On Saturday, May 28, it was widely reported that a lewd photograph, purported to be an i-phone photograph of a man’s erect penis, sheathed inside his gray underwear, was sent to a Seattle coed using a twitter account belonging to liberal Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY). Appearing before reporters, Weiner insisted that he had no personal knowledge of the photograph, that he was the apparent victim of a high-tech “hacking” prank, and that he intended to hire a law firm and an Internet security firm to investigate. Like O.J. Simpson’s determination to find his wife’s killer, Weiner was determined to “get to the bottom of the matter.”
This was followed by a week of media frenzy during which Weiner held numerous impromptu hallway press conferences outside his congressional offices and invited one-on-one interviews with reporters from ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, and Fox News. In each instance he denied any responsibility for the photo and insisted that he was the victim of a hacker.
But it was all a lie. On Monday, June 6, the Democratic Party’s most vicious attack dog, a proud co-sponsor of the Keeping the Internet Devoid of Sexual Predators (KIDS) Act of 2007, stood before a packed news conference in Manhattan and confessed his guilt. Fighting back tears, he said:
“Last Friday night, I tweeted a photograph of myself that I intended to send as a direct message as part of a joke to a woman in Seattle. Once I realized I had posted it to Twitter, I panicked, I took it down, and said that I had been hacked. I then continued with that story, to stick to that story, which was a hugely regrettable mistake. This woman was unwittingly dragged into this and bears absolutely no responsibility. I am so sorry to have disrupted her life in this way.
“To be clear, the picture was of me, and I sent it. I am deeply sorry for the pain this has caused my wife, Huma, and our family, and my constituents, my friends, supporters and staff.
“In addition, over the past few years, I have engaged in several inappropriate conversations conducted over Twitter, Facebook, email, and occasionally on the phone with women I had met online. I have exchanged messages and photos of an explicit nature with about six women over the last three years. For the most part, these relations… communications… took place before my marriage, though some have sadly took place after.
“To be clear, I have never met any of these women or had physical relationships at any time. I haven’t told the truth, and I’ve done things I deeply regret. I brought pain to people I care about the most and the people who believed in me, and for that I’m deeply sorry. I apologize to my wife and our families, as well as to our friends and supporters. I’m deeply ashamed of my terrible judgment and actions…”
As Weiner’s life and political career came crashing down around him, attention turned immediately to his pregnant wife, Huma Mahmood Abedin, who serves as deputy chief of staff and principal “body woman” to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Abedin was not at Weiner’s side, sharing his humiliation, as the wives of Senator Larry Craig, Governor Jim McGreevey and Governor Elliot Spitzer have been. Instead, she was traveling with Mrs. Clinton on a three-nation tour of Persian Gulf states.
As the lurid details of Weiner’s sexual adventures became known, viewers wondered how she would react. Would she turn her back on him? Would she announce an end to their brief marriage, in spite of her pregnancy? Or would she be understanding and forgiving?
During his Monday press conference, Weiner presumptuously spoke for himself and his wife. He assured everyone that, in spite of his inexcusable behavior, he and his wife had no intention of “splitting.” He also assured everyone that his wife still loves him, but that she thought what he had done was “stupid.”
Presumably, when she returns from her diplomatic mission to the Middle East we will learn exactly how a highly successful woman feels about being married to a once powerful man who has overnight become an “untouchable,” a political non-entity.
But before we jump to any conclusions it might be a good idea to understand exactly who she is and where she comes from. Because little has been written about her in the “Weiner media,” few Americans are aware of her ethnic background and the unique “oil and water” marriage that she and Weiner have created: He is Jewish and she is a practicing Muslim, the most unlikely of all mixed marriage.
Ms. Abedin was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1976 but was raised in Saudi Arabia from age two until she returned to the U.S. to attend college at George Washington University. Her now-deceased father was an Islamic scholar and her mother, Saleha Mahmood Abedin, PhD, a native of Pakistan, is an associate professor of sociology at Dar Al-Hekma College in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
As details of the Weiner scandal emerged, Ms. Abedin was placed in a very difficult position… trying to make sense of it all from a distance, trying to decide on her public reaction and the future of her marriage, while attending to her many duties as traveling chief of staff to the U.S. Secretary of State. But the question remains, what can we expect of her?
Ms. Abedin is the product of a culture in which men have the right to take multiple wives; where men have the right to divorce their wives at any time, for any reason; where men have the right to beat their wives; and where men are not obligated to be faithful to one woman and are allowed to have sexual relationships with other women as concubines, or “temporary” wives.
She comes from a culture in which women are stoned to death if they are raped or if they commit adultery; a culture in which women are denied the right to abstain from sexual contact without their husband’s approval, since their husband may feel a sexual urge on that day; a culture in which a man must wash himself if a dog or a woman touches his prayer mat; a culture in which women cannot pray during their menstrual cycle because they are considered unclean.
Ms. Abedin is the product of a culture in which men are allowed to act like brutes, so will she see her husband’s behavior as being “normal” behavior for a Jewish man married to a Muslim woman? Will she give her Jewish husband the same leeway she would be required to give a Muslim husband? And if she is able to compartmentalize marital fidelity in the Judeo-Christian world, vis-à-vis the Muslim world, exactly what would she consider to be unacceptable behavior in the Judeo-Christian world?
Muslim clerics, who believe that Allah commands them to slice off the heads of Christians and Jews whenever the mood strikes them, might expect her to slit the throat of her Jewish husband while he sleeps.
There is no excusing what Anthony Weiner did, but when compared to the treatment of women and “non-believers” in the Muslim world, the best we can say is that it’s all relative.
Proving once again that it is impossible to embarrass a liberal, Weiner insists that he will not resign and that there is no evidence, as yet, that he broke the law or abused his office. But Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, has called for an investigation by the House Ethics Committee. They will determine whether or not laws have been broken and Republicans would be well advised to simply “view with alarm” and let the Democrats “stew in their own juice.” He is one of them and they will not quickly abandon him unless his new-found notoriety begins to rub off on them.