I heard about this on NPR a while ago, but today is probably the best day to write about this, celebrate the little step forward in human rights and accompany it with the pictures of the two Saudi women who got the honor to walk at the Olympic opening ceremony representing their country.
The countries of Brunei, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are sending female athletes to the Olympics, something they have never done before.
According to NPR, and I had to double check, because in this day and age it is difficult to believe, Saudi Arabia does not allow women and school girls to participate in sports. Women and girls are effectively banned from practicing sports inside the Kingdom because conservative clerics disapprove of it.
I am not going to discuss the backwardness, hypocrisy and systemic gender discrimination that is evident in this situation as this has been discussed elsewhere, and because sadly, we see that kind of behavior in America too.
Instead, I would like to talk about what my fellow conservative Americans may think about this. Surely, they will disapprove about a country that does not allow women to participate in sports. They may even feel a bit outraged and indulge in criticism of other religions and cultures.
I wish I could be in the middle of such a conversation between Republicans, especially the very right-wing conservative ones. I wish I could then ask: “You think this is backward? You think this is discrimination? What about your take on homosexuality? What about your irrational fear of our black President? What about your obsession with Latino Immigrants? What about the Catholic Church position on not allowing women to serve as priests? What about your stance against social programs and services that help other citizens survive, recover from a crisis and get an opportunity for a better future?”
Lina Al-Maeena, the founder and team captain of a Saudi women's basketball team that cannot participate in regional or international competitions, admits that the topic remains controversial and that she has to deal with criticism and being called names like "liberal."
“Liberal” is the derogative term conservatives use to describe those who espouse progressive ideas and have an open mind towards human rights and freedoms. Would Republicans notice that their positions are equally backward? That their stance is on the wrong side of human and societal progress? We know the answer, but it is always good to ask.