Skip to comments.The Enemy At Home (Dinesh DíSouza argues that the cultural Left is responsible for 9/11)
Posted on 01/23/2007 5:17:59 PM PST by Free ThinkerNY
The Enemy At Home (Dinesh DSouza argues that the cultural Left is responsible for 9/11)
By Jamie Glazov
FrontPageMagazine.com | January 23, 2007
Frontpage Interviews guest today is Dinesh DSouza, the Rishwain Research Scholar at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He is the author of several bestselling books, including Illiberal Education, The Virtue of Prosperity, and What's So Great About America. He is the author of the new book The Enemy At Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11.
FP: Dinesh DSouza, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
DSouza: Thank you.
FP: Id like to announce to our readers right up front that Mr. DSouza and I disagree with each other on various aspects of his argument in his new book. And the two of us have had an exchange here at Frontpage about our disagreements. However, out of courtesy to Mr. DSouza, in this first part of our interview we will allow him to express his thesis without any rebuttal from my end. In this way, Mr. D'Souza can crystallize his main points without us getting into a point-counterpoint exchange which may prevent his main thesis from being clearly synthesized. Then, in tomorrows issue, we will publish the debate between us.
So lets begin. Mr. DSouza, what inspired you to write this book?
DSouza: While I was researching my previous book Whats So Great About America I realized that there was a big debate about Islamic radicalism going on in this country, but it bore little or no resemblance to what Muslims were saying in their own countries. A good example of this is Sayyid Qutb, the Egyptian writer who has been called the brains behind Bin Laden. Here in this country we hear that the Islamic radicals are against science and capitalism and democracy. They hate us for our freedom. Qutb was for science and capitalism. He supported democracy. Yes, he wanted an Islamic state under sharia. His point was that sharia should reflect the religious and moral sentiments of the Muslim people. His anti-Americanism was based on what he saw as the paganism and immorality of American culture. He didnt hate us for our freedom, he hated us for how we have used our freedom.
FP: One of the points you stress is that the war on terror is not a war of competing fundamentalisms between Islamic fundamentalism and Christian fundamentalism. Tell us why you find it important to make this point.
DSouza: If this was a war of competing fundamentalisms, then clearly the solution is secularism. And this is what many people, mostly on the left but some on the right, are recommending today. Bring on the Islamic Reformation. These people think that an Islamic Reformation would go down the same path as the Protestant Reformation, toward secularism. But Islam is in the middle of a Reformation. The only problem is that during such a time there is a return to origins, to the way the faith started. Islam began with a unification of church and state, an infusion of Islam into all aspects of the society. And this is what many Muslims want, not just fundamentalists but also traditional Muslims.
So when religious Muslims look at America, what they object to is not Christian fundamentalism but what they see as an official stance of atheism. Bin Laden calls America the fountainhead of global paganism, and many Muslims agree. We dont think of separation of church and state as atheism, but Islam is a religion of law rather than creed. Islam in this respect is like ancient Judaism. So for Muslims, the idea of expelling God out of the public sphere of society is atheism. In fighting America the radical Muslims believe they are protecting not just Islam but monotheism against the greatest embodiment and promoters of atheism in the world, which is us.
FP: You argue that liberal popular culture has created a blowback of resistance from traditional cultures, especially Islamic culture. Kindly explain.
DSouza: Here in America we know that there is a distinction between the values of American popular culture and the values by which Americans live. But for a Muslim on the streets of Cairo or Islamabad, American popular culture reflects what America is all about. Our popular culture is our countrys face to the world. There is an attractive aspect to this culture, its vitality and individuality. But there is also a lot in this culture that is excessive and trivial and indecent and shameful. Im not just talking about rap music and Jerry Springer, but also about so-called high culture. Eve Ensler is very proud that her Vagina Monologues has played worldwide, including in many Muslim countries. She is especially proud of sequences in which people stand up and discuss their vaginas. Now you have to remember that outside of Europe andAmerica, most of the cultures of the world are quite traditional. They are socially quite conservative. Islamic culture is especially conservative in valuing female modesty and childhood innocence. So things that we may consider edgy or pushing the envelope here in America are, in the Muslim world, considered shocking evidence of American moral degeneracy. The radical Muslims say its one thing for Americans to have these perversions in their own society, but now they are forcing it upon the rest of the world. So the call to jihad is issued defensively: to protect Islamic society from values that will undermine the religion and destroy the family and corrupt the children.
FP: If Islam rejects separation of church and state, how can Muslim countries become democratic?
DSouza: Separation of church and state is an American invention. Even the Europeans dont have it. In England you have the Anglican church which is an official establishment. Even European countries which are more secular than the United States often give money to religious schools and so on. So religious establishment is consistent with religious toleration. And religious toleration is an idea that has long been upheld in Islam. When Catholic Spain gave the Jews three choicesleave the country, convert to Christianity, or be killedJews and other religious minorities were living peacefully and practicing their religion in Muslim empires, from the Mughal empire in India to the Abbasid empire and later the Ottoman empire based in Turkey. True, the Islamic empires discriminated against other religions, but they put up with them and gave them considerable control over their own communities. The radical Muslims are trying to get rid of this tradition of religious toleration, but the traditional Muslims still abide by it. Here is something within the Muslim tradition that can provide a foundation for Muslim democracy.
FP: You cite Abu Ghraib as an example of the depravity of liberal family values. Why exactly do you say this?
DSouza: For Muslims, torture was not the big story at Abu Ghraib. Historian Bernard Lewis has said that compared to prisons anywhere in the Muslim world, Abu Ghraib was like Disneyland. Many of the infamous pictures depicting captives blindfolded, or with wires all around themthat was simulated torture, not real torture. What really scandalized the Muslim world was the pictures of sexual depravity. Now even some conservatives minimized this at the time, I guess in the hope that it would make the scandal go away. It was just a fraternity prank, and so on. But for traditional societies where honor is the highest social value, there is nothing amusing about taking a religious man and putting a womans underwear on his head. There is no humor in stripping him naked and forcing him to masturbate while you take photos. For many Muslims Abu Ghraib was an illustration of what perverts Americans have become, and how lightly we tread on other peoples sacred beliefs. We think that a little sexual tomfoolery is nothing compared to cutting of a mans head and broadcasting the assassination on the Internet. But for many Muslims, its bad to kill a man but its worse to strip away his honor. This is why some traditional Muslims are reluctant to condemn their radical counterparts. They dont want to be seen as taking the side of Western depravity, a depravity that my book shows to be the product of contemporary liberalism.
FP: You challenge the idea that radical Muslims are against modern science, democracy and capitalism. How come?
DSouza: Because theyre not. Read the works of the leading thinkers of Islamic radicalism, like Qutb and Shariati and Mawdudi. They are all champions of modern science. They like capitalism. Now democracy is a trickier issue. Here the radical Muslims are divided. Some, like Qutb, support democracy while others say we cannot allow the will of the people to substitute for the will of God. But in the last decade and a half most of the leading organizations of radical Islam have become enthusiastic proponents of democracy. Why? Not because they have been reading The Federalist Papers. The reason they support democracy is that they have discovered that this is an excellent way to come to power. Look at the success of the Islamic Salvation Front in Algeria in the 1990s. Or the success of Hamas. Or of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Egyptian parliamentary election.
FP: You say that liberal foreign policy sowed the seeds of 9/11. How?
DSouza: First the liberals advising Jimmy Carter helped radical Islam to capture its first major state. Since the 1920s the radical Muslims were on the margins of society. But in 1979 they came to power in Iran. How did this happen? Well, our friend Carter was elected in 1976 on a human rights platform. The liberals went to Carter and said, You cant support the Shah of Iran because he is a dictator. He has a secret police. He violates human rights. And so Carter began to pull the Persian rug out from under Americas ally. As resistance to the Shah mounted, Carter urged the Shah not to resist it but to abdicate, which he did. And the result was Khomeini. In trying to get rid of the bad guy, liberal foreign policy brought us the worse guy. Khomeini invented the idea that America is the Great Satan. He called for martyrdom in the cause of fighting America. Without Khomeini, we would never have had Bin Laden. Khomeini paved the way for 9/11. Im not even going to get into Clintons role in emboldening Bin Laden to strike when he did. Ill leave that for people to read in my book.
FP: You say the left wants us to lose in Iraq. But why? Arent the Islamic radicals a threat to womens rights and gay rights?
DSouza: Its quite clear that the left wants us to lose the war on terror. Some people like Michael Moore and Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn are outspoken in saying this. But even people who dont say it clearly wish it. If you think the left wants us to win, then its actions become baffling and mysterious. You have to labor hard to figure out why they speak and act like they do. On the other hand if you assume the left wants us to lose, then all its rhetoric and actions make complete sense. But why? Because the left is a bit scared of Bin Laden but it is very scared of Bush. The left doesnt like Bin Laden but it absolutely hates Bush. And while Bin Laden and his allies are the far enemy, Bush and the conservatives are the near enemy. As the left sees it, Bin Laden threatens sharia in Baghdad, but Bush threatens sharia in Boston. Imagine one or two more conservative court appointments and the whole liberal agenda of the past half-century is jeopardized. So the left is quite willing to ally with the lesser evil, the Islamic radicals, in order to defeat the greater evil, Bush and the right.
FP: We have a difficult time with the word treason now. Is treason the problem?
DSouza: No, because the left loves America. Yes, I know David Horowitz is going to do a double-take on that, but its true. Ill say it again: Michael Moore loves America. The only thing is that he loves a different American that we do. What he loves is liberal America, the America of labor revolts and bra-burning and the Stonewall riots and Roe v. Wade. What he hates is traditional or conservative America. Jeanine Garofalo said that she hates it when people wave the American flag but she gets teary-eyed when they burn the American flag. Thats because she identifies the flag with traditional American values. So shes not anti-American: her patriotism is based on an allegiance to liberal American values.
FP: How important is the Iraq war? Can we win?
DSouza: I am not sure how we are doing in Iraq. Its hard to say because the media accounts are so untrustworthy. Its important we win because we dont want radical Islam getting its hands on a second major state. They already have Iran, and thats a big enough problem. If Iraq falls, you can be sure that Egypt and Saudi Arabia will be targeted next. This is not Vietnam, which was peripheral to our vital interests. Our whole way of life, not to mention our security, depends at least for the foreseeable future, on a stable Middle East. So the stakes in Iraq are very high, and the Democratic Leadership that is trying to force a precipitous withdrawal is playing with fire.
FP: You say America can fight a better war on terror by making allies with traditional Muslims. What do you mean?
DSouza: Our current strategy is based on trying to find secular liberals in the Muslim world, people who believe in womens rights and separation of church and state. News flash: there are hardly any such people. Yes, there is Salman Rushdie and a lesbian radio host in Canada who have gotten a lot of attention. I like some of the things these Muslim liberals are saying. But they have no constituency in the Muslim world. That world is divided between the Islamic radicals and traditional Muslims. The left is allied with the Islamic radicals, so common sense says the right should build ties with traditional Muslims. Besides, there is no way to win the war on terror without driving a wedge between radicals and traditionalists. The traditional Muslims are the recruiting pool for radical Islam. Even if we kill 100 radicals, its no use if 500 traditional Muslims join the next day. So we have to find a way of drying up radical Islams recruitment. Whenever we attack Islam or say that Muhammad was the founder of terrorism, we are pursuing a self-defeating strategy because we are driving traditional Muslims into the hands of the radicals. My book, however, has specific suggestions for how America can work with traditional Muslims to defeat not only Islamic radicalism but also the global influence of the cultural left.
FP: Dinesh DSouza, thank you for joining us.
DSouza: Its been a pleasure.
I don't think there's any question that the Islamic world hates America because of the values/behaviors cherished by the cultural left. Shortly before the fall of the Shah of Iran, thousands of Iranian students fled to the US and enrolled in American colleges. My school admitted hundreds of them, few of whom could even speak English. As these students experienced American life, they grew increasingly hostile--and learned enough of the language to make that hostility known.
It wasn't our democracy they despised. It was our very casual, recreational approach to sex and sexuality. They described us as decadent beyond anything they had imagined possible, and they were horrified that the Shah was bringing our depraved ways back to their own country. If they had not returned to Iran to help create the Islamic state there, I have no doubt that some of them would have started murdering Americans at random.
"The traditional Muslims are the recruiting pool for radical Islam."
Finally someone who gauges the situation.
We have millions of "traditional" Muslims right here living among us - the breeding place for our future terrorists. We don't have to go to Iraq to find terrorists - they are shopping at Niemann Marcus, attending our universities, eating BBQ (beef that is), paying taxes and trying to get well settled in American society and politics.
Courtesy of those who promote diversity.
False. Islamic culture is especially conservative in valuing the public appearance of female modesty and childhood innocence. In private they abuse both, often violently.
Same could more easily be said of Baptists, if you're going to judge an entire faith by the acts of certain individuals who use it as a cloak of respectability.
Immoral sex has been in Islamic society for longer than the United States has existed. From selling young girls into temporary arranged marriages or forced prostitution, to wealthy Muslims keeping sex slaves locked in their palaces, to gangs of thugs assaulting not only young female but also young male tourists, they have had plenty of decadence of their own.
D'Souza gives the Islamic nihilists way too much credit. Conservatives should not fall into the Jerry Falwell/D'Souza trap.
It could be said all right, but then it would be bull. Islam has had a sexuality problem since its inception. Pederasty is rampant as the entertainment of choice from the Gulf States to Morocco.
This is like a "Duh" headline.
I think that many Muslims like what science provides but have little connection to science per se.
They are consumers of it, not producers.
Believe anything that you want to. I discussed an experience I had with a large group of Iranian Muslims, most of whom enthusiastically helped create the Islamic state there. It was clear to me that they hated the same things about America that many social conservatives do--especially porn and promiscuity. I suppose they especially hated them because they found them tempting. Similar opportunities for recreational sex may have been available in their homeland, but these young men were astonished (and appalled) at how easily and widely available they are here in the USA. I think D'Souza is right on target here. When the facts about the 9/11 killers came out, my first thought was "I know these guys - I know them very well."
Hugh Hewitt thrashed this guy, but I have to admit, wrt what he just wrote, I'd have to wholehearted agree with him: we don't offer an acceptable choice, and our 'face' is immoral. Obviously, slaughtering others is by definition (for us) immoral, but they are doing it for their Moon God, Satan, oops, Allah. That is somewhat of a crazy consistency.
I agree as well. I attended military training with two Muslim officers from friendly countries. I talked at length with both of them about worldviews and their countries. Both of them struck me as rather moderate.
Both of them were shocked at what they saw in the U.S. We have not always exported what is best about America....
Having lived a few years in Europe though I have to say the cultural liberties he references are even greater in Europe. Based on that I would have to say there are other reasons why we are the Great Satan (Israel perhaps?).
Poor Danesh.......he made Glenn Beck nearly do pee pee in his pants when it was time for the interview.
The Islamic world hates America because America is not part of the Islamic world. Simple as that.
A general overview of history will bear this out. Before America, there were great empires. Christianity ruled. Legendary cities flourished. Yet Islam sundered a vast part of Eastern Orthodox Christianity. This you will probably know, but I had to make a point.
The Battle of Lepanto and the Siege of Vienna were not over the sexual mores of the day. It was sheer conquest.
To OldFriend, I saw Glen Beck. Have to support the guy on many things, but he got caught flatfooted with D'Souza. We can all have varying views on this business of "hate America". The thing is to cull what we can, to add to our knowledge.
One could list say ten things, that have seemingly turned around the view of America, including those views of now weak,decadent Europeans. The "cultural left" is one. The fawning, unpatriotic, America depreciating Hollywood celebrities are in the same category . I count the likes of the Dixie Chicks and Michael Moore et al with them. Then there are certain vile academics. Those educators who seek to destroy every vestige of the American story are another group. Imagine these foreign students sitting their listening to them?
I was a child in WW2 in England. We would have starved without America. Some of us do not forget. I await Sean Hannitty's rallying cry. His quote.
Let not your heart be troubled.