LARA LOGAN AND OSAMA BIN LADEN
I was watching Lara Logan on 60 Minutes when news of bin Laden’s capture and death flashed on the screen. She was detailing her being gang-raped in Tahrir Square while reporting on Egyptian pro-democracy demonstrations. It was difficult to avoid forming connections between these two events. Many commentators have been pointing out that the events of the so-called “Arab Spring” had already rendered bin Laden irrelevant. But the details of the raid itself and the events leading up to it belie that notion. How is it that bin Laden was able to hide in plain sight in the Muslim world for so long? The answer to that question has much to do with what happened to Lara Logan.
Lara Logan was not attacked by pro-Mubarak thugs, nor was she attacked by an Islamist mob, the kind of moronic goons that murdered UN workers when a Koran was burned by another moron. She was attacked by Arabs celebrating the victory of democracy, or at least the defeat of autocracy. Someone in the crowd yelled out that she was an Israeli and a Jew, and so she was raped and beaten to within an inch of her life. Lara Logan is, of course, neither of those things. What made her a target and a convenient repository for other Arab hatreds is that she was clearly a Western woman, not covered in the Muslim manner. That made her fair game in Tahrir Square, the cradle of Egyptian democracy.
What the Arab pro-democracy forces have yet to learn is that there is no freedom without the freedom of women. What the rape of Lara Logan tells us is that there is no freedom for women even among the most forward-looking groups on the Arab political spectrum. Unless they understand that democracy requires the freedom of women, their movement will fail.
What has been little noticed about Al Qaeda and Islamists in general is that there is a group they hate even more than Americans or Jews, the primary focus of their grotesque, fascistic rhetoric. They hate women. Even a cursory reading of Sayyid Qutb, the intellectual inspiration for Islamism, would reveal that female sexuality is the greatest threat, to be approached with fear and loathing. The 9/11 hijacker’s, Mohammed Atta’s last will and testament, in which he says: “I don't want any women to go to my grave at all during my funeral or on any occasion thereafter,” and “I don't want a pregnant woman or a person who is not clean to come and say good bye to me because I don't approve it,” is merely a case in point.
Osama bin Laden’s neighbors in Abbottabad were not radical Islamists. But one reason he was able to hide in plain sight is that the hatred of women is simply background in the world in which he was hiding, the camouflage that obscured him.
As long as Muslim society does not question the hatred of women, it will be a safe haven for Islamism. Until the pro-democracy forces in the Arab world make the freedom of women their primary concern, Al Qaeda and Islamism will not be irrelevant. They will infect that movement and destroy its hopes. The rape of Lara Logan is a pustulant sore in that infection.