You know I haven’t talked about Dinesh D’Souza’s idiotic book ‘The Enemy At Home’ because I assumed it was so transparently stupid that it would collapse of its own vacuity. His thesis (from the reviews – I don’t have enough time to read all the good books out there, and I’m not burning an afternoon reading this one) is that the conflict between the nutball Islamists and the West is caused by Madonna. No, I’m serious – it’s the claim he makes. From the introduction to his book, as posted on his website:
The left is responsible for 9/11 in the following ways. First, the cultural left has fostered a decadent American culture that angers and repulses traditional societies, especially those in the Islamic world, that are being overwhelmed with this culture. In addition, the left is waging an aggressive global campaign to undermine the traditional patriarchal family and to promote secular values in non-Western cultures. This campaign has provoked a violent reaction from Muslims who believe that their most cherished beliefs and institutions are under assault. Further, the cultural left has routinely affirmed the most vicious prejudices about American foreign policy held by radical factions in the Muslim world, and then it has emboldened those factions to attack the United States with the firm conviction that “America deserves it” and that they can do so with relative impunity. Absent these conditions, Osama Bin Laden would never have contemplated the 9/11 attacks, nor would the United States today be the target of Islamic radicals throughout the world. Thus when leading figures on the left say, “We made them do this to us,” in a sense they are correct. They are not correct that “America” is to blame. But their statement is true in that their actions and their America are responsible for fostering Islamic anti-Americanism in general and 9/11 in particular.
OK, that’s just historically ignorant, insulting, and stupid. But it’s now being picked up. Some guy named Glenn Beck who is a talking head on CNN (haven’t seen him, still have no TV thankfully) echoed his claims this week, and has been getting picked up in the blogs.
BECK: You know, there’s a new poll out that Muslims, the higher educated Muslims in the Middle East are more likely to be extremists? More and more Muslims now hate us all across the world, and it really has not a lot to do with anything other than our morals.
The things that they were saying about us were true. Our morals are just out the window. We’re a society on the verge of moral collapse. And our promiscuity is of the charts.
Now I don’t think that we should fly airplanes into buildings or behead people because of it, but that’s the prevailing feeling of Muslims in the Middle East. And you know what? They’re right.
Let me a take a moment and explain why this is beyond lame.
“The American girl is well acquainted with her body’s seductive capacity. She knows it lies in the face, and in expressive eyes, and thirsty lips. She knows seductiveness lies in the round breasts, the full buttocks, and in the shapely thighs, sleek legs — and she shows all this and does not hide it.”
D’Souza would have to agree, right? He’d see that argument and believe that we needed to push back to an earlier, more virtuous America.
But that quote is about an earlier, more virtuous America. It’s about 1949 Colorado, and it’s from Salman Qutb’s book ‘The America I Have Seen’.
Ironically, Greeley in the middle of the 20th century was a very conservative town, where alcohol was illegal. It was a planned community, founded by Utopian idealists looking to make a garden out of the dry plains north of Denver using irrigation. The founding fathers of Greeley were by all reports temperate, religious and peaceful people.
But Qutb wasn’t convinced. “America in 1949 was not a natural fit for Qutb,” Siegel says. “He was a man of color, and the United States was still largely segregated. He was an Arab — American public opinion favored Israel, which had come into existence just a year before.”
In the college literary magazine, Qutb wrote of his disappointment:
“When we came here to appeal to England for our rights, the world helped England against the justice (sic). When we came here to appeal against Jews, the world helped the Jews against the justice. During the war between Arab and Jews, the world helped the Jews, too.”
Qutb wrote about Greeley in his book, The America I Have Seen. He offered a distorted chronology of American history: “He informed his Arab readers that it began with bloody wars against the Indians, which he claimed were still underway in 1949,” Siegel says. “He wrote that before independence, American colonists pushed Latinos south toward Central America — even though the American colonists themselves had not yet pushed west of the Mississippi… Then came the Revolution, which he called ‘a destructive war led by George Washington.'”
Look, I’m a real believer that we need to rediscover the good in American and Western values, and that a certain philosophical decadence leaves the doors open to bad outcomes. I’m not happy with many things I see in our culture, not so much because they are about promiscuous sex or Bloomsbury languor, but because they divert us from the very real daily work of building and making futures in favor of consuming the present.
But to suggest that the decline in morals in Hollywood in 2001 is why we were attacked is both deeply insulting and immoral because it claims the horrors of 9/11 and what has preceded and followed it as an argument for a callow Puritanism, and ridculous because it is not grounded in anything remotely like historical fact.
I’m not a believer in shutting people up, and good for D’Souza for grabbing his advance and running to the bank, I guess. But this debasement of political argument needs to be backhanded out of the public arena as quickly as possible, and someone needs to bring some disinfectant wipes in to clean up after it.