Sasquatch Strikes Out

From Holden:

A rough start for Karen Huge. Funny how stereotypes and platitudes make for poor public policy, ain’t it?

The audience – 500 women covered in black at a Saudi university – seemed an ideal place for Karen P. Hughes, a senior Bush administration official charged with spreading the American message in the Muslim world, to make her pitch. But the response on Tuesday was not what she and her aides expected. When Ms. Hughes expressed the hope here that Saudi women would be able to drive and “fully participate in society” much as they do in her country, many challenged her.

“The general image of the Arab woman is that she isn’t happy,” one audience member said. “Well, we’re all pretty happy.” The room, full of students, faculty members and some professionals, resounded with applause.

[snip]

Many in this region say they resent the American assumption that, given the chance, everyone would live like Americans.

The group of women, picked by the university, represented the privileged elite of this Red Sea coastal city, known as one of the more liberal areas in the country. And while they were certainly friendly toward Ms. Hughes, half a dozen who spoke up took issue with what she said.

[snip]

The session at Dar Al-Hekma College provided an unusual departure from the carefully staged events in a tour that began Sunday in Egypt.