[guest post by JVW]
Columnist Tim Rutten has deservedly come in for withering criticism at these parts through the years (see here, here, here, and, oh, here and maybe here and here; can’t forget here either). He’s a committed leftist who always seeks to put conservatives in the worst possible light, and a blowhard to boot. However, just as with the old aphorism about the broken clock being accurate twice per day, Rutten once in a great while gets one right. Brace yourselves, friends: this is one of those times.
In today’s column, Rutten addresses the ills of Wahhabism as the antecedent of the Muslim Brotherhood, al Qaeda, ISIS, and the rest of the islamofascism that has become so prominent in Muslim countries:
While political Islam’s contemporary ideology is the work of mid-20th century Egyptian thinkers like Sayyid Qutb, the style of Muslim religiosity in which it flourishes is rooted in the Wahhabi creed that is the official religion of Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Since the 18th century, when the puritanical religious zealot Muhammad ibn-Wahhab struck an alliance with the tribal leader Muhammad bin Saud, the family that today supplies Saudi Arabia’s royals has allowed the Wahhabi clerical establishment to dominate their people’s religious and social lives in return for political support. Even today, the kingdom’s minister of religious affairs always comes from among Wahhab’s descendants, the al ash-Sheikh family. More importantly, the Saudis have spent tens of billions from their petro-wealth to promote Wahhabism around the world. Today, its prestige is, as a result, unrivaled in the globe’s Muslim communities.
Naturally, because this is after all Tim Rutten we are dealing with, there has to be at least a few silly leftwing delusions:
Contemporary American notions of tolerance put us ill at ease when circumstances require condemnation of other people’s religious practice. . .
Because, you know, American liberals have been so reticent when it comes to condemning the beliefs of Roman Catholics, Evangelicals, and other religions who don’t gleefully adopt the modern groupthink on abortion, birth control, or homosexuality. Nevertheless, Rutten steps up to the plate and takes a mighty cut (at an admittedly slow pitch):
. . . but the time has come to deliver exactly that verdict on Saudi salafism. It is intolerant, repressive and obscurantist and has made the world a more dangerous place for us all. It preaches hatred of Jews, Christians, women, gays and even other Muslims. The international community of nations has put up with behavior on the Saudis’ part that would not be countenanced on the part of any other country in the world. No matter how much the Obama administration believes it requires Saudi assistance in the campaign against the Islamic State, it’s kidding itself if it thinks the kleptocratic and deceitful House of Saud is a reliable ally.
Sure, Rutten is unloading on an illiberal religion and that’s easy enough for any leftist to do, but I think we can all take solace in the fact that he did not try to temper his criticism of salafism with a critique of U.S. foreign policy over the past seventy years (especially under Republican Administrations) or some banal recitation of the shopworn idea that Islam is the Religion of Peace and that Wahhabis only comprise a very small subset. Note that he even registers a slight criticism of the Obama Administration’s deference to the House of Saud.
There will be plenty of opportunities to criticize Tim Rutten’s future musings, but for tonight let’s welcome him as an ally on this particular issue.