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Jewish World Review April 2, 2003 / 29 Adar II, 5763

Joel Mowbray

Joel Mobray
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Martha Burk's State Department adventure


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Taking a break from hounding Augusta National Country Club for not admitting female members, infamous feminist Martha Burk heeded the call of the State Department last month to represent the United States as part of a delegation to a conference on women's issues in Tallin, Estonia. In her short time there-on the taxpayer dime-she saw fit to slam President Bush, criticize the United States generally, and bemoan the "pornophication" of society.

The third in a series of summits, the Baltic Conference on Women and Democracy focused mostly on feminist agenda items-"women in power and decision-making," "women and economy," and "women in media"-as well as serious issues such as prostitution and violence against women. Not one to address the real concerns of ordinary women-like the ability to golf at an exclusive club-Burk stuck to the likes of "sexualization of mass culture and our environment." She did take the time, however, to branch out to bash Bush and the country she was representing.

At one dinner session, Burk toasted to having a "different President" by the time of the next conference. But Burk was not finished. At the closing session, she leapt to give an oral report on a workshop for which she served as vice-chair, which is unusual since the chairperson normally addresses the conference. Rather than sticking to the topic at hand, though, she spent several minutes chastising the U.S. for failing to pass the Equal Rights Amendment as well as CEDAW (Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women-a global ERA), lamenting that women in the U.S. are second-class citizens.

In mid-February, with the world on the brink of war, Burk ranted to a receptive audience about... Abercrombie and Fitch catalogs. Serving as the vice-chair on the "Pornophication of the Public Space" workshop, Burk led the discussion on "Sex as a Marketing Tool." (She's "anti-," by the way.) Apparently, the provocative poses by the models in the upscale clothier's ads was a far more pressing concern than, say, the thousands of women who fall prey to profiteering sex traffickers.

Things could have been worse. Burk was originally slated to head the delegation, but at the last minute, a handful of conservatives were added to round out the group of 23, and former Maryland gubernatorial candidate Ellen Sauerbrey became the chairperson. Had it not been for pressure exerted on Burk by the few conservatives, who knows what crazy stunts she might have pulled. One thing Burk wanted to do was pass out a "peace petition" and give a corresponding diatribe about Bush's supposed warmongering.

An argument could easily be made that the State Department should not even legitimize such international forums, perhaps opting to form U.S.-led events instead. But if bad things can be stopped before gaining international steam-which happened in Estonia-then a legitimate argument can be made to support attending these otherwise goofy gatherings. Sending people like Martha Burk, however, is not just embarrassing, it prevents the U.S. from garnering respect from other nations. As the Heritage Foundation's Becky Norton Dunlop succinctly notes, "It's a travesty."

Sure, getting Burk out of the country is good for the folks of Augusta and funny for the rest of us-but it is sad when you consider that it is not an isolated incident. Burk had attended the previous two women and democracy conferences, and it isn't hard to imagine what she did during those trips. It's not just about Burk, though. She would have done all the same things regardless of who sent her. But that's the point. Why did State select a woman who, after getting back from Estonia, compared the plight of women in combat in Iraq to those who can't join a particular country club in Georgia?

There are many good and dedicated people at Foggy Bottom-liberals and conservatives-but State as a whole is dominated by hopelessly out-of-touch careerists who don't think twice before choosing someone like Burk. Once President Bush finishes dealing with the war in Iraq-and equally pressing issues like the "pornophication" of Abercrombie and Fitch catalogs-he needs to find new people who can start to clean the mess at State.

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JWR contributor Joel Mowbray is the author of the forthcoming book "Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Endangers America's Security". Comment by clicking here.

03/31/03: State's bad deeds head to Baghdad
03/26/03: Human shields-turned-hawks
03/24/03: No such thing as a benign despot
03/20/03: Self-fulfilling tyranny
03/14/03: Gadhafi-State Department Alliance
03/12/03: Pushing "peace" pushes war instead
03/10/03: One last chance --- for the UN
03/03/03: Democracy domino theory
02/28/03: $1 Trillion tax cut?
02/12/03: Saudi Slavery in America
02/05/03: "We're Going to War"
02/04/03: State Department's idea of a "traitor"
01/27/03: State's cold shoulder
01/02/03: Canada: The Weakest Link
12/20/02: Real Story of Yemen's Scud Missile Purchase
12/18/02: Lott's got the Senate in the palm of his hand
12/12/02: White House moves closer to finding Iraq in "material breach"
12/10/02: A 9/11 plotter confessed
12/06/02: Saudi Spin doctors dodge U.S. marshals
12/03/02: Wild, Wild Web
12/02/02: Justice, finally, for terrorism victims
11/26/02: Sue McDonalds? I Lost 80 lbs With Fast Food!
11/25/02: The State Department's spin machine
11/22/02: Finally! No more open door for Saudis
11/20/02: A defeat for border security
11/18/02: Trial lawyers vs. homeland security
10/09/02: The visas that shouldn't have been
09/26/02: The "right" Miss America
09/23/02: Tax Cuts, R.I.P.
09/17/02: Freedom denied
09/11/02: Iraqi roulette
09/06/02: O'Reilly the wrong 'Factor' in Saudi abduction case
09/05/02: State's war on Americans
08/09/02: White House wants replace 'Visa Express' genius with woman accused of not helping free kidnapped American kids in Arab lands
07/23/02: Visas for suspected terrorists?
07/11/02: VISA EXPRESS DERAILED
07/03/02: Saudis Fueling Mideast Terrorism
07/02/02: Dick Gephardt, Wannabe Deadbeat Son
06/26/02: Open door for terrorists still open
06/17/02: Open Door for Saudi Terrorists
06/11/02: Sacrificing liberty and safety
05/29/02: Coddling Castro
05/20/02: GOP running from social security reform?
05/09/02: Arab (sky) High Culture
04/24/02: Catholic Church's real challenge
04/17/02: How do you say 'media-bias' in Hebrew?
04/09/02: Sexually Explicit "Abstinence" Education?
04/09/02: A price on the heads of Americans overseas
04/02/02: Bush's New Version of Compartmentalization
03/25/02: Homosexuality a Factor in Sex Abuse by Priests
03/20/02: Government's "Candid Cameras"
03/14/02: Happy Abortionist Appreciation Day
03/07/02: Let dissent ring
03/04/02: Is Ted Kennedy a racist?
02/26/02: The Audacity to Be Black and Conservative

© 2003, Joel Mowbray. Adapted from the February 24 issue of National Review