23 November 2016

Old Riyadh

Riyadh has a small old city south of the current center.  Masmak Fort is there, along with some old mud brick homes, a few city gates (the walls no longer exist), and some reconstructed mosques.  There are lots of squares and souqs too, including one of the few souqs with souvenirs and handicrafts.  Not much demand for that here since there are so few tourists, but since it's one of the few places to go, there's not as much competition.   We went to one souq a couple of weeks ago to get some Christmas shopping done and it was fun to be there.

I think there's a lot more poking around to be done in old Riyadh.





22 November 2016

So.  There are some things to not like about Saudi Arabia, but there's a lot I do like.  I'm happy to be here even though the transition has been hard (and even that can largely be blamed on Trump).

I love being back in the Middle East. It's been such a long time since I've been here.  And part of that is speaking Arabic again.  It's so nice to go back to a language I can do something with.  I love my Arabic class.  I love having Arabic all around me.  I love being in a Muslim country again.

I really like our neighborhood.  Now, I'd rather live in a real neighborhood where I could walk to a couple of little grocery stores and stop at the bakery, but since that's not an option, I'm glad we live here in a diverse neighborhood where you don't have to wear an abaya but they're not banned either. The setting is lovely too and I count it as a real blessing that I can bike or walk for miles a day in an interesting place without an abaya or finding someone to give me a ride.

I love seeing and talking to people from all over Africa, Asia, and the Middle East every day.  I love eating food from all over those places too.  I love hearing so many languages when I walk down the street.  I've learned so much already from so many different people.

And finally, there are interesting things to do here.  I'm working on a list and I'm going to start posting about my plans and hopefully we'll be able to start chipping away at the list.


I decided to put my serious concerns about Trump in a different post below on around November 9th, depending on your time zone.  I'll keep adding to that post until he is no longer a risk to the US.

So.  Moving on up here.  Kabsa is everywhere in Saudi Arabia.  It's similar to many of the other rice dishes you can find all over the Middle East and Central and South Asia with meat and spices and maybe some vegetables.  Here, you can go to a kabsa place and get enough food for everyone in the family for less than $10.  There's also plenty of biryani too.  They give you a piece of plastic for you can dump the rice and meat on.  After everyone has eaten, you just gather up the plastic and toss it.  Easy.

We can zip over to one of the real neighborhoods near our house and it's an easy and yummy meal


13 November 2016

The Media Didn't Make Me Do It

There have been several times now in the last few days that people have told me that the media misrepresented Trump or told me to feel a certain way about him.  It's hard to separate Trump from the media because he's so intricately connected with it.  There was also almost no traditional information about Trump like a well-articulated and comprehensive campaign website.  In the end, my opinion was formed by what he told me about himself.

Before Birtherism, I didn't have much of an opinion about the man. He seemed like a rich guy from New York who spent too much time in the tabloids. Not a great recommendation, but hardly the worst things ever.

Then Birtherism happened. I know that didn't bother some people, but the media didn't have to tell me it was a problem. I know in my heart that it is not right that Trump demanded that Barack Obama had to prove his citizenship in a different way than any other past president. Maybe you think that Barack Obama's race was incidental to that, but either way, Trump demanded a different standard and I know that was wrong.

Then Trump announced his candidacy by saying awful things about Mexicans. Again, I know that a lot of people weren't bothered by that, but I was living in Mexico then and I know it was wrong. The media didn't have to tell me that. In fact, I wish they hadn't played it over and over because I hate watching that statement so much. It hurts every time.

Then Trump kept saying things about all sorts of people, mocking them, belittling them. The media made sure we all heard about them, over and over, but they didn't have to tell me it was wrong. I knew for myself.

Then Trump said he would ban Muslims from entering the US. This time, it wasn't just liberals and the media being appalled. The LDS Church, which almost never makes political statements, released a statement against Trump's proposal. Paul Ryan and so many other Republican leaders did too. But even then, I knew in my heart that he was wrong all by myself.

And after all that, he attacked the Khan family. He said a US judge could not do his job because of his Mexican background. And more. I knew he was wrong.

The media did not create a story about Trump as someone who espouses racist and bigoted things. He told me himself.

09 November 2016

You know, I have voted for the losing candidate before.  It's not pleasant but it also wasn't devastating.  Generally it was about policy differences and it's okay if people don't agree on policy.

This is completely different.  Trump wasn't appealing for our votes based on any altruistic or noble principles. If he were truly the voice of Americans who feel overlooked and ignored, he would have a diverse group of supporters because it isn't white men who have been oppressed and abused in the US.  Instead, he told white men to vote for him by blaming everyone who wasn't white for their problems.  Refugees, Mexicans, immigrants, civil rights activists, so many people. It is the blaming and demonizing that I despise.

I have never been so disappointed in the US. 

For now, I'm going to be fighting as hard as I can to make sure refugees are still welcome in the US.  What are you going to do?

ETA that I'm going to make this a spot to write down things that Trump or his cronies have said or done that I think are totally unacceptable. Today is 11.22.2016

Trump has tweeted several times complaining about constitutionally-protected expression and demanded apologies.  He has referred to this expression as "unfair" and "harassment."

He has appointed or is considering a number of highly concerning people as advisers.  The only decent person who has even been floated as SoS is Mitt Romney and he has zero foreign policy experience. The others are far worse.

His chief strategist is Steve Bannon.  He ran the self-proclaimed platform for white nationalism. The best spin you can put on that one is that he's using white nationalism for his political benefit, but he's not a white nationalist himself.  Even that is appalling.  If Obama had tried to appoint as his chief strategist the producer of black nationalist media (even if they were just in it for the money), it would be like this.  How would that have gone over?

I am very worried about the anti-Muslim sentiments of many of his appointees.  I do not have much hope at all that Syrian refugees will be allowed into the US after January 20th.  I don't know about Muslim refugees from other countries. I think visas for people from most of the Middle East are in serious jeopardy.  These people have said that Islam demands them to commit terrorist acts.  They call Islam our enemy.  If Obama had appointed several women who called Christianity our enemy and said that it drives people to kill, how would that have gone over?

Also, the immigration policies several of his people support are far too harsh.  They have defended cities who try to implement statues banning landlords from renting to undocumented people.  There are so many problems with laws like that that I don't even know where to start, but I'm sure it appeals to some people.

Several of these people have either stated that they are okay with waterboarding and worse or that they wouldn't rule it out.  How can they even think that is okay?

The prospective Attorney General does not seem to know the definition of sexual assault and he was not approved to be a judge 30 years ago because of self-admitted blatantly racist statements.  One of the most important responsibilities of the AG is to protect voting rights.  How can anyone not be concerned about that?

Trump has, one time, said "Stop it" to people who are doing mean things in his name.  He hasn't ever bothered trying to separate himself from being connected to white nationalism.