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Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Thursday | March 06, 2003

Winner of the Bush admin hypocrisy challenge

It's not hard to find hypocrisy within our current leadership. Bush and his cronies in all branches of government are rife with double standards. But when all is said and done, and we look back at Bush's nightmarish term years from now, this item will stand out as the most glaring.

Today, Powell released a report designating six nations as "countries of particular concern" for severe violations of religious freedoms. The countries cited were Burma, China, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, and Sudan.

Notably missing from the list? The biggest worldwide offender post-Taliban: Saudi Arabia. As Newsweek notes:

After a contentious internal battle, the Saudis won’t be on it—despite the conclusion by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom that, with the demise of the Taliban, the Islamic nation is probably the worst oppressor of religious rights in the world. "I'm appalled and disappointed," says Felice D. Gaer, the commission chair, about the decision. "But I'm not surprised."
Expect conservative Republicans and evangelical groups to raise a stink about this. It's clear that Rove and Co. figure the religious right has nowhere to go (and will be somewhat appeased by the upcoming ban on partial birth abortions). But Bush's approval ratings are hanging on a thread -- propped up almost entirely by strong support from Republicans. He doesn't have much of a margin of error. So why the betrayal of his supposed core beliefs?

Note that Bush has already sided with the Saudis on important national security matters (shielding them from being implicated in 9-11), so is it surprising that he would betray his religion on their behalf? The Religious Right needs to learn what we all already know - that oil trumps all else in Bush's world. Even God.

This year’s battle over the religious blacklist was being closely watched because members of Congress and an array of religious-conservative groups—who have close ties to the White House—have become increasingly agitated over the Saudi issue.

One commissioner, Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, weighed in with White House aides, describing it as a high-priority item for evangelical Christians. Land tells NEWSWEEK he was greatly influenced by a briefing the commission got last fall in which human-rights groups and religious dissidents described how the Saudi religious police raided the homes of foreign workers practicing Christianity and threw them into overcrowded prisons with squalid conditions. “It’s unthinkable to me that our government is not pressing the Saudis on this,” says Land.

Now notice how Iraq is on that list. How does that square with this report, that shows Christians in Iraq are allowed to freely observe their religion?
Christians have risen to the top ranks in Iraq under President Saddam Hussein, with Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz prominent among them, and anti-Christian violence has been largely suppressed by Hussein's Baath government.
So, the world's worst oppressor gets a pass, but a Muslim nation that protects its Christian minority is listed (to provide greater pretext for attack, obviously).


Posted March 06, 2003 09:48 AM | Comments (42)


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