Politics & Policy

Fish Are Better Than Women

Gauging U.S. priorities.

A week ago we came back from Europe with some Iranian caviar, and we got a stern lecture from the Customs folks at Dulles Airport. It turns out that Iranian sturgeons are on the “endangered species” list, and so you can’t import their eggs. “A fish had to be killed for you to get this caviar,” we were told.

Fair enough, but it’s peculiar that the Bush administration cares more about Iranian fish than about Iranian people. Just yesterday, for example, Iranian women tried to demonstrate against the blatant sexism of the regime by burning their scarves in public. This was too much for the mullahs, who filled the public squares all over the country with uniformed and plainclothes security forces, which moved quickly to prevent large numbers of people — the women and their men folk who came to protect them — from assembling. When the women insisted, as they did in Tehran, Shiraz, Isfahan, and other cities, the thugs quickly started their routine of beatings, arrests, and curses.

When the Iranian people have finally brought down this disgusting regime, scholars will marvel at the elegance of the slogans that are now routinely chanted in the streets of the country. “Down with the Taliban, in Kabul and Tehran,” is one of my favorites, and yesterday the women chanted “No head coverings, and no head slappings,” a phrase that, I am told, is far more meaningful in Farsi because “head slapping” is a slang expression for the humiliation of victims.

It’s no surprise that the so-called feminists — including very knowledgeable female journalists like Elaine Sciolino at the New York Times and Robin Wright at the Los Angeles Times have been thunderously silent about the systematic repression of Iranian women. By now we’ve learned that the feminazis only get upset when Westerners challenge their absolutist views on child care, salaries-just-like-the-men, college sports, or abortion. But I continue to marvel at the steadfast silence of the Department of State, whether the Human Rights Bureau or Secretary Powell and Deputy Secretary Armitage. We are engaged in a war against tyrannies that sponsor terrorism, and our most potent weapons are political. Yet the State Department is afraid to brandish them.

Women are beaten and arrested because they want to be free, and we do nothing. But our watchdogs are on the alert for activity threatening the well being of Iranian fish.

Go figure.

— Michael Ledeen, an NRO contributing editor, is most recently the author of The War Against the Terror Masters. Ledeen, Resident Scholar in the Freedom Chair at the American Enterprise Institute, can be reached through Benador Associates.

Michael LedeenMichael Ledeen is an American historian, philosopher, foreign-policy analyst, and writer. He is a former consultant to the National Security Council, the Department of State, and the Department of Defense. ...


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