The lede of Maureen Dowd’s Sunday New York Times column about Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin includes this assertion: “Huma was raised in Saudi Arabia, where women are treated worse by men than anywhere else on the planet. Comparatively speaking, the pol from Queens probably seems like a prince. Even though he’s a punk.” The notion of Abedin’s cultural background never gets a second mention in a column that compares Abedin and Weiner’s post-scandal posture to that of the Clintons. But it’s worth a second look.
Is Dowd saying Abedin, a career Hillary Clinton staffer who has spent most of her adult life amid Washington’s corridors of power, doesn’t know any better than to stay with Weiner? Is she saying the Michigan native and George Washington University alum whose mother founded one of Saudi Arabia’s first private women’s colleges, is too provincial to understand the greater world and women’s roles in it? Is she saying Saudi women are passive and Saudi men are horrible? It’s never really explained.
One commentator did recently elaborate a bit further on his theories as to the effect of Huma Abedin’s cultural background on her decision to stay with Weiner, and they’re pretty similar: “Huma is a Muslim. In that regard, Weiner ought to be able to get away with anything,” Rush Limbaugh said last week, employing his typical, er, eloquence. “Muslim women don’t have any power, right? Muslim women are beheaded, stoned, whatever, if they drive, have affairs.” Rabid, half-crazed anti-Muslim bigotry, yes, but at least Limbaugh makes his point clear in a way Dowd only hints at.