Yesterday, First Lady Michelle Obama created a bit of a stir on social media and across the blogosphere when photos of the First Couple’s state visit to Saudi Arabia were aired. Michelle Obama wasn’t wearing a head scarf, as mandated by sharia law in Saudi Arabia. Even highly critical Senator Ted Cruz of Texas had a kind word to throw her way on the stand:
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) January 28, 2015
The New York Times put the stand in perspective, highlighting how few Western women adhere to the law, including members of the Bush administration like Condi Rice, as well as Democrats Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi.
So why is the world so surprised, and why are many pleasantly so? While it may not be standard protocol for Western women to don the headscarf in Saudi Arabia, the Obamas are known for capitulation on the world stage, not bold (if also common) stands.
While it is common for those outside the monarchy to bow to royalty, including the Saudi King, few, if any Western leaders had done so before President Obama famously did:
This following of protocol by the First Lady should therefore be praised. It should also be noted that the President chose to visit the new Saudi King instead of attending a rally in memory of victims of a terror attack in Paris two weeks ago, and was absent from the 70th anniversary in commemoration of the liberation of Auschwitz. On the same day that Israel warded off an attack on its northern border with Lebanon, President Obama was rubbing elbows with Saudi royalty while praising its dead king. David Harsanyi of The Federalist outlined just how egregious the visit is in the overall context of Obama’s foreign policy:
Juxtapose how this administration treats allies; how the president admonishes and undermines an elected leader he doesn’t particularly care for and, at the same time, reveres and celebrates the life of a degenerate dictator. King Abdullah had “about” 30 wives, and fathered “about” 35 children, according to sources. Some of them were only young teens when they were forced to wed the then middle-aged King. Some of these women remained prisoners for many decades against their will. Considering the human trafficking and white slavery that is generally overlooked by the monarchs, perhaps he really is a moderate. The freshly deceased King Abdullah, says the president, was “a candid leader who had the courage of his convictions, including his passionate belief in the importance of the U.S.-Saudi relationship as a force for stability and security in the Middle East.”
So yes, Michelle Obama’s “stand” should be applauded, but let’s also keep it in perspective.
Comment below! How much do you trust Obama on foreign policy?