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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Monday, November 18, 2002

MoDo Held Hostage: Day 12

Twelve days after the election - the election here in the US, for those of you who may have forgotten Ms. Dowd's home base - Our Woman In Riyadh contiunes to file from (or at least, about) Saudi Arabia. Perhaps she has taken inspiration from a History Channel documantary about Pearl S. Buck or Margaret Mead.

Her subject: "Driving While Female", in Riyadh. Apparently, a critical moment in the potential modernization of Saudi Arabia has passed us by:

The moment when America should have tried to use its influence to help Saudi women came on Nov. 6, 1990, as U.S. forces gathered in the kingdom to go to war in Iraq. Inspired by the American troops — including female soldiers — 47 women from the intelligentsia went for a joy ride to protest Saudi Arabia's being the only place where women can't drive.

"We were very, very careful to plan it correctly not to be too antagonistic to the culture," recalled one of "the drivers," as they are still known. "We were mothers, well covered, nothing anti-Islam."

Using international licenses, the women took the wheels from their brothers and husbands and drove in a convoy until police stopped them.

At first, the drivers were exhilarated. But then the clerics pounced, blaming "secular Americanist" ideas and branding the women "whores" and "harlots." They were publicly harassed, received death threats and lost their jobs..."

This is all presented quite uncritically. No "faux" balancing quotes from MoDo! Presumably, she does not delude herself that her whinings are taken seriously.

But let us surprise her, and ourselves, by trying to put ourselves back in November of 1990. Saddam invaded Kuwait in August 1990. James Baker III had a bloody index finger from dialing world leaders in an attempt to organize a coalition to reverse this. The US Senate was two month away from mustering a full 52 votes in support of the Kuwaiti liberation effort.

Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia, US troops had arrived, to the horror of conservative Muslims. Western troops defiling their Holy Land? Osama bin Laden spent the next decade plotting revenge.

So, in this very ticklish situation, Ms. Dowd tells us what? The US Government, having had troops in Saudi Arabia for at least a few weeks, should have commenced a re-ordering and modernization of Saudi society? For heaven's sake, opening a McDonalds in France is the worst kind of cultural imperialism, and she straight-facedly reports this?

My Bold Prediction: MoDo returns to the States this Wednesday. Probably "the States" circa 1960, to talk about JFK, drugs, and testosterone enhancement. Perhaps the new Bond film gets mentioned, as a testosterone tie-in. But I am sure she will be back. I have to conclude, after this column, that her own prescription medicines have run out.

UPDATE: Nothing in her life became her like the leaving it. Or some such. The Man Sans Q is also giving a lot more thought to the Maureen that might be than he ever gave to the Maureen that was. I think everyone should play - e-mail one of us with suggestions for MoDo's Wednesday column. First prize - you don't have to read her column.

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