I have something I want to comment about, but I keep musing on a different subject, instead. On what a disgusting world it’s turning into, and what an unimaginably disgusting world it would be if the bombers got their way. We thought things were bad before! What with the US propping up repressive blood-thirsty regimes all over the planet as long as they were hostile to the Soviet Union (as Bush acknowledged in London today), and what with the two super-powers piling up ever more and more nukes. But that all looks like a nice cozy tea-party compared to what’s shaping up now, doesn’t it. There is just nothing quite like the combination of nuclear weapons and people who would like to run the whole world according to Sharia. It’s enough to make you want to go out and stock up on little cyanide capsules.

John Gray refers to the nasty mess in passing in a review of Bernard-Henri Lévy’s book about the killing of Daniel Pearl. Just in passing – because everyone knows about it, and what can we do anyway.

Lévy is hardly the first to suggest links between Pakistani intelligence and radical Islam: there is evidence the ISI played a pivotal role in establishing the Taliban in Afghanistan. Pakistan could become the world’s first nuclear-equipped failed state. It presents a greater danger than North Korea, and incomparably more than Saddam’s Iraq.

Yes. Such an exciting prospect – that coup in Pakistan that seems to be just waiting to happen, and then there we are, Muslim fundamentalists with nukes. Oh goody.

Well, while I still can, I think I’ll just enunciate a little rhapsody to the good fortune of being a woman here in this place now at this time instead of at another time or place. To what women who live in the secular West get to have that women who live in Muslim theocracies don’t get to have. Like independence, and ownership of our own selves as opposed to being owned by a man, and autonomy, and the ability to leave the house whenever we want to without having to ask permission or put on a large stifling tent. The ability to leave the house at all. The ability to work, the ability to say no to an offer of marriage – the ability to live our own lives however we damn well please. Period. What a new thing that is for women, how lucky we are to have it, how few women around the globe have it even now, and how…unspeakable it would be to lose it. As it was for the urban women of Afghanistan, for example.

I’m a maniac about independence, myself. It’s perhaps almost my first value; it’s at any rate right at the top of the list. I prefer autonomy to safety, security, to almost anything. Always have. Maybe it’s something to do with growing up in the country – I used to spend all the time I could outdoors wandering the fields and woods, delighting in the fact that no one, not even my mother, knew exactly where I was. So the idea of being under permanent lifelong house-arrest the way women are in Muslim theocracies makes my skin crawl more than almost anything I can think of. And I doubt I’m the only one. For what that’s worth, which is pretty much nothing. That’s the point of all this bombing. ‘We don’t care what you want, we’re going to tell you what you can have.’

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