By Dinesh D'Souza
By Dinesh D'Souza
Yesterday I debated Robert Spencer at the Conservative Political Action Committee annual conference in
But Islam has been around for 1300 years and the problem of Islamic terrorism is a recent one. How can Islam be to blame? For me the intelligent question is: what is it about Islam today that has made it an incubator of a certain kind of fanaticism and terrorism?
Spencer will have none of it. He is part of an influential strain of conservatives who blame the teachings and practice of Islam for producing Islamic terrorism. Since the terrorists do what they do on behalf of Islam, Islam must be the source of their convictions and therefore Islam needs to be examined, denounced and reformed. This is how Spencer thinks we can win the war on terror: by demanding that Muslims stop practicing Islam as it has been practiced since Muhammad.
In arguing his thesis Spencer locates all the violent verses in the Koran and all the hideous deeds performed by Islamic conquerors, especially in their early centuries of irredentist expansion. Then he links these to the words and actions of Khomeini, Bin Laden and today's Islamic radicals. Spencer is an effective polemicist.
But his historical argument is dubious. It emphasizes violent passages in the Koran, while downplaying the passages that urge peace and goodwill. It applies a moral standard to Islamic empires (they didn't give minorities full rights! they reduced Jews and Christians to second class citizens!) that certainly could not be met by the
Spencer glibly jumps over entire centuries in linking, say, the savagery of the Ottomans in Constantinople with the savagery of Hezbollah in
It is Bin Laden's argument that radical Islam is true Islam. It is Bin Laden's contention that he is doing nothing more than what is commanded in the Koran and the Islamic tradition. And Robert Spencer essentially agrees with Bin Laden! Spencer is willing to concede one of the world's great religions--one with more than a billion adherents worldwide--to the murderers of Al Qaeda. At one point in our CPAC debate he asked me to name a traditional Muslim, as if such a creature scarcely exists in the world.
Do we really want to go to war with a billion Muslims? If not, is it realistic to approach the Muslim world with the premise that the only good Muslim is a non-Muslim? Don't all these Western attacks on Islam and the Koran and Muhammad, not to mention Spencer's agreement with Bin Laden that Islam mandates violence and terrorism, have the effect of alienating traditional Muslims and pushing them toward the radical camp? These are my questions for Spencer, and for other conservatives who follow the same line. It's time, I would urge these good folks, to reconsider some basic assumptions. Unfortunately you are part of the reason we are losing this war of ideas.
Posted Mar 2nd 2007 1:35AM
THE ENEMY AT HOME: THE CULTURAL LEFT AND ITS RESPONSIBILITY FOR 9/11
by Dinesh D'Souza
Introduction to <The Enemy at Home >
In this book I make a claim that will seem startling at the outset. The cultural left in this country (such people as Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy, Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer, George Soros, Michael Moore, Bill Moyers, and Noam Chomsky) is responsible for causing 9/11. The term “cultural left” does not refer to the Democratic Party. Nor does it refer to all liberals. It refers to the left wing of the Democratic Party—admittedly the most energetic group among Democrats, and the main source of the party’s ideas. The cultural left also includes a few Republicans, notably those who adopt a left-wing stance on foreign policy and social issues. Moreover, the cultural left includes organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Organization for Women, People for the
In faulting the cultural left, I am not making the absurd accusation that this group blew up the
I realize that this is a strong charge, one that no one has made before. But it is a completely neglected aspect of the 9/11 debate, and it is critical to understanding the current debate over the war against terrorism. Here in
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
We cannot understand any of this without rethinking 9/11. Only now, with some distance, are we in a position to understand 9/11 and its implications. So far, we have fundamentally misunderstood the enemy. Even more tragically, we have misunderstood ourselves. The mixed results in the “war against terrorism,” the stalemate in
Even so, the errors are understandable. 9/11 was a deeply traumatic event. It produced two reactions: “One
The early statements by the Bush administration reflected this unified belligerence. The terrorists are stateless outlaws. They are not Muslims. They are apostates to Islam. True Muslims must denounce them. They are fanatics. They are lunatics. They are suicidal maniacs who don’t care about their lives. These themes were echoed across the political spectrum. Now, with reflection and more information, we can see that these statements are false. Specifically, the terrorists were not stateless outlaws. The Al Qaeda training camps were supported by the Taliban government in
Once the initial shock subsided, so did the national unity it had produced. Soon a heated debate broke out in
On the other side of the spectrum, the fundamentalist preacher Jerry Falwell confirmed in equally strong terms his perception of the political divide, even while invoking God’s wrath on the sinners in Blue America. “The Lord has protected us so wonderfully these past 225 years,” Falwell said. He worried that something “has caused God to lift the veil of protection which has allowed no one to attack
These words are not insightful in the theological sense that Falwell intended. I cannot make sense of Falwell’s suggestion that God used 9/11 to punish
Why is it so maddeningly difficult, even years after the fact, to make sense of 9/11? One reason is that the very terms used by both sides in the debate are misleading. Consider the very name of the war
It’s time go back to the drawing board, and the logical place to start is the debate over 9/11. On the left, scholars like Edward Said, Richard Falk and Noam Chomsky have argued that 9/11 was the result of Islamic anger over American foreign policy. In this view, echoed by politicians like Ted Kennedy and liberal magazines like The American Prospect, the radical Muslims don’t hate us because of who we are, they hate us because of what we’ve done to them. As leftist commentators never tire of pointing out, the West has a long history of colonialism and imperialism. Even today, they say,
The word that deserves our most careful attention in the previous sentence is “we.” When the left says “we” it doesn’t mean “we.” The left’s “we” is not intended as self-incrimination. This is why the conservative complaint about “liberal guilt” is so beside the point. Liberals do not consider themselves guilty in the slightest. When a leftist politician or blogger bemoans “how we overthrew Mossadegh in
On the social and cultural front, the American left clearly does not approve of the way of life in Muslim countries, partly those under the sway of Islamic fundamentalism. It is common to see left-wingers walking around with clothes featuring the swashbuckling visage of Che Guevara, but you will never see liberals and leftists wearing T-shirts displaying the raven’s stare of the Ayatollah Khomeini. Indeed, the left detests the social conservatism that is the hallmark of the whole swath of cultures stretching from the Middle East to
Even so, it is rare to see the illiberal practices of Muslim cultures aggressively denounced by American or European liberals. There are a few notable exceptions, such as Christopher Hitchens and Paul Berman. But in general liberals seem to condemn illiberal regimes only when they are allied with the
Liberal resistance to American foreign policy cannot be explained as a consequence of pacifism or even a reluctance to use force. With the exception of a few fringe figures, the cultural left is not pacifist. Its elected representatives—the Clintons, Ted Kennedy, Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer—frequently support the use of American force. For instance, President Clinton ordered systematic bombings in
How, then, can we explain the mystery of liberal opposition to American foreign policy acting to secure liberal principles abroad? Superficially, the left’s position can be explained by its attachment to multiculturalism. In other words, liberal antagonism toward the beliefs and mores of traditional cultures is moderated by its conviction, “Who are we to judge these cultures?” This concept of withholding judgment is a product of multiculturalism and cultural relativism, both of which are based on the theory that there are no universal standards to judge other cultures. Our standards apply only to us.
But again, this multicultural rhetoric is a smoke-screen. Liberal activists mercilessly condemn other regimes and cultures when they are friendly toward the
Treason is not the problem. To see what is, let us consider two revealing exhibits. The first is a short article by a left-leaning writer, Kristine Holmgren, that appeared shortly after 9/11. Holmgren wrote, “Even in my waking hours, I am afraid.” Was she afraid of a second 9/11-style attack? Not at all. “Nor am I afraid of planes striking my home or my children dying in their beds.” What, then, was the source of Holmgren’s trepidation? “My fears are more practical,” she explained. Here in
For my second exhibit I offer excerpts from Senator Robert Byrd’s recent book Losing America. In an early chapter, Byrd faults President Bush for his repeated references to the Islamic radicals as evil. “Presidents must measure their words and look past such raw simplicities,” Byrd opined. “The notion of ‘evil’ and ‘evildoers’ tends to set one faith against another and could be seen as a slur on the Islamic faith. Bush’s draconian ‘them’ versus ‘us,’ ‘good’ and ‘evil,’ serves little purpose other than to divide and inflame.”[vi] On the face of it, this passage seems to suggest Byrd’s high-minded objection to using crude terms like good and evil to describe the world we live in. Byrd’s point is that even if those labels are superficially descriptive, we should avoid them because they create unnecessary hostility and division.
A little later on in Byrd’s book, however, we find Byrd comparing President Bush to Hermann Goering and the Nazis. Byrd accuses Bush of “capitalizing on the war for political purposes—using the war as a tool to win elections” which is “an affront to the men and women we are sending to fight and die in a foreign land and without good reason.” Moreover, Byrd charges Bush with “a political gambit to keep the American people fearful” through a strategy of “silencing opposition” and diverting people’s attention toward the war on terror and away from “the country’s festering problems.”[vii] Now if these charges are true, if Bush has concocted an unnecessary war that causes the deaths of American citizens for no reason other than to benefit himself politically, then he deserves impeachment and everlasting disgrace. Indeed in some ways Bush would be worse than Goering because at least Goering believed in a cause larger than himself.
By these accusations, Byrd forces us to revise our interpretation of his earlier words. He shows, by implication rather than outright suggestion, that he agrees with Bush that some people are fundamentally evil and they deserve to be treated as such. Only in Byrd’s analysis it is the Bush administration and its allies, rather than the Islamic radicals, who are the genuinely evil force in the world. Thus dividing and inflaming, which Byrd thinks a harsh and self-defeating strategy in dealing with Islamic fundamentalism, is precisely Byrd’s strategy in dealing with the Bush administration.
These examples show the wrong-headedness of the insinuation of liberal treachery. Holmgren and Byrd don’t hate
Why? From the vantage point of many liberals, our fundamentalists are as dangerous as their fundamentalists, and President Bush is no less a threat than Bin Laden. Author Salman Rushdie, who should know something about this topic, asserts that “the religious fundamentalism of the
But if the left sees Christian fundamentalism in the same way as Islamic fundamentalism, why doesn’t it fight the two with equal resolution? If Bush is as bad as Bin Laden, why not expend equal effort to get rid of both? In reality, the cultural left is more indignant over Bush’s Christian fundamentalism than over Bin Laden’s Islamic fundamentalism. Activist Cindy Sheehan makes this clear when she alleges that “the biggest terrorist in the world is George W. Bush.”[xii] Other leading figures on the left confirm the view that Bush and his supporters, not Bin Laden and Al Qaeda, are the real problem. Social critic Edward Said, who has spent most of his career warning of the dangers of overestimating the threat of Islamic extremism, warns in a recent book that “the vast number of Christian fanatics in the United States,” who form “the core of George Bush’s support,” now represent “a menace to the world.”[xiii] Jonathan Raban writes, “The greatest military power in history has shackled its deadly hardware to the rhetoric of fundamentalist Christianity.”[xiv] Writer Jane Smiley finds the people who voted for Bush to be “predatory and resentful, amoral, avaricious, and arrogant…They are full of original sin and have a taste for violence.”[xv] Eric Alterman fumes in The Nation, “Extremist right-wingers enjoy a stranglehold on our political system.”[xvi] Author Jonathan Schell insists that “Bush’s abuses of presidential power are the most extensive in American history.”[xvii] Author Garry Wills alleges that the Bush administration “weaves together a chain of extremisms encircling the polity…forming a necklace to choke the large body of citizens.”[xviii] There is no indication that these liberal authorities regard Islamic fundamentalism with anything approaching this degree of alarm.
The rhetoric of left-wing political leaders is equally revealing. In examining speeches by Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi or Edward Markey, I am struck by what may be called “the indignation gap,” the vastly different level of emotion that the speaker employs in treating Bin Laden and his allies as opposed to Bush and his allies. At first the speaker will offer a ritual condemnation of Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. “I am no fan of Osama Bin Laden.” “We can agree that Bin Laden is not a very nice guy.” Having gotten those qualifications out of the way, the left-wing politician will spend the rest of the speech lambasting the Bush conservatives with uncontrolled belligerence and ferocity. In recent addresses Senator Kennedy denounced “the rabid reactionary religious right” and maintained that “no president in
The “us” that Markey is concerned about here is not “Americans” in general but specifically “liberals and leftists.” Here, then, is a revealing clue to the motives of the left. Many in this camp are more exercised by Bush than they are about Bin Laden because, as they see it, Islamic fundamentalism threatens to impose illiberal values abroad while American fundamentalism of the Bush type threatens to impose illiberal values at home. As leading figures on the left see it, the Islamic extremists pose a danger to the freedom and lifestyle of others while their American equivalents pose a danger to us. Thus, for the left, the enemy at home is far more consequential and frightening than the enemy abroad.
I want to say more about these liberal fears, but first I want to say a word about the conservative or right-wing understanding of 9/11. It is a common belief on the right that many Muslims—perhaps most Muslims—hate
How, then, do conservatives think
But is this really true? There is no evidence that Muslims—or even the Islamic fundamentalists—hate the West because the West is modern, or because the West embodies technology, prosperity, and democracy. There is a universal desire for prosperity in today’s world, and the Islamic world is no exception. Moreover, Islamic fundamentalists are not opposed to technology; it is technology that enables them to build bombs and fly planes into buildings. Many Al Qaeda operatives have scientific and technical (as opposed to religious) training. Even among Islamic fundamentalists, freedom is rarely condemned and the term is often used in a positive sense, as in “Let us free ourselves from Western domination” or “Let us liberate Muslim land from Israeli occupation.” Finally, there is widespread support for democracy in the Muslim world. While Bin Laden is an enemy of democracy, most of the organizations of radical Islam, including Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, have become champions of democracy. The reason is quite simple: the Islamic radicals have seen that if their countries have free elections, their group can win!
Shortly after the fall of
What these statements convey is that these Islamic radicals do not hate
The Muslims who hate us the most are the ones who have encountered Western decadence, either in the West or in their own countries. The revealing aspect of the 9/11 terrorists is not that so many came from Saudi Arabia, but that so many of them, like the ring-leader Muhammad Atta and his Hamburg group, had lived in and been exposed to the West. My point is that their hatred was not a product of ignorance but of familiarity; not of Wahhabi indoctrination but of first-hand observation.
But isn’t it true, as many Americans believe, that American culture is broadly appealing around the world? Yes, and this is precisely why
An anecdote will illustrate my point. Some time ago I saw an interview with a Muslim sheikh on a European TV channel. The interviewer told the sheikh, “I find it curious and hypocritical that you are so anti-American, considering that two of your relatives are living and studying in
There seems to be a growing belief in traditional cultures—a belief encouraged but by no means created by Islamic fundamentalism—that
In other cultures—
The main reason is that they believe that the fate of Islam is at stake. Bin Laden in one of his videos said that Islam faces the greatest threat it has faced since Muhammad.[xxix] How could he possibly think this? Not because of
These concerns prompt a startling thought: are the radical Muslims right? Is
We should not dismiss the Islamic or traditional critique so easily. In fact, as our own domestic and cultural debate shows, we know that many of the concerns raised by the radical Muslims are widely-shared in our own society. Indeed, many conservative and religious Americans agree with the Islamic fundamentalists that American culture has become increasingly vulgar, trivial and disgusting. I am not merely referring to the reality shows where contestants eat maggots or the talk shows where guests reveal the humiliating details of their sex lives. I am also referring to “high culture,” to liberal culture that offers itself as refined and sophisticated.
Here, for example, is a brief excerpt from Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues,” a play that won rave reviews and Hollywood accolades and is now routinely performed (according to its own publicity materials) in “more than 20 countries, including China and Turkey.” In the book version of the play—now sold in translation in Pakistan, India, and Egypt—Ensler offers what she terms “Vagina Occurrences”: “Glenn Close gets 2,500 people to stand up and chant the word cunt…There is now a Cunt Workshop at Wesleyan University…Roseanne performs ‘What Does Your Vagina Smell Like?” in her underwear for two thousand people…Alanis Morisette and Audra McDonald sing the cunt piece.”[xxx] And so on. If all of this makes many Americans uncomfortable and embarrassed—which may be part of Ensler’s objective—one can only imagine how it is received in traditional cultures where the public recitation of such themes and language is considered a grotesque violation of manners and morals. Nor is Ensler an extreme example. If the garbage heap of American excess leaves many Americans feeling dirty and defiled at home, what gives
The debate over popular culture points to a deeper issue. For the past quarter-century we have been having a “culture war” in this country which has, until now, been viewed as a debate with only domestic ramifications. I believe that it has momentous global consequences as well. When we debate hot-button issues like abortion, school prayer, divorce, gay marriage, and so on, we are debating two radically different views of liberty and morality. Issues like divorce and family breakdown are important in themselves, yet they are ultimately symptoms of a great moral shift that has occurred in American society, one that continues to divide and polarize this country, and one that is at the root of the anti-Americanism of traditional cultures.
The cultural shift can be described in this way. Some years ago I read Tom Brokaw’s book The Greatest Generation, which describes the virtues of the World War II generation. I asked myself whether this was truly the “greatest” generation. Was it greater than the generation of the American founding? Greater than the civil war generation? I don’t think so. The significant thing about the World War II generation was that it was the last generation. Last in what way? It was the last generation to embrace an external code of traditional morality. Indeed this generation’s great failure was that it was unable to inculcate this moral code in its children. Thus the frugal, self-disciplined, deferred-gratification generation of World War II produced the spoiled children of the 1960s—the
From the American founding until World War II, there was a widespread belief in this country that there is a moral order in the universe that makes claims on us. This belief was not unique to Americans. It was shared by Europeans since the very beginning of Western civilization, and it is held even today by all the traditional cultures of the world. The basic notion is that morality is external to us, and it is binding on us. In the past, Americans and Europeans, being for the most part Christian, might disagree with Hindus and Muslims about the exact source of this moral order, its precise content, or how a society should convert its moral beliefs into legal and social practice. But there was little doubt across the civilizations of the world about the existence of such an order. Moreover laws and social norms typically reflected this moral consensus. During the first half of the twentieth-century, the moral order generated some clear American social norms: Go to church. Be faithful to your wife. Support your children. Go when your country calls. And so on. The point is not that everyone lived up to the dictates of the moral code, but that it supplied a standard, accepted virtually throughout society, for how one should act.
What has changed in
Here, at the deepest level, is the divide between conservatives and liberals, between Red America and Blue America. Conservatives believe in traditional morality. Liberals believe in personal autonomy and self-fulfillment. And liberals have been winning the culture war in the sense that they have been able to produce a massive transformation of American society and culture along the lines of their new moral code. My point is not that liberals would approve of all the grossness and sensuality of contemporary popular culture, but that the liberal promotion of autonomy, individuality and self-fulfillment as moral ideals make it impossible to question or criticize or place limits on these cultural trends. In the moral code of self-fulfillment, “pushing the envelope” or testing the borders of sexual and moral tolerance becomes a virtue, and fighting for traditional morality becomes a form of repression or vice.
To American liberals, the great social revolution of the past few decades—with its 1.5 million abortions a year, with one in two marriages ending in divorce, with homosexuality coming “out of the closet” and now seeking full social recognition and approval—is viewed through the prism of an expansion of civil liberties, “freedom of choice,” and personal autonomy. Thus it is seen as a moral achievement. But viewed from the perspective of people in the traditional societies of the world, notably the Muslim world, these same trends appear nothing less than the shameless promotion of depravity. So it is not surprising to see pious Muslims react with horror at the prospect of this new American morality seeping into their part of the world. They fear that this new morality will destroy their religion and way of life, and they are quite right.
Osama Bin Laden chose his words carefully when he said that 9/11 was an attempt to scorch “the head of the snake.”[xxxi] In the view of the Islamic radicals,
Thus we have the first way in which the cultural left is responsible for 9/11. The left has produced a moral shift in American society that has resulted in a deluge of gross depravity and immorality. This deluge threatens to engulf our society and is imposing itself on the rest of the world. The Islamic radicals are now convinced that
I have focused so far on American cultural depravity and its global impact. But there is a second way in which the cultural left has helped to produce 9/11. In the domain of foreign policy, the left has helped to produce the conditions that led to the destruction of the Pentagon and the
This is a relatively articulate expression of one of the central themes of fundamentalist propaganda. This is the argument that
To repeat—because this a point on which I do not wish to be misunderstood—I am in no sense suggesting that the left is disloyal to America. To say this is to confuse the success of the Bush administration, or even of American foreign policy, with the interest of the country as a whole. As we saw earlier with Senator Byrd, the left has its own view of what’s good for
The notion that the American left seeks victory for Islamic radicals in
Moreover, several leading figures on the left are very candid about what they are fighting for.
In placing the cultural left and the Islamic fundamentalists on the same side, I am not trying to score a partisan or even an ideological point. In fact, if the political left and the Islamic fundamentalists are in the same foreign policy camp, then by the same token the political right and the Islamic fundamentalists are on the same wavelength on social issues. To put it bluntly, the left is allied with some radical Muslims in opposition to American foreign policy, and the right is allied with an even larger group of Muslims in their opposition to American social and cultural depravity. This is the essential new framework for understanding American foreign policy and American social issues. I conclude by spelling out the implications of these alignments for American conservatives.
In a way, conservatives are in the best position to understand why traditional cultures fear and hate
But so far the right has kept its blinders on since 9/11. The isolationist right labors under the illusion that
The right’s myopia, however, is not confined to the Buchanan and libertarian wings. Mainstream conservatives (including the Bush administration) understand better the military need to take the war to the enemy, and also appreciate that there is a political battle to be fought against the left at home. But most conservatives do not see how these two battles are related to each other. Moreover, the Bush administration is wrong to see the war against Islamic radicalism as a purely military operation. The military component is indispensable, but it is not sufficient to achieve victory. The reason the war seems endless is that the ranks of the enemy continue to grow. It is simply not possible to kill all the terrorists because the engine of Islamic rage is powerful enough to keep generating more of them. The only way to win the war is to create a wedge between Islamic radicals and traditional Muslims, and to support traditional Islam against radical Islam.
To date, the Bush administration has made no serious attempt to articulate the moral case for American foreign policy to Muslims (or to anyone else). Many conservatives compound the problem by defending American decadence against the foreigners who hate and fear it. Shortly after 9/11, the Bush administration began consulting Hollywood executives and Madison Avenue executives to market “brand
The Bush administration and the conservatives must stop promoting American popular culture because it is producing a blowback of Muslim rage. With a few exceptions, the right should not bother to defend American movies, music, and television. From the point of view of traditional values, they are indefensible. Moreover, why should the right stand up for the left’s debased values? Why should our people defend theirAmerica? Rather, American conservatives should join the Muslims and others in condemning the global moral degeneracy that is produced by liberal values.
American foreign policy should stand up for liberal values, but not for the liberal values associated with the cultural left. Rather, it must work to promote classical liberal ideas abroad. As conservatives, we should export our
There is no “clash of civilizations” between Islam and the West. But there are two clashes of civilizations that are shaping the world today. The first is a clash between liberal and conservative values within
[i] Michael Moore, “Death, Downtown,” September 12, 2001, michaelmoore.com
[ii] “You Helped This Happen,” Transcript of remarks by Jerry Falwell on the September 13 edition of the 700 Club; “Falwell Apologizes to Gays, Feminists, Lesbians,” CNN.com, posted September 14, 2001.
[iii] Ahmed Rashid, Taliban, Yale University Press,
[iv] Paul Berman, Terror and Liberalism, W. W. Norton,
[v] Kristine Holmgren, “Nightmare of Fascism Seems Too Real Since Sept. 11 Attacks,” St. Paul Pioneer Press, November 20, 2001.
[vi] Robert Byrd, Losing
[viii] Salman Rushdie, Imaginary Homelands, Viking,
[ix] Maureen Dowd, “Rove’s Revenge,” New York Times, November 7, 2004.
[x] Nina Siegal, “The Progressive Interview: Art Spiegelman,” The Progressive, January 2005, p. 37.
[xi] Wendy Kaminer, “Our Very Own Taliban,” The American Prospect, online edition, September 17, 2001.
[xii] Transcript of Cindy Sheehan remarks, rally in support of Lynne Stewart,
[xiii] Edward Said, From
[xiv] Jonathan Raban, “September 11: The View From the West,” New York Review of Books, September 22, 2005, p. 8.
[xv] Jane Smiley, “Why Americans Hate Democrats,” November 4, 2004, slate.msn.com
[xvi] Eric Alterman, “Corrupt, Incompetent and Off-Center,” The Nation, November 7, 2005, p. 12.
[xvii] Jonathan Schell, “The Hidden State Steps Forward,” The Nation, January 9, 2006.
[xviii] Garry Wills, “Fringe Government,” New York Review of Books, October 6, 2005, p. 48.
[xix] Statement of Senator Edward Kennedy on the Federal Marriage Amendment, July 13, 2004; Statement of Senator Edward Kennedy on
[xx] Cited by Kate O’Beirne, “Hillary Prepares,” National Review, October 10, 2005, p. 34.
[xxi] Cited by Lewis Lapham, “Democracyland,” Harper’s, March 2005, p. 8.
[xxiii] “Al Qaeda Number Two Hits Out at
[xxiv] Bernard Lewis, Islam and the West, Oxford University Press,
[xxv] “Interview: Osama Bin Laden,” Frontline, May 1998, pbs.org
[xxvi] Benazir Bhutto, “
[xxvii] Bernard Lewis, The Crisis of Islam, Modern Library Press,
[xxviii] Fareed Zakaria, “Culture is Destiny: A Conversation with Lee Kuan Yew,” Foreign Affairs, March-April 1994.
[xxix] Neil MacFarquhar, “Bin Laden Denounces Muslim Infidels,” The San Diego Union-Tribune, November 4, 2001, p. A-3.
[xxx] Eve Ensler, The Vagina Monologues,
[xxxi] Cited in The 9/11 Commission Report, W.W. Norton,
[xxxii] “Bin Laden’s Statement: The Sword Fell,” New York Times, October 8, 2001, p. B-7.
[xxxiii] Anne Norton, Leo Strauss and the Politics of American Empire, Yale University Press,
[xxxiv] Mari Matsuda, “
[xxxv] Rashid Khalidi, Resurrecting Empire, Beacon Press,
[xxxvi] Reprinted in Edward Said, The Politics of Dispossession, Vintage Books,
[xxxvii] Transcript of Osama Bin Laden speech, October 30, 2004; aljazeera.net
[xxxviii] Michael Moore, “Heads Up,” April 14, 2004, michaelmoore.com
[xxxix] James Carroll, Crusade, Metropolitan Books,
[xl] Joe Conason, “Bush’s Ideological Quagmire,” September 24, 2005, salon.com
[xli] Gwynne Dyer, Future Tense, McClelland & Stewart,
[xlii] Arundhati Roy, An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire, South End Press,
D'Souza's Denile Dementia, April 14, 2007
By !Edwin C. Pauzer (
Six years after the attack of September 11, 2001, Dinesh D'Souza presents a rationale for the attack by Muslim extremists on our country. With his customary lucid writing style and clarity of composition, he hypothesizes that liberal, left-wing, and radical Americans are indirectly responsible for the attack, hence the title "The Enemy At Home."
He constructs the following: The "moral decay" promoted by leftist Americans brought a rise in terrorism to strike at our cultural wickedness. He concludes that the attacks would not have occurred if our "left wing influence" did not permeate American culture or Muslim media. In short, left-leaning Americans are responsible for how extremist Muslims think, and more importantly, how they behave. By this logic, we caused the Japanese to attack us at
Next, he accuses a liberal press of undermining the administration's effort to win the "war on terrorism" in
He attempts to explain away American torture and rendition claiming that PFC Lindie
But just when you think D'Souza can't sink any lower, he does. He opines that left-leaning Americans will do anything to win the presidential election in 2008, and that means they will actively undermine the current effort of our military and administration. By this reckoning, republicans were doing the same to our troops in
His remedy is to suggest that there is a common thread between traditional "red state" Americans and traditional Muslims, and that both should unite and eliminate this immoral American influence that "plays into the hands of al'Qaeda." This will, in the author's mind, make traditional Muslims see the light, and pressure their terrorists to give up their murderous pursuits.
Having read a number of D'Souza's works, this hypothesis has all the tinsel strength of a bed of wet kelp. It places a premium on opinion rather than empirical evidence. It reveals an appalling lack of depth and knowledge of terrorism or Islam. For those wishing to learn more about both and what happened at abu Ghraib, I strongly recommend a pass here in favour of Louise Richardson's "What Terrorists Want," General Anthony Zini's "The Battle for Peace," or Dr. Steven Miles' "Oath Betrayed."
This polemic will only leave you culturally, morally, and intellectually starved.
Insightful & Deeply Disturbing to Liberals , April 5, 2007
By L. C. Robinson "-
I have read and reread Mr. D'souza'a new book as well as many of the Amazon reader's reviews. I can see how upsetting the author's book can be to a person who's deeply held - "secular beliefs" bordering on religion - are scrutinized and criticized from a devote Muslims perspective.
Mr. D'souza is not a Muslim however he has spent the last 4-years studying the sermons, speeches and writings of Muslim leaders. The author has not just explored contemporary Islam but has delved into the history of this great religion to better inform the reader in identifying who Muslims really are, moderate and fundamentalist both. All to answer the perplexing question, "Why they hate us?"
Do they hate us for our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, our free market economy or that McDonald's restaurants are springing up all over the world? The short answer is no. Nor do they hate us for our freedom. They hate us for how we USE our freedom. They hate is because we have inundated the Middle East and much of the third world with a pervasive, immoral secular based culture that threatens the very foundation of their culture and traditions. If
Leftists, liberals, atheists and secular crusaders of all stripes will not hear and will not consider that Mr. D'souza may be on to something. Many will scoff and criticize the author without giving his view a fair hearing, as to do so would undermine deeply held convictions that the left in America believes are above criticism. Anyone considering the authors points with merit will immediately be branded, a bigot, racist, homophobe or misogynist. Since the left will not have a logical argument against Mr. D'souza they will use invective as a defence, it is the only defence they have.
I recommend this book to anyone that is open minded enough to consider rational argument.
Did ANYONE Read this book???, January 21, 2007
By C. Cotten "SimpleSimon" (
It seems that every reviewer here read an interview, or saw the author on Comedy Central, then rushed to write a review here loaded only with a vague concept of this book's central themes.
First, it should be noted that the author talks about the motivation behind the book, that in today's public discourse there is very little focus on the cultural aspects of
Now whether you ultimately agree with him or not, this IS a debate worth having, not just as it affects our current conflict, but as it informs us as a nation to take a good hard look in the mirror at times.
Many people, usually liberal but not always, are often eager to discuss "why" people hate us, and what WE have done to create such enemies that would be willing to become martyrs in a struggle to defeat us. There is a vague sense that maybe we HAVE done something to earn the title of "great Satan," but there's a difficulty in expressing what this is.
Perhaps it is our military dominance, our heavy-handed diplomacy, or our choice of friends. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. Often it comes down to our support of
I encourage people to HAVE this conversation, even if you don't agree with it; it is well worth having. I can say that I have had it, in large part with a group of friends of mine from
First, many of them grew up watching our TV - I had no idea that 90210 and Cosby played in
Just as our military and diplomatic weight affects nearly every country in the world, so does our culture. In many of these countries, and others in
But even in non-religious countries such as
These countries on a regular basis make sure their citizens are aware of the many problems in
To say that these fears are not seized upon by our enemies in a PR campaign to defeat us is to stick your head in the sand. Of course they do, and in fact are at the root of why it is often easy to turn great chunks of the population against us. The Soviet Union has been heavy-handed militarily in the
Now look at today's left in
This guy is a dangerous madman, but he doesn't deserve harsh condemnation from the LEFT; he deserves "understanding." Nice.
Have a look at this book, at least with an open mind. See what it says both about us and our enemies. While I tend to see as the people that want to kill us as the "enemy" we should be mindful of the cultural signals we send that identify our ultimate intentions as a society.
For aiding this discussion, this book deserves more than passing attention or scorn.
Dinesh D'Souza is a conservative author and pundit who gained prominence in the early 1980s through the Dartmouth Review, a bi-weekly college newspaper with a national conservative readership, and who reached something of a Waterloo in 2007 with the near-universally criticized book, The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and its Responsibility for 9/11, which sought to blame the 9/11 attacks on such factors as sexual immodesty in America.
Born: April 25, 1961
Religion: Roman Catholic
Dated Ann Coulter
Books include The Enemy at Home (2007)
Former fellow of the American Enterprise Institute
Former fellow of the Hoover Institution
D'Souza has often sought and found controversy throughout his career. While he headed the Dartmouth Review, the paper obtained and published correspondence from a campus homosexual group, 'outing' several students. A subsequent article, the anti-affirmative action Dis Sho Ain't No Jive, Bro, was written in minstrel dialect, and caused New York Congressman Jack Kemp to resign from the paper's Advisory Board. D'Souza wrote a series of generally well-received books from a 1984 biography of Jerry Falwell to 1991's polarizing Illiberal Education before 1995's The End of Racism drew fire from both the left and right for allegedly justifying slavery and denying the existence of racism in
Like many conservative authors and pundits, D'Souza has drawn an income from foundation grants and fellowships, allowing for a certain independence from the exigencies of book sales. However, it was allegedly a desire to produce a bestselling title -- like those of Ann Coulter -- that led D'Souza to attempt The Enemy at Home, a book whose arguments against freedom in
Abridged Too Far: The Unmitigated Gall of Dinesh D'Souza
By THOMAS LARSON
I am a freelance journalist for the weekly San Diego Reader, where, during the last seven years, my profiles, narrative nonfiction, and investigative articles have appeared. This past spring, the Reader published my 12,000-word cover profile of Dinesh D'Souza. D'Souza is an Indian-American immigrant who is one of
D'Souza is best known for two books: Illiberal Education (1991), which attacked affirmative action and political correctness on campus, and The End of Racism (1995), a book still mired in debate because of D'Souza's claims that the economic disadvantage of African-Americans are due to the "pathologies of black culture."
In the first paragraph of my piece, I wrote that he, his wife, and daughter live "in a very big house" in Fairbanks Ranch, a community second only to Rancho Santa Fe as
The article appeared in print--the cover featured a Chuck Close-like colorized close-up of D'Souza's photo--under the title, "The Controversialist." The piece also appeared on the Reader's website, though I own the copyright. A week later, cover and text were on D'Souza's personal website. I was surprised, for he had not asked my permission.
At once I noticed the phrase "in a very big house" was missing from the first paragraph. I read on. Two paragraphs were gone in which I had criticized one of his recent commentaries. It was a column he wrote about Democrats: because they supported gay rights, they were now the party of "bestiality" and sexual deviance. I read further and found more eviscerations--the paragraphs describing his wife and his home were gone; so, too, was my reporting of his earnings during the 1990s, which he later disputed. Comments by scholars who differed with him and comments by his friends on the Right were left in.
Still, it was clear: D'Souza had combed through the piece, taking out things he didn't like. He didn't write a letter to the Reader seeking clarification of my reporting on his income. Instead, he censored my piece, then brazenly put it on his website.
I don't know what authors feel when they've been plagiarized by other writers--certainly anger and violation. D'Souza's act for me was emotionally no different, though it seemed the opposite of being ripped off. It was a kind of reverse plagiarism where instead of being copied without attribution I was being edited without permission.
Of course, writers are edited by editors, their leads refocused, their endings reduced; whole paragraphs often disappear. But for a writer who is the subject of a profile to edit another writer's work, then put it on his website without declaring it is "used by permission," or, what would be accurate, "used by permission and edited to my liking," is galling to say the least.
What to do? First, I demanded (via email) that he remove it. D'Souza did not. Instead, he told me, in what he describes as a "cordial tone," that he thought the publicity would be good for us both. And, naturally, since it contained personal things (things he revealed to me on two long visits to his home and a trip to
That word really pissed me off. An abridgement suggests making cuts at the end or making cuts approved of by the author.
My temperature up, I sought a lawyer to write a letter citing copyright law and threatening a lawsuit. I pursued legal action, in part, because I didn't want to deal with D'Souza directly: I felt that would only dilute the principle: this was his theft, and he wanted me, his victim, to arbitrate it for him.
While the lawyer drafted the letter, I realized that I, too, had fallen into the Web's porousness, the widespread looting of intellectual property without regard to copyright that goes on. D'Souza, a Republican committed to a core belief in the principle of private property, who often touts Bush's "ownership society," adopted the self-serving notion that anything on the web belongs to anyone, like toys in a sandbox. People could download or post a person's work as they liked, music or porn being the most abused examples. As the originator, I got nothing but the proposition that I should be a good sport and share my work.
In my email telling him to remove my article, I told D'Souza that had he asked me to put a link on his site to the Reader's site where the piece is archived, then fine. (Others have and I've granted it.) But D'Souza never asked. He assumed. His chief assumption--that I wouldn't mind his parsing my story--rankled me no end.
When he got the lawyer's letter, toothily spelling out the statutory terms for what he had done wrong and for what payment he might be liable, I got yet another galling email from him.
In it, D'Souza blamed me for over-reacting. He wrote again that he thought I wouldn't mind the publicity and that his reasons for not asking permission and for "suggesting a solution" are still valid. "Is this the way you deal with people on a regular basis, by writing them indignant letters and then, ignoring all attempts at dialog and compromise, following up with legal threats? What kind of weird behaviour is this?"
Incredible! I am robbed of $1000 and, to adjudicate, the robber chooses the system of justice he prefers--namely, that we divide up the money because my reaction to being robbed is, well, just too weird for the robber to have to deal with.
Still, after D'Souza's petty attempt to make his crime the equal of my "behaviour," he agreed to remove the piece from his website. Which he did. But not before, as a friend suggested, he generated controversy and used it to serve his self-interest.
Yes, we are a nation of laws, and laws do protect us. But, in this instance, D'Souza has superseded the law by adopting what I would call the law of the righteous, where self-interest is king. The law of the righteous says that it's more important to have faith that you're right, than to be right by some objective or ethical standard you would share with others.
We see the law of righteousness operating everywhere these days, particularly in
In the end, D'Souza removed his censored version--as the law and I demanded--and then, after reading the permissions statement on the Reader's website, received permission to put a link to my article on his site. There it sits alongside the irony that he could have gotten permission the day it was published to do this: had he asked.
August 16, 2005
Thomas Larson can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org