Liberty and justice for all

Saudi Teenager Who Fled Family Embraces All Things Canadian. (O.K., Maybe Not Winter.):

She wants to go to college to study architecture. She would like to take English classes. She is wondering about how to harness her newfound media stardom.

In Saudi Arabia, Ms. Alqunun was a first-year university student, studying basic science and math. One of 10 children of a well-off emir, she said that life had been financially comfortable, but that she had no freedom.

Things grew even harder, she said, when her father left the city and put her under the guardianship of her older brother. She described her life as one of strict rules and abuse at the hands of her family. After she cut her hair in a way her family did not approve, her brother locked her in a room for six months, she said. A few months ago, when she removed her niqab, he beat her and locked her up again, she said.

Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun is like many people who read this weblog. The “life of the mind” is important to us, the freedom to learn, to experience. To make use of one’s liberty to flourish.

When reading the biography of an early fighter for the liberties of American women, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, I perceive a clear distillation of myself, despite differences of race, sex, and time. The genius, the power, of the early Enlightenment movement and the universalisms that it unleashed is that is that it refracts our common individual yearnings, and propagates them throughout humanity. To me, this is the culmination of the visions of the “Good Society” propagated by the religions and ethical systems of the Axial Age thousands of years ago: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” I may not believe in the Christ Jesus, but I believe in common humanity.

This is not to say that I am here promoting a flat, formless society, defined by our most pressing near impulses. Human societies tend to exhibit order, hierarchy, and tradition. Men and women are different from each other, just as people of different religions and social classes tend to have different values and habits. We are not all the same, but there are common threads which bind us together in our humanity.

The society of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is one where women, half the population, are chattel to men with power, whether it be their father or their brother. Their “guardians,” who tend them like they are valuable sheep. The fundamental problem with the society of KSA is that it is not in balance, with its surfeit of petro-profits perpetuating a system of sex-slavery that most of the world has long moved beyond.

Today we have moved to a global consensus that holding other human beings as property without the rights of humanity on account of their origin or life circumstance is wrong. That such deprivation of liberty is without justice. Our brothers’ blood cries out from the lashes received. As this century progresses I believe we will see that the same is true of women in the KSA.

11 thoughts on “Liberty and justice for all

  1. What do you think conventional leftists have to say about this?

    I predict crickets

    And they wonder where Islamophobia comes from.

  2. i am close to many in the ex-muslim community. they are frustrated with how leftists ignore this stuff…possibly due to ‘allyship.’ tho KSA is an extreme case that most ppl won’t argue against…

  3. To me, this is the culmination of the visions of the “Good Society” propagated by the religions and ethical systems of the Axial Age thousands of years ago: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” I may not believe in the Christ Jesus, but I believe in common humanity.

    Take the final step, Mr. Khan! You need Christians to have a Christian society or Christian ethos.

  4. A word of acknowledgement should be made about the attention and encouragement that the father of Elizabeth Cady Stanton gave to his daughter. Stanton’s father was an attorney, a congressman, and a judge, first of a circuit court, and then in 1847 of the New York Supreme Court. He introduced his daughter to the law as a young child and she enjoyed reading his books.
    Although both Susan B. Anthony and Stanton together made immense efforts to pave the way for American women to gain voting rights, it took 70 years for their efforts in the 1840s to give results with the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920 that finally gave American women the right to vote.
    For those of us who want to see an end to the cruel and destructive ways women are still treated in some countries, the first approached should be always through the process of educating girls which it will bring balance to the present state of social and material disequilibrium. Enduring cultural changes always come gradually….what it took seventy years in America, emancipation of women in KSA which has already began should give result by generation or two!!!!

  5. Conventional leftists are probably divided – they hate Saudi Arabia, and also hate mainstream Western society (well, could be worse for them if she had went to USA instead of Canada); if she had went to “Rojava”, will be more easy for them to say something.

  6. Razib,

    The few leftist I know personally are generally too personality disordered to think coherently about things like women’s rights in KSA and the like. You will notice that internet discussions with such individuals usually feature an inability to stay on topic as well as endless emoting about whatever issue happens to be on their mind at the time. These are symptoms of personality disorder. If leftists I have experienced personally as well as on the net are representative of leftists in general (and I think they are), then I would suggests to your ex-muslim friends not to expect any political support from the left. Its not that they are unsympathetic. But rather, they are simply incapable of rational response to the issue.

    The functional people I know personally range from moderate liberal (essentially liberals of 30 years ago) to religious right. Most simply want nothing to do with politics and want nothing more than to be left alone to liver their own lives in peace. If most

  7. I’m Canadian, and I’m pleased to see this story gaining international attention. In Canada, there’s always been tension between liberals and conservatives (both small-c and capital-c liberals and conservatives; we’ve got two political parties by those names) on the plight of women in the Muslim world. For example, liberals are somewhat reluctant to strongly condemn honour killings for fear of being tarred as racist and/or Islamophobic. Our current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Liberal) once took offence at these crimes being called “barbaric” by the former Conservative government. On the other hand, conservatives are sometimes so intent to link these tragedies to the supposed evil of Islam that they refuse to admit that honour killings do take place among other groups as well, like in a case of a Sikh woman who was killed by her mother and uncle for marrying a man not of her family’s liking. So we get a polarized approach that doesn’t really do the real truth justice.

  8. Yes! Mr Khan! Now that you eschew the retrograde excesses of Muslimism, you can just take that final next step into the arms of all-purifying ‘Christian ethos’!

    “I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of the land… I look upon it as the climax of all misnomers, the boldest of all frauds, and the grossest of all libels. Never was there a clearer case of ‘stealing the livery of the court of heaven to serve the devil in.’ I am filled with unutterable loathing when I contemplate the religious pomp and show, together with the horrible inconsistencies, which every where surround me. We have men-stealers for ministers, women-whippers for missionaries, and cradle-plunderers for church members. The man who wields the blood-clotted cowskin during the week fills the pulpit on Sunday, and claims to be a minister of the meek and lowly Jesus. . . . The slave auctioneer’s bell and the church-going bell chime in with each other, and the bitter cries of the heart-broken slave are drowned in the religious shouts of his pious master. Revivals of religion and revivals in the slave-trade go hand in hand together. The slave prison and the church stand near each other. The clanking of fetters and the rattling of chains in the prison, and the pious psalm and solemn prayer in the church, may be heard at the same time. The dealers in the bodies of men erect their stand in the presence of the pulpit, and they mutually help each other. The dealer gives his blood-stained gold to support the pulpit, and the pulpit, in return, covers his infernal business with the garb of Christianity. Here we have religion and robbery the allies of each other—devils dressed in angels’ robes, and hell presenting the semblance of paradise.”― Frederick Douglass.

    G-d forbid the the reins of American Republic should ever fall wholly into the hands of triumphalist religionation. It was the signal wisdom of the founders to write it clean out.

  9. Frederick Douglass, a great man. He wrote that in his 1845 “Life of an American Slave”. Gee, I wonder if anything has changed in 174 years. Well, there was the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, abolishing slavery in the seceding states. And the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery everywhere in the country in 1865. But I suppose that’s only 154 years ago.

  10. “In my father’s generation, there was a great sense of release from tsarist officialdom, not merely oppressive but downright crazy. My father believed that the U.S.A. offered the Jews unheard-of opportunities for development—the first rational government in history. And the law of the land, guaranteed in the founding documents. My father took an exceptional interest in the U.S. Constitution and the privileges of citizenship, for which Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy had prepared him. He said, “That’s what I call a deal. I’m glad to pay taxes in a country where the Constitution says I’m a citizen, not a Jew.” This put the work of the founders under some strain, he thought, but there was no danger in this since justice as the world acknowledges was taught to Israel by Moses under the direct supervision of God. But from the beginning the life of the Jews in America was not what it had always been in Europe, with the ghettos—the Jews in each country belonging to a separate community of Jews. They were taxed not as Jews but as citizens, nor were they subject to special levies. As a Jew, you have a connection of your own to the life of the country, and in many respects you could be as American as you pleased. Naturally, there were private organizations which excluded you from membership, but such conduct would force you to remember the mass murder, gassing camps, the contrast of seriousness with sophomoric provocation.

    My old man was odd that way; he was a great patriot, seeing the safety of the Jews as dependent on the stability and balance of the rational founders.

    My brother’s Americanism was altogether different. He was made for Chicago. He adopted the style of a racketeer and put himself over as a wheeler-dealer. An underworld coloration made legitimate business seem or sound crooked.

    And, strangely enough, my father became a patriotic American. He knew quite a lot of U.S. history, though he read only the Yiddish papers. He often took me aback. He’d say, “Tell me about this man Roger Williams.” “Where did you find that name?” I said. “I read about him in The Forward,” my father said. “There was a series of articles on Rhode Island.”

    Abraham Cahan, editor of the Yiddish paper, saw to it that his readers received instruction in the rights and duties of citizenship.”

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