Thu 1 Apr 2010
Why is the “Muslim world” angry with America, asks columnist Bret Stephens in the Wall Street Journal? Well here are your two choices:
Pop quiz—What does more to galvanize radical anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world: (a) Israeli settlements on the West Bank; or (b) a Lady Gaga music video?
If your answer is (b) it means you probably have a grasp of the historical roots of modern jihadism. If, however, you answered (a), then congratulations: You are perfectly in synch with the new Beltway conventional wisdom, now jointly defined by Pat Buchanan and his strange bedfellows within the Obama administration.
Of course, how could it be Israeli policy. It must be the loose women and jazz singers that really upset Muslims, because that is what Sayyid Qutb said way back in 1951 after visiting Colorado (if only they had shut down those speak-easys in Boulder, who knows!). Yes, here is what Qutb, the “intellectual godfather of al Qaeda,” said:
“The American girl,” he noted, “knows seductiveness lies in the round breasts, the full buttocks, and in the shapely thighs, sleek legs and she shows all this and does not hide it.” Nor did he approve of Jazz—”this music the savage bushmen created to satisfy their primitive desires”—or of American films, or clothes, or haircuts, or food. It was all, in his eyes, equally wretched.
Qutb, notes the columnist, was also anti-Semitic, and blamed the Jews for being at war against Islam. And, to seal the argument for Stephens, here is the real beef (or cheesecake or kosher wine) because:
Needless to say, that passage was written long before Israel had “occupied” a single inch of Arab territory, unless one takes the view—held to this day by Hezbollah, Hamas, al Qaeda, Jemaah Islamiyah and every other jihadist group that owes an intellectual debt to Qutb, including significant elements of the “moderate” Palestinian Fatah—that Tel Aviv itself is occupied territory.
Let’s sort out the logic here. In 1951 it would seem that the author thinks Israel did not occupy a single inch of Arab territory. I suppose if you view Palestine as a totally British mandate, then the 1948 creation of Israel was not carved out of Arab territory. But the view held by all the groups he argues are really upset about Lady Gaga is indeed that Tel Aviv is occupied territory. That is what most Palestinians say and what some riot about, but really, down deep, we are told it must be the flesh on MTV. Roll over Mearsheimer; it’s Freud to Israel’s rescue.
The bad news, according to Mr. Stephens, is that even if there was a Hutaree-style takeover of America and we banned all pop culture, “America would still remain a swamp of degeneracy in the eyes of Qutb’s latter-day disciples.” Seems like a no-win scenario here, and all because of those Radio City Rockettes.
And there’s more:
The settlements are merely the latest politically convenient cover behind which lies a universe of hatred. If the administration’s aim is to appease our enemies, it will get more mileage out of banning Lady Gaga than by applying the screws on Israel. It should go without saying that it ought to do neither.
A universe of hatred and all because of bouncing breasts and shapely thighs in Hollywood? Forget the political turmoil of the last half century, forget the occupation and the terrorism on all sides, forget the poverty and camps. It’s really about Lady Gaga or about 72 virgins waiting on a pearl shell in heaven. Mr. Stephens seems to have been listening to Pat Robertson or James Dobson, who in this regard are strange bedfellows of Sayyid Qutb. But I suggest a reality check. Sex sells but it does not lead to suicide bombings. Comparing a Lady Gaga video (which I suspect the vast majority of Muslims have never seen) to the politics of settlement building may very well garner more readers for his column, but let’s not blame it on the libido. This too should go without saying.
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