Dear Pro-Birthers and Muslim-Banners

If you read that headline and thought these are not (necessarily) one big group.   Then you’re right. These two things are together in one title because they came to a head in the same week and because they are not mutually exclusive. Some of you might belong in one camp and not the other.

I get it.

As likely as not, judging by the people who were in Washington on Jan 20th and Jan 26th, these views probably do overlap.

And the pro-birth movement is not doing itself (or anyone else, least of all the imagined babies) many favors.

The main issue the rest of us have with the idea of promoting life above a mother’s life, above medical advice, irrespective of the circumstances of conception (rape), is that the very people who place such value on the right to life, don’t seem to value it once the baby is born.

Life for that baby seems full of hope.

To be born but without health coverage. Hope you don’t get sick.

To be born to a parent making less than a man in the same role. Hope you can make it college.

To be alive with the very real chance that your precious life might end studying at school, watching a movie, or shopping in the mall. Hope you don’t get shot.

Hope you get lots of help from someone because the same people who did everything to make sure you were born – including increase the chance of you killing your mother – will be voting to take away programs that you’ll need.

These people will instead spend their time focusing on stories of outliers, the .1% of extreme methods used by mothers who are forced into last minute decisions due to one circumstance or another. They will post and repost graphic images of other babies and clamor that everyone has the right to live.

And when the government passes a law saying that refugee children fleeing some of the most horrific, prolonged wars cannot enter our country, so that those children can access the basic rights of life they hold so dear, well, let’s hope these people who value life so much appreciate nuance.

That they understand the irony of denying a living child the security of life but marching to protect the lives of the unborn.

That they are aware that a citizen from any of 7 countries on the banned list has never been involved in a terrorist attack.

That they can appreciate why people with legal documents should be allowed entry to the place they call home.

If you’re not pro-birth, but are anti-Muslim, it may stem from another tide of feeling which could also benefit from an appreciation of irony: true Christianity.

Jesus was not born to the Caucasian parents of a Cadillac dealership in Atlanta, Georgia. He was, as you may have heard last month, or even watched reenacted, born to a pregnant teenager in a horse stable.

He fled persecution and found refuge in Egypt.

He also said so many things about poor people – and promiscuous women – you probably want to go brush up on it. It’s kind of all summed up in these phrases, “love your enemies” and “he who is without sin, cast the first stone.”

We are divided today in a way our modern generations can’t remember. How far back to do we have to go to the level of inequality and refusal to engage in logic around the issues?

The 60s? The Civil War?

Jesus wept.






If You Want to Look at Nude Photos, Look in the Mirror

Women’s bodies are their property. If they want them to appear in advertisements, or as fictional movie characters, that’s their business. Don’t look at unauthorized photos of anyone, male or female. Whether Kate Middleton or Jennifer Lawrence: looking at leaked photos supports so many ideas antithetical to how you want your mother/sister/wife/daughter/friend/self treated.


Don't Let Cyber Bullying Win in Qatar: #ISupportQatarFirsts

QatarLast week I wrote about the criticism a group of Qatari youth received for traveling to Brazil. To be more precise, traveling to Brazil, in a mixed group of men and women, where the females were photographed without veils or wearing traditional dress. On Wednesday I invited us to ruminate on who defined Islam: the masses or the individual?

This week, the company that was sponsoring the trip, Vodafone Qatar, has pulled their support of the trip and by association, the group. Yes, you read that right. A corporate entity, who sent young people to a remote village in the Amazon, where they are currently in basic conditions and far away from their families, disavowed the project midstream.

What’s more important is the psychic effect this has on the participants, particularly the female members of the group. In a traditional, tribal society like Qatar, a person’s reputation is a stand-in for him or her. While the participants were being abandoned abroad, the girls’ families at home were being chastised in a Friday sermon at the mosque; their parents’ actions were being questioned on social media.

The countries in the Arabian Gulf have long walked a fine line between their traditional values and a space at the global table. Westerns may not realize that consumption – iPods, Cadillac, and Coke – do not alleviate conservatism. In fact, for most consumers in the GCC, consumption is an economic activity that does not effect their personal choices (expect perhaps in the case of the BDS movement against Israel). People may stay up all night watching episodes of the sex filled scenes of popular HBO shows but in public they behave appropriately.

A long held practice has been that what happens outside of Qatar is the prerogative of the traveler and his/her family. You would find the bathrooms occupied on flights descending into Qatar as women went to robe themselves in preparation for the Doha International Airport. What the criticism and abandonment of the #qatarfirsts campaign has shown, however, is in a world with social media, this limited space of freedom may no longer be the case. Qatari women’s (and men) right to choose how they conduct themselves while abroad may now be at end.

This is a #qatarfirst but perhaps not in the way the original organizers intended. The first time cyber bullying has gone unchecked. The first time women were publicly shamed for a private choice. Given the plans for the country’s rapid development, and the oft repeated, now synonymous with modernity, the 2022 World Cup.

Let it not be the first time we in the community allow a group to dictate the actions of individuals.

Here’s what you can do:

Reach Vodafone Qatar and tell them their action has been ill advised.

Reach Vodafone’s global office in the UK and let them know their brand is behaving irresponsibly locally.

Use the hashtag #isupportqatarfirsts or #istandwithqatarfirsts on social media to let the team know they are have our support.