After the torchlight red on sweaty faces
After the frosty silence in the gardens...
- T.S Eliot (The Wasteland)
About two weeks ago a mutton-chopped nobody claiming to be a pastor - a perversion of the word and an abomination to all good people of the cloth - announced the now infamous Koran burning.
Never mind that the promised bonfires evoked the eternally painful Nazi book burnings of the 30s and 40s. Never mind that Brecht, Hemingway, Gide, Freud, Gorki, Kafka, Einstein, Helen Keller, Proust and a host of other cultural standard-bearers' works were burnt in town squares and in country fields all over Germany and the rest of the Reich. Never mind that many, probably most, of us have fathers or grandfathers who fought, were wounded and died in the war to stop such savage acts. Never mind we Americans are a people who pose and perch on the high diving board of tolerance and freedom.
All Islam is the enemy, said "Pastor" Terry Jones. All Islam is represented by the acts of a few hundred terrorists - so much so that an Islamic community center near Ground Zero faces bitter opposition.
So what happened just the other day? The State Department announced that the sale of $60 billion in advanced weaponry to Saudi Arabia was approved.
Where is the caterwauling by Pastor Mutton Chops now? Where is the righteous indignation of the aggrieved families of the 9/11 victims? Where is the outpouring from the right wing radicals who so roundly denounced the Islamic center and stood silent as tombstones in the face of the threatened Koran burning?
Just to be clear, the reason we are arming the Saudis is to serve as a counterweight to Iran's Islamo-fascist regime. Makes sense, right? Take one Islamic absolute monarchy and play it off against the demagogue, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and his merry band of nuke-makers. (Of course we are, now that our former comrade-in-arms, Saddam Hussein, is a footnote in history, and Iraq is an unholy mess. Beef up the Saudis and let them do the dirty work.)
The other reason the deal is going through is that the arms industry here and abroad has been reeling during the recession and, well, we all know who has the big bucks to spend on weapons. And why - our addiction to oil.
So, not only is there the unbearable hypocrisy of the home front spitting on American Muslims as we sell arms to the epicenter of anti-Western Islamic fervor, but we also get the chance to support a regime that is backwards, repressive, maltreats women and gays, and squashes any and all opposition.
Crown Prince Abdullah has often defended Saudi Arabia's position on human rights, going as far as to say in front of a human rights conference at the United Nations that, "It is absurd to impose on an individual or a society rights that are alien to its beliefs or principles."
He sounds like the kind of guy out of whose hands I would keep most advanced weapons, let alone weapons that make his country one of the most modern military presences in the world.