In case anyone has missed the fascinating discussion among feminist groups over draft registration (not, remember, the registration of women, but all registration), consider a few of the key passages:
Bella Abzug said, "The purpose of this . . . is to make clear we are concerned about the hysteria, the return to the Cold War, the use of the draft and registration for political purposes." She condemned equally the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and "the shamelesly profiteering American oil monopoly."
Maggie Kuhn, head of the "Grey Panthers," said, succinctly, "What we need is Amtrak, no mx."
Hilda Mason, a D.C. council member, said the trouble in the Persian Gulf is really "an economic struggle to preserve corporate wealth, rather than a treat to the people." And Rep. Patricia Schroeder suggested we leave it up to the allies to protect the Gulf.
But it was left to a prominent woman in the administration to give the key working: "Women are being pulled in different directions because no self-respecting feminist is a hawk . . . . It's like saying if you favor registration, you're a warmonger and an anti-feminist."
Now wait a minute. Is what we are hearing possible? Typical? Is there no understanding at all among these women of what does lead to war? I'm afraid the answer in all three cases is yes.
The idea these women's leaders, all with the best of intentions, are expounding is the same one that a troubled father voiced on a radio talk show the other day: "How can I protect my son from violence?" His question presupposes what the women's statements presuppose: that "violence" is some outside force one can wrestle to the ground only if one is oneself uniformly pure and good.
The better question is: "How can I transform the normal violent human emotions he has into creative, productive channels?" This accepts human nature as both good and evil and, like the Americans who formed our systems, builds in all possible safeguards to transform behavior to the "good" as much as possible.
Moreover, when one looks really carefully at what actually does cause wars, it has virtually always been not the existence of power but a vacuum of it on one side, which in turn tempts the other side. And certainly not the absence of power, as these women would have us believe.
Or, as the fine author-psychoanalyst Rollo May writes: "Violence comes from powerlessness . . . . it is the explosion of impotence." And in another place he asks: "Does innocence invite its own murder?"
The women's leaders who are so adamant against the draft consider themselves "pacifists." Certainly I respect all the rights and ideas of the true pacifist; but as a woman who has considered herself a feminist for a long time, I am deeply troubled by the equation of women's rights with the kind of "pacifism" (many would call it "pseudoinnocence") these women espouse.
I am equally troubled by the implicit and inherent confusion of the idea that women, in and of themselves, represent a pacific, loving social force with the idea that organized women can or should carry that into power politics as all-out "pacifism."
World War i occurred because of the imbalances of power in Europe. World War ii occurred because the democracies refused to believe Hitler and to arm credibly. The Afghanistan invasion, it should be clear by now, would almost certainly not have happened if the United States had kept up a credible power; indeed, the Soviets keep eerily reminding us of this.
Yet these women's "leaders" talk of conducting even a draft registration only if the country were attacked -- when, of course, it would be too late. Who is the real pacifist: Bella Abzug or Sam Nunn? Who is the real lover of peace?