The Saga of Martha McSally
Two themes have dominated the news during the last month. The Media is ablaze with stories of Islamic uprisings in North Africa, Afghanistan and other Middle Eastern regions, and now the U.K. and Australia are targets of Muslim Brotherhood-driven riots and anti-Western attacks. Most of us are well acquainted with the way women are regarded by these Sharia-state Islamists. The other prevalent motif has been whiney American women bawling about their “reproductive rights” as if their entire lives are wrapped up in their reproductive organs. The constituents that make up these seemingly opposite ideas are both embraced by the Left. Muslim influence in Western culture and Muslim Brotherhood infiltration have been aided and abetted via leftist politicos for a decade. And the rise, like a zombie clawing itself up from the grave, of “abortion” as the lib gals’ cause du jour is pushed by the same politicians and ideologies that enable the spread of anti-female, oppressive Sharia states.
Just to get a little American perspective on how authentically liberated Western women view the absurd contradictions of the Left, I’d like to tell you the story of a real woman, a leader of men, a warrior, and an example to strong women everywhere, named Martha McSally.
Martha McSally is a petite gal, soft spoken with a comely likability. She is also the first woman to command a squadron of 27 Air Force fighters. After the Pentagon lifted its restriction on women in combat, Martha McSally became the first female pilot to deploy weapons in wartime during Operation Enduring Freedom in 2005. Afghanistan was not McSally’s first tour of duty. In 2000 she flew missions over Iraq in support of Operation Southern Watch which helped enforce post-Desert Storm international sanctions against Sadaam Hussein’s regime. Prior to those quasi-combat experiences, she was a top-notch flight instructor. Her distinguished career earned her a Bronze Star as well as the Air Force Association David C. Shilling Award for the best aerospace contribution to national defense in 2005.
Martha McSally was not the beneficiary of any gender-based affirmative action as she rose to the highest order in the Military. She holds a Master’s Degree in Strategic Studies from Air University, A Master’s in International Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology, which she earned prior to joining the Air Force. In 2007 she was selected for the leadership team of the United States Africa Command. McSally is also an competitive endurance athlete and has taught at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies.
But if any woman would have had a reason to whine about discrimination and unequal treatment it was Martha McSally. In 2001 Lieutenant Colonel McSally, the commander of her squadron, was stationed in Saudi Arabia. Nerves were still taut and American/Islamic relations were tenuous in the wake of 9/11. But McSally was told by her Air Force superiors that if she left the American base she must don an abaya. The abaya is the customary garb of women in many Islamic countries. In Saudi Arabia every square inch of skin must be covered except the face. This regulation was characterized by the Military as “a show of respect to the customs and traditions of Islamic societies and the Arabic nations.” Martha McSally, if she wanted to visit the souq or just take a stroll to see the sights, would have to submit to being hidden under a dark, indistinct, constraining robe. This, to an American woman like McSally who had attained through her intellect and tenacity a role of leadership and high honor, was not just a symbolic capitulation to the outmoded and oppressive customs of an authentically sexist society, it was the literal acquiescence of her identity as a woman, endowed with liberty by God, to the arbitrary dictates of hyper-sensitive and politically-correct politics.
McSally, in a 2002 interview with Leslie Stahl on CBS’ 60 Minutes, said of the regulation:
“This is where we separate our men from our women and we demean and humiliate just them,” she told Stahl.
The Pentagon says the policy is to protect American troops from harassment and possible terrorist attacks and to be sensitive to the customs of Saudi Arabia, where some 5,000 military men and women are stationed.
“It’s foolish,” said McSally, “because a male must accompany women at all times off base, a male with crew-cut hair and western clothes that make the Americans glaringly obvious anyway.”
Also demeaning, she said, is the fact that only men can drive vehicles, according to policy. “And then I have to sit in the back and at all times I must be escorted by a male…that, when questioned, is supposed to claim me as his wife,” McSally told Stahl.
“I can fly a single-seat aircraft in enemy territory, but I can’t drive a vehicle… They turned me into a fighter pilot. This is who I am. When I see something messed up, I’m going to challenge it.”
Martha McSally is a practicing Christian. The feelings of betrayal and debasement experienced by McSally probably came, in no small measure, from her faith and her understanding of the nature of God and His relationship with His children, male and female. An American Christian is a creature of liberty, free to enjoy an identity that is unique and benevolent. The Christian belief that God rejoices in the strength, happiness, and beauty of his children is actuated in women like Martha McSally. The Arabic abaya, an inconspicuous garment designed to obliterate any hint of individuality or beauty in a woman, is anathema to liberation.
Martha McSally was so appalled by the insinuation of Islamic sexism into American Military code that, despite threats of a court martial for insubordination, she took her superiors to court. A warrior like McSally does not act rashly in such a move. Her deliberations and ultimate decision rested largely upon her personal commitment to the ideals of liberty and equal justice; the very ideas she swore to protect and defend when she joined the Air Force. In 2001 she filed suit against the Department of Defense citing the discriminatory nature of the “abaya rule,” and the fact that female diplomats in Saudi Arabia were not bound to cover themselves in the way required of McSally and her female Air Force counterparts. And she won. As a result of her fearless opposition to an outrageous rule the United States Congress “approved legislation that prohibited anyone in the military from requiring or encouraging servicewomen to put on abayas in Saudi Arabia or to use taxpayers’ money to buy them.”
Colonel Martha McSally retired in 2010 from the Air Force. Her years as a pilot, instructor, and military leader following the abaya controversy were served honorably with her topmost priority being the defense of national and individual liberty. After retirement from the Air Force she took a post as an instructor and mentor at the “diplomatic incubator’” in Germany, the
Martha McSally’s high-flying mission did not end with a cushy teaching job in a think tank. In the early months of 2012 she resigned from her post at the George C. Marshall center to run for the United States Congress. She ran in the primary for Arizona’s Congressional District 8, Gabrielle Gifford’s seat, against three other candidates for the Republican nomination. Jesse Kelly, also an Iraq War veteran and the Tea Party favorite, edged out McSally in a contentious and sometimes weird political contest. Jesse Kelly later dropped his bid for the AZ D8 seat.
We have not seen the last of Martha McSally. She is a super-heroine in modern American military and cultural lore. Most have not even heard her tale. But she is an example of the brand of New American Feminism that defines all that is desirable and attainable in a free country by faithful, honorable, bright, resilient, and powerful women. Martha McSally stands at the leading-edge of Americans who defy the denigration of women by those who assert Sharia law and hide their bloody ideology of conquest behind the facade of religion. As one-time allies flare up in tortured spasms of hate and immolation, and evil regimes such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and Al Qaeda lash out at Western nations and their Judeo-Christian traditions, we will find that people like Martha McSally are the point men in the fight for life, liberty, and equal justice for all.