sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

March 14, 2012

What Is Reproductive Justice Anyway?

I first heard the term from Sandra Fluke, a one time President of Georgetown chapter of Law Students for Reproductive Justice, who, of course, wanted Catholics to buy her a condom.  I didn’t understand what justice has to do with it.  Sexual activity has consequences, one of which is pregnancy.  Although law and social norms dictate that fathers provide for their families, women shoulder most physical demands of childbearing and sacrifice our professional lives (at least in part) to raise families.  This is the way of nature, and, it seems to me, asking nature for justice is useless.  Like birth, death is the way of nature, and yet we do not ask for justice for kids who die of leukemia.

On the other hands, scientific advances make it possible to cure leukemia, or at least delay death.  Similarly, new technologies and free markets brought us the $5 Pill.  So what is Sandra Fluck complaining about?

I looked up “reproductive justice”.  Proponents taut it as a subset of social justice, but I have trouble distinguishing between the two.  The concept of reproductive justice was developed in 1994 by a black feminist Loretta J. Ross after attending International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, Egypt where she got to hang out with other black feminists.  According to a sympathetic profile, Ross got involved in radical politics (black nationalists, Marxists and the like) while attending Howard College in the early 1970s.  Tragically, Dalkon Shield left her infertile at 23 years of age.  In 1997 Ross founded SisterSong, a collective that offers reproductive justice seminars that cost 2K minimum to attend — 2/3 of Fluke’s yearly contraception budget.

While the pro-abortion movement is primarily an upper middle class white phenomena, reproductive justice is lead by minority women.  To be sure, reproductive justice champions embrace abortions and on their wiki entry sing praises to noted racist and eugenicist Margaret Sanger.  They move beyond abortion, however, formulating a more holistic approach to women’s health, with more holistic demands (NOW has the wish list — from maternity leaves to illegal immigration) within the acceptable lefty causes, excluding, of course, pleas that lower class men of all colors stay with the families they started.  In other words, social justice by other name.

According to SisterSong website, reproductive justice moves discussion not just beyond abortion, but also beyond the Constitution:

Human rights provide more possibilities for our struggles than the privacy concepts the pro-choice movement claims only using the U.S. Constitution. Reproductive justice emerged as an intersectional theory highlighting the lived experience of reproductive oppression in communities of color.

How about another quote:

Reproductive Justice is important for women of color because it provides an exciting, intersectional framework that allows us to include all the social justice and human rights issues that affect our lives. This can be done without segmenting, isolating, and pitting one priority against another.

They certainly love the word “intersectional” over at SisterSong.  I suppose I love cheap shots.  But really, what do we say about people who refuse to prioritize?  We say that they want it all, right?

When I went to college I was taught that “segmenting” and “isolating” is supposed to be alienating, but I found it empowering.  When we segment and isolate we analyze, use reason.  Reason doesn’t alienate us from the community, it makes us a better member of it.  But not according to SisterSong who, with this quote, invite us to move beyond Western Civilization and the Enlightenment.  Reproductive justice advocates reject individual liberty, which for them means “choice,” in favor of group rights.  This makes perfect sense, considering that feminism started out as a bourgeois movement that asked for equal treatment under law and morphed into a group rights political establishment.

One reproductive justice blogger suggests that if Sandra Fluke were black nobody would blink an eye if Rush said she’s a slut.  I have to chuckle at this hypothetical.  Many conservative women, most of them white, were called worse names, and no national outrage followed.  Still, it’s interesting that Sandra Fluke, a privileged white college girl, who is evidently dating a son of a major Democrat donor, became the face of free contraception.

September 7, 2011

Astroturf in Israel?

Filed under: Israel — Tags: , , , , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 7:34 pm

Turns out, huge demonstrations demanding cheap housing that recently shook Israel were organized by an American Democratic operative:

According to an investigative report by Maariv‘s Kalman Libeskind, the protests were engineered by a group of media strategists who are directed by prominent Democratic strategist Stanley Greenberg, a former adviser to Bill Clinton, John Kerry and others. Greenberg directed the strategists to create a protest that was not led by one specific group, in order to create social ferment. An unnamed left-wing leader would eventually step into this ferment and take the reins, Greenberg predicted.

I suppose it’s not astroturf if grassroots show up, but I found those demonstrations puzzling.  You see, Israel’s economy is doing phenomenally well and the country is attracting Jewish youth from the English-speaking world:

Despite overwhelming odds, Israel has matured into an economic powerhouse boasting an ever-increasing GDP, strong currency, a lower unemployment rate than the US and the EU, and a rich and diverse culture. With all that Israel has to offer, Aliyah is increasingly becoming a normative lifestyle choice for recent college graduates and young professionals from western countries.
Young professionals in their twenties and thirties are faced with major life choices: What career path should I pursue? Should I attend graduate school? Should I date this person? These critical life decisions naturally tie into where one chooses to live. Will I find fulfillment in Manhattan or Toronto? Los Angeles or London? Such times of introspection inevitably lead to larger questions of how we define ourselves as individuals, as members of a community, and as Jews.
When studying the recent trends in Aliyah, it emerges that many young singles at this juncture in their lives are realizing that their future is in Israel. Since 2002, over 7,000 students and young professionals have made Aliyah from North America and the UK with the help of Nefesh B’Nefesh, bringing with them their skills, idealism and determination to contribute to a society that is at the forefront of global technology.

Seven thousand might not seem like a lot of people, but considering that a little shy of six million Jews live in Israel, and slightly less in the US, and not all of them are in their 20s and 30s, this is not a bad number.  I doubt young people from the developed world would be flocking to Israel if they thought they wouldn’t be able to make a good living there.

Israel’s unemployment rate is at an all-time low, at 5.7% this May, if you are wondering.  The long-term prospects are good thanks to highly educated, dynamic population and the prospect of developing natural resources.  Plus, Israeli society doesn’t have the structural problems that loom over other developed nations.  The total fertility rate for the Jewish women in Israel is 2.9 and rising.  The TFR for Muslim women is 3.7 and falling.

When Greece or the UK rioted, we knew it was about the looming end of welfare state.  Economically speaking things are looking up for Israel.  So why the demonstrations?

Israeli leftist organizations are funded from abroad, mainly the US.  They typically attack Israel on foreign policy issues, and are designed to deligitimize Israel in the global arena.  Foreign money was behind the libelous Goldstein report.  David P. Goldman argued that the protests are good news because they show that the country is united behind Bibi’s foreign policy, and the only way the left can think of attacking him is on the domestic front.  I hope he is right.  On the other hand, perhaps they are just diversifying.

Dear people of Israel, please don’t let the party responsible for the failed American policies select your next Prime Minister.

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