South Dakota’s Taliban


In America, women are not required to walk three paces behind their husbands nor are they submitted to genital-mutilation to ensure marital fidelity. After decades of collective struggle, they have achieved many of the rights that are clearly provided under the constitution. That does not mean that the same dark forces which reduced women to second class citizens have vanished. Rather, just below the placid surface of civility, the primitive impulse to dominate women still thrives and is visible everywhere that women are not protected by strongly-enforced laws.

No one has done more to activate those primordial instincts than our doltish-executive, George Bush. By reenergizing the abortion-debate he’s emboldened the tribe of backwards-thinking traditionalists who see his tenure as an opportunity to apply their narrow-minded fanaticism to the rights of women.

Isn’t this what the abortion furor is all about; controlling women?

Behind the gauzy curtain of religious devotion the same ravenous appetite for domination continues to flourish.

In South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds signed a bill that bans all abortions in the state except to save the mother’s life. The new law will require a women bear a child conceived in rape or incest; forcing her to relive her trauma for the rest of her life.

There are no exceptions.

The legislation was passed by a meager 12 vote margin in the South Dakota House; 12 votes that transferred the ownership of a woman’s womb over to the state.

Even state Republicans oppose the new bill. In a recent survey, 73% of Republicans supported a “pro-choice position.”

No matter. The fanatics have taken over.

Is Governor Rounds sincere in his defense of the unborn, or is this just political maneuvering to reward his constituents?

If Rounds actions are heartfelt, then where else has he distinguished himself in the area of human rights? Nothing on the Internet suggests that he’s ever lifted a finger to defend, civil liberties, human rights, or social justice. Has he spoken out against the well-documented cases of prisoner abuse and torture at Abu Ghraib?


Anything on Guantanamo?

No, sirree.

How about the rampant misuse of the death penalty?

Nada, zippo, zilch.

His blustery indignation seems limited to one issue alone; stripping women of their right to reproductive freedom and reducing them to breeding-machines. Hasn’t this always been the cornerstone of evangelical chauvinism?

Rounds’ spearheads a coterie of finger-wagging zealots who see it as their religious duty to force others to accept their blinkered dogma. Their contempt for individual freedom is barely concealed behind their pretensions about “loving their fellow man” or “turning the other cheek”. Love, however, never enters into the equation; their real intention is to imbue their convictions with the power of the law; ensuring that others conform to their wacky ideas. This is how they seek political vindication for, what amounts to, self-righteous discrimination.

The right to choose is the right to have sovereignty over one’s own body. It is protected under Roe vs. Wade because the Supreme Court recognized that the state has no constitutional authority to insert itself into the most private areas of the citizens’ life. This principle cannot be violated without depriving women of the benefits to full citizenship.

That’s why we should take the South Dakota challenge seriously. It is an attempt to subordinate the principles of secular democracy (choice) with religious conviction.

This isn’t just about women. This is about the relentless attack on secular values by fundamentalist-extremists. The ideals of the French Revolution and the 18th Century Enlightenment have come under withering assault by religious fanatics who openly despise democracy.

Do I exaggerate?

Don’t fundamentalists openly flaunt their contempt for the First Amendment’s separation of church and state? Don’t they advocate the death penalty for adulterers, blasphemers, incorrigible teenagers, gays, and “witches”? Don’t they support bringing prayer back into the classroom, depriving homosexuals of their civil liberties, and substituting the Constitution with the Old Testament?

Isn’t the ultimate goal to replace American democracy with Christian theocracy?

Once the evangelical piety-police are in charge; the skids are greased for hell.

Terri Schiavo is just the beginning. We’ll see birth-control swept off the pharmacy shelves, moral watchdogs hacking away at free speech, and high-school girls waltzing around with scarlet letters’ stuck to their chests.

The religious nutbars will insinuate themselves into every area of the body-politic; attaching themselves to venal congressmen to ensure their dogma is scribbled into law. The change has already taken place on the High Court where Federalist Society brown-shirts are now preparing to apply their moral-straitjacket to every area of social interaction. The effects of their smug self-righteousness will soon be felt throughout the culture.

The assault on personal freedom has never been greater. Our basic liberties are now in the hands of proselytizing, Christian-extremists who see independence and personal-autonomy as a sign of moral decline.

South Dakota is just the first domino.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state.



MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at