In a stunning announcement that will guarantee King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia a place in history next to Susan B Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Nancy Pelosi….. well….
OK, his worship has decreed that, starting in 2015, women will gain the right to run and vote in local elections for the first time in the history of the kingdom. Of course, they still can’t drive or show their faces in public, but they will have the right to dip their fingers in the purple ink.
In his announcement that came at his annual address to the Shura Council, the king said, “We refuse to marginalize the role of women in Saudi society and in every aspect, within the rules of Sharia.” Evidently driving a car doesn’t fall into the category of “every aspect”, but it is significant progress.
Municipal elections are a fairly new phenomenon in Saudi life as it is, as the institution was not established until 2005. So in the grand scheme of things in the oil rich country, 10 years doesn’t seem all that bad.
Indeed, this is a significant leap forward for the women of Saudi Arabia. Abdullah, who is considered a reformer, may have used the act to placate Saudi women, especially in light of the massive unrest that has swept the region.
It is not my intention to belittle the women’s courageous stance or the king’s forward thinking (which actually is pretty radical for that area of the world). What I do want to point out is how the White House invariably will release statements applauding the king’s actions, but will continue to malign the “Tea Party” as racist, sexist, homophobic and bigoted.
To date, no one who has truly been affiliated or even loosely associated with the Tea Party Movement, has ever demanded our women cover their faces; no one has ever demanded that they gives up their drivers licenses (I REALLY could make a woman driver joke here but…) and, contrary to some media reports and democrat insinuations, NO ONE in the movement advocates racism, sexism or any other discrimination – as demonstrated by Herman Cain’s victory in the Florida Republican straw poll last Saturday.
Will their ever be a time when our politicians, on both sides, will return to intellectual honesty? Yes, celebrate with the women of Saudi Arabia who, after centuries of inequality, are getting a glimpse of freedom, but let’s keep it in perspective and realize that just because your political opponent doesn’t want to run up ungodly debt, it doesn’t mean they are bigots.
So, if you are going to praise the Saudi king for his actions, be prepared to do so for Americans who just their country live on for their kids.