In a Style article Aug. 23, Molly Moore describes the different rules for female American soldiers and male soldiers on duty in Saudi Arabia. The article states that among other things, women soldiers can only run errands if escorted by a male and that women must stand with their eyes downcast to the floor while her male companion pays for her purchases. An official American army guide, passed out to our soldiers, states that "Arab women are subordinate to men in their society." How humiliating.

I would like to know why we are spending American taxpayers' money defending a country that has such disgusting, sexist attitudes toward women and why the U.S. Army has the nerve to insist that its women soldiers obey such degrading cultural imperatives. We would not defend a country that stated that blacks were inferior to whites and made blacks look down at the floor or only go shopping accompanied by a white person.


Why is it that female soldiers in Saudi Arabia are subjected to the Saudis' treatment of women? Why aren't they treated equally with their male counterparts in the military? Who is running the show?

Those women are there to defend the Saudis, male as well as female. The article is an eye opener on the Pentagon thinking of its female personnel. Those female personnel might be killed defending an autocracy that treats its women like cattle.

Let's get real, you guys in the Pentagon. Women are competent and invaluable in today's military. They deserve equal treatment.


The Post's report by Amy Goldstein on the social code book for GI's in Saudi Arabia {Style, Aug. 23} reminds us of the importance of being sensitive to other cultures generally. Few curricula on such matters are available in the nation's schools. Attempts to introduce them have been successfully blocked by sources in this country that believe that by informing American youngsters how other cultures behave we may be undermining our own.

Nowhere was this more clearly manifested than by the congressional pressure applied to the National Science Foundation two decades ago forcing it to cancel its support for an eighth-grade curriculum titled "Man, a Course of Study." This fascinating and highly instructive course depicted the life of the Eskimo. It was pronounced an invitation to immorality, because of the "objectionable" lifestyle of Eskimos, including the manner in which they hunt caribou ("gory"), borrow neighbors' wives for treks over the frozen tundra ("wife-swapping") and permit the aged to surrender to the elements rather than burden their nomadic kinsmen ("senilicide"). A minority of us argued that an understanding of disparate cultures was an asset, not a detriment, and helped prepare students for the diverse world they would enter.

In the current context, one wonders if some academic awareness of the customs of Islam might not have benefitted the thousands of young Americans who have surfaced in the aorta of those customs as suddenly as Dorothy entered Oz.

JAMES W. SYMINGTON Washington The writer is a former U.S. representative from Missouri.