Whenever Muslims charge that the war on terror is really a war against Islam, Americans hasten to assure them they are wrong. Yet as Dinesh D'Souza argues in this powerful and timely polemic, there really is a war against Islam. Only this war is not being waged by Christian conservatives bent on a moral crusade to impose democracy abroad but by the American cultural left, which for years has been vigorously exporting its domestic war against religion and traditional morality to the rest of the world.
D'Souza contends that the cultural left is responsible for 9/11 in two ways: by fostering a decadent and depraved American culture that angers and repulses other societies--especially traditional and religious ones-- and by promoting, at home and abroad, an anti-American attitude that blames America for all the problems of the world.
Islamic anti-Americanism is not merely a reaction to U.S. foreign policy but is also rooted in a revulsion against what Muslims perceive to be the atheism and moral depravity of American popular culture. Muslims and other traditional people around the world allege that secular American values are being imposed on their societies and that these values undermine religious belief, weaken the traditional family, and corrupt the innocence of children. But it is not "America" that is doing this to them, it is the American cultural left. What traditional societies consider repulsive and immoral, the cultural left considers progressive and liberating.
Taking issue with those on the right who speak of a "clash of civilizations," D'Souza argues that the war on terror is really a war for the hearts and minds of traditional Muslims--and traditional peoples everywhere. The only way to win the struggle with radical Islam is to convince traditional Muslims that America is on their side.
We are accustomed to thinking of the war on terror and the culture war as two distinct and separate struggles. D'Souza shows that they are really one and the same. Conservatives must recognize that the left is now allied with the Islamic radicals in a combined effort to defeat Bush's war on terror. A whole new strategy is therefore needed to fight both wars. "In order to defeat the Islamic radicals abroad," D'Souza writes, "we must defeat the enemy at home."
Conservative pundit D'Souza (Illiberal Education) roots the blame for the 9/11 attacks in the left wing's "aggressive global campaign to undermine the traditional patriarchal family" in this mostly lucid but unconvincing argument. Pointing to Hillary Clinton, Britney Spears and Noam Chomsky, he decries those who have teamed up with Hollywood and the U.N. to foist an irreligious, sexually licentious, antifamily liberal culture--epitomized by Eve Ensler's play The Vagina Monologues and gay marriage initiatives--on a Muslim world that rightly reviles it. By deliberately attacking Islamic values, the left tacitly allies itself with al- Qaeda in its effort to defeat Bush's war on terror and thus discredit conservatism at home, he asserts. But D'Souza's claim that Islamic extremists are inflamed solely by America's music videos and feminists--not its U.S. bases in Saudi Arabia, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or American support for Muslim dictators--is too single-minded. For example, he paints Abu Ghraib poster-girl Lynndie England as the personification of liberal sexual depravity, without acknowledging that the U.S. Army sent her to Iraq, not the left. Charging that liberals aid terrorists while sympathizing with the terrorists' culturally conservative worldview, D'Souza's critique of American cultural excess trips over its own inconsistencies. (Jan. 16)
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January 16, 2007
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Excerpt from The Enemy at Home by Dinesh D'Souza
Illusions on the Right
What Conservatives "Know" About 9/11, and Why It's Wrong
THE REASON AMERICA'S "war on terrorism" is imperiled is that there is no clear sense of who the enemy is. Is Al Qaeda the problem? A network of terrorist groups operating through the Al Qaeda "franchise"? State-sponsored terrorism? Weapons of mass destruction in the hands of hostile states? Or is Islamic fundamentalism to blame, since it appears to be the incubator of terrorism? Or is the West facing a very old enemy, Islam itself?
Not only is the identity of the enemy obscure; many Americans also have no idea why these people are so murderously hostile to the United States. Five years after 9/11, most people still have little sense of what would cause a bunch of men to want to blow themselves up in order to smash the Pentagon and topple the World Trade Center. The 9/11 Commission Report, for all its length and lucidity, only describes how the grisly event occurred but gives no coherent explanation for why it occurred.
Americans--including the U.S. government--also seem confused about what is the overall objective of the enemy. Terror for its own sake? U.S. troops out of Mecca? The destruction of the state of Israel? Islamic control of the Middle East? World domination? Moreover, since the enemy's goals are unknown, it is virtually impossible to figure out its strategy; about all that seems known is that terrorism is one of its components. Without reliable knowledge of what the enemy wants and how it intends to achieve its goal, it seems virtually impossible to have an effective counterstrategy, either at home or abroad. In addition, America's people and leaders are deeply divided about whether this is a war with an end point, over what would constitute "success," and over whether success is even possible in this new kind of war.