It's the oldest trick in the political playbook, and Texans are especially good at it. If you want to discredit a group, get one of their own to attack them. George W. Bush used it in his first term as president, when a half million women marched on the National Mall for abortion rights. W put Female-in-Chief Karen Hughes in front of the cameras, while he hid behind the curtain. Hughes invoked 9/11 and compared the women to terrorists.
Dubya-clone Texas Governor Rick Perry learned from his predecessor. Beginning last week, thousands of women have shown up at the Texas capitol to support a 13-hour filibuster by State Senator Wendy Davis, and try to prevent the rollbacks on reproductive health and abortion rights. But Cathie Adams, Texas Eagle Forum president, was also front and center, calling the protesters "feminazis" and "stinky stalking feminists." Over in the House, female Representative Jodie Laubenberg (R) carried the water for Perry as the bill passed provisionally late last night (it's scheduled for final passage today). State Representative Bill Zedler (R) followed Karen Hughes' example and labeled the women "terrorists."
The so-called "Texas terrorists" are women from every ethnic and economic group, young and old. Many belong to such terrorist cells as the League of Women Voters, Hadassah, the National Council of Negro Women, and the American Association of University Women. A fearful bunch all right. Get out the tear gas and hide in the bunkers.
The Lone Star State attack on women was just the latest in what is looking more and more like the new McCarthyism. It's a simple formula. If women speak up for their rights, label them nazis and terrorists -- and if you can get other women to do it, so much the better.
Mad as hell about the vote, Texas pro-choice women are organizing a bus tour to speak up and speak out. Good for them. But there's another way the women who are trashed by their legislators and shameless sisters on the right can prove they back American ideals. In addition to showing up at rallies and statehouses, they can show up at the polls next year. Women are the majority of voters, and now have the ability to control any election. And a clear majority of U.S. voters, women and men alike, believes abortion should be legal.
For anti-choice politicians like Perry -- who hasn't ruled out another presidential run -- that ought to be a terrifying thought indeed.
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