“Of course, oil wealth does not NECESSARILY harm the status of women. Seven countries have produced significant quantities of oil and gas, but still made faster progress on gender equality than we would expect based on their income: Norway, New Zealand, Australia, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Syria, and Mexico. The first three countries are probably exceptions to the general pattern because of reasons implied by the model: since women already had a large presence in the non-traded sector (thanks to the size and diversification of these economies), rising oil exports did not crowd them out of the labor market. The two Central Asian states were strongly affected by many years of Soviet rule, which promoted the role of women through administrative fiat; this may have inoculated them against oil-induced patriarchy.
Perhaps the most interesting exceptions are Syria and Mexico: women in both states may have benefited from many years of rule by secular left-of-center parties that showed an interest in women’s rights. Mexico also gained from its proximity to the U.S. market, which allowed it develop a large, low-wage export-oriented manufacturing sector along the border — which pulled women into the labor market despite the flow of oil rents. These cases show that both good fortune, and a committed government, can sometimes counteract the perverse effects of oil on the status of women.” — an excerpt from the last page of “Professor” Ross’s study
So Ross does, finally, mention some oil states that “don’t NECESSARILY harm the status of women.” It’s a kind of brief afterthought, a mere two confused and confusing paragraphs, on the last page of his apparent 27 pages of text (there are another 23, apparently of notes, bibliography, and so on). By the look of it, that paper that could have been whipped off in a day, but Ross no doubt received all kinds of money from the Open Society Institute of George Soros (who is not making the ghost of Karl Popper proud by his funding of all sorts of apologetic and distracting nonsense about Islam). He no doubt made it appear to be the fruit of deep research. Oh, was there by any chance extensive travel to some of these places required by “Professor” Ross, so that he could study, in situ, the position of women now in this country, and now in that? You know, I’ll bet there was some — don’t you agree?
So he offers a list of seven countries — “Norway, New Zealand, Australia, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Syria, and Mexico” — which studiedly includes both Muslim and non-Muslim lands. And all of these, he claims, are well-known producers of oil and yet, in all of these, the situation of women is not bad.
These two paragraphs raise many other questions. To offer some (carefully crafted) counter-evidence to your own thesis, but on the very last page, and to confine your rebuttal to your own raising of a foreseeable objection, but to do it in a way that is so weak and confused a fashion so as not to provide a real challenge, but rather to attempt to preempt, or rather prevent, that real challenge from being made, is an obvious rhetorical and argumentative trick by Ross. He is essentially stupid, and yet like many essentially stupid people, he is not devoid of cunning when it comes to shoring up his own position.
The list starts, unremarkably, with Norway. True enough, Norway has large deposits of oil, and Norway is a country in which women possess legal equality, and have long possessed such equality. Then comes New Zealand. But while New Zealand possesses some oil, it does not have large reserves and production is below 40,000 barrels a day. Natural gas reserves are larger, but still very far from causing anyone to describe New Zealand as a country rich in fossil fuels. And the same goes for Australia, the third on the list. Last on his list is another non-Muslim country, Mexico. The condition of women has, he admits, not deteriorated during the period of Mexico’s oil wealth. So why doesn’t he say a bit more to distinguish these cases? The answer is, in fact, that he cannot offer a single example of a non-Muslim country, possessing significant amounts of oil (or natural gas), where the condition of women has deteriorated. Not one. And why did he limit himself to such small producers such as New Zealand and Australia, when he might have listed two large oil producers, Great Britain and, still developing ways to extract oil from the Alberta tar sands, Canada? Or what about tiny Ecuador, which was once a member of OPEC and would have offered a Latin American example of a non-Muslim oil state where women are not mistreated?
Why does Ross, instead of offering this strange and haphazard list, not do as he ought to have, and systematically list the two dozen largest oil-or-natural-gas producing countries, starting with the dozen in OPEC, and tell us briefly about the condition of women in each, and whether that condition has, while those countries have received revenues from exploitation of their oil and gas reserves, stayed the same, improved, or deteriorated? It would not be hard to do. But he didn’t do it. He instead provided the equivalent, with a list like the one discussed here, of throwing sand in the faces of potential critics who might point out the shortcomings — the logical howlers — in his preposterous work.
The list does include three countries that Ross, not a man for detail or for distinctions, describes as “Muslim”: Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Syria. “Muslim” is not enough. Just how Muslim are they? The first two stans, as former Soviet republics, endured in the late 1920s and 1930s, a ruthless Soviet campaign against Islam. During the so-called Basmachi Revolt, the Soviets destroyed mosques, fired imams, closed madrasas, and subjected Islam to the same anti-religion campaign that all faiths suffered. The practice of Islam, like the practice of Judaism and Christianity and Buddhism, and even shamanism in Siberia, were the object of attempts to forbid them, to stamp them out. In Central Asia, that created quite untypical conditions, and the improvement in the condition of women began in the 1930s, as the power of Islam receded. And at least in Uzbekistan, where the government attempts to suppress growing support for Islam, the government remains secular. In Turkmenistan, the former Communists continue to reign, and Islam has not conquered the state, so that women retain the rights they won decades ago, under Soviet rule. Syria, which has now run out of oil, cannot be described as a “Muslim” state because, though Sunni Muslims constitute 70% of the population, the government has for the past forty years essentially been in the hands of the Alawites, whose cult of Mary is only one element in their syncretistic faith which orthodox Sunni Muslims do not recognize as being real Islam. And the very large communities of Christians — Greek Orthodox, Maronites, and especially Armenians — in Syria, who under the French were so favored, are still significant in numbers and are protected by the Alawite government for its own reasons. They continue to withstand steady pressure from the Muslim Arabs who surround them, and who, were it not for the Alawite-run army, might well do great harm to those Christians.
This is the kind of detail that the confusing and terminally confused “Professor” Ross leaves out. He doesn’t know enough. He doesn’t know quite how to handle such a topic, and it is clear he has produced something on the level of an eighth-grader, an only-slightly-above-average eighth-grader.
George Soros, who through his Open Society Foundation funded this study, might begin to ask himself what he thinks Karl Popper would have made of Islam, how Karl Popper would have reacted to the threat to the West’s science and art, and its political and legal institutions, that Islam, or rather Muslims, threaten, and threaten now directly, not through terrorism, but through deployment of the Money Weapon, and campaigns of Da’wa, and demographic conquest.
Would that Soros could stop sharing the assumptions made by the man he most loves to hate, George Bush (who blandly assumes that “all religions want the same thing”), and would dutifully take the time to learn about Islam. (Yes, I’m available for private tutorials if the price is right.) He should acquaint himself with the texts and the tenets, and the attitudes and the atmospherics, of this Total Belief-System, and put his money not into ventures such as this “study” by Ross, but into the real thing, the thing which Karl Popper, were he alive, would recognize as indispensable in the war of self-defense being waged, still rather badly, confusedly, and ineffectually, by the West (or by All the Rest) against the forces of Jihad that wish to remove all barriers to the spread, and then the dominance, of Islam — a duty imposed on them by Islam itself, and that they must, in one way or another, if they are to be true Believers, fulfill.
And that real thing is exactly what you find at this undernourished and impoverished website, which consists, in essence, of its thoroughly deserving and utterly charming (well, I’ll speak for myself) staff.