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June 08, 2009

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The phrase "islamic values" annoys me. These clerics aren't preaching "Islamic values," they're preaching a specific sect of Islam.

That's one small step for Saudi men, with giant leaps remaining for Saudi kind.

oh i love that song

"...how ridiculous it is to describe Saudi Arabia's regime as a 'moderate,' while tagging Iran's as extremist."

Without particularly desiring to start, at the moment, a discussion of the respective merits and demerits of either regime in this regard as present, I'd suggest that there's are useful distinctions between cultural moderation/extremism, and political moderation/extremism, the latter also subdivisible to some extent between domestic and as regards foreign policy.

Ok, to start some discussion in contradiction to myself, I'd say that Wahabism crosses lines between cultural and political, and obviously is at play in both Saudi domestic and foreign policy, and thus Wahabism, for instance, isn't easily divisible between "cultural" and "political."

But I'd still suggest that the distinctions are useful in some circumstances.

Also, on the bright side, Saudi Arabians are spared Pauly Shore movies.

oh i love that song

What song? If it's the one I'm thinking of shouldn't it be "glimpse of stocking?"

"In old Riyadh a glimpse of stocking
was looked on as something shocking,
Now Allah knows
Anything goes."

"Any THIIIINGGG goes in, any THIIIINGGG goes out..."

[and order up the skating vicar!]

[and order up the skating vicar!]

Or the skating imam, in this case.

But I'd still suggest that the distinctions are useful in some circumstances.

What's fascinating about Saudi Arabia is that it seems that extreme conservatism in domestic policy is used to co-opt conservatives, so they don't start pushing extreme conservatism in foreign policy. And oil money co-opts everyone else.

Somehow I doubt they'll be playing "And Now for Something Completely Different" any time soon.

This is pretty ridiculous. Saudi Arabis is culturally like a giant, very wealthy version of North Korea.

This is positively Luddite.

I'm under the impression that North Korea is vastly less sexist than Saudi Arabia is.

They're relatively equal opportunity about letting both women and men eat grass and starve, while adoring the Dear Leader.

I'm willing to be corrected by those with superior information.

The elites of both countries have an abominable taste. It's just that the Saudis can afford more of it. Imagine how NK would look, if Dear Leader had all that money to spend on 'art' (urrgh!).
The Saudis import slaves, NK uses its own population.
---
Old joke: What would happen if [enter name of communist country] were in the Sahara desert? Nothing for ten years. Then they would begin to run short on sand.

Why 1805? The regency era was by no means as sexually repressive as the Victorian era.

Why 1805? The regency era was by no means as sexually repressive as the Victorian era.

Indeed, many of us nowadays would probably blush at some of the goings on in Regency times. And the (British) Victorian era itself was more ambiguous than its straightforward caricature, at least until the late Victorian. At the risk of sounding like a broken mp3, I'll recommend Sweet's Inventing the Victorians, as I always do in comment threads when Victorian mores come up. In short, Who Relies on Virginia Woolf?

Oh, and Saudi Arabia? Well, they're officially less belligerent towards the world than NK, and somewhat less nuclear. These are net pluses in realist international affairs. Sure, it would be nice if they were as enlightened as Kuwait, but such things take time and very subtle pressure. Also, they have most of the oil, so who cares what we think?

What really fascinates me is the apparent cause of the extreme conservatism that you mention.

When I was in Riyadh a few years ago, someone pointed out to me that, back in the 1950s, the first supermarket opened in Saudi Arabia. It was covered in a magazine article at the time, complete will picture . . . of a Saudi woman with shopping cart. And the dress that she was wearing would have been unremarkable on an American woman of the same era. The whole total cover-up thing apparently started when the Mullahs took over in Iran. The Saudi Imams apparently decided that, as (in their own eyes) the center of Islam, they could not allow anyone to be "more pure" than they were.

It is also noteworthy that the young men who have been educated in the West (which is a fairly large number of them) seemed to have a really cynical view of the whole extreme religion approach of their elders. Not that they are not devout; just generally not fanatical about it. It will take decades before the older generation finally dies off. But at that point, it won't be surprising if there are some rather dramatic changes.

"Why 1805? The regency era was by no means as sexually repressive as the Victorian era."

I'm a slave to the Shins, whose lyrics were copped for the post title.

"But I'd still suggest that the distinctions are useful in some circumstances."

Agreed, but in your discussion of exporting Wahabism (and financing militant groups far and wide) you answered your own point (which was as you intended).

The whole total cover-up thing apparently started when the Mullahs took over in Iran. The Saudi Imams apparently decided that, as (in their own eyes) the center of Islam, they could not allow anyone to be "more pure" than they were.

Which is interesting, given the rather light rules on women's attire in Iran. The chador isn't mandatory, and the khimar doesn't have to be a particularly extensive scarf. So naturally the only alternative is an abaya. Too bad Sunni Islam seems to have a problem with middle ground, at least when it comes to women. (Yeah, what a surprise.)

As much as I love film, a government allowing film screenings is not in itself necessarily a sign of liberalization or reform. Film can be used highly effectively for nefarious propaganda purposes or simply to distract and sedate the population, as film-buff Goebbels has shown and leaders like Kim Yong-il have taken their love of film to extraordinary extremes.

"As much as I love film, a government allowing film screenings is not in itself necessarily a sign of liberalization or reform."

True, but I didn't suggest that was the case. My point was made with specific reference to Saudi Arabia and the film in question.

I'm a slave to the Shins, whose lyrics were copped for the post title.

Have i once again displayed my utter ignorance of pop culture?

Sadly, yes!

And probably dated yourself as well. A two-fer!

My family lived in Riyadh in the early eighties. Dad was a flight instructor for Lockheed. Mom and sis were giving it their best but were western through and through so came came back to the states after a few aggravating years. My sister explained it as feeling like a another species and one of a lower order.

Sadly, yes!

And probably dated yourself as well. A two-fer!

Mark me down as an old fogey then. Better than an old stogie, anyway.

Guess I should thank cleek for letting my gaffe go.

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