Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 6, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

BEHIND THE VEIL....Megan Stack writes in the LA Times today about her years of reporting from Saudi Arabia:

I spent my days in Saudi Arabia struggling unhappily between a lifetime of being taught to respect foreign cultures and the realization that this culture judged me a lesser being. I tried to draw parallels: If I went to South Africa during apartheid, would I feel compelled to be polite?

....The rules are different here. The same U.S. government that heightened public outrage against the Taliban by decrying the mistreatment of Afghan women prizes the oil-slicked Saudi friendship and even offers wan praise for Saudi elections in which women are banned from voting. All U.S. fast-food franchises operating here, not just Starbucks, make women stand in separate lines. U.S.-owned hotels don't let women check in without a letter from a company vouching for her ability to pay; women checking into hotels alone have long been regarded as prostitutes.

It's a good piece. Worth reading.

Kevin Drum 1:22 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (112)

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Comments

It has always angered me that, although we boycotted South Africa during apartheid, we supported and continue to support Saudi Arabia with its entrenched gender apartheid.

It's often hard to see sexism for what it is since it's part of our own society, but if one replaces the word "woman" with the name of a particular race, it makes it a little easier for some people to understand. If a particular racial group were treated the way women are treated in Saudi Arabia, would we still support them? I guess we would, as long as they have oil. We sell our values to fuel our SUVs.

Posted by: greennotGreen on June 6, 2007 at 1:50 AM | PERMALINK

Let us not forget, the biggest cheerleaders for the Saudis in the U.S. are the Bush clan. Keep that in mind, when in 2012 Jeb Bush runs, or even later when George Prescott Bush runs for president.

Posted by: bigcat on June 6, 2007 at 1:56 AM | PERMALINK

If more focus were places on the injustices in Saudi Arabia, many liberals would take that as an indication we were planning to invade them.

When a Democrat is president again, then maybe injustices could be exposed without it immediately being considered political.

Don't think it's worth electing a Democrat, though, just to get the media to play along.

Posted by: Frank J. on June 6, 2007 at 1:59 AM | PERMALINK

Let us not forget, the biggest cheerleaders for the Saudis in the U.S. are the Bush clan. Keep that in mind, when in 2012 Jeb Bush runs, or even later when George Prescott Bush runs for president.

You're silly.

Posted by: Frank J. on June 6, 2007 at 2:01 AM | PERMALINK

Saudi Arabia is a racist society. Just look at how they treat there foreign workers and house-helps. It is distinctly racist.

But I still wouldn't hold my breath on any redirection of sentiment here. We're really not that interested in others' problems.

Nor hold my breath there. It is sex apartheid, and it goes to show how far apart we are. This sexism is far more ingrained and cemented to the culture and religion in the Gulf states than, say, the USA or UK 90 years ago when women were winning their vote.

It's pretty depressing. But there's a part of me that says we are always pushing all our values on other people, which has been totally inappropriate. Neo-colonialism. Xenophobic. Self-serving. And that's depressing, too.

Posted by: notthere on June 6, 2007 at 2:13 AM | PERMALINK

Mmmm. Trying to think who is a bigger Saudi fan in the USA than the Bush clan? Being their house guests and all.

I'm sure Frank J. will let me know.

Anyway, the paratroops started landing four and half hours ago, and the first LCs are touching down now.

Canadians will take a beating but win through on Juno, and the Big Red One will have a really tough time on Omaha.

That's 63 years ago today.

Bless 'em all.

Posted by: notthere on June 6, 2007 at 2:29 AM | PERMALINK

Just goes to show that the US will support any government, irrespective of how democratic they are, in order to achieve its foreign policy goals.

Let's not forget that not only have we supported the Saudi's for years, but that we supported Saddam Hussein in the 80's and have supported many other dictators with no respect for human rights at various points in time.

If we want to promote democracy abroad, maybe we should start by withdrawing our support for undemocratic governments.

Posted by: mfw13 on June 6, 2007 at 2:38 AM | PERMALINK

If more focus were places on the injustices in Saudi Arabia, many liberals would take that as an indication we were planning to invade them.

Yeah, just like liberals were concerned that Reagan was going to invade the Republic of South Africa.

Gawd, the trolls are stupid tonight.

Posted by: Disputo on June 6, 2007 at 2:55 AM | PERMALINK

You're silly.

Agreed. A Bush running for POTUS again is about as likely as a Hitler running for German chancellor.

Posted by: Disputo on June 6, 2007 at 2:59 AM | PERMALINK

That's 63 years ago today.

I wrote my tribute, notthere. I'm sure I will see you have been to visit when I check the site in the morning.

Goodnight to you, and bless 'em all indeed.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on June 6, 2007 at 3:30 AM | PERMALINK

women checking into hotels alone have long been regarded as prostitutes

Of course they do, as most single women out in public in the Saudi are prostitutes, because the sex segregation laws reduce single, unsupported women to prostitution since single women are not allowed to support themselves.

It is nothing less than than slavery for half the population. And the direct effects of slavery are taken as the main justification for slavery. I think we have seen that dynamic a bit closer to home, haven't we?

Posted by: Xenos on June 6, 2007 at 5:15 AM | PERMALINK

If the shoe fits, wear it.

Posted by: Tom on June 6, 2007 at 5:52 AM | PERMALINK

Sexism, racism, what's the difference:

I remember the government spokesman, Mansour Turki, who said to me: "Being a Saudi doesn't mean you see every face of Saudi society. Saudi men don't understand how Saudi women think. They have no idea, actually. Even my own family, my own mother or sister, she won't talk to me honestly."

No! D'ya think?

Posted by: bad Jim on June 6, 2007 at 6:35 AM | PERMALINK

notthere:

I don't agree with your politics, but I like the last paragraph of your post at 2:13 AM. Intelligent and responsible.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on June 6, 2007 at 7:00 AM | PERMALINK

And y'all are surprised about Saudi sexism ? ? ?

Posted by: Chief on June 6, 2007 at 7:00 AM | PERMALINK

I think the comment about "respect foreign cultures" is really worth exploring.

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on June 6, 2007 at 7:11 AM | PERMALINK

A trained anthropoligist lived in Saudi Arabia for a year teaching English and wrote this about the culture.
http://rantsand.blogspot.com/2006/09/observations-on-arabs.html

What else would you expect from a country where you do not get to decide where you live, what work you do, or who you marry?

Posted by: superdestroyer on June 6, 2007 at 8:12 AM | PERMALINK

The problem, of course, is spelled I-S-L-A-M. But nobody can really say that, can they? The Washington Post had an article several months back about a convert to Islam who lived in West Virginia (I know, I know. Bizarre) and she was angry to find that she was discriminated against at her local Mosque -- had to sit in the back, didn't have the same rights as men, etc. She blamed it all on the influence of Saudi Arabian wahabi elements, corrupting Islam. Made me think of someone saying, "I like champagne. Just not the French kind."

Posted by: Steve on June 6, 2007 at 8:36 AM | PERMALINK

Money talks - especially to the Bushies.

Posted by: ! on June 6, 2007 at 8:40 AM | PERMALINK

I was having a cigarette with a Syrian guy working in Saudi, lowered my voice, "How do you like it there?" Says "I can't wait to get out." I said I notice the men never get on an elevator if there's a woman inside. He says "Yeah and woman don't get into an elevator with men but if I see an elevator with woman, I get on. They can get out if they don't like it. It's their problem, not mine." The Arab world is anything but monolithic.

Posted by: snicker-snack on June 6, 2007 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

*..women checking into hotels alone have long been regarded as prostitutes.*

Alone? So, 'unsuccessful' prostitutes (?).

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on June 6, 2007 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK

What I can't get over is that if you're a woman and you go to these countries, you LOSE YOUR RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENSHIP.

Your husband's family wants to take the kids? The state department won't stop him. If your husband locks you in a room and beats you? You can't call the embassy for help. If you get raped and report it, but have fewer than 4 witnesses so you, the rape victim, are brought up on adultery charges? Don't expect the ambassador to send someone on your behalf. You get arrested for being outside at night? Tough shit.

It's bad enough that women born into these countries are forced to tolerate their own oppressive societies. But, I'm sorry, it's unbelievable that we as Americans tolerate our own citizens losing their rights when they go into a foreign country. It's an inexcusable double standard, and one that would not be tolerated if it were men whose rights were being stripped away.

Posted by: anonymous on June 6, 2007 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK

I love the world of thoroughbred horse racing. However, it is a sad and sick society that treats horses and camels far better than the women in said society.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on June 6, 2007 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK

Yes fine article the woman wrote but can anyone please please tell dumb me what she meant by her last sentence in which she has sense of "defeat" when she gets on plane and takes off the abaya? Paradox for literary effect in oder to sound deep??

Saudi Arab men sound pathetic...a thousand erotic moments lost each day of their miserable lives....but then their women never argue with them?

Posted by: Mellors on June 6, 2007 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

I *think* she means that even after she removes the abaya the sense of limitation and fear is still there, but now she doesn't have the psychological protection of yards of cloth to protect her.

Imagine that a woman is raped, but after the act she grabs a wrecking bar and beats the rapist to a bloody pulp, and he's arrested, tried, and convicted and goes to jail for twenty years. Do you think she feels victorious? Maybe, but also still violated.

Posted by: greennotGreen on June 6, 2007 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

The problem, of course, is spelled I-S-L-A-M.

I think it's more like this spelling: F-U-N-D-A-M-E-N-T-A-L-I-S-M. Xtian fundamentalists may not make their women wear a veil, but they do regard them as the property of men.

She blamed it all on the influence of Saudi Arabian wahabi elements, corrupting Islam. Made me think of someone saying, "I like champagne. Just not the French kind."

Right, since we all know that Saudi islam is the only kind that exists anywhere.

Posted by: jimBOB on June 6, 2007 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

I spent 3 years there as a university professor (female). I not only wore the abba'a but also the full-face veil. I found it very liberating. The (always, in my experience, foreign) workers didn't yell obscene comments to me as they did to the obviously foreign women. Cars ground to a screeching halt when I looked as though I might cross the street. Saudi men would leap back to let me though a narrow path first or if there was the slightest chance that our clothes might come into contact. And as the convention was that veiled women were "not there" I heard some very curious conversations as I passed groups of men on the street.

Of course I was glad, finally to get out, but I always had that option and while I was there I learned a great deal which was, itself, enjoyable--at least to me.

Posted by: Organgrinder on June 6, 2007 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

There is an unhappy tendency to blame authoritarian characteristics of a given society on some false and wicked doctrine. This gives one the false hope that if the doctrine is overthrown than the wicked oppression will give way to the light of liberal reason and open society. But the authoritarian tendencies of Russian society have not changed since the demise of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union itself was supposed to be a utopia liberated from the dark feudal oppression of czarist Russia.

In all countries leaders bring the people, particularly the authoritarians who self-righteously embrace their own orthodoxies, to their bidding by erecting the clash of doctrines narrative. One only has to look at how quickly Islam became “the problem” to understand how it is a political canard. Once Dick Cheney's Middle East project is over we will quickly forget about "Islam".

It is true that all the monotheistic religions are at their base illiberal, violent, coercive and predicated on the deep assumptions of ancient paternalistic societies. This is just a reflection of the age in which they consolidated their central doctrines. As societies become wealthier, better educated and less fearful the authoritarian edge of a given religion is diluted. For the majority religion, or what is left of it, becomes mystical and private. There is also a concomitant backlash- a revolt of true beleivers, again by authoritarians within the liberalizing society. You see this in the US, in Israel and in the Islamic world.

Islam has many functions as a political tool. It has come to be an anti-imperialist bulwark used to unify the people in Iran or in Afghanistan to fight the Russians in the same way communism functioned in small countries across the world a generation ago. It is not the religion or ideology but the nationalism that matters. Saudi Arabian wahhabism is a form of political control by an entrenched and vulnerable regime. That it speaks the language religion is beside the point.

Posted by: bellumregio on June 6, 2007 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

The really good news is this: Tthe Saudis are taking the oil money we send them, and using it to spread their pernicious strain of Islam to traditionally moderate, tolerant Moslem countries. Fill your Ford Extinction up with that!

Posted by: thersites on June 6, 2007 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

This [Saudi Arabia] is who conservatives call "friend."

Just like they called Saddam "friend" while aiding and abetting him as he was gassing and butchering Kurds and Iranians.

Just like they called Noriega "friend" while he was selling drugs to our kids.

Just like they called the Shah "friend" while he was imprisoning, torturing, and murdering innocent Iranians.

Just like they called Bautista "friend" while he was stealing from the Cuban people and murdering his political enemies.

Just like they called Rios Montt "friend" while he was butchering his own people.

Just like they called the South African apartheidists "friends."

Just like they called soldiers raping nuns in Guatemala "friends."

With "friends" like these, we know who the real enemies to American integrity, honor, freedom,a nd security are: conservatives

Posted by: anonymous on June 6, 2007 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

I forgot Pinochet.

Yet another good "friend" of American conservatives.

I'm sure there are others, even Hitler was defended and praised by conservatives pre-WW II.

Like Musharraf.

Is there any murderous, treacherous, torturing tyrant conservatives won't embrace to further their own paranoic and self-centered partisan goals?

Posted by: anonymous on June 6, 2007 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

It is not the religion or ideology but the nationalism that matters. Saudi Arabian wahhabism is a form of political control by an entrenched and vulnerable regime.

Wrong. Wahab lived in the then-isolated central region of Arabia in the 18th century; there was no unified regime even in the central region at that point (the Saudis were just a nomadic tribe) and little if any contact with outsiders. He was a proponent of Salafist Islam, a reactionary in every sense. He wasn't responding to imperialism because it didn't exist where he was at the time - he was responding to what he regarded as illegitimate schools of Islamic thought. Stoning adulteresses to death wasn't striking a blow for Arab nationalism.

The Saudis have minimal control over the Wahabis; the royal family is so decadent and morally corrupt that they're a terrible match. They're terrified of a religious revolt, which is why they have a disporportionately large army. They let the crazies push everyone around because it distracts them from blowing up palaces or members of the Saudi family. I don't think the crazies in Arabia particularly care about foreigners, as long as foreigners don't corrupt their morally pure culture. (The crazies like bin Laden are different, but inherited the same totalitarian mindset long before they started to think of themselves as defenders against Western imperialism.)

I don't have an opinion on Islam in general; I can find plenty of nauseating passages in the Old Testament too. However, as at least one poster pointed out, Islam is not monolithic. Some of the branches (I guess they're somewhat equivalent to Christian denominations) are more liberal and relatively tolerant, and less brutal and inequal in their treatment of women. Salafi Islam, however, is the worst of the lot, and it predates the modern era, let alone Western imperialism.

Anyway, any apparent popularity of this extreme form of Islamic fundamentalism may be due to hatred of the West, but the existence of Salafism and its domination of Arabia have nothing to do with us. They'd be stoning rape victims whether or not they'd ever seen an American. These are evil, wretched people, and I dearly wish we'd tell the pathetic royal family to go fuck themselves and pull all Americans out of that oppressive nation. That we embargo Cuba and not Saudi Arabia exemplifies the screwed-up priorities of recent American foreign policy.

One last note: read "Sleeping with the devil" for a detailed look at *why* we deal with the assholes. It's the Washington power elite pandering to people with more money than them. More principled conservatives - including many y'all would hate - despise the Saudis and have since before 9/11. I first read about the treatment of American citizens - see the 8:54 comment - on the Wall St. Journal editorial page. Those guys loathe the Saudis and are as infuriated by our dealings with them as the rest of us.

Posted by: Nat on June 6, 2007 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

It is a combination of prmarily the oil, and the creepy monotheistic fundamentalism that grips our current administration.

If it weren't for the long history of the Bush family in the oil industry, the Saudi/Bush relationship would not be. If there were no Saudi oil, the Bush family would have strenghtened ties where ever the oil came from, as they are parasites of monied resources.

The paternalism of the rightwing wacko Xianist fundamentaism that has invaded our government like a cancer [in many departments, unqualified professionally but with degrees in evangelical Xianist universities] also acts like a support beam for treatment of women in Saudi Arabia. If our own fundamentalists could get away with stoning women in the street for even perceived indiscretions, I am convinced they would do it. The fundamentalist concept of right and wrong are skewed/twisted beyond reason.

Posted by: jcricket on June 6, 2007 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

I spent 3 years there as a university professor (female). I not only wore the abba'a but also the full-face veil. I found it very liberating....I looked as though I might cross the street. Saudi men would leap back to let me though a narrow path first or if there was the slightest chance that our clothes might come into contact.

Yes, being treated as one step up from a leper must be very liberating....

And as the convention was that veiled women were "not there" I heard some very curious conversations as I passed groups of men on the street.

Much the same way black men and women in the South heard some very interesting conversations from the whites who assumed they were "not there" as full people.

Posted by: Stefan on June 6, 2007 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

IS skewed/twisted beyond reason.


/edit

Posted by: jcricket on June 6, 2007 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

I just don't get it. Aren't there uniform standards for celebrating diversity?

If you criticize Mexican or black culture (and they don't treat bitches much better than Arabs), then you're a "racist." If you criticize Saudis, then you're a PC lib.

Posted by: Luther on June 6, 2007 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

"I just don't get it. Aren't there uniform standards for celebrating diversity?

If you criticize Mexican or black culture (and they don't treat bitches much better than Arabs), then you're a "racist." If you criticize Saudis, then you're a PC lib."

All cultures of the world, except anything American, are equally good, and worth celebrating.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on June 6, 2007 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

Hey Luther

Don't confuse the hip-hop performances with black culture. Hip-hop, at least in its "bitches, pimps, and ho's" variant, is a malevolent cartoon that has about as much to do with black culture as the hillbillies in "Deliverance" have to do with white culture. Yes, there are people like that out there but do they represent you?

Posted by: thersites on June 6, 2007 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

Freedom Fighter,

Show me where you've seen a liberal saying All cultures of the world, except anything American, are equally good, and worth celebrating. I don't think you're paying attention to what is actually being said.

Posted by: thersites on June 6, 2007 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

Can we have a non oil energy economy now please?
The stupidity of 'staying with oil' is so obvious. Let's elect a President that will make the switch. Oh wait we did but first Nader and the millionaire pundits assasinated his character and then the republican Supreme Court and RNC lawyer operatives made the election fraud stick... oh well a Republic if you can keep it and all that.

FF - Yes and No. There is a hell of a difference between how a rural Mexican and a middle class Mexican treats his wife and the way a Ghetto husband and say, Colin Powell, treat his. Mind you the same is true of whites. I am sure the NYC wife has it a bit better 'in general' than the alabama town girl who dares to show too much independence. But hey, racial generalisations are almost always useless. That said, there is something very well, old testament about the women in Saudi Arabia, I think you're on a lot firmer ground there.

Posted by: Northern Observer on June 6, 2007 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

Turkey just invaded Iraq.

Have a nice day.

Posted by: lampwick on June 6, 2007 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

Saudi Arabian wahhabism is a form of political control by an entrenched and vulnerable regime. That it speaks the language religion is beside the point.
Posted by: bellumregio on June 6, 2007 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

belluregio,
I think this is exactly wrong.
There is a theological war taking place within Islam for the future of the religion, as dramatic and world changing as the Christian Wars of Religion that gripped Europe from 1517 to 1648.

One of these schools of Islam is militantly intolerant of all non islamic peoples and countries. It literally believes in its religious obligation to conquer the earth for Islam. By the word if possible, but by the sword if necessary.

One of the major questions of our age will be what the majority of the umma, the islamic faithful, choose for their religion. War with all the infedels or peaceful co-existence?

It's an open question.

I agree with you in that the current republican policy of "well lets kill em all now damit" is counter productive, mindlessly stupid and impossible short of deliberate systematic genocide (which is where the argumentation of the Kristols and the Ledens takes you if you are honest) Yet, it remains an issue. We must be wary and alter to opportunities to help the right faction and destroy the fanatical one.

Posted by: Northern Observer on June 6, 2007 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

Nat,
I agree with much of what you have to say about the Wahabis, the Saudi royals and Islam. I didn't mean to give the impression that they are one and the same thing. It was a cursory way to address a complex relationship of factions and a long history that pre-dates Western involvement in the region. In my view any time religion is used to justify political power or coercion it becomes a form of nationalism in George Orwell’s sense (read his “Notes on Nationalism”).

Indeed the neocons and even some less revolutionary conservatives are among the most vocal opponents of these frankly brutal regimes. After all some neocons have implicated Saudi Arabia and Egypt as the major centers of anti-Israeli and anti-Western sentiment. But their idealism gets no traction in the current geopolitical situation. I haven’t read much of this lately. Perhaps they are siding with the Saudi-backed anti-Shiite campaign for the moment.

Posted by: bellumregio on June 6, 2007 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

Turkey just invaded Iraq.
Have a nice day.
Posted by: lampwick on June 6, 2007 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19070463/

Wow.
Welcome to the New World (dis)Order.
How will we remember the 43rd president of the USA? Bush the Breaker of all things...

BTW: to all conservatives out there - isn't unilateralism grand. The most exciting things can just happen. Wheeeeee.
Welcome to your utopia of s**t.

Posted by: Northern Observer on June 6, 2007 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

For anyone who has not yet read Megan Stacks' article, it is very touching. She really conveys vividly how soiled the Saudis make women feel. A tremendous piece of writing.
Notice also that she wrote after the end of her term as a reporter in the Middle East. Just as reporters in the Soviet Union used to write their best material only after they left.
Petroleum has such a way of magnifying the greedy aspect of our societies into grotesque forms.

Posted by: Kevin Rooney on June 6, 2007 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

"Hip-hop, at least in its "bitches, pimps, and ho's" variant, is a malevolent cartoon that has about as much to do with black culture as the hillbillies in "Deliverance" have to do with white culture."

Really? Last I checked, gangstas, pimps and hos are role models in the black community. I don't see too many white kids strive to become hillbillies when they grow up.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on June 6, 2007 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK
If more focus were places on the injustices in Saudi Arabia, many liberals would take that as an indication we were planning to invade them.

Well, if we have to invade somebody, it wouldn't be the worst choice, but, no, liberals are quite capable of understanding that you can focus on addressing problems with the way a country is run without invasion being on top of the list of means of dealing with it.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 6, 2007 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

I am sure the NYC wife has it a bit better 'in general' than the alabama town girl who dares to show too much independence.

There are so many things wrong with this, I don't even know how to respond. But you are an idiot.

Posted by: Homer on June 6, 2007 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

"But hey, racial generalisations are almost always useless."

I beg to differ. Generalisations are only useless if you apply it to everyone of a said group. But it is not useless, if you are talking about probabilities and likelihoods. For example: it's useless to say all Moslems are terrorists. But it is not useless to say Moslems are much much more likely to commit terrorism than followers of any other religion.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on June 6, 2007 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

"I am sure the NYC wife has it a bit better 'in general' than the alabama town girl who dares to show too much independence."

I know what you mean. I've lived both in NYC and in the South. And let me tell you, you can't get through the week without having some poor independent white girl getting stoned to death down there.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on June 6, 2007 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

Last I checked, gangstas, pimps and hos are role models in the black community.

Try checking somewhere other than your weekly KKK meeting.

Posted by: Disputo on June 6, 2007 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK
If you criticize Mexican or black culture (and they don't treat bitches much better than Arabs), then you're a "racist." If you criticize Saudis, then you're a PC lib.

Actually, plenty of mainstream liberals have criticized the sexism in, particularly, certain segments of American black culture (which I assume is the "black culture" you are referring to; if you mean actual African black culture, that's also frequently criticized where, as with Saudi culture, there is a nexus with American foreign policy.)

Distinctly Mexican-American culture is a little bit less on the radar screen of the national dialogue than black culture (mostly, because its major expressions tend to be in a different language, not merely a distinct dialect that is intelligible but recognizably different to speakers of standard American English), and Mexican culture tends to not be a focus of discussion when US policy toward Mexico is at issue. But liberals who do discuss Mexican/Mexican-American culture are not, IME, reluctant to point to elements of it that are sexist as negative elements.

IOW, you are completely full of it.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 6, 2007 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

But it is not useless to say Moslems are much much more likely to commit terrorism than followers of any other religion.

Lies are rarely useless, but as a bigoted thug, you already knew that.

Posted by: Disputo on June 6, 2007 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

Okay Freedom Fighter, have it your way. A white-trash imbecile that calls himself a Christian is much more likely than a Moslem to blow up a federal building full of mid-level civil-service employees and their children. But I guess that's not really terrorism, is it?

Posted by: thersites on June 6, 2007 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK
Last I checked, gangstas, pimps and hos are role models in the black community.

They are popular role models for disaffected urban youth (white, black, asian, hispanic, etc.), in much the same way that shock rockers and so forth often are for disaffected suburban youth.

Actually, come to think of it, in much the same way that the "gansta rappers" themselves are among some disaffected suburban youth.

But then any identifiable celebrity group that is known for being offensive to established authority and making lots of money tends to be attractive to disaffected youth.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 6, 2007 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

"Okay Freedom Fighter, have it your way. A white-trash imbecile that calls himself a Christian is much more likely than a Moslem to blow up a federal building full of mid-level civil-service employees and their children. But I guess that's not really terrorism, is it?"

Is it? I think you should narrow the criteria down some more to say Oklahoma city in 1995... Otherwise, your statement wouldn't be factually true.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on June 6, 2007 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

organgrinder,

I'm sure it was "liberating" to play in an abba'a and veil for a few years. How liberating would it be to spend your whole life that way?

Posted by: vanya on June 6, 2007 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

"They are popular role models for disaffected urban youth (white, black, asian, hispanic, etc.), in much the same way that shock rockers and so forth often are for disaffected suburban youth."

Gangsta rap is overwhelmingly a black cultural phenomenon.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on June 6, 2007 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

I am sure the NYC wife has it a bit better 'in general' than the alabama town girl who dares to show too much independence.
There are so many things wrong with this, I don't even know how to respond. But you are an idiot.
Posted by: Homer on June 6, 2007 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

This is my experience ass hat. But hey, why don't you edumucate me. I guess the truth hurts. Tell me, why does it bother you?

Posted by: Northern Observer on June 6, 2007 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

Northern Observer wrote:

"I agree with you in that the current republican policy of 'well lets kill em all now damit'is counter productive...."
______________________

Where is this policy enunciated? We are protecting - with our soldier's lives - many more Muslims than we are fighting. Genocide is not an American policy.

Posted by: Trashhauler on June 6, 2007 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

"I am sure the NYC wife has it a bit better 'in general' than the alabama town girl who dares to show too much independence."
I know what you mean. I've lived both in NYC and in the South. And let me tell you, you can't get through the week without having some poor independent white girl getting stoned to death down there.
Posted by: Freedom Fighter on June 6, 2007 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

I'll take your attempt at absurdity as tacit agreement with me FF. There are many ways to coerce behavior, stoning is hardly necessary. It's funny how whites hate it when their own backwardness is called out. We can be backward too, deal with it. Are we as backward as the Saudis? Hell No and and I never said that, the point was national cultural differences are not as great as education/economic differences; especially within the Christian World.

But muck it, you see the demon you want to see.

Posted by: Northern Observer on June 6, 2007 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

4 words for ya:

Our friends, the Saudis.

Posted by: scott on June 6, 2007 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

bigcat wrote:

"Let us not forget, the biggest cheerleaders for the Saudis in the U.S. are the Bush clan."
_____________________

It is difficult to tell how much of the allegedly close relationship between the Bush family and the Saudis is true or at work here. Certainly, for the last fifty years the biggest cheerleader for the Saudis has always been the incumbent President.

However, it's interesting to note that the current Administration created some distance from the Saudis by moving CENTCOM FORWARD out of Saudi Arabia.

Posted by: Trashhauler on June 6, 2007 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

Well, freedom fighter, you sure know how to live up to your chosen name. But perhaps you should seek professional help in regards to your hatred of freedom, this country, and all those "scary" people out there, rather than venting your childish neuroses in public. Just a thought.

Posted by: Kenji on June 6, 2007 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

Genocide is not an American policy.

Damn! Now you tell me!

Posted by: george custer on June 6, 2007 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

the current Administration created some distance from the Saudis by moving CENTCOM FORWARD out of Saudi Arabia

"Mission Accomplished"
Osama bin Laden

Posted by: thersites on June 6, 2007 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

Where is this policy enunciated? We are protecting - with our soldier's lives - many more Muslims than we are fighting. Genocide is not an American policy.
Posted by: Trashhauler on June 6, 2007 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

On paper you are right, the US is protecting muslims in Kosovo, Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Kurdistan.
I would look to the speaches of the current vice president, Richard Cheney, to see what I am getting it. I would also point to William Kristol's written material on the subject, and the Project for a New American Century's documents. It is not that the USA wants to commit acts of genocide, it is that in order to win under the terms that the republican party and their intellectuals have laid out it may be impossible to do so without genocide.

Did you see the Republican debate last night? Did you see them casually talk about nukes?
Are you so certain we are incapable of the murderous path? I am concerned about the direction of the republican party's national security policies and I know I am not alone.

Posted by: Northern Observer on June 6, 2007 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

"The problem, of course, is spelled I-S-L-A-M."

Nah. My Muslim students are great. I can't see Islam as a big problem.

I see it more that tribalism is the problem. The writer noted Islam and tribalism as social forces. I looked into my family's "clan" history in Scotland once: not good no matter how you cut it. But tribalism in the 21st century makes it pale in comparison. Can you imagine hiring, say, computer programmers on the basis of tribalism? If you hired only Muslims, you could do it. But you are really limiting your applicant pool when it is only your tribe. Conclusion: they are going to have economic problems.

Posted by: Bob M on June 6, 2007 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

"Genocide is not an American policy"

Had I only known.

Did General Crook get the word as well?

Posted by: Andrew Jackson on June 6, 2007 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

thersites wrote:

[Quoting me] "the current Administration created some distance from the Saudis by moving CENTCOM FORWARD out of Saudi Arabia"

"Mission Accomplished"
Osama bin Laden
__________________

Well then, what is it to be? Are we too close to the Saudis or did we get out too fast? Why would we want to be stationed in Saudi Arabia once the reason for our presence has been overcome by events?

Sometimes the studied pose of ironic condemnation so common in these threads gets a bit wearing?

Posted by: Trashhauler on June 6, 2007 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

Organgrinder: I not only wore the abba'a but also the full-face veil. I found it very liberating. The (always, in my experience, foreign) workers didn't yell obscene comments to me as they did to the obviously foreign women. Cars ground to a screeching halt when I looked as though I might cross the street. Saudi men would leap back to let me though a narrow path first or if there was the slightest chance that our clothes might come into contact. And as the convention was that veiled women were "not there" I heard some very curious conversations as I passed groups of men on the street.

Right, right. Because if I can be the first to walk through a door and not have to deal with construction workers' catcalls, why would I worry about stuff like not being able to vote, drive, or work; being brought up on adultery charges after being raped; being beaten at my husband's pleasure, etc.? How does any of that matter if I'm being treated like a lady?

What the fuck kind of post is this?!

Posted by: shortstop on June 6, 2007 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

However, it's interesting to note that the current Administration created some distance from the Saudis by moving CENTCOM FORWARD out of Saudi Arabia.
Posted by: Trashhauler on June 6, 2007 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

Trashhauler,
You write like you are professional military.
Do you have any insight as to why Kuwait was not suitable for all our basing needs in the region? For that matter why is Baharain not sufficient? Here you have a country that is very happy to have us there. Why the Pentagon hunger for bases in Iraq? It seems illogical, especially in light of the very hostile population. Was the Pentagon not the driver behing the Iraq base construction, was it WH directed?

Posted by: Northern Observer on June 6, 2007 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

i am thrilled that i was once again able to entice easily distracted liberals into talking about the crimes of yankee negroes and spics so that they'll stop discussing Saudi crimes against humanity. i love me a Saudi government.

Posted by: right-wing trolls from across the pond on June 6, 2007 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

You write like you are professional military.

You want something packed, Trashhauler's your man.

Posted by: shortstop on June 6, 2007 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Trashy wrote: However, it's interesting to note that the current Administration acceded to one of al Qaeda's demands by moving CENTCOM FORWARD out of Saudi Arabia.

Fixed it for you.

By the way, trashy, your dishonesty in pretendign there's some question as to the closeness between thehouse of Bush and the house of Saud does you no credit.

Posted by: Gregory on June 6, 2007 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Hmmmmmm . . . why don't we put our bases in Israel, eh?

They are an established democracy.

They aren't mistreating their women.

They are nominally our allies.

They are in the region.

Oh, that's right.

They don't want us there.

They don't have oil.

They don't torture people.

And we know how Dickie likes to torture people.

Or how about Jordan?

Or our new found friends in Libya?

No, Iraq was a much, much better choice.

trashhauler: Why would we want to be stationed in Saudi Arabia once the reason for our presence has been overcome by events?

What events have overcome our reasons for being there?

9/11 and Bush caving in to Al Qaeda demands that we leave?

Posted by: anonymous on June 6, 2007 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

trashy wrote: Sometimes the studied pose of ironic condemnation so common in these threads gets a bit wearing?

I'm sure being on the recieving end of well-deserved condemnaation gets monotonous for you, trashy, but not as much as the dead-ender Bush Cultists continuing to carry water for this failed Administration is for the rest of us.

Posted by: Gregory on June 6, 2007 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

I thought foreign women weren't subject to the abba'a. I know US servicewomen don't wear it, but there was some controversy about allowing them to drive. Anyone know the answer?

Posted by: Doug Schwartz on June 6, 2007 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

But it is not useless to say Moslems are much much more likely to commit terrorism than followers of any other religion.

Yeah, just think of the IRA, say, or the KKK, or the Nazis, ETA, the Red Brigades, the Baader-Meinhof gang, the Stern Gang, the Latin American narco-terrorists, the Tamil Tigers. Just full of Muslims.....

Posted by: Stefan on June 6, 2007 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

The problem, of course, is spelled I-S-L-A-M. But nobody can really say that, can they? Posted by: Steve

Not really. You don't find the same kind of wrongheadedness in all countries where Islam is the primary religion. Much of the crap that Westerns abhor as "Islamic" is desert tribalism from the Middle Ages grafted on to Islam.

That being said, the three Abrahamic religions suck in general.

Posted by: JeffII on June 6, 2007 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK
We are protecting - with our soldier's lives - many more Muslims than we are fighting.

No, we are endagering, with our soldiers' presence, many more Muslims than we are directly fighting.

We may intend to be "protecting" people, but that's not the actual result, for the most part.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 6, 2007 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

Gregory, you answered Trashauler better than I could have, while I was out at lunch. Thanks.

But I've got to admit "studied prose of ironic condemnation" has a nice ring to it.

Posted by: thersites on June 6, 2007 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

Organgrinder: I not only wore the abba'a but also the full-face veil. I found it very liberating. The (always, in my experience, foreign) workers didn't yell obscene comments to me as they did to the obviously foreign women. Cars ground to a screeching halt when I looked as though I might cross the street. Saudi men would leap back to let me though a narrow path first or if there was the slightest chance that our clothes might come into contact. And as the convention was that veiled women were "not there" I heard some very curious conversations as I passed groups of men on the street.

I have read a lot of drivel written by full-of-themselves anthropologists, but by god this is in contention for at least a bronze in the cultural-apologist Olympics.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on June 6, 2007 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

If we could get off oil, we could leave these primative cultures to thier own devices.

Posted by: The fake fake al on June 6, 2007 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

The United States is tied to the hip with the Saudi royal family not because of the evil Bush cabal. It far predates that, through Republican and Democratic Presidencies, and it would be nice if the "Bush is controlled by the Saudis" nitwits could grasp that no American policy in the past eighty years was opposed by the Saudis more than toppling the Baathists in Iraq. That doesn't necessarily argue for toppling the Baathists, of course, but it wouold be nice if the supposed "reality based" community could recognize basic facts.

No, our policy towards the Saudis is not directed by EEEEEVVVVVVIIIIIILLLLL oil companies, either. The oil companies are merely the tools of what does direct our Saudi policy, and has for decades: The demand by the American voter/consumer for the least expensive energy available. Even factoring DOD budgets for controlling the Persian Gulf, that means getting the damned stuff out of Saudi Arabia on an uninterrupted basis, and that means throwing support behind the House of Saud, and, no, for anybody who has yet to grasp the concept of fungibility yet, it doesn't matter a whit that a small percentage of the oil consumed in the U.S. actually is pumped from Persian Gulf oil wells.

If one really wants to inquire why the U.S. policy towards the House of Saud is what it is, reflect upon it next time you hear your co-worker or neighbor bitch and moan about the price of gasoline.

Posted by: Will Allen on June 6, 2007 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

There's no question that American consumer entitleists demanding cheap gas are what's driving the Saudi lovefest, Will. But you conveniently leave out the fact that the oil companies have everything to gain by encouraging our continued dependence on fossil fuels. And you also seem to have forgotten just who the biggest political champions of the oil bidness are.

And no, I don't think Dems are clean in this regard--I want to see a lot more seriouness about alternative fuels coming from both the electorate and our now Congressional majority. But don't even try to make the case that there's any kind of equivalence between Democratic and Republican protection of big oil. We'd have to laugh at you if you did that, Will.

Posted by: shortstop on June 6, 2007 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

Trashhauler:

However, it's interesting to note that the current Administration created some distance from the Saudis by moving CENTCOM FORWARD out of Saudi Arabia.

I'd like to ask, why isn't moving CENTCOM FORWARD out of Saudi Arabia NOT a nod to the Saud family? It seems to me that the American presence there was always THE problem for the royal family. The Bush family removed it as a favor to their friends, so that the dictators could continue running their show.

Posted by: bigcat on June 6, 2007 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

In response to this...

...No, our policy towards the Saudis is not directed by EEEEEVVVVVVIIIIIILLLLL oil companies, either...

I might also add that if you think corporations don't play an extremely significant role in directing our foreign policy, particularly under Republican administrations and most particularly under this one, then you're either being disingenuous or you're newly arrived on these shores.

Posted by: shortstop on June 6, 2007 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

Genocide is not an American policy.

Tell that to the American Indian.

Posted by: Stefan on June 6, 2007 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

Genocide is not an American policy.

Tell that to the American Indian.

The first place my mind went was Sand Creek, Colorado, and Chivington and his "Hundred Days-ers"

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on June 6, 2007 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK
The United States is tied to the hip with the Saudi royal family not because of the evil Bush cabal. It far predates that, through Republican and Democratic Presidencies, and it would be nice if the "Bush is controlled by the Saudis" nitwits could grasp that no American policy in the past eighty years was opposed by the Saudis more than toppling the Baathists in Iraq.

The Saudis objectively seem to have responded much more emphatically against, for example, US support for Israel in the 1970s. What is the basis for the claim that there is no American policy of the last 80 years that was opposed by the Saudis more than toppling the Ba'ath regime in Iraq?

Posted by: cmdicely on June 6, 2007 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

What I found most haunting about Megan Stack's article was her observation that many Western men of her aquaintance appeared to appreciate and even enjoy the reduced status of women in Saudi Arabia.

I have to quote here, of all people, Joss Whedon (of Buffy the Vampire and Serentity fame) on the honor killing of Dua Khalil:

...Womb Envy.....How else to explain the fact that cultures who would die to eradicate each other have always agreed on one issue? That every popular religion puts restrictions on women’s behavior that are practically untenable? That the act of being a free, attractive, self-assertive woman is punishable by torture and death?

Men create gods in their own image. That these gods have not generally been friends of women I think says more about the nature of men than their gods, unfortunately.

Posted by: Matilde on June 6, 2007 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK
How else to explain the fact that cultures who would die to eradicate each other have always agreed on one issue? That every popular religion puts restrictions on women’s behavior that are practically untenable?

Because those restrictions are not "practically untenable", but in fact pro-survival (for the communities that adopted them) in the circumstances in which those beliefs evolved, making those memes extremely widespread and durable.

That is not to deny, of course, that they have long-since been rendered counterproductive with changed circumstances including advancing technology.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 6, 2007 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely, the Saudis are unable to employ an embargo as they did in the '70s, because their population has grown sufficiently large, and has become sufficiently dependent on their welfare state, to preclude such action. They need the oil extraction to be uninterrupted as much as the American consumer demands it. If you want to argue, however, that our policy in regards to Israel has been opposed by the Saudi regime more than toppling the Iraq Baathists, fine. The fact remains that the Saudis were very much opposed to the Bush policy vis a vis Iraq.

Sure, shortstop, oil companies benefit from our Saudi policy and support it. That is merely an accessory to the central pillar of our policy towards the Saudi regime, which is that incumbent politicians fear the reaction of the American electorate to any interruption of oil flowing from the Persian Gulf. What is frustrating to me is that by 2007, this central fact cannot be addressed by anyone with a chance of being elected President. It makes me wish Al Gore was running, although I suspect that if Al actually thought he again had a chance of being elected, he would be about the same in this regard as the other candidates.

Posted by: Will Allen on June 6, 2007 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

Irony alert: Will Allen comments on tools.

shortstop wrote: don't even try to make the case that there's any kind of equivalence between Democratic and Republican protection of big oil. We'd have to laugh at you again if you did that, Will.

Fixed it for you.

Posted by: Gregory on June 6, 2007 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

That is merely an accessory to the central pillar of our policy towards the Saudi regime, which is that incumbent politicians fear the reaction of the American electorate to any interruption of oil flowing from the Persian Gulf.

It's only an "accessory" if you're trying to argue that oil companies' gargantuan profits are merely an accidental by-product of the unruly electorate's desire for a cheap tank of gas--and further, that electoral politics is driven solely by the whims of those selfish car-loving voters, uninfluenced by lobbyists, corporate campaign contributions and other large exchanges of cash. The relationship between oil profits and campaign financing becomes even more convoluted in this administration, in which we have the double delight of big oilmen actually running foreign policy.

But you knew all that, Will.

Posted by: shortstop on June 6, 2007 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

Not "solely", shortstop, but certainly largely. The Clinton regime was as friendly, if not freindlier, to Saudi interests as the Bush II regime.

Posted by: Will Allen on June 6, 2007 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

Northern Observer wrote:

"Do you have any insight as to why Kuwait was not suitable for all our basing needs in the region? For that matter why is Baharain not sufficient? Here you have a country that is very happy to have us there. Why the Pentagon hunger for bases in Iraq?"
___________________

NO, neither Kuwait nor Bahrain have sufficient infrastructure alone for large, sustained operations. Too few airfields, for one. However, together they would be sufficient for normal peacetime requirements. Saudi Arabia has superb airfield and seaport facilities, but we can do without them if need be. Since the Saudi authorities had closed their airspace to any of our aircraft participating in the GWOT (including Afghanistan), we subsequently moved.

As far as the bases in Iraq go, their primary use is to support operations in Iraq. They are not well suited as instruments of regional control. For one thing, they are not serviced by rail lines. Resupply is either by air or road traffic. The same thing applies to our bases in Afghanistan at Bagram and Kandahar. There aren't even fuel pipelines to any of them.

Once hostilities cease in either country, the US military will have no problem abandoning those bases, if told to do so. We've done it before, many times.

Having said that, after a year or so there is very little difference between the functions of a permanent main operating and those of an hostilities-only forward operating base. The primary difference becomes creature comforts, such as permanent barracks and family housing. But no one is permanently stationed at any of our bases in Iraq or Afghanistan and I know of no plans for anyone to ever be assigned to them permanently.

Posted by: Trashhauler on June 6, 2007 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

"The first place my mind went was Sand Creek, Colorado, and Chivington and his 'Hundred Days-ers'"
______________________

Well, technically, Chivington wasn't acting on behalf of the United States. He and his men were Colorado militia, not regular military. Who knows who issued his orders, if anyone did, but it wasn't the United States government.

A better example would be the Battle of the Washita, where that moron, Custer, attacked a friendly village or even Wounded Knee, though that latter battle didn't seem to have been planned beforehand.

However, not even my examples could rightly be called attempts at genocide. Genocide needs more than occassional scattered attacks. The formal purpose of most Indian campaigns was to get the tribes onto reservations. That in itself might be called a genocidal practice by many today, but it wasn't viewed that way in the 19th century.

Posted by: Trashhauler on June 6, 2007 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

... might be called a genocidal practice by many today, but it wasn't viewed that way in the 19th century.

Slavery might be called a crime against humanity by many today, but it wasn't viewed that way in the 19th century.

Then it's okay. Excuse me.

(How's that for a studied pose of ironic condemnation? You worn out yet?)

Posted by: thersites on June 6, 2007 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK
However, not even my examples could rightly be called attempts at genocide. Genocide needs more than occassional scattered attacks. The formal purpose of most Indian campaigns was to get the tribes onto reservations. That in itself might be called a genocidal practice by many today, but it wasn't viewed that way in the 19th century.

Nothing was viewed as "genocidal" in the 19th century; the term "genocide" was coined in 1944, and the idea of genocide as a distinct class of offense is perhaps slightly older (though, of coruse, not with that name), but still a 20th Century concept (there seems to have been emerging recognition of such an category of offenses with the recognition of the "Armenian Holocaust".)


Many of those recognized genocides (including the Armenian) had the overt goal of relocation or deportation (which is why mass deportation of that kind itself is recognized as a war crime and crime against humanity alongside genocide), so the claim that the overt purpose of the American policy being relocation somehow demonstrates that it was not a genocidal policy is simply ludicrous.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 6, 2007 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

NO, neither Kuwait nor Bahrain have sufficient infrastructure alone for large, sustained operations. Too few airfields, for one.

You know, you can build those.

Posted by: Stefan on June 6, 2007 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

... might be called a genocidal practice by many today, but it wasn't viewed that way in the 19th century.

"The only good Indians I ever saw were dead." -- General Phillip Sheridan, United States Army

Genocide needs more than occassional scattered attacks.

The wholesale decimation of the buffalo, which was the Plains Indians main food and clothing source, as well as a wholesale theft of the land that supported them, was more than "occasional scattered attacks."

Posted by: Stefan on June 6, 2007 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan wrote:

"The wholesale decimation of the buffalo, which was the Plains Indians main food and clothing source, as well as a wholesale theft of the land that supported them, was more than 'occasional scattered attacks.'"
_____________________

Very true, Stefan, but the formal policy was still one of getting the Indians on reservations, not genocide.

Few 19th century policies could be justified under today's standards. By today's standards, the original 13 states would have been hard-pressed to expand past Pittsburg. We can retroactively condemn that such things happened, but in the end it changes little.

Posted by: Trashhauler on June 6, 2007 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan wrote:

"[Quoting me] 'NO, neither Kuwait nor Bahrain have sufficient infrastructure alone for large, sustained operations. Too few airfields, for one.'

You know, you can build those."
__________________

True, Stefan, if the host government agrees. We might yet build more airfields in the region. We might even get back into Saudi Arabia again.

Posted by: Trashhauler on June 6, 2007 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK
Very true, Stefan, but the formal policy was still one of getting the Indians on reservations, not genocide.

The formal policy of the Armenian Genocide was deporting people who were collaborating with the Ottoman Empire's enemies in the war.

Its rare that the formal policy of any genocide is extermination. Heck, even the Nazi death camps were formally "concentration camps", a designation not much different from "reservation".

Again, the fact the overt policy was to get the Indians out of the way of the Whites rather than to exterminate them is not an indication that it was not a genocidal, since that is perfectly consistent with the overt policy of some of the most notorious genocides in history.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 6, 2007 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK
Few 19th century policies could be justified under today's standards.

False. Also, irrelevant.

By today's standards, the original 13 states would have been hard-pressed to expand past Pittsburg.

One might point out that that was the 18th Century and not the 19th, or that while regional separatist movements might only be succesful in fairly exceptional cases today, they have even more explicitly internationally recognized justification today than they did in the 18th or 19th Century, through the widespread recognition of the right of self-determination. Or perhaps you are confused and think that, at the time of the declaration of independence, all of the land of the colonies that formed the US was occupied by Indians except for the city of Pittsburg. I really have no idea what the basis is for your claim here; on its face, it appears completely ridiculous.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 6, 2007 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK
… We might even get back into Saudi Arabia again. Trashhauler at 6:02 PM
Why would that be necessary when we have a puppet government and airbase in Qatar? Posted by: Mike on June 6, 2007 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

It's a small point, but she's quite wrong when she writes that the behavior is an age old tradition.

I grew up in Saudi Arabia as an ex-pat, from 1968-1977. Women weren't severely restricted and didn't have to wear veils. I wore jeans and teeshirts, took cabs by myself. Restaurants weren't segregated.

I lived in Jeddah; Riyadh was a bit more strict but nothing approaching this. The only two major restrictions were that women couldn't drive, and that we couldn't openly go to church. The embassies hosted services without interference.

I'm not praising those restrictions, or implying they are non-trivial, but they are a far cry from what exists today. My father, who went back over in 1981 and stayed in the middle east for nearly 15 years, says that the severe restrictions started in the late 80s and 90s, primarily in response to Desert Storm. The Saudis annoyed their religious leaders and had to placate them by enforcing social behavior that had never been in place before. (This was also when they had to start spending billions to set up wahhabi mosques throughout the world.)

While I certainly agree that US businesses should not cooperate with segregation on any terms, I find it even more repulsive that everyone--including the media--presents this cooperation as respect for traditional ways. This is, simply, wrong. The Saudis declared apartheid on women at some point in the early 1990s. No one seemed to notice.

Posted by: Cal on June 6, 2007 at 9:17 PM | PERMALINK

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that prevents women from driving, studying law and engineering, directly selling or buying property, attending court (even when accused of murder), and showing their faces in public.
TESTIMONY OF ALI AL-AHMED, Director of the Saudi Institute, Before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, June 4, 2002


Posted by: consider wisely always on June 6, 2007 at 9:44 PM | PERMALINK

Cal:

Thanks for your post, but I have to disagree somewhat. A former co-worker of mine left the library where I worked for many years, to live in Saudi because her husband, an oral surgeon, got the job of head of oral surgery at the King Faisal hospital (in Riyadh, for those of you who don't know). This was 1980 or 81. The Sauds paid very good money to foreign employees then, with generous leave allowances, so my co-worker returned to the States at least once a year and had lunch with us. She regaled us with tales of living there as a woman, which I called the "1001 Arabian Nights" (naturally).

Even then, she had to be sure to wear garments that came down to mid-calf and mid-lower arm when she went outside the American compound, and she had to be accompanied by a man. Other restrictions were in place as well. I have no doubt that conditions for women have worsened since then but they were already becoming considerably more restricted than even when you left in 1977.

I would also like to comment to rightists on this board: just because we liberals/leftists comment unfavorably on various conditions and history of this country, does NOT mean that we consider other countries or cultures to be superior in every way. What we do recognize is that all countries and cultures do and have done both good and evil things. We criticize the United States because we as a country have the capability of doing much better than currently, and since we live and vote here, we might be able to make a small difference in the way things are done here, especially when we act as a group. We have no control over the way things are done in other countries, and the United States' tendency to try to "fix" other countries, especially by invading them, is a HUGE mistake.

Yes, parts of Islam currently, especially Wahhabists and other fundamentalists, are doing some VERY BAD THINGS. But to pretend that Islam as a whole is somehow unique in genocidal tendencies, or that it presents a huge threat to Western civilization, or the United States, is just ludicrous.

Posted by: Wolfdaughter on June 7, 2007 at 12:09 AM | PERMALINK

Thanks, Trashauler of Military Student's Moving Van Lines.

Lets me off the hook - As a physical fitness buff, I just thought the long walk would do them good and once there, they wouldn't have to worry about all of those dang trees.

Posted by: Andrew Jackson on June 7, 2007 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK
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