Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
January 27, 2007
WAR: The Cultural Divide
Josh Trevino joins in the conservative pig-pile on the thesis of Dinesh D'Souza's new book, which argues that the cultural Left in the U.S. is the source of Islamist rage at the U.S. - and, implicitly, that cultural conservatives should therefore see natural allies in the bin Ladenists of the world. It's not hard to see why D'Souza's thesis would be equally offensive to Left and Right. The point Trevino makes is that the baselines of Christian and Muslim cultural conservatism are quite different:
D'Souza and I almost certainly share a common assessment of what constitutes "pagan depravity" in American culture; and Osama bin Ladin and his fellow jihadists almost certainly agree "that the United States represents the pagan depravity that Muslims have a duty to resist." It does not follow from this that my and D'Souza’s "pagan depravity" is the same as that of bin Laden or orthodox Muslims. Sexual morality in particular is rather different in the Muslim world, despite superficial similarities with the West which usually express themselves in procedural collaboration at international fora: the latter does not, as a rule of thumb, have an institutionalized "enjoyment marriage," nor polygamy. Easy divorce is commonly cited as an example of Western moral decline - and it is - but divorce in Islamic law, especially for men, is ridiculously easy. Furthermore, in many areas of Muslim life that D'Souza rightly identifies as being threatened by Western cultural leftism, the threat would remain even with an ascendancy of the Western right. Browsing through the rulings of the Shi'a Ayatollah Sistani, whose co-religionists we are empowering in Iraq, one finds many things that American conservatism is unlikely to join Muslim orthodoxy in prohibiting: for example, kissing one's fiance, the existence of male OB/GYNs, the existence of beer, chatting between men and women, the wearing of silk, and the pernicious phenomenon of married couples dancing. Were "pagan depravity" to be eradicated from American society by D'Souza's and my lights, it would still be in full effect by the lights of Muslim orthodoxy.
Read the whole thing, which contains oodles of supporting links.