i've been thinking twice about posting on the women in that photo - the one of mr obama et al watching the killing of osama bin laden - being obliterated from the photograph before it was published in a religious newspaper.
i hesitate for a number of reasons. mostly because i hate how people will take some bizarre thing done by some group of muslims in the world and use that as an excuse to point fingers & ridicule us all. and i hate how i'm supposed to be on the defensive when such a thing happens, or how i'm supposed to somehow explain the thing away or loudly say "that's not me, i don't believe in that" and distance myself even though i really don't feel i have any obligation to do so. especially when other groups don't have the same expectation placed on them, and neither should they. and also because all types of people from all kinds of demographics do stupid stuff, and i don't at all believe any unrelated third person from the same demographic should be held responsible in any way.
another reason is that there is a whole history of anti-semitism that has been going on for many centuries and had caused the deaths of millions across any number of countries. to throw something out there that could potentially add to all of that, regardless of the wrongness or rightness of the particular issue, just feels like an awful thing to do.
then there is this whole thing about how muslims apparently all hate jews and here i am being a typical muslim hating on a jewish community. of course those who have read any history or happen to meet people from a variety of communities quickly learn that myth isn't true. but still the stereotype exists & it's pretty much impossible to ignore the context of the environment i'm living in when i assess the impact of highlighting any particular issue.
more than that, there'll be the underlying subtext of me trying to deflect criticism of the muslim community by saying "look, they're just as bad". even if it wasn't my intention to do so, that suspicion remains.
but let's think even wider. there isn't just the anti-semitism and the islamophobia that i'm dealing. there's also that group of people that love to hate on anything religious and to blame religion for all the ills of society. and somehow they think that's ok, since they hate and blame all religions equally. to me, that is the equivalent to someone saying to me "oh don't worry, i've just said nasty about indians, but i feel equally nasty towards africans, chinese, and everyone who is a different colour to me". would you even consider not calling such a person racist? the racism doesn't have a lesser effect just because you're equally racist to people from a variety of different races.
if i choose to highlight this particular act in this particular paper, published by this particular religious group, the haters are all going to be like "see those religous nutcases! all religions are stupid and the people who follow them are spectacularly so".
so. maybe it's best if i just let it go. even though it does totally annoy me that women are completely erased from the picture on the grounds of religious belief, and the constitutional first amemdment has been used to justify doing so. powerful women who have worked hard to achieve their positions (and continue to work hard) don't get to be in the picture.
even though i feel that way, i don't live in a vacuum and i'm too conscious of the undercurrents that surround me. so i'm not going to link to the picture or to anyone who has written about it. the only reason i raise it at all is to raise all those other issues and to try and think about a way we can do this (ie express our outrage) without making things worse. i still haven't come up with an answer to that.
commenting note: i've thought about turning comments off for this post, but i won't for now. i will ask people to be respectful of all people of faith and those who don't believe in any religion, equally. moderation will be tight on this post.