Karen Hughes v. Arabic Women

"We're All Pretty Happy"

JIDDA, Saudi Arabia, Sept. 27 - The audience - 500 women covered in black at a Saudi university - seemed an ideal place for Karen P. Hughes, a senior Bush administration official charged with spreading the American message in the Muslim world, to make her pitch.

But the response on Tuesday was not what she and her aides expected. When Ms. Hughes expressed the hope here that Saudi women would be able to drive and "fully participate in society" much as they do in her country, many challenged her.

"The general image of the Arab woman is that she isn't happy," one audience member said. "Well, we're all pretty happy." The room, full of students, faculty members and some professionals, resounded with applause.

The administration's efforts to publicize American ideals in the Muslim world have often run into such resistance. For that reason, Ms. Hughes, who is considered one of the administration's most scripted and careful members, was hired specifically for the task.

Many in this region say they resent the American assumption that, given the chance, everyone would live like Americans.

The group of women on Tuesday, picked by the university, represented the privileged elite of this Red Sea coastal city, known as one of the more liberal areas in the country. And while they were certainly friendly toward Ms. Hughes, half a dozen who spoke up took issue with what she said.

Ms. Hughes, the under secretary of state for public diplomacy, is on her first trip to the Middle East. She seemed clearly taken aback as the women told her that just because they were not allowed to vote or drive that did not mean they were treated unfairly or imprisoned in their own homes.

"We're not in any way barred from talking to the other sex," said Dr. Nada Jambi, a public health professor. "It's not an absolute wall."

The session at Dar Al-Hekma College provided an unusual departure from the carefully staged events in a tour that began on Sunday in Egypt.

As it was ending Ms. Hughes, a longtime communications aide to President Bush, assured the women that she was impressed with what they had said and that she would take their message home. "I would be glad to go back to the United States and talk about the Arab women I've met," she said.

They hates our freedoms. Probably cant stand elections too.

Never underestimate the pride of nationalism over good common sense.

Oh, they resist now... but we'll break those fillies. Just get that McDonald's and Wal-Mart to open up down the street, and they'll be piling the Expedition full of groceries in no time.

Seriously, I can totally see why they would resent somebody coming in and crowing like this. Even if they're not happy, they'll say they are just to spite such arrogance. Most likely, they are happy with the way things are and shouldn't have to worry about somebody telling them otherwise.

Hey, the rich women from elite families might actually feel like they have it good.

I wonder how the vast majority of other women feel there. You know, the majority of women who come from very poor families.

I also wonder how these women can be ok with a society that condones honor killings and that whole throw-acid-in-the-face-of-the-woman-who-won't-date-you deal. Maybe they think that it's not their concern because it's the "lower" class's problem.

Hey, the rich women from elite families might actually feel like they have it good.
I wonder how the vast majority of other women feel there. You know, the majority of women who come from very poor families.
I also wonder how these women can be ok with a society that condones honor killings and that whole throw-acid-in-the-face-of-the-woman-who-won't-date-you deal. Maybe they think that it's not their concern because it's the "lower" class's problem.

Word.

See, this looks like it's already turned into an us versus them kind of thing.

We're two COMPLETELY different societies. One telling the other how to live is a load of crap on either side. We have a good society for ourselves. Expecting every other group on the planet to agree is horse-sh*t and it's why I was pissed that we changed the reasoning of war to "bringing democracy to the people."

A. The whole point of Democracy is that it's earned by the people, not given to them. GIVING them Democracy is just plain stupid. Without sacrifice to earn it, it has no meaning.

B. People's culture is what makes them who they are. To go in and say that they're wrong and we're right is TOTALLY disrespectful. I'm glad Karen Hughes decided something along the lines of listen respectfully. To quote a comedian (as I am so akin to doing here in P&C)...

"How would you feel if every day some guy came into work and just yelled out at the top of his lungs, 'I'm the best motherf*cker in this place and all of you are sh*t under me!' and acted like a pompous prick and did whatever he wanted no matter how anyone else felt? I'm willing to bet you'd all hate him and conspire to kill him within a week. He'd be lying in the elevator with 5 letter openers in him and a coffee pot smashed over his head!"

We should really just live and let live. I demand a Firefly future where all cultures are accepted and embraced, goram it!

Demosthenes wrote:

... accepted and embraced ...

Um, no thanks.
I agree wholeheartedly with everything above this in your post. However, I reserve the right to not only NOT accept and embrace, but to be downright INTOLERANT of some cultures or their values. Yes, looking down on another culture is okay, little treehugger.
And before you get all riled up, please write us an essay about showing up at your nearest friendly cliterectomy-practicing neighbour's wearing your "Accept & Embrace" T-shirt.

Hmmmmmmm... ok, I don't agree with cliterectomy's on a completely different basis... but I'll admit I didn't think of that in the whole cultural area. Maybe accept and embrace unless something incredibly physically and emotionally damaging is imposed on someone without their discretion... oh wait, I just killed every culture. Oops.

Smials wrote:

little treehugger

Really, Demos, what's wrong with you? Big trees need love too.

*sizeist comment omitted*