If homo lovers are liberal, then mullah lovers are conservative?

Via Glenn Reynolds, I see that Dinesh D'Souza has a new book. According to D'Souza, it is the "cultural left" which is responsible for the 9/11 attacks:

"In this book I make a claim that will seem startling at the outset. The cultural left in this country is responsible for causing 9/11. ... In faulting the cultural left, I am not making the absurd accusation that this group blew up the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. I am saying that the cultural left and its allies in Congress, the media, Hollywood, the nonprofit sector, and the universities are the primary cause of the volcano of anger toward America that is erupting from the Islamic world. The Muslims who carried out the 9/11 attacks were the product of this visceral rage--some of it based on legitimate concerns, some of it based on wrongful prejudice, but all of it fueled and encouraged by the cultural left. Thus without the cultural left, 9/11 would not have happened.
Hollywood and the universities? They got al-Qaeda so stirred up that flying planes into buildings was the only way to stop cultural depravity?

Hmm...

Does that make Brokeback Mountain a sort of victory film?

I'm no fan of the left, but to claim these people are responsible for Muslim religious rage strikes me as a logical stretch, to say the least. Does D'Souza mean that if the "cultural left" is stopped, then the terrorists will stop hating us? Should that be our goal? Precisely what does D'Souza mean by the term "cultural left" and how far does it go? Did Western-looking women who got raped for looking like sluts invite the rapes by their "left-wing" behavior? How about the gay men thrown off buildings by the Taliban or hanged in Iran?

And if murderous religious hatred is provoked by immorality, why stop with Islamic rage? Didn't the victims of abortion clinic bomber Eric Rudolph have only themselves to blame?

I'm wondering whether the term "cultural left" might simply be a grab-bag for things and people D'Souza doesn't like.

The more I perused D'Souza's thoughts, the more familiar they sounded. But just as my memory alarm bells were starting to go off, D'Souza made a startling claim -- that this "blame the cultural left" meme was his own, brand-new idea:

"I realize that this is a strong charge, one that no one has made before. But it is a neglected aspect of the 9/11 debate, and it is critical to understanding the current controversy over the 'war against terrorism.' ... I intend to show that the left has actively fostered the intense hatred of America that has led to numerous attacks such as 9/11. If I am right, then no war against terrorism can be effectively fought using the left-wing premises that are now accepted doctrine among mainstream liberals and Democrats."
A charge no one has made before?

I'm sorry, but it has been made before, and repeatedly. While Jerry Falwell was probably the first to blame gays, feminists and abortionists (I'm assuming they're the "cultural left" although I can't be sure), his argument was rather simplistic:

...the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say "you helped this happen."
It took culture warrior Robert Knight to refine the argument, and he was quite specific about who was to blame:
None of this happened by accident. It is directly due to cultural depravity advanced in the name of progress and amplified by a sensation-hungry media.
  • We were told putting women into combat areas is progressive and enlightened.
  • We were told pornography is liberating, and that anyone who objects is a narrow-minded Puritan who needs therapy. We have been flooded with porn imagery on mainstream television and in magazine ads. Where did those soldiers get the idea to engage in sadomasochistic activity and to videotape it in voyeuristic fashion? Easy. It's found on thousands of Internet porn sites and in the pages of "gay" publications, where S&M events are advertised alongside ads for Subarus, liquor and drugs to treat HIV and hepatitis.
  • We were told homosexuality is harmless and normal, and the military should live with a "don't ask, don't tell" policy that allows homosexuals to stay in the barracks. We were told that men "marrying" men and women "marrying" women is inevitable - not only for America, but for the world. Imagine how those images of men kissing men outside San Francisco City Hall after being "married" play in the Muslim world. We couldn't offer the mullahs a more perfect picture of American decadence. This puts Americans at risk all over the world, especially Christian missionaries who are trying to bring the Gospel to people trapped in darkness for millennia.
  • This is a Perfect Storm of our own making, and it is up to normal Americans to unmake it. It is not beyond correction. The American people should start by getting on their knees and asking God's forgiveness for letting it get this bad. Then, they should ask Him for guidance in how to restore the moral order.

    Here was my reaction at the time:
    Allowing for the sake of argument that the above "cultural climates" are why Berg was beheaded, since when do we defeat our enemies by conforming our society and culture to their demands? Shouldn't we be defending the things they attack about us? Had a group of Nazis brutally murdered an American civilian during World War II, would that be an argument for cracking down on whatever the Nazis didn't like about us?

    [...]

    People like Knight are morally on the side of the terrorists every bit as much as the Hate-America left. These enemies of freedom hate independent women, decriminalized homosexuals, all pornography, and Howard Stern (who whether you like him or not will do as a symbol of freedom), at least as much as do the theocratic enemies we fight in Iraq. They give aid and comfort to the enemy by granting them the moral high ground and legitimacy at the worst possible time. It's classic blame-America thinking, except it's on the right.

    No one should forget that this war is about freedom. Freedom can be very clarifying at times like this. You are either for it or against it.

    I certainly hope that Robert Knight and his ilk are a tiny minority on the political fringe, and not worth worrying about. The problem is, lovers of tyranny can do a lot of damage when ordinary folks remain silent.

    While I don't know whether D'Souza endorses all the details of Robert Knight's position, I think the above rebuts his claim to originality.

    My reaction is to hope that this is not the new face of social conservatism, much less conservatism itself. If this to be the position of social conservatives, it will not be good for the Republican Party. I mean, it's not as if I woke up this morning wanting to call D'Souza an apologist for al-Qaeda, but then, he's the one pursuing this latest twist on the "Why do they hate us?" argument, not I.

    I'm not the only one to notice. Timothy Noah has reviewed the book thoroughly, and he maintains that the American right is being libeled:

    The heart of D'Souza's book isn't his libeling of the American left, but rather his libeling of the American right. D'Souza notes, correctly, that al-Qaida's hatred toward the West in general, and the United States in particular, is animated to a great extent by America's permissive culture. But Bin Laden isn't some Michael Medved figure grumping about the vulgarity of American Pie. He's got bigger fish to fry. Al-Qaida's enemy isn't the excesses of secular culture; it's secular culture itself. And to a surprising degree, D'Souza is willing to go along for the ride. Theocracy, D'Souza argues, is misunderstood to mean "rule by divine authority of the priesthood or clergy." Not so! There are checks and balances, just like in the U.S. Constitution. In Iran, for instance, "the power of the state and of the mullahs is limited by the specific rules set forth in the Koran and the Islamic tradition. The rulers themselves are bound by these laws."
    Yes, I seem to remember something about how virgin women cannot be hanged without having first being raped by their executioners.

    To be fair, says Noah, D'Souza won't go as far as the mullahs in enforcing virtue; he just agrees with them in principle:

    I heaved a sigh of relief when D'Souza conceded, "The Islamic system of enforcing piety and virtue through the heavy hand of the law seems to me both unreasonable and imprudent." But D'Souza makes no bones about believing, along with Islamic fundamentalists, that the following things are an affront to civilization: equality for homosexuals ("[W]hy would a sane people jeopardize an indispensable and already fragile institution such as marriage by redefining it away from its central purpose? Is the point of marriage to ensure that children have a father and mother, or is it to make Edgar and Austin feel more accepted by society?"); working motherhood ("[M]any mothers choose to have a career because it is more self-fulfilling than the life of a full-time mom"); divorce ("Now you hear people say things like, 'I feel called to leave my marriage. My life would be wasted if I stayed' "); and contraception ("Rather than call for non-Western women to have fewer children, the left speaks of a woman's right to determine the number and spacing of her pregnancies").
    Reasonable people can and do disagree on moral issues. But our homo-killing, women-stoning Islamist enemies allow no such disagreement. I think it is they (and not their victims) who are patently immoral.

    I think it is dangerously disingenuous to propose a "moral" alliance with immoral and murderous people. But that alone is not what rankles me so much as the even more dangerous claim that D'Souza's fellow Americans who might disagree with him on social issues are to be the new common enemies of a regrouped "conservative" alliance.

    Forgive me if I am reading him wrong, but D'Souza appears to be saying that his camp and the al-Qaeda camp can find common agreement that people like me who disagree with them are their enemy. (And that "we" drove their newly found Islamofascist allies to slaughter thousands of Americans!)

    It's an argument I don't like. Demagogy is one thing (sure, I'm cynical enough to tolerate it) but D'Souza goes too far.

    Timothy Noah thinks so too, and under the circumstances I don't think his condemnation of D'Souza's meme is too strong:

    D'Souza's refusal to recognize, say, that a gay couple might need to share health benefits, or that a father might share equal responsibility in raising his children, offends and dismays me. Ordinarily, though, I would never equate hard-right views on these matters--even from a Dartmouth Review alumnus--with the rantings of an Islamist terrorist. I do so now only because D'Souza has written an entire book encouraging me to do just that. He wants his fellow conservatives to embrace their inner mullah. D'Souza scolds conservatives for seeking in the past to win over American leftists and European allies to the war on terror, and for reaching out to liberals in the Islamic world "who can be recruited the cause of 'civilization' against 'barbarism.' " Not gonna happen, baby! Conservatives, he argues, should instead demonstrate "common ground" with Muslims sympathetic to Bin Laden--earlier D'Souza has cited a 2004 poll by the Pew Global Attitudes Project showing that Bin Laden is viewed favorably by 45 percent of all Moroccans, 55 percent of all Jordanians, and 65 percent of all Pakistanis--by:

    attacking the left and the Europeans on the international stage. Instead of trying to unify America and the West, the right should highlight the division between red America and blue America, and also between traditional America and decadent Europe. By resisting the depravity of the left and the Europeans, conservatives can win friends among Muslims and other traditional people around the world.

    As a strategy, forging a values-based alliance with foreigners against your fellow countrymen strikes me as a tad, well, unpatriotic. But making culture war a weapon in the war against Islamist terror would serve to elevate conservative crotchets and prejudices to the higher theoretical plane of national security. I wonder whether that opportunity will persuade other right-wingers to risk ridicule by joining D'Souza's loopy jihad.

    Like many bloggers, I've struggled over the definition of "conservative." If D'Souza's conservatism includes a cultural alliance with declared enemies of America who stone women and execute gays, I guess I'm on the other "side" -- even if I'd rather not be.

    But I should thank Mr. D'Souza.

    Every once in a while, it's good to have a reminder of why I started this blog.

    MORE: Here's Radley Balko:

    After 9/11, a few libertarians and leftists made the case that perhaps we ought to examine our own foreign policy, and see if U.S. interventions may be spurring anti-American hatred around the world. Those critics were roundly ridiculed, and their theory -- sometimes called "blowback" -- was dismissed as "unserious." They were called "appeasers."

    Seems to me that if the publisher's description is accurate, D'Souza's forthcoming book is much more insidious, much more offensive, and much less believable than those "unserious" realists, about a hundred times over. D'Souza is basically arguing that the terrorists hate us for our freedom, and, therefore, we should "curtail" our freedoms to appease them. Actually, it's worse than that. He's blaming freedom itself, along with his political opponents, for provoking September 11. In fact, he's treading perilously close to suggesting we make our society more like a fundamentalist Islamic society so the fundamentalist Muslims will be less likely to hate us. I don't think I can come up with a more offensive explanation for why 9/11 happened if someone paid me.

    Well, someone is paying D'Souza.

    (Now the paranoid conspiracy theorist in me is wondering why a huge publisher like Doubleday would be promoting divisive ideas under the rubric of "conservatism.")

    LINGERING QUESTION: Anyone remember the slogan "Democracy! Whisky! Sexy!"?

    Which "side" did they think they were on anyway?

    MORE: D'Souza is appearing (apparently to promote his message) at the Heritage Foundation on January 18. While sponsoring a talk by D'Souza is no indication that Heritage agrees with what he says, it may be a sign of growing right wing war fatigue. I remember before 9/11 that at least one conservative scholar was arguing that the Iranian mullahs were better friends of conservatives than the Salman Rushdies, although this view seem to lose ground after the war started.

    FWIW, I think it gives moral authority to the terrorists to maintain that America was attacked because the terrorists hate the culture.

    Logically, it makes as much sense as arguing that we were attacked because the terrorists hated Jews.

    MORE: As commenter Jason Pappas notes in his blog, John Kienker of the conservative Claremont Institute (where D'Souza's argument would be expected to find succor) expresses skepticism:

    ...I think D'Souza unhelpfully obscures the differences between conservative Americans who object to adulterers having a steamy affair on daytime TV by writing a letter to the sponsors and traditional Muslims who object to an engaged couple holding hands in public by stoning them to death. I suspect that too many Muslims still view conservative Americans as depraved infidels.
    Considering that Sayeed Qtub (often called al Qaeda's spiritual father) viewed Americans as depraved infidels back in the very decadent 1940s, I think Kienker is right.

    UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for linking this post, and welcome all.

    One of my main beefs with D'Souza's argument is over the ill-defined phrase "cultural left" -- a term I fear conflates communism with unconventional lifestyles. If anyone can explain by what standard things like sexual desires or marital status can be called "left wing," I'm all ears.

    UPDATE (1/14/07): Clayton Cramer (who "share[s] D'Souza's disgust with the left's focus on redefining selfishness and depravity as normality") is mystified by D'Souza's argument, and reminds his readers that the Islamist hatred of America predates the "cultural leftism" of which D'Souza complains. A well-reasoned post, and my thanks for the link.

    It's worth remembering that what the Islamists hate about the West goes much further than abortion or gay marriage; as I just noted earlier today, I'm sure they'd find it offensive that a woman (Condoleeza Rice) is Secretary of State.

    So how far would D'Souza have us go in ending "cultural leftism" in order to placate them?

    UPDATE: Sean Kinsell links this post, and (not surprisingly for Sean) offers his very insightful observation:

    ...if the combination of irreligiousness, acceptance of homosexuality, blithe rearing of children out of wedlock, and preening leftism in the universities is what exercised the terrorists who attacked on 9/11, one is left wondering why on Earth they didn't choose Europe (say the Netherlands or somewhere in Scandinavia) as their target. Not only have those countries institutionalized those social phenomena far more thorougly than America has, but they also have large minority Muslim populations that are inflamed with humiliation over their dependence on the largesse of the social-welfare state. The United States is clearly the single most significant global symbol of Western cultural power; the idea that it's the most significant global symbol of Western cultural leftism strikes me as very suspect.
    Very suspect -- but very convenient.

    UPDATE (01/18/07): My thanks to Andrew Sullivan for linking this post, and for the very kind words.

    I don't think it is quite fair, though to accuse Hugh Hewitt of promoting a "Christianist-Islamist Alliance," because Hewitt neither endorsed D'Souza's book nor agreed with his thesis (I'm hoping he doesn't, of course); he only announced his first Town Hall column.

    To the extent a genuine alliance develops between Islamists and conservatives, it will split conservatives and libertarians in ways that would have been inimaginable before. At least one anti-Republican libertarian blogger is irate, gloating, and even speculating that D'Souza might be part of a Democratic Party plot:

    I've been arguing that libertarians need to end their alliance with conservatives immediately and completely. D'Souza's views will make that far more likely. I've been hoping that Americans will continue to turn away from the extremism that has gripped the Republican Party. D'Souza's call for jihad in America will speed up the decay of the Republican Party. If I didn't know better I'd almost think he was paid to write this sort of rubbish by the Democrats as a means of destorying the Republican Party. But then the Democrats don't have to destroy the Republicans. The Republicans are destroying themselves.
    One of my worries has long been that the right wing of the Republican Party feels marginalized, and would prefer Hillary Clinton to another Bush. Triangulating with Islamists is a great way to split the GOP as never before, and guarantee a Clinton victory in '08.

    If enough people want something to happen, it will happen.

    posted by Eric on 01.13.07 at 10:30 AM










    Comments

    D'Souza's argument is: Divided we stand united we fall.

    I don't think that is going to work.

    Heck FDR and Churchill were willing to unite with Stalin against Hitler. Uniting with homo lovers and assorted libertines seems much less excesssive.

    M. Simon   ·  January 13, 2007 11:50 AM

    Bravo Eric. I've commented on D'Souza time and time again. He seems to embrace the values of fundamentalist Muslims even if he adds that it is better that “virtue has special luster because it is freely chosen.”

    Jason Pappas   ·  January 13, 2007 4:08 PM

    And here I thought that the Radical Islamic Fundamentalists hated us because we aren't Muslims and proclaim the ideal of the universality of human rights to self-determination. Why, silly me!

    What the Left is by and large responsible for is the erosion of the Nation State as a concept and so destroying it both externally and internally that the ability of a Nation to stand up for itself is now seen as 'biased'. The terrorists probably *thank us* for doing that and being such easy targets and willing patsies that seek to blame ourselves for their intolerance. The confluence of Transnational Progressivism with International Terrorism joins together into Transnational Terrorism, which seeks any and all methods to work distributed means agains the Nation State so as to remove it as an obstacle and viable alternative to Empire. Yes, you do get commonality of agenda from that, although different views as to which Elite class gets to rule.

    That is about the only difference I can see between the Left and the Radical Islamic Fundamentalists: the rest is window trappings as *any* Empire is repression and death to those stuck in it. Doesn't really matter *why* they come to kill you, you end up dead just the same. And that confluence is deadly to us *today*.

    Just which dimension has Mr. D'Souza been living in recently? Because it certainly isn't this one...

    ajacksonian   ·  January 13, 2007 6:20 PM

    I find D'Souza a mixed bag. He has made points about the cultural left worth knowing, but this isn't one of them. This argument is an odd reverse of the liberal argument that the Muslims hate us because of colonialism and capitalism. In both cases, it makes the fundamental error of thinking that what Muslims say are their motivations must be true - a courtesy the left and right in America do not always extend to each other.

    Yes, the Muslims say it's our decadence, or our support for Israel, or our crusader spirit, or whatever, that cause their hatred of us. I doubt that, at least among the leaders. When we pressure Israel, they don't like us better, when we bring tsunami rescue, they don't like us better, when we go out of our way to say respectful things about Islam they don't like us better.

    They don't know why they hate us, because it's not about us. They hate their own failure, not our success.

    Assistant Village Idiot   ·  January 13, 2007 10:12 PM

    if the "cultural left" is stopped, then the terrorists will stop hating us?

    Herein are lots of good points bashing Dinesh, but you have to give him this ... if Conservative America were to win the American culture war, we would arguably return to being the kind of strong America that won WWII.

    And that America would then annihilate the Islamic threat, without reservation.

    In other words, it is the traitorous American Left, composed of all the components that Dinesh cites, that has sapped America's belief in herself.

    So, in this sense, Dinesh is right: in order to win the war against the maniac Islamists, we will first need to defeat the American Leftists who yearn for the defeat of America, just as enthusiastically as the Islamists.

    paul a'barge   ·  January 13, 2007 10:27 PM

    D'Souza clearly was a tool with the way that he wrote this book. The Islamic world does not need Hollywood to have its own deep-seated problems with outright sexual depravity. If you do a bit of digging on it, you will find that there are signs that there exists a problem with pedophilia that is probably as bad or worse than anything we have in post-Christian America.

    I have some good examples of such depravity, here.

    MikeT   ·  January 13, 2007 10:46 PM

    Freedom or peace. Choose one.

    TallDave   ·  January 13, 2007 10:55 PM

    Paul,

    Is there no room for the consensual libertine anti-jihadist Jewish Right in D'Souza's universe?

    M. Simon   ·  January 14, 2007 12:03 AM

    if Conservative America were to win the American culture war, we would arguably return to being the kind of strong America that won WWII.

    The thing is, that's a totally different argument than what D'Souza is apparently making (or at least, than what Eric is criticizing--D'Souza might make that argument elsewhere). He's not talking about changing Americans so we will be better at fighting terrorism, he's talking about changing Americans so we won't upset radical Muslims so much. That's not increasing our fighting spirit, that's appeasement. And it won't work, for the same reason appeasement on other issues won't work.

    Daryl Herbert   ·  January 14, 2007 12:27 AM

    Eric,

    I'm no fan of the left, but to claim these people are responsible for Muslim religious rage strikes me as a logical stretch, to say the least. Does D'Souza mean that if the "cultural left" is stopped, then the terrorists will stop hating us?

    Perhaps the means and the desired ends are the same.

    I'm wondering whether the term "cultural left" might simply be a grab-bag for things and people D'Souza doesn't like.

    Hatred of the left has led many on the right to tolerate idiots like D'Souza.

    [Robert Knight}:

    We were told pornography is liberating, and that anyone who objects is a narrow-minded Puritan who needs therapy. We have been flooded with porn imagery on mainstream television and in magazine ads. Where did those soldiers get the idea to engage in sadomasochistic activity and to videotape it in voyeuristic fashion? Easy. It's found on thousands of Internet porn sites and in the pages of "gay" publications, where S&M events are advertised alongside ads for Subarus, liquor and drugs to treat HIV and hepatitis.

    He is unaware then of pre-20th c. history, as so many who advocate 'tradition' so curiously are.

    Reading your response, your logic is, as usual, unarguable.

    No one should forget that this war is about freedom. Freedom can be very clarifying at times like this. You are either for it or against it.

    And Bush has been very clear on that too in his recent address. Not rule of law, not tradition, not faith, but, simply: freedom.

    Maybe Bush is not a real peal conservative.

    My reaction is to hope that this is not the new face of social conservatism

    Only the latest face of a near non-existent movement. Something between a fraud and farce that is occasionally mildly irritating.

    [Timothy Noah]:

    Al-Qaida's enemy isn't the excesses of secular culture; it's secular culture itself. And to a surprising degree, D'Souza is willing to go along for the ride.

    And, as you state...

    To be fair, says Noah, D'Souza won't go as far as the mullahs in enforcing virtue; he just agrees with them in principle:

    How about, then, Mark Steyn? Many of the criticisms apply well to Mark Steyns's essay here, although he doesn't go as far, and most of his subsequent work.

    Some excerpts:

    We've prioritized the secondary impulse over the primary ones: national defense, family, faith and, most basic of all, reproductive activity
    The progressive agenda--lavish social welfare, abortion, secularism, multiculturalism--is collectively the real suicide bomb.
    In other words, just as the AIDS pandemic greatly facilitated societal surrender to the gay agenda, so 9/11 is greatly facilitating our surrender to the most extreme aspects of the multicultural agenda.

    Aids and the gay agenda... all those gaaaayz in one big homogenous lump... a bit like those Jooozish agenda and the holocaust. (Are most sections of the right hypocritical nowadays?)

    Yet, even by the minimal standards of these wretched precedents, so-called post-Christian civilizations--as a prominent EU official described his continent to me--are more prone than traditional societies to mistake the present tense for a permanent feature. Religious cultures have a much greater sense of both past and future, as we did a century ago, when we spoke of death as joining "the great majority" in "the unseen world."
    I'm a conservative--I'm not entirely on board with the Islamist program when it comes to beheading sodomites and so on, but I agree Britney Spears dresses like a slut: I'm with Mullah Omar on that one.

    He has since descended into politicking and outright bigotry against Anglicans, all of which has been given a pass by many if not most on the right.

    Do many on the right love hating lefties more than they care about doing what is right? Or, to be more generous, have they lost perspective?

    Like many bloggers, I've struggled over the definition of "conservative."

    I think, looking back at 'right' positions, from support of the ancien regime, through to rule of law, limited franchize, then liberal capitalist democracy -- the one unifying theme is opposition to collectivism, implies support for individualism. 'Invidualism' is the standard definition given in Chambers dictionary. I tend to treat 'conservative' as synonymous with 'right'. That may not be a perfect definition, but at any rate it makes a good deal more sense than 'opposition to change' or 'traditionalism'.

    Regarding D'Souza, are you still opposed to 'Christianist'?

    Tradition...

    [D'Souza]:

    conservatives can win friends among Muslims and other traditional people around the world

    Reminds me of this quote by Mike Thompson in Human Events:

    liberal sores that today fester on Holland’s once-traditional and healthy body politic

    "traditional people", "once-traditional"... what on earth do they mean?

    One of my main beefs with D'Souza's argument is over the ill-defined phrase "cultural left" -- a term I fear conflates communism with unconventional lifestyles. If anyone can explain by what standard things like sexual desires or marital status can be called "left wing," I'm all ears.

    D'Souza and others are clearly using the war to advocate a domestic agenda which is everything to do with controlling sexuality and does nothing to help us defeat jihadists. Much as they used 'the children' to front the same.

    Sometimes I feel I'm on my own shouting out this.

    (Now the paranoid conspiracy theorist in me is wondering why a huge publisher like Doubleday would be promoting divisive ideas under the rubric of "conservatism.")

    ... you may not be wrong.

    Lazar   ·  January 14, 2007 2:01 AM

    Right after 9/11 it was the left that said it was more important to ask why they hate us than to defend ourselves. Since the left raised the issue I think it is entirely appropriate that someone look for the answer. And it is the left that gives aid and comfort to our enemies, that hates America every bit as much as the Jihadis do, so it's not far fetched at all to give them a pretty healthy share of the blame, in answer to their own question.

    Flash Gordon   ·  January 14, 2007 2:01 AM

    If anyone can explain by what standard things like sexual desires or marital status can be called "left wing," I'm all ears.

    Well, the left accuses anyone who questions any of their dogma on these issues as being "right wing". The left claims (falsely) to have sole moral and itellectual authority on these (and many other) issues. So I suppose that's why he uses that term.
    Not that I agree with D'Souza, the "right" believe in plenty of things that'll get them thrown into Muslim hellfires! The Muslims just plain hate all heathen, and are praised and encouraged by their society to do so.
    Nothing the heathens can do except convert or die.

    5Cats   ·  January 14, 2007 2:29 AM
    The Muslims just plain hate all heathen, and are praised and encouraged by their society to do so. Nothing the heathens can do except convert or die.

    BULL. This is religious bigotry. There are something like a billion Muslims in the world, and this fantasy of yours does not reflect the beliefs of anything like a majority of them. Some of them are even loyal American citizens. Some of them have given their lives fighting for this country instead of you. So let's grow the hell up.

    tb   ·  January 14, 2007 3:37 AM

    Dinesh D'Souza? There's a good ol' Arkansas name.

    Sounds like Mr D'Souza is comparing two cultures foreign to him and misunderstanding both. Thesis: if you didn't grow up watching Scooby Doo, none of this will make sense.

    S. Weasel   ·  January 14, 2007 4:16 AM

    Actually, to the point...

    "a few libertarians and leftists made the case that perhaps we ought to examine our own foreign policy, and see if U.S. interventions may be spurring anti-American hatred around the world."

    needs to be refined, to counter the argument that it doesn't matter to extremists like bin Laden what we do -- but that OUR INTERVENTIONS ALIENATE REASONABLE PEOPLE OF THE WORLD THAT HELP CREATE THE SUPPORT SYSTEMS FOR EXTREMEISTS THAT ALLOW THEM TO CONTINUE TO EXIST UNABATED.

    IOW...it's not about changing the unchangable view of the extremist.

    (think capital letters help my point? probably not)

    Shinwin   ·  January 14, 2007 4:29 AM

    D'Souza has done a lot of good work in the past, so I'm inclined to cut him some slack, but his view of "social conservatism" is apparently irreversibly political. If this is taken as a conservative or Republican policy direction, it will poison the movement back toward sensible conservatism that's just begun to swell.

    "Social conservatism" must be made apolitical: enforced, if you will, entirely by freedom of association. Else it will produce either American muttawa or a social-fascist state. Neither prospect is appealing.

    Francis W. Porretto   ·  January 14, 2007 5:11 AM

    Excellent post. Clearly, what D'Souza is pointing out has something to do with what's going on. Clearly, homosexuality, freedom of women, etc., etc., has the Islamists riled.

    But if any criticism can be laid at the door of "liberals", it's that they are dimwitted hypocrites in not wholeheartedly supporting a WoT that's actually taking a stand against the Islamist reaction to liberal values!

    P. George Stewart   ·  January 14, 2007 5:53 AM

    I can't debate the values issue but I do know that Hollywood's big profits are made with movie which reflect hatred towards America and just how classless, vulgar and crass is our culture. Hollywood's biggest money makers, geared specifically for the overseas markets, are the ones that show America in the worst possible light; they translate easily and make non-Americans feel good about themselves.

    Brokeback Mountain wasn't mark for a worldwide audience, but Syriana was.

    Wonder why Hollywood never makes really good comedies yet overloads the slap-stick vulgarity? Because eye-candy is easier to translate than well-written words.

    Without cheesy, crass, vulgar, hate-America movies Hollywood would go bankrupt.

    syn   ·  January 14, 2007 7:40 AM

    One more point, haven't read the book, but from having been in the entertainment industry I can understand what D'Souza might be getting at with regard to Hollywood. The industry creates unfounded images of a crass, violent, vulgar 'American culture' the brainwashes the rest of the world to believe that is what America is all about.

    Hollywood is an illusion that the entire world believes wholeheartedly exists.

    That said, aren't the Jihadist making huge profits though the worldwide opium/meth indutries and porn industries? Ironically, both these industries compliment one another in generating bigger profits. Gotta get high to get a hard on so watch the porn to sustain the pleasure that will never come.

    syn   ·  January 14, 2007 7:57 AM

    A great refutation. D'Souza is calling for a cultural form of appeasement here. If we need to give up contraception, gay rights, female equality, etc. because they are anatgonizing the Islamists, then we might as well cut out the middleman and put Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar on the Supreme Court so they can simply tell us what we can and can't do, eliminating any grey areas.

    The irony is that there is one area where D'Souza's argument has some validity. If the US were to convert en masse to Islam and give up all other religions, including Christianity, then this would indeed mollify most Islamists and cause them to stop attacking us. Of course, no rightist in the US will ever make this argument. Only the aspects of US culture which they themselves dislike are to be thrown to the wolves.

    Infidel753   ·  January 14, 2007 8:55 AM

    He's is dead on right! So what, I can't stand effeminate gay men either but guess what? They have a right to do what they choose. You simply lose the moral right to criticize anyone's life choices when you terrorize, cut off heads and are the world's greatest religious bigots.

    It just blows me away that people on the left are so against this war. The people we are fighting and all their sympathizers would come after the left first should they prevail.

    R3   ·  January 14, 2007 9:16 AM

    It is certainly true that homosexuality, feminism, letting women learn to read, etc. offend Islamists. But that's not why they attacked us. It is the cognitive dissonance between, "We worship the one true God" and "We are so poor that a bunch of cow-worshipping Indians are about to pass us in wealth--and they don't have oceans of $60 a barrel oil under their country."

    Clayton E. Cramer   ·  January 14, 2007 2:57 PM

    A lot there, and I probably would have to write as long a reply to get it all in since there are a lot of complexities inherent.

    Brokeback Mt., a victory film, well, that is one approach to converting an enemy. Kick them in the teeth when they are down. It has its virtues...I'd have been happier if we MOABed Fallujah, and salted the fields.

    The mini-skirted girl who got raped did not invite it, but she should have known better than to walk through the bad part of town so attired without a firearm that she was trained in the use of. This is not a moral judgement, but a prudential judgement.

    I think its clear that Hollyweird and the other parts of the cultural left are in part responsible for Muslim rage. Now as Radney Balko says, other people have tried to play this card before, and gotten torched for it.

    The thing is, I think to some degree, the libertarians and lefties were right (even if inflamed with hatred, or otherwise a touch unbalanced). We have done things in our foreign policy that offend Muslims. So too, we have done things in our culture that offend.

    Now, the Right didn't want to admit the Left had a teeny-tiny point about our foreign policy. Thats the result of partisan excess. So too the cultural libertines won't want to admit that D'Souza might have a point (I haven't read his book, and so I'm going by what I read here).

    But, to put things in perpective, the larger reason the Muslims hate us is that they have a broken culture, and they see the chance to loot us and avenge their shame. Its just that secondarily, it makes it worse that we base airplanes in the sacred soil, and that we allow Hollyweird to portray Americans as hypersexual crooks out to score some drugs before shooting some innocent people for no reason.

    Now, my strategy for this would be to try to minimize the offense so that the hundreds of millions of supposedly normal Muslims don't feel like we're trying to annoy or repulse them. Do this if the cost is not too great, and perhaps we can help win the supposedly moderate Muslims around to liberal democracy. However, don't let the charm offensive get in the way of the "Kill the terrorists and make the wicked scream in fear" offensive. Also, don't give up things that are essential to our character, to ourselves.

    Now, I don't think Brokeback Mt. is essential to us, but the freedom to produce such a pile o' tripe certainly is. And I don't think that socons making alliance with traditional minded people around the world against the terrorists and against the terrorists' kindred, the Left is such a totally bad idea, and I don't see that as giving up something essential--patriotism.

    Its not unpatriotic because the Right would be trying to use that alliance to put down the enemies of civilization--the terrorists and their enablers.

    It is sad though.

    A while back, Belmont Club talked about the virtue of a quick, crushing war. He said that a long war was a march toward damnation, and we would find ourselves doing things we would never have considered earlier. The problem is that this applies to the cultural war in America too.

    The Left led by making alliance with the terrorists, and so the Right has to follow by making extra-national alliances as well. This time, with the poor oppressed schmucks who just want an ordinary life. I'd rather keep American poltics inside America, but in a long war with the Left such an act would be naive.

    Okay, that was really long, and yet I didn't begin to address half of your points.

    Eric R. Ashley   ·  January 14, 2007 3:07 PM

    Didn't Prez Bush once say "they hate us for who we are, not what we do"? I guess DD'S agrees--and thinks they're right.

    Jim M   ·  January 14, 2007 8:23 PM

    How come conservatives never get "totally discredited" by you? Distort D'Newzah has a long record of false, partisan garbage and yet you quote him regularly. Jeez. Micheal Moore or Glenn Greenwald make a single mistake and they're on their shit list. And you still can't cut loose of the mendacious Right.

    Distort DuhNooza   ·  January 14, 2007 8:53 PM

    All religious-based social conservatism taken to its logical conclusions winds up agreeing with Osama. We're decadant and need to die.

    I've never understood why social conservatives hate Iran and them. They're just like you. In fact, you should move there.

    B   ·  January 14, 2007 9:57 PM

    Yeah, B, we were just discussing at church this morning how sad it is that we haven't had a good beheading lately. I did get a good deal on jack-boots with crosses on the soles this week, though.

    Wanker.

    Assistant Village Idiot   ·  January 14, 2007 10:49 PM
    All religious-based social conservatism taken to its logical conclusions winds up agreeing with Osama. We're decadant and need to die.

    I've never understood why social conservatives hate Iran and them. They're just like you. In fact, you should move there.

    I can see a few areas of difference:

    1. Social conservatives are not interested in sending homosexuals to prison, much less execution. We would prefer homosexuals to be discreet, and not to be propagandizing our kids, but if consenting adults want to do something we don't like in private, that's hardly the government's job. (And it doesn't matter if it is sodomy or employment.)

    2. Social conservatives not only have no objection to women going to school, we think is actually important for them to learn to read. This is part of the Protestant tradition for many centuries.

    3. I can't for the life of me remember the last social conservative I've met who objected to women driving. Or owning a gun. Or having an equal voice in court when testifying. Or voting.

    4. Even social conservatives who aren't keen on mothers of small children working outside the home don't have any problem with women working the rest of the time. I think you would have to search long and hard to find a social conservative that thinks that there should be laws preventing women, even mothers of small children, from working outside the home.

    5. While social conservatives tend to be more supportive of capital punishment than the general population of the U.S., it isn't all dramatic of a difference. I oppose capital punishment, and I know that I am not alone among social conservatives in this respect.

    You might want to actually find out what social conservatives think, instead of what you want to imagine that they think.

    Clayton E. Cramer   ·  January 14, 2007 11:40 PM

    D'Souza is an idiot. I do not care why Islam hates us. Actually I already know why. It is not our freedoms per se, but because we are what they have been told is sinful--and we are successful anyway.

    It drives Osama and the boys absolutely batty.

    There is no pandering to that.

    Joe   ·  January 15, 2007 12:35 AM

    A couple years ago the blogger right was saying the "left" were terrorist sympathizers (see David Horowitz's "Discover the Network.") and Ward Churchill gets run out of town on a rail. D'Souza's the real thing: a self-declared terrorist sympathizer with a cushy job at Stanford. Several fellow-travelers above.

    FWIW Assistant Village Idiot, I agree: Whatever problems I have with social conservatives, I agree most of y'all are humane thoughtful people who don't want to kill people like me.

    avenger   ·  January 15, 2007 1:57 AM

    Great post.

    It is perfectly obvious that social changes in the West over the last few decades has increased the social distance between the West and Islam.

    It is also obvious that responding to jihadi attacks by attempting to decrease the social distance from our side is a form of appeasement. Moreover, a fruitless form, since the increase in social distance is such a minor aspect of the jihadi rage.

    BTW, your Clayton Cramer link doesn't work because http// is repeated.

    Lorenzo   ·  January 15, 2007 5:13 AM

    Avenger - well said. It doesn't do any good for Left and Right to demonise each other, because actually this struggle goes back to a time before the Right/Left split, when the argument was between rationalism and theocracy in the West. Plenty of time to fight each other afterwards. We need to get our heads together now, stop the old catcalling habits.

    Regarding something somebody said above re. Hollywood. It's just struck me that actually this makes perfect sense. It's not that Hollywood actually hates the US, it's that a substantial proportion of their world market hates the US, so like good capitalists they're simply "selling the rope with which they will be hanged."

    i.e. Hollywood makes hate-US films because a substantial proportion of the world hates the US, not because it's full of crazy "liberals" who actually do genuinely hate the US. (There are a few, obviously, but it's difficult to believe a whole industry is caught up in a syndrome like that.)

    P. George Stewart   ·  January 15, 2007 6:36 AM

    It just blows me away that people on the left are so against this war. The people we are fighting and all their sympathizers would come after the left first should they prevail.

    Um, which war? The one in Afghanistan, which was certainly justified, or the one in Iraq, which started out as a lie and has degenerated into the potential for Armageddon?

    It's the right in this country that hates America, because they don't understand it, misread history, and hate those unlike themselves.

    Mike   ·  January 15, 2007 9:08 AM

    Clayton: You prefer homosexuals be 'discreet'? Please explain that in detail.

    Hillman   ·  January 15, 2007 9:16 AM

    And just what is preferred to happen to those that are not "discrete"? Will there be penalties for the lack of discretion?

    cowboyx   ·  January 15, 2007 1:10 PM

    If President Bush in a speech to the Muslim world would say:

    "I know some of the products of our nation that come out of Hollywood disgust you, hey, they disgust me. But we have to allow people the freedom to choose Heaven or Hell on their own otherwise what benefit to a forced choice. Now speaking of things that morally disgust the American people, and of Hell, we have proof that certain Iranian 'volunteers' were massing near the border so we blew them and the Iranian military base that was housing them into little bitty pieces. May God bless America and Iraq. Good night."

    That is not appeasement. If we did just the one, then maybe it would be appeasement.

    Now you can argue that we should show no concern for the enemy's feelings of 'face' and of revulsion at some aspects of our culture and foreign policy. You can argue that we should just shove it down their throats with a pitchfork a la WW2 and the Romans.

    You might be right.

    But thats not the strategy of this government. If my strategy had been followed, we would have invaded Syria already, bombed Iran and fostered a revolution via air power to block their military units and let the young people storm the capital themselves, and then leaned hard enough on the Saudi's to make them scream in fear. If I was in charge, this would already be accomplished, and the Republicans would be putting the next Scalia's in position on the Court.

    Funny thing, I'm not in charge. This "Make Nice/Kill Terrorists Politely" strategy is what we have. You might as well deal with reality instead of getting annoyed at folk who try to better reality. Its more than a little late to suggest that we turn from Make Nice to Make Dessert. Perhaps on the next nation we invade, we can do Make a Dessert, but not in Iraq.

    Eric R. Ashley   ·  January 15, 2007 2:12 PM

    Who hates Hollywood more? "The Muslims"? American social-"conservatives"? The French?

    I've lost track.

    BobN   ·  January 15, 2007 3:49 PM


    Social conservatism, as a political movement, is dying. In the last election, some of the greatest losses were by candidates supported by the religious right. America is slowly becoming more socially liberal, and unless the GOP embraces tolerance, they will continue to lose many elections to come.

    The younger generation, especially, seems to be more liberal about sexual matters, stem cell research, etc.
    While there might be some conservatism in this country on national defense and law enforcement, most people don’t like the government to tell them what than can and can’t do with their own bodies.

    The right is more out of touch of the American mainstream on moral issues more than ever.

    There are indeed a small cadre of leftist who hate America. But, at least they don't try to pass themselves off as "patriots" like America-bashers on the right do.

    George Arndt   ·  January 15, 2007 6:19 PM

    "3. I can't for the life of me remember the last social conservative I've met who objected to women driving. Or owning a gun. Or having an equal voice in court when testifying. Or voting."

    Here's a link to one anti-gay street preacher with a bullhorn who opposes women becoming President. A true successor of John Knox.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8KiYlgeeG8

    Patrick Rothwell   ·  January 15, 2007 6:52 PM

    BobN:
    http://www.shooter.net/index.php/weblog/Item/folsom-street-fair-2004-photos/
    (Warning, the first page is *probably* work safe, those that follow are probably NOT).

    This is not discreet.

    I think D'Souza has it back-asswards. It is not the Cultural Left that *caused* the problem, it is the Economic and Political left that that has for years preached the evils of capitalism and open national-republic style democracies. This has left many countries both desperately poor AND beleiving that we are rich because we stole from them. This abject poverty gives people the time to listen, and the anger to beleive the nonsense spread by the imams.

    Billy Oblivion   ·  January 15, 2007 7:46 PM

    Logically, it makes as much sense as arguing that we were attacked because the terrorists hated Jews.

    Wait a bit, that argument will be along.

    As a Jew with a sense of history, I have often wondered when our current authoritarian swing (which includes Bush's "unitary executive" theories, the abridgement of civil liberties, the secret prisons, torture as an official policy, etc.) will start to include the traditional feature of anti-Semitism. For the most part, people like D'Souza have, so far, turned their ire on gays or "leftists" in general instead. But I think it will turn out to be a short step from liberal-bashing to Jew-bashing. Especially if (when) there's an attack on America or our forces that can be plausibly blamed on Israeli intransigence.

    trilobite   ·  January 16, 2007 4:50 PM

    "we would arguably return to being the kind of strong America that won WWII"

    Huh? People like Dinesh D'Sousa would hold circle-jerks in which they would ponder the question of how to persuade traditional Japanese, Germans, and Italians that America isn't so bad. How that would contribute to victory passeth my understanding.

    steveb   ·  January 16, 2007 9:16 PM

    Oh please...were does it say anywhere, or even infer, in the constitution that porn, gay marriage, and the lewdness of Howard Stern are protected as rights? And, yes, it doesnt say that these "freedoms" are not rights either, but lets use some common sense!!! In the founding fathers time, lewdness and porn and gay marriage were outlawed.
    This moral evolutionary interpretation of the consitution is bull.

    Lets get real, all those three modern liberal "freedoms" have nothing to do with the freedoms of that the constitution grants. Just as abortion and even porn, in some communities, is now being restricted more and more, the same can go for the three big "freedoms" of liberals.

    Without having any restrictions on freedom you have license, which allows anti-semites and a host of other bigots and racists in this country to shake the foundations of this country. It does not make our country stronger in the least. If you do not care about the morals of a person, you will eventually not care about their bodies. Why do we see on a more regular basis anti-Semitic and anti-Christian acts of vandalism? Why do you think radical Muslims like CARE, are now using our own system against us? Because, at present, anti-semiticism and anti-christianity are protected under freedom of speech.

    this is so foolish to not see that the libertines in this country are the worst abusers of our wonderful system. The problem with Dinsesh is he does not see that Osama is also using our system to "divide and conquer." Dinesh could have made the same arguments he is making without even touching a devil like Osama.

    for years, moral conservatives have done just that, whether they be Catholic, Protestant, or Jewish.

    We do not need the words of a terrorist to validate a positon that even the founding fathers would agree.

    If the founding fathers agreed that "anything goes," then this country would have been dead years ago.

    louis   ·  January 21, 2007 1:41 AM

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