If you thought it was bizarre that the death of brutal, murderous, misogynist theocrat King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia — a country virtually indistinguishable from Islamic State in its religious and social policies — was being recognised in Australia with flags at half-mast, and with Governor-General Peter Cosgrove, er, heading off to spend Australia Day representing us at his funeral, it gets better.

Abdullah is being pitched in the many sections of the mainstream media around the world as a sort of moderate and “reformer”, with even The New York Times lauding him as a shrewd “force of moderation”. This inevitably provoked a backlash from anyone with a nodding acquaintance of what has gone on under the vile Saudi regime, including ongoing systematic oppression of women, virtual slavery for foreign workers and a dramatically scaled-up program of beheadings of people for non-violent crimes, including “sorcery” (Saudi Arabia beheaded 87 people last year and has beheaded 16 people already this year). The backlash prompted at least publication to back away from its efforts to claim Abdullah was a “women’s rights advocate”,  suggesting the description had to be understood “in a Saudi context”, whatever that is.

But while he might have been one of the world’s most bloodthirsty thugs, Abdullah of course was our bloodthirsty thug — thus the half-mast flags and lamentations from the Western elite, like Christine Lagarde, whose feminist credentials can never be taken seriously again after she joined the efforts to claim Abdullah was a “strong advocate of women”. And as a particularly good friend of the United States — although not of the US shale oil industry, which is currently going into meltdown courtesy of the Saudi-engineered oil price collapse — Abdullah is being mourned in the US, and creatively at that. The Pentagon had co-opted the academic tradition of the festschrift — a compendium of essays in honour of a pre-eminent scholar — and called for essays in honour of this “lifetime supporter of the US-Saudi alliance”.

If contributing to this, shall we say, beheadschrift with an essay on how wonderful the Saudi regime is seems like too much effort, you can instead head along to the magnificent Saudi Embassy in Yarralumla in Canberra, where according to a Saudi Embassy media spokesman, a book of condolences has been opened. Crikey asked the spokesman if women were allowed to sign the condolence book, but received no reply.

Peter Fray

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