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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Our Partners in Peace

A few moments ago I had cause to reflect on one of the many exchanges from The West Wing that I find particularly memorable, from the episode "Enemies Foreign and Domestic". During a regular press briefing, C.J. Cregg fields this question and responds thusly:

STEVE: C.J., are you aware of the fire that happened at King Fatah Middle School?

C.J.: Yeah, that's a tragedy. Chris?

CHRIS: Saudi news is reporting that rescuers were prevented from getting to several female students by religious police.

C.J.: Yeah, I read that too. Steve.

CHRIS: Does the White House have a comment?

C.J.: I literally just got this a minute and a half ago. I haven't spoken to the President, or Chief of Staff, State or anyone in communications, this is just me.

STEVE: Well, do you have a comment?

C.J.: I don't, no.

STEVE: I'm sorry, C.J., but you're not outraged by this?

C.J.: [beat] Outraged? I'm barely surprised. This is a country where women aren't allowed to drive a car. They're not allowed to be in the company of any man other than a close relative, they're required to adhere to a dress code that would make the Maryknoll Nun look like Malibu Barbie. They beheaded 121 people last year for robbery, rape, and drug trafficking, they've no free press, no elected government, no political parties, and the royal family allows the religious police to travel in groups of six, carrying nightsticks and they freely and publicly beat women. But "Brutus is an honorable man." Seventeen schoolgirls were forced to burn alive because they weren't wearing the proper clothing. Am I outraged? No, Steve. No Chris. No, Mark. That is Saudi Arabia, our partners in peace. Bonnie, then Scott.

SMASH CUT TO: MAIN TITLES.


What made me think of this exchange? Lance Mannion's post about a woman he calls "everything that's wonderful about the human spirit", and whose current status has some disturbing implications about the way we're currently prosecuting the Global War on Terror.

More here.

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