On June 9, the U.S House of Representatives voted 312-97 to cut aid to Saudi Arabia. Local Congressman Jim Kolbe, who sits as chairman of the Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, Export Financing and Related Programs--which approves funding for most U.S foreign-aid programs--was one of those 97 who opposed the cut, saying, "We need all the friends and allies we can get."
But do we need all the "friends" like this that we can get?
Fifteen of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. Osama bin Laden is from Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is the country most deeply involved in the export of radical Wahhabi Islamist ideas, which have caused terrorism in Chechnya, Egypt, Indonesia, England and on our own soil. When my brother, who is an American Marine in Iraq, comes up against insurgents or terrorists, there is a chance that same ideology and financial backing comes from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
According to the Center for Religious Freedom, a Saudi government-funded eighth-grade text book in Saudi Arabia claimed: "The apes are Jews, the keepers of the Sabbath; while the swine are the Christian infidels of the communion of Jesus."
But even if Saudi Arabia weren't the main sponsor of radical Islamist ideology, why should it be supported financially or politically?
Saudi Arabia has some of the most reactionary laws in the world in terms of human rights, women's rights and gay rights. Women are obligated by law to wear an all-covering abbaya and veil. In stores that sell DVDs, there are signs posted reading: "Females are not allowed to enter this area." Women may not drive, or be alone with a man who is not their husband or relative. At universities, some of which are involved with the Fulbright Scholar Program, women may not even attend. In new lecture halls designed and supported by Prince Bandar ibn Saud, they are liberalizing the classrooms: Women may have separate seating in a two-tier lecture hall.
This is a real apartheid regime, except instead of being divided by race, it is divided by sex. No greater evil exists in the world than this country and its pernicious policies of hatred. This is a country where homosexuals may be executed, and where people are beheaded for rape, sodomy, apostasy and drug offenses (34 people were beheaded in 2004). Of course, abortion is not even a dream.
But this is our ally, our "friend." Michael Moore documented the invasion of Saudi investments and its influences on our politics here in America in Fahrenheit 9/11. Does a country that imports so many foreign workers that these workers now number one-third of the country (another apartheid similarity), and are kept mainly in slave-like conditions, deserve to be our friend?
Not only is Saudi regressive; it is a nation of hypocrisy. When Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah visited Bush in Crawford, Texas, in 2002, he demanded to be spared the "humiliation" of women greeting him on the tarmac, only to apparently visit strip clubs later during the visit, just like the Sept. 11 hijackers did before they murdered Americans for exporting "immoral" Western values to the Middle East. But if they hated Western morality, what were they doing in the Pink Pony?
Bobby Kennedy, paraphrasing George Bernard Shaw, once said: "Some men see things as they are and ask, 'Why?' I dream things that never were and ask, 'Why not?'" Perhaps it is time we start asking why we should ever give a dime of our money to the country whose ideology encouraged the murder of the 3,000 Americans killed on Sept. 11. Ask Jim Kolbe.