Friday, June 3, 2011

Driving Change in the World

When I was three or four my parents bought me a pedal car, a small metal-bodied car with pedals that propelled the car forward. I loved that car. I became quite fast driving it around our house. When I was a little older my father put me on his lap and let me steer our car down the street. I absolutely fell in love with driving and got my first license as soon as legally possible, at sixteen years and one month old.

To me driving represented freedom and self-determination, thrill and satisfaction, solitude and meditation. It still does. I love to drive.

I simply cannot imagine how I would feel if, after all that, my government told me I was not allowed to drive a car because I was too tall, too dumb or because I was a man.

I’ve been hearing stories here and there about women wanting to drive in Saudi Arabia for some time now. Today I read a story on Huffington Post about Saudi women asking Hillary Clinton to help them be allowed to drive. I say go for it. They should also appeal to Laura Bush since “W” and his family are closer to the Saudi royals than Hillary.

There is a petition which I signed on the website, which was recently cyber attacked by China because of their support for Chinese artist/activist Ai Weiwei.

According to Women of the Revolution, Manal al-Sharif dropped her campaign to call for the driving ban to be lifted. She was detained and released on May 21, 2011 and rearrested the next day and released on bail on May 30, 2011. She’s a computer security consultant but she can’t drive.

A video of her driving and discussing the ban was posted on YouTube. It is here.

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that prevents women from driving so it’s not a Muslim thing as perhaps the “Shariers”—my new word to denote those who try to scare gullible Americans that American Muslims are trying to institute Sharia law here in the US in much the same way the “Birthers” tried to scare gullible Americans that Obama…you know the rest—might have us believe.

Wahabism is the dominant form of Islam in Saudi Arabia. And Wahabism is as fundamentalist conservative as the Reverend Ted Haggard was before he realized the door to his closet was opened.

We cannot surmise for certain that granting women the right to drive would commence in Saudi Arabia a social revolution for gender equality, but there may, however, become a large number of Saudi soccer moms.

In Iran, women are working as taxi drivers, picking up only women as fares. And, as Lubna Hussein made progress for women in the Sudan in 2009 by wearing trousers, the Muslim world is slowly changing.

This morning, while driving to work, I saw a crowd of Syrians outside the CNN building on Sunset Boulevard holding signs that read “Free Syria” and “Where is the media?”

That may be their mistake; confusing CNN with legitimate media, thinking that CNN cares. But I used to do that too—protesting outside Rockefeller Center in 1986, hoping to raise NBC’s awareness and concern about the forced relocation of the Navajo just so Peabody Coal could strip mine coal.

A century ago the American Suffragist movement was working hard to gain women the right to vote, which it won in 1920. Saudi women will get the right to drive one day.

Maybe royal Saudi nephew and Fox News investor, Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, can help. I suggest we all write him letters asking him to intervene directly at Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, c/o Fox News Channel, 1211 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY  10036.

This can have a double affect. Bin Talal has already called for it. Show him and shower him our support. And it makes visible again, the close connection between Fox and bin Talal, the guy who wanted to fund the Ground Zero Mosque that Fox on-air conservatives were against.

We may also want to write to “W” at his Presidential Center. The website talks about Middle East’s “Wave of Freedom”, a Bush Institute Area of Engagement is “human freedom” and one of the Bush Institute’s Integrated Initiatives has a women’s initiative. Bush has to do some good in the world. You can send them an email at You may need to copy and paste this email address. And I say why not?

Perhaps for the betterment of the world we should commit to this century being the century of women. We have Hillary encourage the Saudis to give women the right to drive and we allow the Iraqis, Afghanis and Libyans to successfully encourage Hillary, Barack and the rest of us to give women in those three countries the right not to have their children and babies killed in our wars.

I’m harping on the death of children in war again, eh? What a downer. Well, here’s an upper. “Drive My Car” performed by the man who wrote it (with Lennon) and sang it, ex-Beatle Paul McCartney.