaya came back to Honduras. Enthralled that their President was back, thousands of Hondurans gathered around the Brazilian embassy.

Enraged that Zelaya was back, after almost 3 months of keeping him out, and enraged that Hondurans were in the street, defying yet another military curfew (many staying over-night outside the embassy), the regime did the only thing it knows how to do: repression. The result: more tear-gas, more rubber and live bullets, more wounded, more illegal detentions, more torture, more deaths.

The regime showed, again, it has no interest in democracy, the rule of law, international law and human rights. The regime showed, again, there is only one way it can remain in power – repression, repression and more repression.


Only concrete political, economic and military pressures from the OAS, the UN and the international community, particularly countries of the Americas, particularly the United States (that for generations has trained, funded and armed the Honduran army and police), can put an end to this regime.

The “San Jose Accords” – mediated by President Oscar Arias - failed and have been by-passed by events. They no longer offer even a framework for discussion, which President Zelaya had accepted in July.

President Zelaya and regime leader Micheletti have said they will talk and try to find a way out of the brutal impasse faced between the military regime and the Honduran people, but any talks must be based on acceptance of the re-establishment of the democratic and legal-constitutional order.

This fundamental basic point cannot be “negotiated” with the illegal regime; they must relinquish power.

Once they have done so, there will plenty for President Zelaya and his government to discuss and negotiate amongst themselves, with the National Front Against the Coup, with the Honduran people, and even with some people and sectors that supported the coup:

  • A comprehensive transition plan to re-establish the legal-constitutional and democratic order

  • Criminal legal processes against the coup plotters and perpetrators

  • Reparations for the victims of repression committed by the regime

  • Perhaps the establishment of a “Truth Commission”

  • The re-setting of an election timetable

  • And, most importantly, the establishment of a framework for the National Constituent Assembly

There is a lot to do … but there is nothing to “negotiate” with the regime. Until it has completely relinquished power and the democratic and legal-constitutional order is fully restored, the amazing pro-democracy, anti-coup movement will continue to lead the struggle for their democracy and for the remaking of their Honduras … and they very much need the support of the international community.

* * *

(Grahame Russell is Rights Action co-director: info AT rightsaction DOT org, www.rightsaction.org. Feel free to re-publish and re-distribute this article)


MAKE TAX-DEDUCTIBLE DONATIONS to directly support Honduran organizations and people working with the National Front Against the Coup. Make check to “rights action” and mail to:

UNITED STATES: Box 50887, Washington DC, 20091-0887
CANADA: 552-351 Queen St. E, Toronto ON, M5A-1T8
CREDIT-CARD DONATIONS: http://rightsaction.org/contributions.htm

For foundations and institutional donors, Rights Action can (upon request) provide a full proposal of which organizations and people we are channeling funds to and supporting.

AMERICANS & CANADIANS should contact our members of congress, senators & members of parliament every day, day after day, send copies of this information, and demand:

  • unconditional and public support for the return of the entire constitutional government of President Zelaya

  • unequivocal denunciation of the military coup and no recognition of the illegal oligarchic-military regime of Roberto Micheletti and General Romeo Vasquez

  • unequivocal demand and pressures from international community for regime to relinquish power

  • no recognition of the November 2009 elections, that candidates from the traditional Nationalist and Liberal parties are campaigning for, even as the country is militarized and repression is widespread

  • immediate suspension of all international funds and loans to the regime, and targeted economic, military and diplomatic sanctions against the coup plotters and perpetrators

  • application of international and national justice against the coup plotters and perpetrators

  • reparations to the victims of harms and damages (including loss of life, torture, rape) committed by regime


In October, activists with Rights Action will be on speaking tours in Ontario, Quebec and eastern Canada, and north-east USA, showing slides and short documentaries and speaking about the on-going pro-democracy, anti coup movement in Honduras and about indigenous and community resistance to Goldcorp Inc.’s open-pit, cyanide leach mines in Guatemala and Honduras.

Karen Spring (spring DOT kj AT gmail DOT com) in Ontario
Francois Guindon (francois DOT guindon AT gmail DOT com) in Quebec and eastern Canada
Grahame Russell (info AT rightsaction DOT org) in north-east USA

Thank-you for your on-going support for our work and for this amazing struggle.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


There's been a request in the comments for more on Honduras. The problem is that, even though I'm home today and able to check a number of sources frequently, there are frustratingly few updates from on the ground. Telesur's still talking about other stuff, Radio Globo seems to be down (which is worrying...), and the blogs haven't had much during the past day. Zelaya's still in the Brazilian embassy, which is surrounded. Lula da Silva and others continue to call for Zelaya's reinstatement, and it appears the UN Security Council is going to meet tomorrow to discuss the situation.

Most distressingly, it looks like (at least) two people have been killed since Zelaya's return. Although the full curfew seems to have been lifted, Amnesty International issued the report "Beatings and Detentions Follow Honduras Demonstrations" - earlier today. They say:

Amnesty International has received continuing reports of numerous demonstrators being beaten by police and some several hundred detained across Tegucigalpa, the capital city of Honduras. The reports follow the break up by police of a mass demonstration outside the Brazilian Embassy on Tuesday.

Reports also indicate similar human rights violations across the country. There has been a sharp rise in police beatings, mass arrests of demonstrators and intimidation of human rights defenders since the return to Honduras on Monday of President Manuel Zelaya Rosales. The President was expelled from the country in a coup d’etat in June.

Amnesty International has warned that fundamental rights and the rule of law in the Central American nation are in grave jeopardy.

"The situation in Honduras can only be described as alarming," said Susan Lee, Americas Director at Amnesty International. "The attacks against human rights defenders, suspension of news outlets, beating of demonstrators by the police and ever increasing reports of mass arrests indicate that human rights and the rule of law in Honduras are at grave risk...."

I'll post on any other significant developments.

I heart PZ Myers and Greg Laden

Thank you both.

PZ brought thousands of people here. It may well have called some people's attention to what's happening in Honduras. This is hugely important. (And yes, I'm utterly thrilled that more people are now aware of my blog.) PZ rocks.

And Greg Laden, well...

I'm so glad to have discovered the Salty Current blog, BTW.

...and I must say, that Salty Current has exhibited an admirable degree of professionalism, grace, and aplomb throughout this whole incident.

Oh, and Jadehawk's

see? this is what happens when you take a Pharyngulite out if its natural environment and allow it to invade other blogs.

Invasive species are such a pain, aren't they?

was perfect. It's funny, because it's true.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hurts like brand new shoes

Hurts like brand new shoes.

Pie hole? Are you kidding me?

Well, Isis, I'd like to know what you'd like me to do. I started this blog primarily because of what was happening in Honduras, but it's been dedicated to movements from below around the world. Any suggestions? Any you or your readers have are most welcome.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Zelaya's back, and so am I!

I'm busy with work at the moment, but events in Honduras have made it impossible to stay away.

Manuel Zelaya is back in Honduras, in the Brazilian embassy! The coupists, after initially denying his presence in the country, imposed a curfew that appears to continue through today and broke up the concentrations of people outside the building. They also tried to shut off power to the neighborhood of the embassy and to close down Radio Globo, which had reported on Zelaya's return (to no avail, in the end - you can listen here). Telesur for some reason is broadcasting about sports at the moment, but Narco News has continuing coverage - see the links on the left. The coup-plotters are desperately grasping at repressive straws, but they face organized democratic resistance and international condemnation. They will soon be out.

While I'm on the subject, I read an outstanding piece by Mark Cook - "Rerun in Honduras" - at FAIR, discussing the media coverage of Honduras. It sums up everything I and others have been saying, and adds more historical context. (The other article linked to there - "Women Need Rights, Not Rescue," by MADRE's Yifat Susskind and Diana Duarte - is also excellent and well worth a read.)