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Defending Saudi Arabia


Camel caravan in Saudi Arabia Credit: Linda Polik/Flickr/Creative Commons

Camel caravan in Saudi Arabia Credit: Linda Polik/Flickr/Creative Commons

Recently, a huge fight erupted between Canada and Saudi Arabia. If you have not heard about this, you are probably saying “What? Who? Why?”

I worked in a large university in Canada, and I taught students from Saudi. Thousands of them go to universities in Canada. The female students removed their veils in my classroom and one of them forgot hers on a table one day. That was the only veil in lost-and-found, when I dropped it off.

Canada probably trains most Saudi medical doctors in its medical schools. The two countries have a history, but it’s mostly friendly. Until the blow-up happened, most of us could never imagine those two countries disagreeing about anything.

Conservative Islam is the religion of Saudi Arabia; there is no doubt. If you ask the what they believe, they will tell you, … and tell you, … and tell you; and they will try to convert you. That was my experience in the classroom. I’m going to call that honesty, and truth in packaging. There is never any doubt about who they are and what they believe.

That is my defense of Saudi Arabia. They are straight up and honest about many things. That transparency makes it easy to disagree with them, but it doesn’t make them more wrong.

On the other side are the Liberals. Political Liberals are also called Whigs, from Whiggamores, Scottish cattle herders. Like all cowboys, they wanted small government, low taxes, and personal freedom. Libertarian-Liberals are not a part of this story, except for the name Liberal. We should not be confused.

Progressive Social Justice Warriors are the new Liberals. For some reason they don’t like to be identified as a movement, but one of the most common topics for discussion in my university was “Critical Theory” which defines what they are.

I don’t know where the progressive-liberal shyness came from, and I am sure the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, is a believer. He is like most politicians who describe themselves as liberal. The rest of us are being pulled into Justin’s religious fight with the conservative Muslims of Saudi Arabia.

I have lived and worked with Progressive-Liberal believers all my life, and in my experience, they polarize, idolize, and demonize. They see humans as members of classes; the good ones are oppressed, and those in power are oppressors, and their job is to fight for the oppressed.

The communists led the workers against the capitalists, and Hitler, the National Socialist, idolized the blonde blue-eyed Aryan master race and hated the Jews. Later, hippies and social activists, including feminists and environmentalists became less violent, but the basic idea remained. The oppressed victims need support, and the oppressors need to be put down.

This secular religion is Darwinian, the human race is evolving or progressing to a better state, and activists position themselves as virtuous leaders of human progress, the engineers of Utopia. There is no need to rebel against them or to criticize them because they are never the oppressor class, even when they are in power.

Also, they cherry pick history and news stories, to support their narrative, and they don’t meet in a church, mosque, synagogue, or temple. They send out “virtue signals” to identify themselves as faithful. Justin Trudeau used Twitter for his signals, and he cherry picked an issue far away that possibly looked safe.

Both Islam and Progressive Liberalism are triumphalist, they each believe that some day the whole world will become like them, and their faith will conquer. The conservative leaders of Saudi Arabia know that they are being preached at and assaulted by a dangerous competing religion. The rest of us have lived in the progressive fog for so long that we can’t read the signals; but the fight is on.

It’s a clash of spiritual titans.

In the Bible, Jesus started his public work by reading these words from a scroll:

The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (Luke 4: 18 and 19)

Then he went and preached to everyone. Rich and powerful people can be blind; there was never a class of virtuous saints who could talk down to others. Among Christians there are only sinners and failures who have been rescued, and we can only invite others to join us. Criticism is filtered through humility.

You can criticize me, and any other Christian or church. Some of the criticism will stick, because I am only a forgiven sinner. I am also sure that we can criticize the failures of the government of Saudi Arabia, and every other government. If we speak with some humility, and the result is some positive improvement, good! I learned those lessons in the classroom.

In this case, talking down to the neighbors from a superior position, started a fight.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. (Colossians 3:12 to 15)

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