If You Change What You're Looking For, It'll Change What You See

Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post by Riaz Patel, detailing a recent trip to Saudi Arabia just 14 days after visiting Alaska in search of the truth.

On the final afternoon of my visit to Saudi Arabia, I was standing on the edge of a red-stone cliff, squinting at the rippling, orange sun as it dipped past the vastness of the desert. I took a deep breath as the strangest thought came to mind:

“This place totally reminds me of Ketchikan, Alaska.”

The weirder part is that it really did (despite a sixty-degree temperature difference). So, please allow me to explain:

I’d been invited to Saudi to see a variety of programs recently launched on behalf of women’s rights & equality. The work lined up with so many of my own transformative shows and projects, so I happily accepted. But in the weeks leading up to the trip, I had many conversations with family and friends who were deeply concerned for my safety. That as a Muslim who was Google-ably gay, I was endangering myself - or even walking into a trap. That as a new parent, I was being reckless. I did not agree but when people say the same thing to you time and time again, it chips away at your conviction.

As a Muslim, I already had a vague personal frustration with Saudi Arabia. The reputation of their hardline religious zealots had been a part of giving Islam a bad name, worldwide. In most arguments about how backwards the Islamic world is, the “Women-Can’t-Show-Their Faces-Or-Drive-in-Saudi” argument is always a crowd-favorite. And impossible to refute.

But as I boarded my thirteen-hour flight, I made a very specific choice: I was going to make a conscious effort to see their world through THEIR eyes, not mine. What do they want and need, rather than what I thought they wanted and needed? Upon landing, I was determined to see as honest and accurate a version of Saudi Arabia as I could find. So, I spent the next three days keenly scanning places, faces, and even conversations for truth and authenticity.

I spoke with women (I’d say approximately half the women are unveiled around Riyadh) about how much more relaxed life has become since the religious police no longer have the authority to make arrests. I even chatted with one about her experiences going to “house parties” and dating on Tinder (seriously). I sipped tea with four old men in the bazaar and discussed their very real fears of Isis, many that mirror our own here in America. I had dinner with a brilliant psychologist who excitedly discussed the growing acceptance of the therapeutic process among her Muslim patients. And whenever the topic of children came up (which it did often) being out of “in-the-closet” practice, I would reference my husband and register shock that it didn’t impact the cooing over baby photos in the slightest. Time after time, I saw and experienced things that were both impressive and unexpected.

But the thing that impressed me the most in Saudi Arabia – more striking than even the spectrum of colors found in a desert sunset – I discovered next to the cereal section of a large grocery store chain in Riyadh. It was there that I found a version of feminism that was so dedicated and focused that is dazzled me with its surging hope and progress.

In the shadow of a towering stack of cornflake boxes, I spoke with a woman, fully-veiled, about her new - and very first - job. Gushing excitedly through bright eyes, I learned how only a few months’ prior her family had shown resistance when she expressed she wanted to attend a job-training & life-skills workshop. But she went anyway. I learned how when she was hired as a cashier, she used to pass notes to her manager because she was too nervous to ask questions with her own voice out loud. But still she showed up every day. I learned how her long-term goal is a PhD so she can lecture at the University and teach women. And she’s already enrolled in classes.

Now if you look at the photo of us chatting away, the veil is shocking. It’s not something I believed in or am comfortable with. But I have to remember that’s just something she wears. It’s not who she is. Please focus on the woman and not what she is wearing. You’re

looking at a “snapshot” of a human being’s existence and seeing only one aspect. And it’s certainly not enough information to judge her

life and choices.

Is her enthusiastic, giggly version of Feminism to be discounted because of her attire? Is her forward momentum to be overlooked

because her “starting point” feels so far behind what we think is acceptable? Should her achievements get any less support or

admiration because she’s Saudi and her individuality is lost on our eyes in a sea of black cloth?

Now look at the photo a different way. How rare it is to meet someone who has not only transformed their entire life, but also the future potential of multiple generations in less than one year? That is what you are looking at. She has created a new life. All she needed was the legal right, and a little help, to begin. What I was amazed by was this woman’s commitment to do the hard and exhausting work that

accompanies change. Each and every day. That ensures the changes are real and lasting - not just symbolic.

I thought a lot about the difference between participating in the work a country needs to move forward versus “symbolic activism.” And on my flight home I thought about the despondence here at home, particularly among women, still reeling from the blow of the Clinton loss a few weeks prior. It’s almost like the news cycles have created a strange, soul-crushing addition to “misery porn” as so many people

confuse “participation” in their world with complaining or posting/re-posting their anger. But that habit actually works counter to the goal of real progress because it removes the most powerful motivation: Hope.

If we are scared or worried about what the next four years will bring, these Saudi women have taught me it’s up to us to make sure it’ll be ok. We’re spending most of our time and energy panicking over what can happen and not what we will make sure does happen. When did we become so powerless? Let me tell you I just met a woman who used to be powerless only until recently, and she wasn't wasting any additional energy complaining about it. Because she has the drive of a Hope that comes from knowing you are already moving past where you are now and allowing change – at whatever momentum – to inspire rather than dishearten. Progress takes time and work and by not acknowledging or even noticing impressive change in places like Saudi Arabia, we turn our back on points of personal inspiration and the hope we so desperately need now.

If we seek confirmation when we think the worst about people, we will always find it. But the same is true when we notice and acknowledge their progress – we see the best and the brightest from people. Which I did.

Now back to the cliff in the desert at sunset. As I sipped my rose tea with a small group of locals, I thought about the difference between what I expected to see in Saudi and what I did see. How did I not know about ANY of their steps forward as a nation? Not one? Not even the curtailing of the all-menacing religious police? And I am the type of progressive Muslim who specifically searches for stories

of any type of hope coming out of the Islamic world, especially Saudi.

The answer that was relayed to me time and time again – not with anger, but more with resignation –

was:

No one wants to tell that story.

Now where did I just hear those EXACT sentiments before? A group of people saying that they’re tired that no one sees them for who they really are. That all stories about them focus on the worst. That all the stories are the same.

In Alaska. Just fourteen days prior. A trip I had made the week before the US election to get to know more about who the “They” were that were supporting Trump. A “They” completely outside of my own Echo Chamber. It was during that experience that I discovered, in conversation after conversation, how rural Trump supporters shared the exact same sentiments when discussing their frustration with the

way Others (Liberals & mainstream media) saw them (deplorable), thought of them (racists), and most importantly, FELT about them (contempt).

And so what I discovered in Alaska as I tasted my first sip of salmon-infused vodka was confirmed when I tried rose tea for the first time in Saudi Arabia: the ongoing and disturbing trend to vilify those with whom we don’t agree. In totality. It’s no longer ok to “agree to disagree.” Now we “disagree without even trying to agree” as both the rural Alaskans and Saudis had just pointed out.

I smiled when I thought of hosting the world’s first Half-Alaskan/Half-Saudi dinner party where all the different people I had recently met would sit around the table – Nicole & Seema, Jim & Jamal, Heidi & Reem, etc. – and we’d all laugh about how bizarre it was I would meet two completely different groups of people within two weeks, from two completely opposite sides of the planet, and they would both feel and want the exact same thing at the exact same point in history: To no longer be judged, invalidated, and dismissed. How wonderful would that type of comradery and support feel around the table, especially coming from such unlikely sources?

Actually, I know exactly how it would feel. I received such a gracious invitation from Glenn Beck a few months back. Who would think the two of us would sit down and not only like each other so much, but realize we share common ground on just about everything. We are in unprecedented times, neighbors. Let’s look at things a little differently.

When did regions of the world become sterile, faceless labels and not the collection of individuals with their individual hopes, worries, and dreams? Isn’t that what they really are? There is no one Trump voter. There is no one Saudi Woman. There is no one Conservative. There is no one Muslim. In the exact same way that none of us should be vilified for our most personal beliefs and doing what we feel

is best for our families, I don’t think any of us can vilify the veiled, female grocery cashier – or millions like her – who are doing the work necessary to move themselves and their nations to a place they believe is better.

They are leaping forward. We need to dig in together to try and keep from slipping backwards.

We just have to choose to be Hopeful. And get to Work.

The media went nuts after President Donald Trump said "Two Corinthians". But apparently, nobody cares when Joe Biden called the authors of Biblical Psalms "palmists" — twice.

During a Thanksgiving speech on Wednesday, Biden said, "I'm sure we can, we can pros-claim [sic] a palmist, with a palmist who wrote these following words, 'The lord is my strength and my shield and with my song, I give thanks to him.'"

On the radio program Monday, Glenn Beck and producer Stu Burguiere pondered whether Biden actually meant to quote a fortune teller instead of a psalmist, but ultimately decided the former vice president likely had no idea what he was reading.

They also discussed the hairline fractures Biden suffered in his right foot on Saturday while playing his dog, and Glenn tossed out a few headlines he thought might work just a little too well.

Watch the video below:

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The Supreme Court slapped down New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo's COVID-19 restrictions on religious gatherings Wednesday, arguing that strict limitations on the number of people in churches, synagogues, and other houses of worship — while liquor stores, bike shops, and many other non-religious places face few or no restrictions at all — are in violation of the First Amendment.

On the radio program Monday, Glenn Beck and Stu Burguiere applauded Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who reportedly cast the deciding vote in the 5-4 ruling, as well as Justice Neil Gorsuch who took specific aim at Gov. Cuomo for limiting religious gatherings to as few as 10 people in some areas, while imposing "no capacity restrictions on certain businesses he considers 'essential'."

"It turns out the businesses the Governor considers essential include hardware stores, acupuncturists, and liquor stores," Gorsuch said. "Bicycle repair shops, certain signage companies, accountants, lawyers, and insurance agents are all essential too."

"Government is not free to disregard the 1st Amendment in times of crisis," Gorsuch wrote in a separate opinion.

Gov. Cuomo has since called the Supreme Court ruling "moot" and "irrelevant" because he had recently lifted restrictions in most of the affected areas.

"This is a trick they play all the time. They've done this with Second Amendment cases as well," Stu noted. "They'll put a ridiculous restriction in that's obviously not constitutional, keep it in place for a year while it goes through the courts, and right before it gets to the Supreme Court they withdraw the rule. So then the case gets thrown out because it's moot."

Watch the video below for more details:


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Hey Joe, THIS is how you handle terrorists

Wikimedia Commons

If you haven't seen the new Apple TV+ drama Tehran, it's definitely worth your time. It tells the story of an Israeli spy who sneaks into Iran to set up an attack on Iran's nuclear program. Now that the new Bond movie is delayed, this show has a little bit of everything to hold you over: international spies, hackers, double agents.

But I digress...

No matter how Hollywood tries to invent these stories — and this one is definitely good — they always fall short of what happens in real life. What happened in Iran this past Friday is a movie waiting to happen.

What happened in Iran this past Friday is a movie waiting to happen.

Iran's top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, was assassinated as he was traveling to his private villa just a few miles east of Tehran. The operation involved a team of over 60 people. Around 50 logistical support agents backed up a dozen gunmen. They knew everything. His schedule, his private address, his classified movements, the route...

Fakhrizadeh was traveling in the middle of three armored vehicles. When they approached the ambush site, the hit team cut off all the electricity in the surrounding area. A car bomb was then remotely detonated, taking out the rear vehicle in the convoy. 12 gunmen proceeded to open fire on the other two cars. Iran's top nuclear scientist was dead, and NONE of the hit squad were wounded or arrested.

Now you can already guess where the blame is being directed this morning. Almost immediately, the fingers began to point at both Israel and the United States. The mainstream media is trying to paint this as an effort by Trump to sabotage a Biden effort to restart the Iran Nuclear Deal. Remember that "masterful" stroke of Middle East foreign policy? You know, the deal that included $150 BILLION — in cash — that Obama and Biden knew would be used to kill Americans and destabilize the entire region. Remember that?

They said it was impossible... but Trump did it.

They claimed their way was the only path to peace. What did they get from it? Iran spread out all the way to the literal doorstep of Israel. The elite Iraqi troops of the Republican Guard were staging in Syria, plotting that ultimate attack to take back Jerusalem. The entire region was set to explode... but then Trump scuttled the deal. What did it lead to? Historic peace agreements between the Arab world and Israel.

They said it was impossible... but Trump did it. He reimposed sanctions and launched a campaign to kill terrorists rather than give them money.

John Brennan took to Twitter this weekend to call the assassination a criminal act.

It echoes what they said when the top terrorist in the world — Qassem Soleimani — was assassinated in Iraq. Coincidentally, the Iranian government published artwork over the weekend depicting Soleimani and the, now dead, nuclear scientist standing side by side.

You see, now matter how people like Brennan and Biden might try and say otherwise, this is exactly the type of person Iran's "Robert Openheimer" was: a terrorist in the same category as Soleimani (but obviously with a lot more dangerous capability).

Iran has been protecting this man for two decades. They called him merely "an academic," but denied the UN IAEA inspectors to ever question him.

The rhetoric Iran fed the global community was that their nuclear program didn't have anything to do with weapons, and that this nuclear scientist was involved in research to improve their energy programs. But in 2007, the CIA said this was a cover story. In 2008, the United States froze his assets, and the IAEA made it public that this scientist was leading Iran's nuclear weapons project.

Iran called it "Projects 110 and 111." Fakhrizadeh was tasked with finding out how to miniaturize a nuclear warhead and make it durable enough so that it could survive re-entry into the atmosphere on top of an ICBM.

There can be no accommodation with terrorists.

Obama and Biden's nuclear deal didn't stop ANY of this. Israel revealed in 2018 that Projects 110 and 111 continued. Fakhrizadeh was specifically called out as still being the main man in charge.

Biden thinks his policy of accommodation will somehow bring us the peace that Neville Chamberlain once thought was possible with Hitler. When has this borne fruit with any maniacal tyrant or terrorist... ever?!

And that's exactly what Iran and their thugs are. They're terrorists! They're not a legitimate regime. Long before ISIS, the terrorists in Iran stole a country, planning to spread their caliphate all over the world. Members of Al Qaeda, despite being Sunni, enjoy free sanctuary under their protection. They want to burn Israel to the ground. They chant "death to America"... It's actually a holiday there.

There can be no accommodation with terrorists. Biden wants peace with Iran, and he'll probably roll out a red carpet and offer them a few hundred billion more dollars. We know this doesn't work. To quote Reagan, "there's one way to have peace and you can have it in this second... surrender."

That's how you deal with terrorists, and — whether we were involved or not — another one was just taken out.

How does a sports writer know how to fix America, and America's racial dilemma?

In a special edition of the "Glenn Beck Radio Program," Outkick sports columnist Jason Whitlock filled in Tuesday for Glenn to explain how we can bring America back together, lean into racial harmony, and restore the values of our Founding Fathers. Because if not us, then who will?

Jason started out by explaining how, during a recent appearance on the program, he felt a spiritual connection with Glenn, regardless of physical differences, as both share a common passion for God and country.

"Glenn and I share a kindred spirit. A kindred passion," Jason said. "We have two things that we love and are passionate about: God and country. I am not a minister. I'm a flawed sinner just like Glenn and just like you. But I am a believer. Believers share an energy that connects them, that cuts through our physical differences and makes those differences irrelevant relevant. That's what I felt when I met Glenn, an energy and a spirit that connects us. We are broadcasters, media personalities, operating in separate spaces, trying to talk to Americans, who share our passion."

Jason went on to say that he believes there are forces operating, both outside of and inside America, that are working to separate America from God, and that much of what we've witnessed in 2020 — from the racial division stirred by the mainstream and social media, to the rioting and looting by Antifa and Black Lives Matter, to the "remaking of the sports world into a shrine that celebrates resisting criminal suspects and denigrates this great country at every turn" — are symptoms and consequences of America's enemies separating God and country.

"We are one nation under God. We are nothing without Him," Jason continued. "The flawed sinners who founded this nation baked God into this country with their Declaration of Independence. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights. That among those, are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The foreign and domestic enemies of this nation are baking a new American cake. God isn't an essential ingredient in this new cake. He isn't an ingredient at all. The removal of faith is sewing the disharmony that is terrorizing and destroying the United States of America.

"Why am I here today? I'm here to tell you how we take our country back, how we restore the freedoms and the liberties our enemies seek to remove in their remaking of a godless America."

Watch the video below to hear more from Jason Whitlock:

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

Subscribe to BlazeTV today with our BEST DEAL EVER for $30 off with promo code GLENN.