Another Symptom of the Colonial Mind Set: International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act
Last week the “International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act” failed in the House of Representatives, despite passing unanimously in the Senate. This was a “bipartisan” bill ostensibly designed to “require the federal government to develop a plan to combat child marriage with the goal of eliminating the practice worldwide.” At the last minute anti-abortion Republicans managed to scuttle the bill by claiming it would provide abortion funding. Sounds like a wonderful bill, how could anyone be against a bill designed to prevent child marriage around the globe? Democrats and liberals were fuming over the defeat of this bill.
I on the other hand have a somewhat different take on this situation. First off, I don’t see this bill as much more than pandering to liberal voters, it’s symbolic at best. It’s like claiming to be “pro-family,” how can one go wrong? Whether this bill passed or not, Democrats will be able to get lots of political traction out of it, why we’re trying to help the poor child brides of the world! Yeah, right, even a cursory examination of the past century of US government foreign affairs shows a sociopathic indifference to the lives of woman and children in the world, so the hypocrisy meter of off the scale on this one. Not to mention that it’s still legal to get married as young as age thirteen in some US states, but we are going to lecture the world about their child marriage practices? And who, exactly, appointed the USA as moral arbiters of the world’s cultural practices anyhow? This is the aspect of this that most disturbs me, the very powerful implication of this bill is that we are morally superior to these “backwards” nations, and have the right to lecture to them about their marriage practices.
This is the colonial mind set illustrated. I might as easily call it the Christian mind set. The idea that the USA is morally superior to other countries. There’s two ways this strikes me as disordered thinking. For one thing, when one has decided that one has a morally superior, paternalistic, relationship to other countries … the ends justify the means. Humanitarian “concerns” were touted far and wide to justify the conquest of Iraq just as one example. When waging war, easily the most inhuman act possible, I mean we’re talking organized mass murder, is “justified” by humanitarian concerns … the concerns don’t sound particularly humanitarian to me.
Secondly, the job of the American government is to protect … Americans. The other nations of the world are sovereign nations, our government has no more business telling them how to treat their populations that they would have telling us how to run the USA. Yet most Americans, left and right, are so steeped in the idea that America is some sort of morally superior nation, that they never question our politician’s attempt to exploit issues like this. Basically this bill is was a disgusting attempt to exploit third world child brides for domestic political gain. This is how both parties distract their followers into being loyal drones, the parties know exactly what buttons to push. Legions of zombie Democrats will be in a distracted dither about this, ignoring the fact that their party is just as much complicit in America’s crimes against women abroad and at home as the Republicans.
There’s also a nasty element of Islamophobia in this as there has been a concerted campaign in recent years to demonize Muslims, especially Palestinians, for their treatment of women. The above image is a wonderful illustration of this propaganda campaign. One can find it all over the web, purportedly showing a mass wedding in Hamas controlled Gaza where the men in question were marrying little girls. Frankly, anyone who can look at that picture and imagine that those men were marrying those little girls is sick in the head. Literally. As numerous first hand witnesses recounted, yes, there were little girls at the mass marriage ceremony. They were relatives of the brides and grooms, not the brides themselves.
Do I think the people who sponsored this bill were all cynical manipulators of public opinion for their own personal political gain? No, I don’t. It’s just that if America was truly concerned about the plight of women in the world, we need to radically change our foreign policy, not pass toothless symbolic laws that are window dressing for our exploitation of the third world. Propping up misogynistic medieval regimes like the Saudis, turning countries into failed states, sanctions, embargoes, war … these things are hurting the women and children of the world and breeding exactly the sorts of conditions that turn the lives of women and children into male controlled nightmares. The USA and the west and the ongoing colonial exploitation of the third world is the problem, laws like the “International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act” isn’t going to fix that. Frankly, laws like this are part of the problem, not part of the solution.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit and is central to illustrating the post. I will be curious about comments I get on this one. And just for the record, of course I don’t “support” child marriage, just that this law isn’t the way to fight it. People who can’t grasp that being against something like this law doesn’t magically make one a supporter of what the law is ostensibly trying to fight need a remedial lesson in logic. Comments suggesting same will be deleted.)