Defiling the “Holy” Places – Lessons (not) Learned

One of the primary reasons Osama bin Laden went to war with America was the presence of American troops in Saudi Arabia, home of some of the most sacred sites in the Muslim world. Bin Laden warned both the governments of Saudi Arabia and the U.S. that he would war against defilers of the sacred places. He told Saudi Arabia that he would personally war with Saddam Hussein after the invasion of Kuwait and that no action by the U.S. to get Hussein’s forces out of Kuwait would be necessary. Bin Laden had fought successfully to rid Afghanistan of Russian forces and his ability to effectively deal with Saddam Hussein was a reasonable concept.

But, apparently the Royal Family of Saudi Arabia were more afraid, or more heavily influenced by Uncle Sam than by bin Laden. The Saudi government allowed massive American troop presence in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, home of Mecca and Medina, and the stage was set for September 11 and the ongoing war against America and American interests by Osama bin Laden and his organization.

Many Americans might not understand what the “big deal” was in defiling the “holy places” of Islam. Many Americans are not religious, do not go to church on Sunday any more, as that is the Holy Day for Professional Sports in America, whether it be the religion of football, basketball, baseball, or the hallowed rituals of golf.

Speaking of golf, a recent occurrence in America might help Americans begin to understand the concept of defilement of the sacred places; in this case Augusta, Georgia, home of the Masters Tournament. This year, a big issue was raised by women’s rights advocates over the lack of diversity in the membership of the Augusta Country Club, were women are not allowed membership. Women’s rights advocates understood that this situation may not be illegal, but is certainly questionable ethically and morally, and decided to pressure the tournament to attempt to force the inclusion of one or more female members in this “Holy Place” in the sport of golf.

The reaction of Augusta president Hootie Johnson was predictable, and very much like that of Osama bin Laden over the defilement of Islam’s holy places. Hootie said, “Over my dead body (will a woman be allowed as member in this (Holy) Club.”

Surprisingly to many, it seemed that the entire public press, the world of sports fans (including many women) and ex-golfers and pundits supported Hootie and the Augusta Club. The Holy Place was not to be defiled by women — not even American women! There are some things more sacred even than equality and democracy and the men’s only status of the Augusta Country Club was worth preserving! Since no women challenged the issue with guns and death threats, we cannot say how seriously the men would take this issue, but we do know that armed guards were placed at the entrance of the club to prevent free speech from being exercised by protestors during the tournament.

So, Augusta and Hootie Johnson, and virtually the entire male American public resisted defilement of Augusta by women as members. These are the same constituency that profess not to understand what the “big deal” is of the American presence in Saudi Arabia. Perhaps if these people could internalize the issue to something personally familiar, they could see the parallels between the religion of Islam and its holy places and the religion of Golf and its own sacred places.

Think how different the world would be today if Kuwait could have been rescued from Saddam Hussein without the American buildup in Saudi Arabia. George H. W. Bush may have been reelected, leading to no Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush may never have even become a candidate for office! It boggles the mind, but unfortunately time moves in only one direction! The world is a far more dangerous place now than in recent memory, and George W. Bush is the scariest U.S. President ever.

The writer is a member of several falconry and ornithological clubs and organizations. He contributed above article to Media Monitors Network (MMN) from California, USA.