Saudi Arabia’s national oil and natural-gas company, Saudi Aramco, recently announced plans to go public in 2018.  Dating back to the fuel shortages of World War I, Saudi Aramco came into existence largely as a result of Standard Oil’s frustrating search for oil on the Arabian Peninsula.  But after a successful 1932 strike in Bahrain, Standard Oil outbid the Iraq Petroleum Company one year later to own 50-percent rights to the region from the Saudi government, to be shared under the name Arabian American Oil Company, later shortened to the current Saudi Aramco.  In 1950 King Abdulaziz, emboldened by the post-World War II decolonization movement, intimated he might expropriate Saudi Aramco’s operations.  The company’s risk-averse management panicked and offered him half the profits as propitiation in lieu of nationalization.

By 1980 the Saudi government had become the sole owner of Saudi Aramco, which today has the largest proven crude-oil reserves, at 260 billion barrels.  Saudi officials plan to use the proceeds of the IPO to endow a sovereign wealth fund, whose investment objectives probably won’t jibe with typical Western business or cultural practices.  And we’re talking real money here.  Based on Saudi Aramco’s two trillion dollar projected post-IPO market capitalization, the five percent sold to investors will endow the Saudi sovereign wealth fund with roughly $100 billion, or enough to cloak every postpubescent American female in a brand-new burka with enough left over to provide free lunches at the madrasa coming soon to your hometown.

But before cashing in on its natural-resource endowment, Saudi Aramco must clear several regulatory hurdles in order to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).  Last October the U.S. federal government passed the “Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act” (JASTA) to empower American citizens to sue foreign governments that fund terrorists.  Several plaintiffs have already filed JASTA lawsuits in federal court alleging Saudi involvement in the barbaric September 11 attacks.  But even if the Saudi government wasn’t officially involved, 15 of the 19 suicidal hijackers hailed from the Kingdom.  If Saudi Aramco shares are eventually traded on the NYSE, these lawsuits will become more frequent.  Additionally, both unemployed West Virginian coal miners and the most implacable climate-change zealots will be free to launch endless lawsuits against the energy giant-masquerading-as-a-country, using whatever novel legal theory Al Gore can dream up when he’s not too busy embarrassing himself with his shameful documentaries.  More importantly, as an American-listed security, Saudi Aramco will have to obey American laws prohibiting price fixing, collusion, and cartels.  OPEC, the world’s most contemptible, collusive cartel, has been having enough fun trying to keep its rapacious members united as the price of oil has fallen by half in recent years.  The Saudis will now have to choose between OPEC and the NYSE, a decision possibly made easier by the latter’s lack of camel hitches and beheading platforms at its downtown Manhattan location.

When Saudi nationals aren’t distracted by hijacking American passenger jets to crash them into New York City skyscrapers, D.C.-based military offices, and Pennsylvania fields, they are busy unleashing horrific evils on their compatriots and foreign nationals residing in the Kingdom.  In 2013 thugs from Saudi Arabia’s “Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice” arrested Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh for the unforgivable crime of apostasy.  The merciful Saudi judiciary spared Fayadh from his original death sentence, instead imposing “only” four years of incarceration and 800 lashes.  By contrast Saudi national Raif Badawi got a relative slap on the wrist—50 lashes—for having the gall to mock religious symbols on the Internet.  Meanwhile women, just because they are women, are treated worse than Americans treat convicted pedophiles.  Saudi women must obtain permission from a male family member in order to marry, travel, obtain a passport, or get an education.  Male relatives must approve females’ employment, and hospitals will not perform most procedures on women without the same male permission.  Men have a unilateral right to divorce.  As is well known, women are not allowed to drive.  Two brazen Saudi females spent 73 days in jail in 2014 before being released without charges for driving a car up to the Saudi Arabia-United Arab Emirates border.  And it gets worse.  Homosexuals face immediate execution in the case of a second conviction for same-sex sexual activity, which implies that the mandatory whipping, torture, and chemical castration imposed on a first conviction often fail as a deterrent.  Finally, churches and synagogues are prohibited in Saudi Arabia.  But with sunshine every day, what’s there to complain about?

Realists might dismiss Saudi Arabia’s abhorrent religious, political, and cultural practices as Cuius regio, eius religio.  Such rationalizations suffice for those who prefer to avoid the Kingdom’s atrociousness.  But what excuse do American investment banks have for catering to Saudi Aramco’s every financial whim?  Wendell Berry wasn’t exaggerating when he described corporations as “a pile of money . . . with the single purpose of becoming a bigger pile of money.”  Nowadays one would be forgiven for concluding that corporate America’s raison d’être is to promote diversity, inclusion, and the LGBTQ agenda, whatever that might be.  We are so accustomed to hearing corporate executives—more often than not white, heterosexual males—pontificate on the merits of diverse workplaces that the continuous cascade of balderdash no longer registers.

But the hypocrisy of those same executives, especially the ones leading the American investment banks that will underwrite Saudi Aramco’s IPO, boggles the mind.  Goldman Sachs, which anted up for the forthcoming gargantuan deal by buying a portion of Saudi Aramco’s recent ten billion dollar credit facility, claims its “commitment to creating and sustaining a diverse work environment is absolute.”  And just what does Goldman mean by diversity?  Goldman contends that

the people we need can be found only by looking across the full spectrum of race, color, religion, creed, sex, age, national origin, citizenship status, disability, qualified veteran status, genetic information [huh?], marital status, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Funny, but Goldman doesn’t hold its clients to such broad-minded, inclusive, and in Goldman’s own admonitory words, “absolute,” standards.

Another likely underwriter, Morgan Stanley, touts its own research indicating that “high gender diversity companies have delivered slightly better returns, with lower volatility, compared with their low diversity . . . peers” as its rationale to pursue women for its workforce.  But hey, Morgan Stanley isn’t Uber, so let’s not worry about who can drive and who can’t.  Saudi Aramco has also invited industry leader J.P. Morgan to take part in the deal.  In contravention of the Islamic laws of Saudi Arabia, the bank’s recruiting page invites “students who self-identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender [to] gain exclusive insight into the world of financial services . . . that support our global leadership.”  J.P. Morgan’s personnel department should engage the “Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice” to vet any such LGBT applicants before it effectively signs their death warrants with an assignment on the Saudi Aramco IPO deal team.

How exactly do the executives at these banks rationalize their blatant hypocrisy?  When did the Law of Noncontradiction, the second of the three classic laws of thought, get repealed?  How much in potential revenues does it take for American executives to jettison their supposed core beliefs?  The answer to the third question likely leads to the answer to the first.  And the inferential liars, a.k.a. lawyers, staffing the banks’ legal and compliance departments can obfuscate and misdirect in regard to the second question until the Saudi Aramco IPO begins trading.  But, sadly, many American executives seem to have interpreted Wendell Berry’s aphorism as a directive, and not as the sarcastic put-down of American corporate venality he intended.