Friday, October 25, 2002

A couple of things. I've spent too much time on Maxspeak arguing with people who like to rant about the dangers of Islam, these days as it applies to our tall black Tim McVeigh.
The Mullahs of Rome are still trying to protect their authority over the faithful, in the face of mounting democratic pressure for reform; the ultra Orthodox of the west bank are shooting olive pickers who trespass on the land God gave them; our Attorney General drapes the exposed tits of marble statues in canvas dropcloths and annoints himself with handfuls of Mazola; and we have to put up with bullshit qbout the dangers of Islam. It's silly. The danger is from fundamentalism. And the reason is the degree to which people in many parts of the world feel that their lives are not in any way in their own hands. More than that, they feel that their lives are in the hands of other people, like themselves, but with more power. The value of religion is that it simultaneously gives you responsibility and takes it away. But what takes it away is specifically not another human being but something that is greater than all human beings. In this way a believer can feel pride even as he or she serves.
We could feel this pride in Democracy. But most of us don't. We could feel pride in education but most of us don't. Most of us feel pride in our freedom to shop.

Nicholas Kristof managed to be incredibly disrespectful and condescending in the Times today. If he had treated the words of American women, even born again Christians, with as much contempt as he did the opinions of university professors in Riyadh he'd be getting letters out the ass. Here are the last paragraphs

" Is it paternalistic of us in the West to try to liberate women who insist that they're happy as they are?
No, I think we're on firm ground.
If most Saudi women want to wear a tent, if they don't want to drive, then that's fine. But why not give them the choice? Why ban women drivers and why empower the religious police, the mutawwa, to scold those loose hussies who choose to show a patch of hair?

If Saudi Arabians choose to kill their economic development and sacrifice international respect by clinging to the 15th century, if the women prefer to remain second-class citizens, then I suppose that's their choice. But if anyone chooses to behave so foolishly, is it any surprise that outsiders point and jeer?"Link

The women's responses were smart and complex. They understand what it means to be a Saudi woman. And they understand the dificulty.
Nick, If you ask someone's opinion and you think the response is silly, don't wait to go home to have a laugh. Either have the guts to do it in her face, or show her more respect when she's not around.

Paul Krugman was good today.

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