By Matthew Rothschild on February 11, 2013

It's amazing to me that some Republicans and rightwing groups are intent on holding up the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

Doing so shows not only boorish insensitivity but also a startling tone-deafness, since Republicans turned women away in droves last November by their Neanderthal comments on rape.

But that's not stopping groups like the Heritage Foundation and FreedomWorks from taking the side of abusive men right now.

As Talking Points Memo notes, the Heritage Foundation is bemoaning the fact that the reauthorization includes prosecution for "emotional distress," and says that would lead to an increase in "fraud and false allegations."

FreedomWorks also took the side of the stalker: "A man that raises his voice at his partner, calls her an offensive name, stalks her, causes her any emotional distress, or simply just annoys her can potentially be prosecuted under the VAWA. Calling your spouse a mean name is not advised or polite, but it isn't the same thing as violence towards her."

Wow!

For some Republican legislators, the main sticking point, at the moment, seems to be about Native women, who have been victimized by a ridiculous loophole in our nation's laws, a loophole that makes it almost impossible to prosecute a white man who rapes a Native woman on tribal land.

I first became aware of this issue when one of our writers for The Progressive, Mary Annette Pember, came to me with a story idea about this jurisdictional nightmare. Pember, who had been the head of the Native American Journalists Association, said Native women were being raped with impunity.

She told me that Native women are raped at a higher rate than any other demographic group, and they often have no legal recourse because of jurisdictional issue. I found that hard to believe, but it's true.

In her astonishing article, "Silent No More," Pember reported that "86 percent of rapes reported by Indian women involve a perpetrator outside of their race." Very few of these rapes are ever prosecuted. She wrote: "For American Indian women, however, these facts are old news -- really old news. It has been open season on American Indian women in this country for more than 200 years."

The reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act would empower Native courts to prosecute non-Natives who commit crimes on Indian land.

Native women should no longer be stuck in "no woman's land."

That rightwingers are even fighting this is beyond reprehensible.

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story "The Dangers of Obama's Cyber War Power Grab."

Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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