The myth of Mary Tyler Moore-ing Muslim women

by LT. COLONEL JAMES G. ZUMWALT, USMC (RET) August 28, 2017

While actress Mary Tyler Moore passed away earlier this year, her 1970s show represented a television programing breakthrough. The central character was the first portrayal ever of a never-married, independent career woman rather than simply a man's wife. The show's success was driven by Mary's independent spirit, displayed in its weekly opening scene. It became such an iconic symbol of female independence, a statue of Moore stands today at the site of its filming in Minneapolis. In the scene, a gleeful Mary, having toured the city, is shown tossing her tam up into the air.

This perception of independence has not been lost upon Muslim producers of a recent, and most remarkable, music video. Very professionally done, it is remarkable because the producers are not mainstream Muslims, but fundamentalists. As such, they are, normally, vehemently opposed to such videos.

Rarely is any criticism about Islam voiced from among young Westerners. This primarily stems from knowing very little about the religion and, therefore, lacking any basis for offering criticism.

But, rather than self-educate themselves about the religion, these young people instead are spending time on social media or watching entertainment videos. This preference has not gone unnoticed by the fundamentalist Muslims who produced the music video. They saw an opportunity to influence young Westerners with a video removing some of Islam's "sharp edges" regarding women that have given the religion a deservedly bad wrap over the years.

To counter Islam's bad wrap, these fundamentals turned to rap - Arabic style. In so doing, they are banking on it to attract many young Westerners into embracing a religion their naivete will not challenge.

The video portrays several, beautiful Muslim women, all wearing colorful hijabs and burkas, acting as carefree and independent as Mary Tyler Moore - totally uninhibited by their surroundings.

The video seeks to put a "kinder, gentler" face on the Islamic custom of wearing such garments. It seeks to hide the custom's oppressive nature - one symbolic, as far as personal freedoms go, of chaining Muslim women to a life of abuse by and servitude to their husbands.

The video is so contrary to what it attempts to portray, it would be similar to ISIS producing a video showing fighters donning clown faces to entertain, rather than rape and behead innocent children.

It promotes the hijab and burka as garments of fashion Muslim women enjoy wearing. They are observed promenading in public alone, falsely portraying the right to do so unescorted outside their homes.

Most the women are shown with faces fully exposed - although most fundamentalist countries mandate the face be covered save for the eyes.

Several women are also shown rhythmically moving to the sound of the music - one even taking a gleeful jaunt down a park sidewalk, reminiscent of the Mary Tyler Moore scene. This too would never be tolerated in public. And, of course, any thought of tossing her hijab up into the air would quickly be dashed by the brutal Islamic religious police patrolling the streets, not only of Muslim countries but in Europe now as well.

Interestingly, while filmed outside in public areas, no bystanders are seen in the video, suggesting its production was done discretely so as not to upset fundamentalist observers.

Yet, the video suggests Muslim women live life daily in a casual and carefree manner, absent a fear in the world.

Not only is music and dancing forbidden in such countries, these women are also portrayed undertaking other activities verboten as well, such as driving cars and, astonishingly, even skateboarding.

Anyone knowledgeable about Islam and its demands upon women would immediately grasp the video's hypocrisy. The smiles upon their faces belie the fact they live in Muslim nations where their testimony equates to less than that of a man; where a man can abuse his wife for failure to obey him or submit to him sexually; where young girls are raped and the rapist allowed to escape punishment by marrying his victim.

The video fails to tell the story many such beautiful faces have been scarred forever in acid attacks by Muslim males seeking revenge for a rejected marriage proposal. The tally of Muslim women paying the ultimate price as victims of honor killings, both inside and out the Muslim world, continues to rise. Undoubtedly too, all the women in the video have had to suffer the brutal practice of female genital mutilation - a practice designed to make sexual intercourse less pleasurable for them and thus decrease the likelihood of them having a wandering eye. (Meanwhile, Islam grants males sex licenses to enter into temporary marriages to quench their lustful desires.)

Despite a life of second-class citizenry Muslim women are forced to live, many - according to the "Prophet" Muhammad - will never make it to Paradise. Claiming to have visited both Hell and Paradise, he told followers, "I was shown the Hell-fire and that the majority of its dwellers are women."

Wearing the hijab is really an issue only gaining prominence in the late 20th century - only coming into existence during the last half century. Invented by an Iranian mullah, ironically his source of inspiration was the headgear worn by Lebanese Catholic nuns. It was only after Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution that wearing the hijab was mandated, giving rise to a global fad. The rationale for the garment, according to Iran's first president, was "scientific research had shown that women's hair emitted rays that drove men insane."

The music played in the opening credits of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" was "Love is All Around." There will be many young Westerners taken in by the belief, after seeing this video, the tune is representative of life for women in the Muslim world as well. Sadly, it is not.

The video is so contrary to reality as to what it attempts to portray, it would be similar to ISIS producing a video showing fighters donning clown faces to entertain, rather than rape and behead, innocent children.

A version of this piece also appeared on http://www.wnd.com/    

Lt. Colonel James G. Zumwalt, USMC (Ret.), is a retired Marine infantry officer who served in the Vietnam war, the U.S. invasion of Panama and the first Gulf war. He is the author of "Bare Feet, Iron Will--Stories from the Other Side of Vietnam's Battlefields," "Living the Juche Lie: North Korea's Kim Dynasty" and "Doomsday: Iran--The Clock is Ticking." He frequently writes on foreign policy and defense issues.


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