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November 1, 2007 8:34 AM   Subscribe

"The authorities not only discouraged Alex from pressing charges, he, his family and French diplomats say; they raised the possibility of charging him with criminal homosexual activity, and neglected for weeks to inform him or his parents that one of his attackers had tested H.I.V. positive while in prison four years earlier."(NYTimes)

Dubai upholds its inhuman tradition of neglecting, threatening, and even criminalizing victims of rape.
posted by hermitosis (52 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is so sad.
posted by Zephyrial at 8:44 AM on November 1, 2007


I had a hard time mentally narrowing down the aspects of this that were horrifying to just a handful. What happened to Alex that day is just about anyone's worst nightmare. What happened afterward (and is still happening) is too completely surreal to comprehend.
posted by hermitosis at 8:55 AM on November 1, 2007


The uncivilized reply to the asshole doctor who opined that Alex must be gay because he was anally raped is to anally rape the doctor. Then insist to the doctor that he must be gay.

Yuck. Very angry-making. Poor kid.
posted by illiad at 9:11 AM on November 1, 2007


I went to high school in Dubai and I remember this happening to a guy at my school. It's certainly known in the expat community here that things like this happen.
posted by atrazine at 9:39 AM on November 1, 2007


Every time I read something like this, it just becomes that much clearer why Halliburton set up shop there. We sure have some great allies, don't we? Fucking disgusting.
posted by Mr_Zero at 9:57 AM on November 1, 2007


It's a shitty, shitty place. Highly religious, don't you know.
posted by pracowity at 10:21 AM on November 1, 2007


I wrote a long comment detailing how, while we need to be accepting of different cultures approaches to what is right and wrong, this seemed entirely wrong.

Then I thought about it, and I deleted it.

Assuming that the stories here are reported accurately, I only have one response;

Fuck them. I won't make any effort to bridge this gap with some sort of cultural relativism, because any culture that willingly criminalize rape victims deserves nothing but my contempt.
posted by quin at 10:22 AM on November 1, 2007 [3 favorites]


What? Islamic countries are backwards?!?!
posted by damn dirty ape at 10:23 AM on November 1, 2007


It's astounding that there's no charge of rape against a male.
Well, maybe not literally astounding in view of their overall approach to rape, but outrageous. Appalling. I have no words strong enough.
posted by bassjump at 10:29 AM on November 1, 2007


One more reason why all religious worker visa should be revoked. Ain't no reason to import this crap. Ain't no reason to import christian fundamentalism. ain't no reason to import scientology. etc.
posted by jeffburdges at 10:31 AM on November 1, 2007


Well, speaking as a multiculturaltist liberal, I've never understood the need by some of my fellow liberals to take "multiculturalism" to mean "all cultures are just peachy keen fine and dandy". Truth told, I've only met people espousing that attitude online, and I've got a strong suspicion they were right wing trolls. I've not yet met a liberal who actually says that.

There's cultural differences, which should be respected if not revered, and then there's outright evil and barbarism. I don't even have to invoke Goodwin to find two examples of cultures that no liberal would ever suggest should have been preserved: the pro-slavery culture of the former CSA and the Apartheid culture of South Africa.

The simple fact is that some cultures *are* vile, evil, and altogether not worth preserving. My dividing line is human rights, as long as human rights are respected then I'll say that cultural differences are a good thing, but a culture that doesn't respect human rights is, from my POV, not worth preserving.

In fact, I'll go further and say that active measures to destroy such cultures are worthwhile. The only problem, of course, is how do you destroy a culture without comitting genocide against the people who make up that culture?

At the very least we can impose sanctions against such cultures, as we did against Apartheid. And severely penalize the members of our own culture (Dick Cheney) who support those cultures.
posted by sotonohito at 10:51 AM on November 1, 2007 [7 favorites]


And severely penalize the members of our own culture (Dick Cheney) who support those cultures.

Although I laud you for your stance, I'd like to know how that vulture has been in any way "severely penalized."
posted by illiad at 1:13 PM on November 1, 2007


illiad I'm urging that he *be* penalized, not claiming that he has been.
posted by sotonohito at 1:19 PM on November 1, 2007


sotonohito, gotcha. Sorry, the bile in my throat that surges whenever I see mention of that name causes my ability to comprehend simple sentences to go askew.
posted by illiad at 1:27 PM on November 1, 2007


Wow... I was going to say that multiculturalism & relativism doesn't mean everything is peachy keen with other cultures but rather something like: pay attention to the beam in your own fucking eye, or isn't easy to judge another culture by their worst aspects.

Not to defend those worst aspects, but "Active measures to destroy such cultures"?

What the fuck are you talking about? You say "sanctions" are the very least, so what would be more reasonable? Invasion? Bombing?

"because any culture that willingly criminalize rape victims deserves nothing but my contempt."

What culture are you talking about, quin? UAE? Islam?

Am I a debauched moral relativist because I'm astonished that a story about fucked up justice in the UAE brings out the "bomb Mecca" types?
posted by Wood at 1:47 PM on November 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wood I think you may have skipped reading the part where I wrote "The only problem, of course, is how do you destroy a culture without comitting genocide against the people who make up that culture?"

I'm many things, but a bomb Mecca type is definately not one of them.

I have no idea what might be a good way of killing off the fundamentalist Islamic culture, and by "good way" I mean "a way that doesn't involve killing people".

Economic sanctions are, due to the absolute dependence the technological societies have on oil, probably never going to happen.

I suspect that the net may help, actually. If enough people in Sharia oppressed areas see the good things free societies enjoy (and boobs, never underestimate the power of porn to make people question a religion that condemns nudity) it may make a positive change.

The Apartheid culture was killed off, without bombing Johannesburg into rubble, though its undeniable that there was violence involved in its death and the problems created by its demise still haven't been handled. The culture of the CSA took a war, followed by close to a century of legal battles and lynchings to die, and its echos still have the power to make people's lives miserable (see Jena LA).

I'm hoping that the Sharia culture can be killed with less violence than it took to kill Apartheid. I don't see a way to do that, but that doesn't mean talking about the goal is wrong.
posted by sotonohito at 2:02 PM on November 1, 2007


I should add that I'm not anti-Islamic, I just see a need to domesticate Islam in the same way that Christianity was domesticated.
posted by sotonohito at 2:04 PM on November 1, 2007


In fact, I'll go further and say that active measures to destroy such cultures are worthwhile. The only problem, of course, is how do you destroy a culture without comitting genocide against the people who make up that culture?

So the US should have been destroyed during slavery, jim crow, etc?
posted by cell divide at 2:08 PM on November 1, 2007


cell divide the *culture* in the US should have been destroyed, yes. In fact it was after a protracted struggle. Modern Americans are quite different, culturally speaking, from the Americans of 1820. Or even 1940.

I'm not talking about governments, I'm talking about cultures. To be sure, a government has ties to culture and vice versa, but you may note that the government of the USA was not destroyed during the process by which the slavery culture, and later the jim crow culture, were. Similarly, and to use a more recent example, the nation of South Africa was not overthrown when the Apartheid culture was killed.

With regards to the fundamentalist Islamic culture, the goverments that currently embrace it would need a rather drastic change (beginning with sexual equality and a separation of religion and government). But, just to pick an example I see no need to envision the destruction of the nation of Saudi Arabia when I see a need to destroy the dominant culture in Saudi Arabia.
posted by sotonohito at 2:20 PM on November 1, 2007


And, given that the dominant culture of Saudi Arabia burns school girls to death rather than let them flee a burning building sans burquas, just to chose a simple example, I suspect that you too would like to see that culture die off. Or at least I'd hope you'd like to see that culture die off.
posted by sotonohito at 2:25 PM on November 1, 2007


The culture of the CSA is not dead, sotonhito. Aspects of the culture were destroyed. SPECIFIC CONCRETE ASPECTS. Same thing for apartheid. The culture surrounding apartheid survives, for better or for worse. That's exactly my point. What do you mean by culture?

I hear "apartheid culture" = apartheid, I hear "CSA culture" = slavery. Then I hear "fundamentalist Islamic culture" & I think, what the hell are you talking about? What aspects of this "fundamentalist Islamic culture" do you want to kill off?

Is it just that they should be more respectful towards victims of rape? That's an admirable goal. I don't think there's much in the way of sanctions/war to achieve it though. Why do westerners end up in Abu Dhabi anyway? Money... they know what they're getting into & they go anyway, because of money...

The same sort of thing happens in lots of places all over the world. Abu Dhabi is interesting precisely because it's so integrated into the west's economy, technology & play worlds. If they didn't have oil or indoor downhill ski courses they'd just be like an African country where rape isn't prosecuted very well.

"I just see a need to domesticate Islam." Hah, I don't believe you're a "multiculturaltist liberal". Again, multiculturalism doesn't mean accepting everything in the world as honky dory, it does imply not being a santimonious asshole. I believe in universal human rights, however I don't take it upon myself to define respect for human rights in terms of reshaping an entire culture or religion.

In what world does the gradual change in the US from 1820 to today, or from 1940 (your example) conform to the idea of "destroying a culture".

Elements of jim crow & racism persist for one thing, which is one of sad aspects of having changed our own society rather than having been bombed into decency by santimonious aliens.
posted by Wood at 2:27 PM on November 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


sotonohito wrote: I suspect that the net may help, actually. If enough people in Sharia oppressed areas see the good things free societies enjoy (and boobs, never underestimate the power of porn to make people question a religion that condemns nudity) it may make a positive change.

The problem is that a lot of people actually want to live under a form of Shari'ah. They don't want to see "boobs", or experience the wonders of our free society like rampant inequality, practically unrestrained capitalism and easy access to alcohol and other drugs.

They might not agree with the more hardline interpretations of Shari'ah but wanting to see boobs probably won't come into it.
posted by knapah at 2:29 PM on November 1, 2007


Human nature will always have vile (or at the very least counterproductive) sides - each culture simply expresses those sides differently, to greater or lesser extents.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:33 PM on November 1, 2007


What culture are you talking about, quin? UAE? Islam?

To be honest, I'm not sure. Which culture was it that found it acceptable to treat these people in this way? I ask honestly.

Islam seems to have some backwards views on women, but there are plenty of examples of Islamic cultures where arresting people for being raped would be unheard of.

And it's not just the U.A.E. either, stories like this, while shocking, are not completely uncommon in the Middle East, or Africa.

I'd suggest that it's more likely people using their religion as an excuse to oppress others, but even that rings a bit hollow. This seems more... institutionalized and systemic.

I don't know who is to be vilified, but my finger points first at the people who thought it would be a good idea to arrest someone for being assaulted, and then continues to point at everyone around them that did nothing to stop it. Whatever that culture is, that's the one I blame.
posted by quin at 2:38 PM on November 1, 2007


wood wrote"I believe in universal human rights, however I don't take it upon myself to define respect for human rights in terms of reshaping an entire culture or religion."

I see a conflict between the first part of that sentence and the second part.

I believe in universal human rights, which means that for the 50% of the population living in near fucking slavery in the Islamic fundamentalist dominated areas I *DO* believe that we must reshape that entire culture or region. From my point of view to believe otherwise would be to say "human rights? Naah, fuck they're just [insert victim group here], fuck 'em"

The fact that the right wing in the USA is using the problems of fundamentalist Isalm as a cover for their own racist, greed focused, powergrab does not change the fact that fundamentalist Islam is evil.

And, yes, I'm using that simplistic word quite deliberately. A culture that kills homosexuals simply for being gay, brutally oppresses women, etc is evil. I don't know any other word to describe it, or do you think its just fine and dandy that in Saudi Arabia to be female is to be property? There's really only two positions to take here, either say "yup, that's some evil shit", or to say "well, I don't want to appear sanctamonious".

If you don't believe in *ENFORCING* human rights, you don't believe in human rights, sorry.
posted by sotonohito at 2:52 PM on November 1, 2007


There's a huge, vast, middle ground between "nuke Mecca" and the kind of milquetoast, bullshit, "its all relative", crap you seem to endorse.
posted by sotonohito at 2:56 PM on November 1, 2007


Wait, someone doesn't want to see boobs?
posted by Aquaman at 3:06 PM on November 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Is it just that they should be more respectful towards victims of rape? That's an admirable goal. I don't think there's much in the way of sanctions/war to achieve it though. Why do westerners end up in Abu Dhabi anyway? Money... they know what they're getting into & they go anyway, because of money...

Blame the victim much?
posted by Weebot at 3:07 PM on November 1, 2007


I think "some cultures should be destroyed" was a bad choice of words to express the idea that it's ok to actively seek to change other cultures. It sounds to me like you meant that some level of western cultural imperialism is ok, like actively propagandizing the idea that all people have equal human rights and the legal system should take those rights seriously; or that some level of economic strong-arming is ok. Not that you were saying that some cultures should be militarily destroyed.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:12 PM on November 1, 2007


If you don't believe in *ENFORCING* human rights, you don't believe in human rights, sorry.

Worth repeating since it's very true, but this begs the much more difficult question of exactly how to enforce said rights. Obviously invasions don't have the best track record. The obvious answer would seem to be that we need an international organization to monitor and enforce these rights. The UN would seem to be the logical choice, seeing as how they presumably already have avenues of international communication and some amount of international authority. The problem is that the organization now is way too corrupt to get any meaningful change to occur. Look at the way the UN Human Rights Council is structured. New countries are cycled in each year to sit on the council and include such human rights luminaries as Saudi Arabia, China, Azerbaijan, and Egypt. The first step I see to improving the situation is to reform the UN council to make sure that the countries that sit on it must adhere to some baseline standards of human rights such that the most egregious violators don't get the privelege and cover of sitting on the council.
posted by SBMike at 3:17 PM on November 1, 2007


Why do westerners end up in Abu Dhabi anyway? Money... they know what they're getting into & they go anyway, because of money...

So they should expect their 17-year-old sons to be raped, and then threatened with criminal charges because he was attacked?
posted by rtha at 3:42 PM on November 1, 2007


SBMike Yeah, it does beg the question, unfortunately. It does so because I can't think of a solution, as I mentioned in one of my earlier posts. Self evidently military action isn't going to work, and economic sanctions are impossible due to oil (and, frankly economic sanctions have a way of not working that well).

I think an aggressive propaganda program might be a good place to start.

LobsterMitten If you change something so much that its unrecognizable, its been destroyed. An Islamic culture that recognizes women's rights, features a separation of goverment and state, etc, is sufficiently different from the current Islamic fundamentalist culture that I think the word "destroy" is the only really accurate term to use.
posted by sotonohito at 3:50 PM on November 1, 2007


I agree that "destroy" is an accurate term. I just meant that it might be misleading without further elaboration since it has some connotation of military or physical destruction, rather than destruction by changing people's minds.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:04 PM on November 1, 2007


LobsterMitten You are correct. I thought my comment wondering how to do so without comitting genocide was a sufficient disclaimer, but in retrospect, it should have been more explicit.
posted by sotonohito at 4:08 PM on November 1, 2007


rtha - It's worse: Alexandre Robert, a French 15-year-old, was having a fine summer in this tourist paradise on the Persian Gulf.
Wonder what his views on gay rights will be.
posted by dash_slot- at 4:09 PM on November 1, 2007


*headdesk*
posted by rtha at 4:18 PM on November 1, 2007


I'm not entirely serious here, so don't flip out on me.

It's oddly interesting that these sorts of things are so common. I mean, two recent events in the news: GOP members who are vehemently anti-gay, frequently found to be banging dudes on the side; oppressive middle-eastern societies where homosexuality is a crime, frequently found to be overrun with homosexual rape.
It seems to occurr in far greater frequency than the standard, accepted figure of 5% of the population might suggest. In the case of the GOP you could possibly claim that it attracts self-hating homosexuals, but what of the nations where this sort of violence is commonplace?
Is this a case of people who wouldn't otherwise be homosexuals altering their behaviours as a response to the fear and hate they're constantly churning around in their heads?

Wouldn't it be hilarious if hating homosexuality with every fiber of your being turned you gay?
posted by nightchrome at 7:14 PM on November 1, 2007


Blame the victim much?

All the time. OK, OK, I probably deserve that. My point wasn't very clear. (In my defense I was trying to work a little today.) And the accepted response to unclear statements on mefi is to assume the worst, most vile intentions of the speaker.

Mea maxima culpa, my point wasn't entirely baked in any event. I was trying to express how incredibly bound up we (in the US at least, & probably most of the west & the developed world) are with the UAE. Our gov'ts, our corporations & us as individuals are pouring into this nation because it's full of cash. Where do the posters here who seem to think they belong to some sort of world justice squad live? We're so fucking far away from SANCTIONS it's not even funny. We're investing more & more in the UAE every day. I know two techies personally who have considered jobs in Abu Dhabi or Dubai, one of them is going. *He* knows what he's getting into & he's going because it's exciting & rewarding.

If you don't believe in *ENFORCING* human rights, you don't believe in human rights, sorry.

If I don't believe in your imperialistic self-righteous fantasies, *I* don't believe in human rights? I don't believe in anything proposed by someone who views this case as a justification for talking about destroying cultures. That's not to say that I don't believe in human rights or progress.

Let's look at the case at hand. This boy & his family have pursued his attackers through the Abu Dhabi justice system & CONTINUE TO DO SO despite their setbacks. They have applied diplomatic and media pressure. They, in their limited way are actually trying to change Abu Dhabi for the better. They might make some progress. And all without your culture war rhetoric.

Let's see what else you have to say:

If you change something so much that its unrecognizable, its been destroyed. An Islamic culture that recognizes women's rights, features a separation of government and state, etc, is sufficiently different from the current Islamic fundamentalist culture that I think the word "destroy" is the only really accurate term to use.

So again, we see from the self-avowed "liberal multiculturalist" that fundamentalist Islam, in its entirety, is actually corrupt enough that a "fixed" version would not be recognizable. Furthermore, its sins now include the separation of gov't & religion (I'm guessing). So it's NOT enough that they work on respecting the rights of rape victims, now your baseline for "acceptable" human societies includes separation of gov't & religion. That's a tall order. Maybe valid, but again I’m not surprised to see the "mission creep" from someone who expresses this in terms of destruction of cultures. Let’s not stop with human rights, freedom of religion, but let’s keep working on those "savages" until they get a decent separation of religion and state.

Maybe you mean by "Islamic fundamentalism" some core of unconscionable beliefs. But wouldn't a reasonable person conclude that "Islamic fundamentalism" actually includes a whole bunch of stuff that it shares with other strains of Islam? What in your rhetoric would a Muslim who is working for human rights in their own nation, in their own religion find re-assuring? Your rhetoric is toxic. I find Christian fundamentalism sometimes unconscionable, but even as an atheist ethnic Christian, its culture is my culture, I can't provide a road map for some third party to come in and excise the evil in America. We need progress not destruction.

I noticed that you dropped your examples of the CSA & apartheid. Examples where truly repugnant behavior was confronted and ended but the cultures in general survived, including many of their negative traits. The survival of those negative traits is a natural consequence of the fact that military force & economic coercion are serious tools and deserve to be targeted at specific unconscionable acts & not wielded indiscriminately to "destroy a culture".
posted by Wood at 9:08 PM on November 1, 2007


Apparently something like this happened to Matthew Shepard during his time in Morocco.


What DOES one do in Dubai besides consume things?
posted by brujita at 10:50 PM on November 1, 2007


What DOES one do in Dubai besides consume things?

Make money mostly. I'm only here in the winters for the sailing.
posted by atrazine at 1:00 AM on November 2, 2007


wood The culture of the CSA was destroyed. Just as a culture with sexual equality is so different from fundamentalist Islam that you can't even say they're the same culture, so too a Confederate culture that didn't include slavery and the subjugation of blacks is sufficiently different from the slave culture of the Confederecy that the only proper term is "destroyed".

You seem to be choking on the use of accurate, if somewhat harsh, terminology. It took a long time in the case of the CSA, because the leadership and citizenry of the USA lacked the whatittakes to do the job right, and reconstruction, the actual cultural destruction part of the civil war, was never fully funded and was abandoned leaving the barbaric thugs of the former CSA to oppress, murder, and torture black folks (and white sympathizers) in peace for nearly a hundred years.

I use the term because I know that the oppressors will use the term in an attempt to keep good minded folk from doing what is necessary and right. The vile thugs of fundamentalist Islam will say "oh, you're destroying our culture!" and you, like a good little sheep will, apparently, say "well, if its a question of freeing hundreds of millions of women from a culture that uses torture and threat of torture to oppress them or (gasp, shudder, faint) destroying a culture, sorry girls, you're on your own"

Further, a separation of government and religion is not a nice little add on, but a practical requirement. Its lack is why Israel will, inevitably, fall into barbarism and evil. A process the beginnings of which you can see today in the use of violence against women by the Haradi, and the tacit approval that violence is given by the complete lack of response Israeli government. When religion and government are intertwined the most extreme factions inevitably gain power because extremism is seen by many non-extreme religionists as being superior and pure.

You seem to be obsessing over the, accurate, term "destroy", and trying to paint me as some sort of neocon, Limbaugh worshiping, right winger. I'm not. I'm simply a realistic liberal, and I recognize that all the handwringing moralizing in the world doesn't amount to squat.

Military action, as I've repeatedly said, is not what I'm talking about here. In the case of the CSA it was both necessary and semi-successful in ending an evil culture. In the case of fundamentalist Islam it would not work, and therefore is not worth consideration.

Aggressive propaganda, especially directed at the victims of fundamentalist Islam, seems to be the only weapon at our disposal that might succeed, and it is all but completely unused. Between the right wing thugs who profit from the oil, and I suspect like the extreme subjugation of women, and the left wing handwringers who can't, apparently, contemplate doing anything without falling into a faint over "imperialism", the result is that hundreds of thousands of women exist in a state of terrified, beaten down, submission.

So, apparently you *don't* believe in universal human rights, except as some sort of mythic ideal that you won't lift a finger to support because any action would, from your POV, instantly transmogrify you into a Bush-worshiping neocon. Us real liberals will, as we've always done, take action, get the job done, and afterwards you can scold us for being culturally insensitive.

As for myself, I'm from the John Brown school of liberalism.
posted by sotonohito at 3:13 AM on November 2, 2007


One day, I'm sure, there will be a culture which calls itself Islamic, reads the Q'ran, treats women as equal human beings, takes the passages in the Q'ran demanding violence and death no more seriously than most modern Christians take the passages of the Bible demanding violence and death, etc. And any modern Islamic fundamentalist seeing that culture would call them apostate, and swear that they aren't really Islamic. That's why I say "destroy".

If we could teleport one of the slave owners from the CSA to modern Atlanta he would swear that it wasn't Confederate. That's why I say "destroy".
posted by sotonohito at 3:18 AM on November 2, 2007


I was listening to the BBC and there was a story on about the astronomically high rates of rape in South Africa. It may be that human rights are not a common social value rather than Muslim or African culture.

Most of the world isn't civilized, it might have nothing to do with the religion or the culture or the people.
posted by ewkpates at 5:15 AM on November 2, 2007


ewkpates What are civilization, human rights, etc, if not biproducts of culture?

Self evidently economic factors play a large role, but techology and culture are inexorably intertwined, changes to either change the other.

Culture isn't just clothing, food, music, and whatnot. Its the totality of the way people think, and how their thoughts are shaped. Therefore things like human rights being a social value are part of culture.
posted by sotonohito at 5:36 AM on November 2, 2007


Sotonhito,

well, if its a question of freeing hundreds of millions of women

Let’s get one thing clear. Neither you nor your ideological colleagues are going to free anyone. My belief, backed up certainly in the case of apartheid is that the heavy lifting will, must be done by the people of the culture themselves. Your rhetoric is insulting and offensive not only to countless decent people it’s insulting to the people who will actually be doing the work of improving human rights in their own nations.

The idea that the US, for example, has an untapped force for good in “aggressive propaganda” is false. We have used this propaganda against Iran and it has been COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE. It has helped conservative forces there. The US completely lacks credibility. Credibility is a product of quiet sustained effort, not aggressive propaganda. Look at NGO’s that work for human rights, Amnesty, Drs without Borders. Do they use your culture war rhetoric? No, they use measured, specific criticism. They know that their allies are people in the nation or culture that they criticize. They know that these allies would most likely be either antagonized or merely hindered by condemning a VAGUE concept like culture. They know that their allies (doing the heavy lifting again) probably consider themselves a part of that culture, looking to improve it not destroy it.

The US, unfortunately, is in a position of relative powerlessness right now when it comes to moral suasion. That’s not to be a relativist and say that we treat women or gays as poorly as a fundamentalist Islamic country, but moral power diminishes with your distance from home. Citizens in the middle east are in no mood for lectures from the US right now.

What we can do is support humanitarian groups, agendas & slowly rebuild our credibility.
posted by Wood at 9:11 AM on November 2, 2007


That should be Sotonohito, of course.
posted by Wood at 9:12 AM on November 2, 2007


Wood We appear to have been miscommunicating, and I suspect its my fault. I dismissed military action (which is a goverment deal), I mentioned economic sanctions (also a government deal), and then I talked about propaganda.

I agree completely that the USA has zero credibility in the middle east, it was a problem long before Bush jr. came along, though he's seemed hell bent on making it worse. Everything from the US support of the Shah to its absolute refusal to address the legitimate complaints of the Palistinians [1] etc has made it all but impossible for the US government to speak from a position of moral authority. The recent evils of the Bush administration (extraordinary rendition, "enhanced interrogation techniques", etc) screw the US government even more. Not to mention the fact that, from a foreign policy standpoint, the US has never particularly had a reputation or history of doing what's right (Chille, Nicaragua, Vietnam, etc)

Which is why, when I said, "aggressive propaganda", I wasn't particularly talking about propaganda from the US government, though in retrospect I can easily see how my failure to say so explicitly could result in people reaching that conclusion.

The best thing the actual US government can do is stop making matters worse, which won't happen until Jan 20, 2008 at the absolute soonest [2].

I agree completely that the main effort must come from those within the oppressed areas, more similar to the death of Apartheid than the death of the CSA. Nevertheless those of us not living in those areas can take action, not the least of which is to simply and plainly condemn the evil for what it is. Financial support for groups doing more is, of course, better than words.

As I mentioned earlier, I think the slow spread of the net into those areas is one of the most useful tools available in the fight, coupled of course with techniques to circumvent the censorship the ruling thugs will attempt to impose.

As for the value of rhetoric, you are correct. I'm abrasive and vindictive, two reasons why I specialized in Meiji Era Japanese history, which has no particular emotional pull for me, rather than US history where I was quite aware that I'd be unable to maintain anything resembling academic detachment when subjects related to the CSA come up.

I maintain that the term "destroy" is accurate, but while it has a certain bracing honesty I will concede that its use is counterproductive. So, in accordance with my own philosophy, I'll do what's effective rather than what feels good emotionally.

"I seek to *change*, not destroy, the fundamentalist Islamic culture". Better?

However, I am, at heart, a radical, not an incramentalist. I continue to see value in, correctly, rejecting the entire false basis for various specific acts. Which explains, though it doesn't excuse, my use of non-effective rhetoric WRT Islamic fundamentalism. You were right, I was wrong, and I'll be avoiding the accurate, but non-effective, terminology in the future. Now all I need to do is figure out what's effective....

[1] Note, for the rabidly pro-Israel. I'm not saying that the terrorism undertaken by certain Palistinian groups is right, proper, or good. I am simply saying that the Palistinian people have legitimate complaints, and the fact that some people have taken terrorist actions does not reduce the legitimacy of those complaints.

[2] And depending on how cowed the Democrats are by right wing shrieking, may not happen even then....
posted by sotonohito at 10:28 AM on November 2, 2007


I had to read the FPP three times before I realized it wasn't talking about America. Ugh.
posted by ryanrs at 10:59 PM on November 4, 2007


Saudi Arabia is punishing a female victim of gang rape with 200 lashes and six months in jail
posted by homunculus at 6:06 PM on November 15, 2007


Thanks homunculus, I'm glad this was still open. From your link:

"The 19-year-old woman -- whose six armed attackers have been sentenced to jail terms -- was initially ordered to undergo 90 lashes for "being in the car of an unrelated male at the time of the rape," the Arab News reported.

But in a new verdict issued after Saudi Arabia's Higher Judicial Council ordered a retrial, the court in the eastern town of Al-Qatif more than doubled the number of lashes to 200.

A court source told the English-language Arab News that the judges had decided to punish the woman further for "her attempt to aggravate and influence the judiciary through the media."

posted by hermitosis at 7:00 PM on November 15, 2007


Bush administration fails to condemn Saudi rape case

Pathetic.
posted by homunculus at 6:44 PM on November 19, 2007


A young woman has been sentenced to 200 lashes after being gang-raped. The Western world has expressed outrage – which has, in turn, provoked anger among the Saudi establishment. Now, for the first time, the woman tells her story.
posted by homunculus at 10:47 AM on November 29, 2007


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