Global, Identity, Religion

Reform in Riyadh?

Over four and a half years after the September 11 attacks, George W. Bush’s financial and fraternal comrades in Saudi Arabia continue to vilify “infidels” as subhuman. According to The Washington Post, despite the Saudi autocracy’s insistence that it no longer educates students to despise non-Wahhabi faiths, hatred reigns in Saudi public schools. This, for example, is from an Eighth Grade textbook the Saudi Embassy is citing as evidence of “revision and modernization”:

“As cited in Ibn Abbas: The apes are Jews, the people of the Sabbath; while the swine are the Christians, the infidels of the communion of Jesus.”
“God told His Prophet, Muhammad, about the Jews, who learned from parts of God’s book [the Torah and the Gospels] that God alone is worthy of worship. Despite this, they espouse falsehood through idol-worship, soothsaying, and sorcery. In doing so, they obey the devil. They prefer the people of falsehood to the people of the truth out of envy and hostility. This earns them condemnation and is a warning to us not to do as they did.”
“They are the Jews, whom God has cursed and with whom He is so angry that He will never again be satisfied [with them].”
“Some of the people of the Sabbath were punished by being turned into apes and swine. Some of them were made to worship the devil, and not God, through consecration, sacrifice, prayer, appeals for help, and other types of worship. Some of the Jews worship the devil. Likewise, some members of this nation worship the devil, and not God.”

When George W. Bush refused to criticize Saudi Arabia after the 9/11 attacks, despite the fact that the hijackers, the funding and (to a large extent) the philosophy emerged from that country, and when Bush repeatedly traipsed in public with the Saudi dictator, his supporters must have assumed Bush was pulling strings behind the scenes to get the Saudis to moderate their fundamentalist, racist and terrorist ideology.
I guess not.
Full story.

25 thoughts on “Reform in Riyadh?

  1. You might do better to check out the source of this information, which is an organization called Freedom Hpuse.
    Check out the Board of Trustees, the operation is an obvious neecon front. Which means that they have a major political axe to grind in trying to prove that Saudi is the Most Evil Country in the World, or at least that the Arabs are al Intolerant Bastards.
    All of this means that I’m not 100% comfortable with the translation provided by our neocon friends and think there’s a good possibility that this is another hoax on the order of the Iranian Jew-badges.

  2. It’s possible they have an axe to grind like MEMRI, but this wasn’t an advertisement. It was an opinion piece in the Washington Post Sunday Outlook section. I would think the editors would prohibit a transparently propagandistic piece.
    Bottom line: regardless of the agenda of the authors, the fact remains that Saudi Arabia preaches poison against Jews and others it considers “infidels.” It doesn’t matter what your political ideology is. If anything, the piece reveals neocons to be saps for putting such faith in a dictator-coddler like Bush.

  3. EV,
    We can bitch about the Saudis until the next administration finally arrives, and we scratch our heads and wonder why nothing ever changes, or we can finally make the massive and numerous changes necessary to Get Off Oil, which necessitates ending suburbia as we know it. All else is wishful thinking. Nothing can change until then. It can and will only just get worse.

  4. DK,
    Agreed in theory, but getting off oil is probably more wishful than getting off Middle Eastern autocrats. They should be done simultaneously, since one feeds the other.

  5. Oh, crap — I’m agreeing w/ Kelsey? 🙂
    I hate to be taken in as much as the next guy, but regardless of the source, it’s been a long-standing, well-attested fact that the Saudi school system doesn’t exactly promote a tolerant outlook vis-a-vis other faiths. Hell — even Iran has theoretical protections in their constitution for non-Muslim monotheists.
    But I’ve been hearing these stories since well before the US had any axe to grind with Saudi, and given our current political climate, I’d think if it weren’t true, someone would’ve provided evidence by now. Someone who loves peace, tolerance, and cultural relativism as much as I do, but with frequent flyer miles and questionable judgement when it comes to his personal safety.

  6. Umm, Conservative Apikoris, did you try checking out a little more than just the board of trustees? Freedom House is hardly a neocon organization. From their “About us” statement: “Freedom House is a clear voice for democracy and freedom around the world. Founded over 60 years ago by Eleanor Roosevelt, Wendell Willkie, and other Americans concerned with the mounting threats to peace and democracy, Freedom House has been a vigorous proponent of democratic values and a steadfast opponent of dictatorships of the far left and the far right.
    Since its founding, Freedom House has vigorously opposed tyranny including dictatorships in Latin America, apartheid in South Africa, and Soviet Communism and domination of Eastern and Central Europe, and religiously-based totalitarian regimes including Sudan, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.”
    Last I heard Eleanor Roosevelt was not a neocon.

  7. And also, Henry Louis Gates, hardly a neocon, is one of the members of their Board of Trustees. This story is not like the Iranian badges story – it’s one that’s been known for years, if not decades.

  8. It is possible that freedom house has been coopted by the neocons. There are far too many of them on the board for me to trust it. Jean Kirkpatrick, Samuel Huntington, and PJ O’Roarke to name a few. I think informed liberals should avoid working with such people.

  9. From rightweb

    Freedom House, a conservative-leaning human rights organization based in New York City, bills itself as “America’s oldest human rights group” (it was founded in 1941) and as a “clear voice for democracy and freedom around the world.” It is best known for its yearly “Freedom in the World” report, which rates countries according to their level of political rights and civil liberties. The group also serves as an umbrella organization for a number of more specialized groups, like the Center for Religious Freedom and the American Committee for Peace in Chechnya. Although frequently cited in press reports and academic works, the reports and studies produced by Freedom House and its affiliates have been criticized for their alleged partiality toward U.S. interests.
    According to its mission statement, the organization is “non-partisan and broad-based” and is led by leading figures from both political parties. While some well-known Democrats do serve on the group’s board of trustees—like New Mexico governor Bill Richardson—the board is chock-a-block with high-profile rightists and neoconservatives, including former CIA director James Woolsey, ex-Reagan administration official Kenneth Adelman, former UN ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick, and former member of the Committee on the Present Danger, Max Kampelman. Other board members include the conservative Rolling Stone writer P.J. O’Rourke; Samuel Huntington, the Harvard professor who champions the notion that the post-Cold War period will be dominated by a “clash of civilizations,” most notably between the Muslim and Christian worlds; Ruth Wedgwood, a right-leaning human rights lawyer; and Arthur Waldron, a long-time foreign policy hawk who has been a leading advocate for a hardline China policy. Most of these individuals have also supported the work of a number of other conservative organizations, including the Project for the New American Century, the Center for Security Policy, and the American Enterprise Institute. Other Freedom House supporters and scholars include Mark Falcoff, Penn Kemble, Nina Shea, and Daniel Pipes…………

  10. If you can find evidence that they mistranslated the textbooks, I would be more interested in that than in this scarlet-letter dismissal of facts because of who the messengers are.

  11. My thanks to EV for pointing this item out. I’m shocked that after 70 years of the US snubbing the Saudis (starting from the time FDR did NOT establish a special relationship with the Saudis and continuing through every Administration till now, Democrat and Republican, of all political stripes, which did NOT treat the Saudis with any particular special care), the Bush Administration has allowed the Saudis to initiate, after years of religious moderation and decency, the placing of such offensive items in its educational system.
    Although some of the comments above lead me to believe that EV may in fact be aware of the true nature of the US-Saudi relationship all these years, and the reason for it. Which would imply that Bush’s actions are typical of all Presidents we’ve had. Which would take all the fun out of the post. And lead me to wonder if this wasn’t yet another attempt to propagandize the gullible rather than an honest opinion.

  12. My thanks to J for pointing out, as conservatives have never failed to point out, that September 11 was not a unique day and did not require a reexamination of all of our foreign policy entanglements. As usual, Mr. “J” is filled with the kind of honesty, consistency and integrity we expect from those most vocal about our national security requirements.
    Anyone else want a piece of me? Bring it!

  13. A “reexamination”, maybe; a revision, not necessarily. Since I don’t see you offering any solutions for what to do about our alliance with the clearly rotten but oil-rich Saudis, I think you are again being disingenuous. But even if you were right about revising our policy, your original post mentioned none of this; obviously, it was just another dishonest attack on the Administration. Sadly typical for you.

  14. J,
    I am thrilled you agree with me. You are correct, sir, the problem here is oil, not specifically Bush.
    Which is why I know you will do the logical thing. and join me in a call for a radical change in suburban and urban planning and make public transit the most important priority in terms of funding, many new laws, and public works. Laws that encourage (read restrict) builidng only high density housing, and of course, you will be quite willing to employ eminent domain (you like that now, right?) to make sure such reforms are accomplished.
    This is great news, J. Together, we can fight all this nonsense of free market automobile narcisim and work for a responsible federally regulated (good stuff!) energy policy for getting off oil addiction as soon as possible.
    Everyone, please heed J’s point. for J is correct. The problem with the Saudis is not fundamentally Bush. Indeed, it is oil. And J is correct to demand a radical change in our way of life.

  15. DK-
    What a hijacking! Obviously I’m with you on the oil, but as for your solutions… well, at least you make an argument, rather than trying to place the blame on an Administration you don’t like.
    Why don’t we try (1) investing in oil substitutes for the long run, including expensive research projects funded by the government (there you go, let it be known that I’m not allergic to ALL government programs; (2) shorter term, be more aggressive in locating and drilling in new locations, including Alaska and (3) taking over Saudi Arabia and plundering the oil (just kidding! just a fantasy). I don’t see the need to radically change the way we live, and as we discussed before, I think you place way too much faith in the efficacy of new public transportation programs (though I would agree to any that can show the benefits outweighing the costs). As for cars, the most I would be willing to do would be to raise taxes on gasoline to the extent that the added amount reflects the costs to the country of accomodating the scum of the Middle East (but this is only in theory; it’ll never fly politically).

  16. J,
    The programs you suggested are simply not enough. And I am not saying that mass transit alone will be enough. Rather, I am saying that no change in energy policy will be enough without massive mass transit. And you should recognize this. The automobile companies certainly did. That’s why they tore up the trolley tracks back in the day. We need to hustle and repair the insanity our government, both Democratic and Republican, has engineered for over fifty years ago. And it’s going to be tough. But we can do it, and will be much better off. As will the rest of the world.

  17. “The programs you suggested are simply not enough. ”
    I don’t have the numbers in front of me right now, but bear in mind that in order to succeed on the terms we’re discussing, we need only reduce our consumption of oil by the amount that we purchase from scuzzy countries (in fact, even half of such a reduction would be hugely beneficial – presumably if the Saudi ruling family had less money to play with, the belt-tightening would reduce madrassa funding in Pakistan rather than such basic necessities as expensive hookers and gambling at Monte Carlo). It’s not that big a percentage of our total oil consumption.
    Obviously, the projects you propose are going to be expensive. If they pay for themselves in terms of overall utility (even if not in fares collected), then no problem. But if they don’t, then the massive waste of resources would probably be a bigger problem than the one we’re trying to solve.

  18. J,
    You are, of course, not considering the damage to the environment, something that is increasingly accepted as happening by most outside of Industrialist circles, and even to some extent in those circles as well.
    Sometimes the block to a more responsible )that is, expanded) system are union. For instance, the taxi lobby in Boston is what prevents the Boston subway from running all nights on weekends, at least until the bars close. Does that make any sense? Of course not. But the taxi lobby among others make sure it closes nice and early.
    The amount the average household spends on their automobiles is horrific. I think we could get rid of the need for a 2nd automobile in many suburban ares, at a cost of no more, in fact, significantly less, than a second car in these areas, with their insurance and gas costs, etc.
    Addionally, as bad as things are, the entrance of China and India and their demand on supply is only going to make things much worse. We have to reduce our consumption. It is critical to the economy of our nation as well as the well being of the world.
    To prove I am not some cracker-ass hippy, I would also add that as much as it pains me to do so, I would support a zero tolerance towards homelessness on the NY subway, and support an appropriate ongoing crackdown of massive proportion. In order to show the nation that we can have order and safety in an all-night metro system, and that it needn’t become a defacto homeless shelter. It is our responsiblility to show the transport culture of the City of Hamilton is appropriate and saleable for areas outside of NY, with their backwards notions of Jeffersonian space.

  19. I didn’t consider the environmental issues because it’s a different topic, with its own problems and solutions. But here’s my take on it. Generally, I share your concerns. But my approach to solutions would be as follows: Most environmental problems are cumulative and gradual, not acute. Therefore, for the most part, we have a great deal of choice as to which activities need to be restricted, limited or eliminated. (For example, if there are several categories of emissions in an area, up to a point these are harmless; beyond that point there may be minor harm which might be worth tolerating; and beyond that, a true health hazard that must be dealt with.) When there’s choice, we should choose the least expensive (to the economy as a whole) reductions or eliminations. I don’t think that non-cost effective (as I described above) massive public transportation projects are likely to be the least expensive alternative.
    As for unions and clearing the homeless from public places, I don’t think you need argue too hard with me 🙂 And I’ve never understood why liberals think they’re helping the homeless by leaving them on the streets.

  20. J, you said,
    “Most environmental problems are cumulative and gradual, not acute.”
    This one is acute.
    “I don’t think that non-cost effective (as I described above) massive public transportation projects are likely to be the least expensive alternative.”
    You are eliminating the efficiency and financial benefits that would occur if people had the choice to not own an automobile, or only own one automobile. It shouldn’t be assessed just in terms of the dollars spent, but ajusted for dollars saved for the many consumers who took advantage of this service. This changes things. There is no doubt that if you are near a subway or metro stop, and don’t own a car, you save a crap load of money each year.
    But I don’t think we have to agree on everything quite yet. I think you would agree that a 2nd ave subway is a good idea. i even think that you could be convinced that a cross town W. 86th st subway in Manhattan is a good idea.
    And a peripheral line and another horizontal train through Brooklyn and Queens.
    And how about a freight rail from the mianland through Brooklyn and Queens? This may be the most important one, as it would greatly reduce diesal trucks over the bridge and throughout I-95. It would benefit not just New Yorkers, though certainly New Yorkers. We have an asthma problem here. We know why.
    And how about LA? How about all night in Boston, Chicago, and DC with what they have, and some more stops and lines as well?
    I bet you would agree there as well, at least more than my grand dreams of suburban recontruction.
    So fight with me for these things. They are obvious. And when you see how right you were to agree to those, we can start ASAP on smaller cities and greater expansion to the ‘burbs.
    Our highway system was not built through a free market economy. It was laid through goverment oversight and regulation. The only difference really is the form of tranportation I am advocating, as well as the trains themselves within cities. The freight trains would still be privately owned and operated.
    BTW-I want to recommend the Power Broker, by Robert Caro to you. It is a masterpiece. I think you would like it.

  21. DK-
    I think we’ve discussed some of these items before. Your New York proposals seem good (if I was actually the one signing off on them, I’d want to get more information, but to my current knowledge they’re fine). And I’m glad you can separate these items from your large scale plans to change urban living as we know it (proposals to push millions of people around rarely sit well with with most people, not just conservatives). Probably your non-New York proposals are sound too. I still think you greatly overestimate the reduction in car purchase and maintenance that might result (there are too many non-commute uses for cars that no public transportation system can replace. And how will most suburbanites get to their train stations?). Let’s also keep in mind that New York is an ideal place for public transportation, with its concentrated and centrally located city center (aka Manhattan). LA is much tougher, as are the newer semi-suburban areas (isolated office parks rather than blocks of office buildings).
    “Our highway system was not built through a free market economy. It was laid through goverment oversight and regulation. ”
    Not really a fair argument. Obviously the highways are not an industry in which we could have had competing companies offering their own roads (though there is some experimentation with this). The highways were built because of the efficiencies they provide. Proposed public transportation projects should undergo the same cost-benefit analysis (benefits to include any environmental benefit as well as time saving for passengers).
    “BTW-I want to recommend the Power Broker, by Robert Caro to you. It is a masterpiece. I think you would like it.”
    I’ve been eyeing that book for a long time now. The problem is that it’s huge! (Cost-benefit – how many other books could I read in that time…) Interestingly, you seem to be in the position of advocating massive top-down change like Moses (and would probably require his methods) while trying to reverse the nature of Moses’ car-based projects.

  22. J.
    In addition to being a great history biography of the most important and powerful figure in New York history, The Power Broker is simply one of the most important books on attaining and wielding power since The Prince. And it is hardly redundant. Some of the landscape in a Democracy is similar to war or unregulated business, and some of it is quite different. I think if you read it, you will agree. And just because Moses utilized eminent domain in a carefree, brutal and unchecked manner does not mean it should never be employed.
    And I am certainly willing to entertain a cost benefit analysis. Let’s start with the modest proposal I suggested. I think you will find that the reason they were not executed earlier is not that they are not worthwhile, but because other less worthwhile programs take up the budget, or because guys like Moses squashed them when they should have been built when the areas were being developed.
    You wrote,
    “I still think you greatly overestimate the reduction in car purchase and maintenance that might result (there are too many non-commute uses for cars that no public transportation system can replace.”
    Lets look at place where the density reflects a mass transit system that is truly usable, though certainly not where I want it. Manhattan. Plenty of families, even wealthy ones, do in fact, elect not to have a car, and certainly not two. With density and mass transit, many healthy people will choose to live fine and fullfilling lives without owning automobiles, although this is not something generally explored in conversations. I concede that density may be critical in obviating the need for an automobile at all. And I am all for building (and rebuilding) densely.
    Which would partially answer your question, “And how will most suburbanites get to their train stations?”
    Addionally to buses and big parking lots alongside the metro, I would have frequent vans to and from the metero stop go through every neighborhood (during rush hour, less frequently after hours), and they would be subsidized, but I would charge, say,$1 or two per trip. Bet I would get takers!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.