Friday, August 10, 2012

Saudi's Women Olympians are for International PR Only

At home - Saudi domestic media ignores, while others scorn, own female athletes.

August 10, 2012

Editorial - I am no fan of the Olympics. I see it as a corporate-financier diversion expending vital resources that benefit mainly large corporations and provide only temporary windfalls for locals who would be better served if longer-term programs were invested in instead. The Olympics however can serve as a metric for many geopolitical trends and phenomenons.

Image: The bottom-line, not human rights, is the purpose of the Olympic Games - therefore superficial concessions on basic human rights can be made by states cooperating with the corporate-financier interests that dominate this Fortune 500 diversion.

It is the year 2012 - man has long since landed on the moon, there are trains speeding across China hovering on a cushion of magnetism, and the computational power of our handheld phones dwarfs that of institutional mainframes from years ago. Yet in the year 2012, Saudi Arabia has only just now allowed women (2 of them) to compete on its behalf at the Olympics.

How Saudi Arabia hasn't been banned  from the Olympics is a testament to the double standards of this faux-international faux-progressive global event. Indeed, Saudi Arabia, despite its medieval posture toward 50% of its population, has been freely allowed to participate in the games for decades.

South Africa was banned from the Olympics in 1964 because it refused to condemn apartheid. How is it then that Saudi Arabia, who prohibits women from driving, from voting in local elections (national elections do not exist in Saudi Arabia), segregates them to female-only cities, and until 2012, from even competing in the Olympics and presumably other international sporting events, is not banned?

Saudi Arabia plays nicely behind the scenes with the vast Western corporate-financier interests of Wall Street and London, it possesses vast oil wealth, and it is an integral lynchpin in Western geopolitical interests across the Muslim World, not just in the Middle East. This is why it is allowed to do what it wants to its own people via its draconian domestic policy, and people abroad via its terroristic foreign policy.

And while some might say that this year's inclusion of Saudi women at the Olympics is a sign of progress - I assure you it is not. It is crass propaganda for the sole consumption of gullible international opinion. That is because back at home, Saudi Arabia's female Olympians are either entirely ignored by the Saudi press, or are in fact berated, scorned, and mocked. Saudi Arabia's media, it should be known, is largely owned by the Saudi government, or in other words, the autocratic absolute monarchy that runs the nation.

That the media then is ignoring these athletes indicates that Saudi Arabia's "reforms" are utterly disingenuous - window dressing for an increasingly suspicious international public who has been barraged by Western and Gulf State-funded "Arab Spring" slogans for nearly 2 years and is left confounded over how the Gulf State despots themselves have remained unscathed.

While the Western media has decided to applaud the Saudi despots for their "historic" decision to allow women to participate in the 2012 Olympics, there is nothing "historic" about window-dressing PR stunts conducted in lieu of real reform. In 2012, the Olympics have left me with yet another reason to boycott and tune out this exercise in excess - accepting Saudi Arabia's disingenuous gesture, and calling it "progress."