And here's the second looniest column of the week, this time courtesy of Maureen Dowd, who has been traveling through Saudi Arabia and thinks she detects an incipient renaissance in how women are treated there. In fact, she even allows herself to become the mouthpiece for a Saudi spokesman to attempt to portray Saudi society as being less hidebound by religious orthodoxy than Israel.
The Middle Eastern foreign minister was talking about enlightened “liberal” trends in his country, contrasting that with the benighted “extreme” conservative religious movement in a neighboring state.Say what? How removed from reality is Maureen Dowd? Is she not aware of how Saudis treat women who stray from the strict lines of behavior dictated by severe sharia law? Jennifer Rubin helps her out by linking to this horrific post by Rachel Abrams from last year's Weekly Standard.
But the wild thing was that the minister was Prince Saud al-Faisal of Saudi Arabia — an absolute Muslim monarchy ruling over one of the most religiously and socially intolerant places on earth — and the country he deemed too “religiously determined” and regressive was the democracy of Israel.
“We are breaking away from the shackles of the past,” the prince said, sitting in his sprawling, glinting ranch house with its stable of Arabian horses and one oversized white bunny. “We are moving in the direction of a liberal society. What is happening in Israel is the opposite; you are moving into a more religiously oriented culture and into a more religiously determined politics and to a very extreme sense of nationhood,” which was coming “to a boiling point.”
“The religious institutions in Israel are stymieing every effort at peace,” said the prince, wearing a black-and-gold robe and tinted glasses.
Saudi Arabia, modern-day: A man finds his daughter exchanging messages with a male friend on Facebook and murders her. A young woman caught sitting in a car with a man who is not her relative gets gang-raped, is then sentenced to 90 lashes (or 200, depending on which news report you read) for having appeared thus in public, and is later beaten by her brother for bringing shame on the family.While Dowd is over in the Middle East, perhaps she could swing by Israel and see if she can find similar stories of women being lashed for the crime of having been raped or children being forced to marry men in their 60s.
Same place, same time: The marriage of an eight-year-old girl to a 48-year-old man is upheld by a judge despite her mother's attempts to have the marriage annulled. A death-row inmate sells his 15-year-old daughter in marriage to a fellow prisoner to pay off some debts. The marriage is consummated. "It is incorrect to say that it's not permitted to marry off girls who are 15 and younger," says Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Sheikh, the kingdom's grand mufti. "A girl aged 10 or 12 can be married. Those who think she's too young are wrong and they are being unfair to her."
Is there a connection between the ability of fathers and brothers to mete out "honor" punishments--including murder--to their daughters and sisters and the ability of grown men--men in their 60s, some of them, who may well have daughters and granddaughters of their own--to marry little girls? I say what binds them are the dual impulses to demonize and dehumanize females, and I say there's no difference between the two: Kill your own daughter? It can only be possible if you see her not (or no longer) as flesh of your flesh, but rather as a creature driven by evil inclinations to transgress your moral code. Rape a little girl? It can only be possible if you dissociate from her child-ness and her humanness--and ignore her agony--and see her as, well, a creature driven by evil inclinations to enjoy your predation.