Anti-Americanism is sweeping the globe. According to the controversial right-winger, Dinesh D'Souza writing in the Christian Science Monitor, it's because the US offers so many things to condemn, there's something for everyone.
"Anti-Americanism comes in different varieties. The European kind emphasizes the "evils" of "red" America: a shoot-first, ask-questions-later cowboy in the White House, and Bible- toting fundamentalists walking around the corridors of power.
"The Muslim variety is very different. Many Muslims point to the "horrors" of "blue" America: homosexual marriage, family breakdown, and a popular culture that is trivial, materialistic, vulgar, and, in many cases, morally repulsive.
"This latter view is dangerously – and justifiably – common in many traditional cultures across the globe. Because it feeds their perception that American values are inimical to their way of life, this attitude can blossom into the kind of anti- American pathology that partly fueled the 9/11 attacks. Any serious effort to shore up American's security must include steps to edify American culture.
"The most powerful of all the American offenses recited in the lands of Islam, argues preeminent Middle East expert Bernard Lewis, "is the "degeneracy and debauchery of the American way of life."
"A major reason why some Muslims focus their anger on the United States is because it is American culture – not Swedish culture or French culture – that is finding its way into every nook and cranny of Islamic society.
"There is a cultural blowback against America that is coming from all the traditional cultures of Africa, South America, the Middle East, and Asia. This resistance is summed up in a slogan used by Singapore's former prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew: "Modernization without Westernization." What this means is that traditional cultures want prosperity and technology, but they don't want the values of American culture."
"Even the term "Great Satan," so commonly used to denounce America in the Muslim world, is better understood when we recall that in the traditional understanding, shared by Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Satan is not a conqueror; he is a tempter. In one of its best-known verses, the Koran describes Satan as "the insidious tempter who whispers into the hearts of men."
Dinesh may have identified a genuine problem that needs to be addressed, but how? He wants a culture war at home and, by his implication, a war on liberalism. Dinesh, naturally, equates liberalism with depravity. He also urges the US to do more to show the world the "other America" that they don't see, the conservative and religious America.
Of course Dinesh doesn't want to consider just how much good old, religious conservatism the US has been showing the Middle East in recent years. Does this guy think liberals caused the quagmire in Iraq? Does he think the insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan and Islamism globally is being fueled by rap music or American military and political interventions in the Middle East?
The Islamists believe there is a crusade now underway driven by Christian fundamentalists who wish to subjugate the Muslim world. Sadly, that doesn't fit into Dinesh's equation, his view of the root of all of America's troubles. Dinesh is another radical flogging another book, a phenomenon that has led to a bizarre game of one-upsmanship. His tome is dedicated to the proposition that liberalism caused the attacks of 9/11. Idiot.
A refreshing, alternate viewpoint comes from Henryk Broder writing in Spiegel who warns that adjusting our cultures so as to not affend the Muslim world is rank capituation:
"Those who react to kidnappings and beheadings, to massacres of people of other faiths, and to eruptions of collective hysteria with a call for "cultural dialogue" don't deserve any better.
"'The West should desist from engaging in all provocations that produce feelings of debasement and humiliation,' says psychoanalyst Horst-Eberhard Richter. 'We should show greater respect for the cultural identity of Muslim countries. ... For Muslims, it is important to be recognized and respected as equals.' In Richter's view, what the Muslims need is "a partnership of equals."
"But Richter neglects to describe what this partnership might look like. Does achieving such equality mean that we should set up separate sections for women on buses, as is the custom in Saudi Arabia? Should the marrying age for girls be reduced to 12, as is the case in Iran? And should death by stoning be our punishment for adultery, as Shariah law demands? What else could the West do to show its respect for the cultural identity of Islamic countries? Would it be sufficient to allow Horst-Eberhard Richter to decide whether, for example, a wet T-shirt contest in a German city rises to a level of criminal provocation that could cause the Muslim faithful in Hyderabad to feel debased and humiliated?
"Should devout Jews be entitled to demand that non-Jews give up pork? And should they have the power to impose sanctions if their demands are not met? Can a Hindu in India run amok because the Dutch do not view cows as sacred beings? Those who believe Muslims have the right to be outraged by the Danes failing to abide by an Islamic prohibition -- especially when it's not even clear that such a prohibition even exists -- must answer such questions clearly in the affirmative. Even illiterates must then be allowed to ransack bookstores; in a world in which anyone is entitled to feel offended and humiliated, anyone can also choose which provocations he is unwilling to accept."