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Friday, 07 March 2008 06:35

Real She-roes -- Catherine Fenton

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by Catherine Fenton

Oh me oh my what is a feminist to do in these dark, angry times? Fire off dark, angry missives to editors, friends, and foes? Why is everybody picking on Hillary? She worked hard all of her life, and now some upstart man is trying to push her out of the way and take away what she has coming. But what did Hillary work hard all of her life for, and what exactly is it that she has coming?

This Sunday, in celebration of International Women's Day, CODEPINK Long Island is honored to present as our guest, Kathy Kelly of Voices for Creative Non-Violence. I viewed her film "Voices in the Wilderness: Defying Sanctions and the War in Iraq," which was under consideration to be presented at our annual event along with several others. It left me physically and emotionally stunned.

What does it have to do with Hillary Clinton? In some quarters, it appears to be the cry of the day that women must support other women. Bitch is the new black and all of that. If that is the case, let us look at the cases of several different women, and you tell me: are they all worth supporting?

Under Clinton Administration economic sanctions, it has been estimated that half a million Iraqi children under the age of five died due to malnutrition and disease. What did women have to say about these 500,000 dead children? Let's see what the first female Secretary of State had to say about it on "60 Minutes" when questioned by Lesley Stahl:

"We have heard that a half a million children have died [because of sanctions against Iraq]. I mean that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And -- you know, is the price worth it?"

"I think this is a very hard choice, but the price -- we think the price is worth it."

Half a million dead children under the age of five. It was worth it.

Sorry, that is not a position I can support and I don't care whether you dress it up in a skirt and lipstick or not. If bitch is the new black, put me in pink. CODEPINK. And yes, I'm a feminist.

What did Kathy Kelly do when these Clinton Administration sanctions were starving to death, and keeping medicine from, these children? Did she say, well, it's tough, but you know, in the long run, worth it? No. Kathy Kelly defied Madeline Albright, United States law, and Bill Clinton. She went to Iraq and she brought these sick and hungry children medicine and whatever other supplies she could. For this, she and her organization were threatened with a $163,000 and 12 years in prison. They were eventually fined $20,000, which they have refused to pay. Since 1996, Kelly has been to Iraq 24 times.

That's a person I can support. A woman who said that keeping medicine from sick children is wrong, no matter what. That starving children is wrong, no matter what. A woman who took a look at the power structure and said, "I know exactly what you can do to me... but I'm going to do what's right anyway, so do your worst and I'll do my best."

That's what I call a woman.

Today, Hillary Clinton runs on a resume that she insists includes her eight years as First Lady. An eight years that left her tested and ready for some nebulous phone call. If she wants to put those eight years on her resume, let's do it. What say you to this, Senator Clinton? You claim to have been an advocate for children your whole life. What about these children? If you were solving foreign policy crises during your husband's administration, why didn't you step in when you found out the damage these sanctions were doing and solve this crisis? What about the children being killed by cluster bombs? Why did you vote against banning cluster bombs in civilian areas? These too, are on your "resume," Hillary. Funny, I never hear you mention them.

So I'll thank Hillary supporters to keep their own counsel, as I will keep mine. And my counsel tells me that feminism is not about being tough enough to sentence children, and let us not forget -- other women -- to death through badly aimed sanctions, cluster bombs, and unnecessary wars. As a liberal, I believed and still do believe, that after the complete and abject failure of conservatism, we should have been heralding in a President Al Gore, or if not, then a President John Edwards. Barack Obama is not my first choice. But as he did vote yes on banning cluster bombs in civilian areas, and speak out against this war before it happened, perhaps he is the better choice. Perhaps a third party candidate is a better choice for you. These are matters of individual conscience. But Hillary is not the answer.

And I'm not turning my feminist card in.


Catherine Fenton
Media Coordinator
CODEPINK Long Island

If you live on Long Island, or in the surrounding areas, come meet a real female role model at the Huntington Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington, NY this Sunday at noon, where Kathy Kelly will be speaking and showing her film.