ATLANTA J-C EDITORIAL - McKinney's fawning over the $10m Saudi prince (good read)greenspun.com : LUSENET : Current News - Homefront Preparations : One Thread
McKinney befriending royal tyrants
The Honorable Cynthia McKinney:
You've kicked up quite a dust storm with your letter to Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, in which you apologize for New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani's refusal to accept the prince's money. Many of your constituents find it odd that you have inserted yourself into a controversy that has so little to do with your role as a congresswoman from the Atlanta suburbs. Others are outraged that your fawning letter to the prince seemed to endorse his suggestion that the Sept. 11 atrocities were provoked by U.S. policies in the Middle East.
While I support your right as an American to say what you please, I urge you to reconsider your analysis. Giuliani was right to return the prince's $10 million donation. The prince's remarks accompanying the money were inappropriate, especially given the Saudi government's past support of Osama bin Laden.
Strange that your letter failed to mention that. Indeed, your analysis of conditions here and in the Middle East was disappointingly superficial. While you pointed out a lingering (though fading) racism in America, for example, you were oddly silent on the widespread human rights abuses that characterize rule by the House of Saud.
Were you a Saudi citizen who had publicly denounced government policy, you would now be in jail, since criticism of the royal family is forbidden. (As a Saudi citizen, you could not even run for elective office. Saudi officials are not elected and, in any event, it is quite unlikely a woman would be allowed to hold such a post.)
Like you, I am informed by the conscientious reports of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, organizations that, year after year, document abuses by governments the world over. In your letter, you mention their criticism of Israel's use of excessive force against lightly armed Palestinian demonstrators.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have also issued scathing indictments of the brutality and tyranny of the Saudi government, pointing out that it allows no freedom of speech or assembly, no independent news media, no freedom of religion. Its minority Muslim group, the Shi'a, are harassed, and Christian ministers are frequently arrested.
The Saudi criminal justice system is savagely unjust; Amnesty has detailed detention without charge, refusal to allow access to attorneys, torture of prisoners and barbaric punishments, including beheadings and amputations.
(By the way, as a public official committed to eliminating bigotry against gays and lesbians, you should know that one of the crimes for which the Saudi government executes citizens is homosexuality. Those convicted of that "crime" are beheaded in a public square.)
Are you aware of the abuses suffered by members of ethnic minority groups in Saudi Arabia, especially foreign women who are hired to do domestic work? Human rights groups have detailed case after case of domestic workers who were raped by their male bosses, denied fair wages and locked in the house -- treated, in other words, like slaves.
Of course, Saudi women are routinely abused, too. While many are highly educated, they are prevented from holding most jobs. They are forbidden to drive. They may not leave the house unless accompanied by a male relative. They must always be covered from head to toe.
It is just bizarre that you -- a professional woman, a tough-minded, independent thinker, an outspoken supporter of women's rights -- would cozy up to a kingdom where women are treated like chattel. Perhaps you were unaware of the injustices perpetuated by the Saudi ruling family. Now that you have established a friendship with the prince, perhaps he will invite you for an extended visit so you can see for yourself.
Alice Wertheim contributed research to this column.
-- Anonymous, October 20, 2001