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Just Below the Surface......Just Below the Surface......

The Brotherhood of Man's Sordid Underpinnings

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, November 26, 2014.

This week is the year's lowest audience for my commentary, no surprise. Wednesday is the biggest travel day of the year, followed by Thanksgiving, followed by Black Friday, a self generated condemnation of consumer culture, consumers themselves, and the media for presenting a publicity ploy as news. Followed by the weekend where everyone waddles back home to face the grind Monday morning.

This year, it's more depressing than normal as Ferguson, Missouri provides illustrative example that bovine racism and the dangers of an ill educated, unemployed or underemployed demographic, black or white, remain a bigger issue in the US than we'd like to admit. In short, a large black teenager was walking down the street when police confronted him, apparently for being black and walking down the street. While not threatening the officers, and at some distance, the unarmed kid was killed by a clip of bullets. The near all white police force in a town mostly black united around the nebishy white officer and the Grand Jury - which traditionally always gives a prosecutor permission to prosecute - somehow didn't.

This is Missouri and this is seen as another instance of bigoted white Southerners, so the media gets out the old templates from the 1960's and sucks its tongue. But it isn't primarily a racist incident, although it certainly presents as such.

I was reading Andrew Sullivan this morning and learned that the President of Turkey, Recep Erdoğan, was addressing a room full of women’s rights activists, and informed them that gender equality is unnatural. Certain work, he shared, was against woman’s “delicate nature,” and “their characters, habits, and physiques are different” from men’s. Apparently flustered that the audience failed to break out in applause after firmly planting himself in the 18th century, Erdogan sought divine justification and returned to the 9th. “Our religion..." in case you haven't guessed, his religion is Islam ".... has defined a position for women: motherhood,” he said. Now, recall Turkey is a member of NATO, and is desperate to be accepted in the European Union both as an economic benefit and vindication of Turkey's high civilization. The President of a modern nation then drop kicked gender equality fans, saying they simply did not understand the role of women. “You cannot explain this to feminists because they don’t accept the concept of motherhood.” Hel-lo......

Saying this in Boulder or in any educated gathering would garner not just disdain but laughter at the absurdity. It is not, however, difficult to imagine the whites of Ferguson nodding their heads with furrowed brow sincerity.

Next, Erdogan tried a page from a number of GOP candidates of recent vintage here in the States, which is to say he became creepy and shared a family tale. “I would kiss my mother’s feet because they smelled of paradise,” he said. “She would glance coyly and cry sometimes.” Again, this guy is the President of a modern nation. Sort of....

Because after all, only 28% of Turkish women are legally employed, domestic violence isn't really considered a crime, and millions of girls are married very young to those not of their choosing. Turkey's previous president, Abdullah Gül, married his wife when she was 15.

But Erdogan had, he clearly thought, a progressive, even enlightened point to make. Because of the status of women within Islam, "....how could someone who understands our religion commit violence against a woman? How could he kill her?” A good question. Under his government, Turkey ranked 120 out of 136 nations on the World Economic Forum's gender gap index. Also, Human Rights Watch said of Turkey that "...perpetrators of violence against women, most commonly male partners, ex-partners, and family members, often enjoy impunity.” <

Also, he has announced abortion is murder, birth by Caesarean should be banned, women should marry young and have at least three children and wear head scarfs. You're not surprised.

This is Mike Huckabee. This is any Mormon patriarch. This is Justice Scalia, Ted Cruz, and Cory Gardner. This is the conservative fictional America the GOP wants to return to, changing only a few words, like Christian for Muslim. This is the Third Rate Man come to power, fearing level playing fields, fearing competition, fearing women, often fearing sex itself.

Beneath the racism in Ferguson are the same fears. Beneath everything, in fact.