I finished The Enemy at Home:The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11 by Dinesh D’Souza tonight. It was a pretty good book, but not without its flaws.
One of his major points is to attempt to answer the question “Why do they hate us?” Many people before have tried to answer this question and haven’t provided a satisfactory answer, and I think Dinesh finally provides one. They don’t hate us because of our global power, after all they didn’t hate the Soviet Union during its period of imperialism and they were far more aggressive about invading or subjugating nations than we have ever been. They don’t seem to hate Europeans as much as they hate us, even though Europeans are far more culturally decadent than we are. It can’t be just about our support of Israel; if Israel were the issue, they would be the “Great Satan,” not us. It’s not about pornography, homosexuality or anything like that, after all, those things exist in all cultures.
What D’Souza suggests, and rightly in my opinion, is that it’s not just our morally decadent culture, it’s the fact that we celebrate our decadence and seek to export it to other nations. We use the United Nations and other international organizations to try to impose our moral values on societies that don’t want them. So, we have Planned Parenthood handing out condoms to thirteen year old girls in sexually conservative countries. We have other liberal organizations filing lawsuits to overturn abortion laws in historically Catholic nations. Our TV shows are broadcast overseas glorifying sexual promiscuity and other lifestyles that traditional cultures (who make up the vast majority of the world) find abhorrent. (As D’Souza states, if a couple is shown having sex on TV they’re probably not married, and if they are, it’s not to each other.) In most societies, pornographers are outcast from society and shunned; in America, we celebrate them and make movies about them
He takes this further, though, and I believe it’s from this are that he received much of the wrath he’s getting over the book. He charges that the Left in America has entered into a de facto alliance with the radical Muslims who seek to attack America. He also makes the claim that Bin Laden recognizes this and appealed to the American Left in his pre-Election Day message in 2004. He urged them to defeat their common enemy, Bush. I do tend to think that while many liberals have entered into such an alliance, many are doing it unknowingly out of an exaggerated fear of Bush. (For example, those who argue he is the real enemy, as opposed to those who seek to kill innocent Americans.) Others, though, I think have consciously and knowingly accepted this bargain with the Devil, so to speak. They feel that if Bush can be defeated the terrorists will leave us alone and allow them to maintain their lifestyle here. After all, we’re in no danger of falling under Muslim oppression anytime soon, so the worst they can do to us here is kill a few thousand people every now and then. And these liberals aren’t concerned by 1.3 million abortion deaths a year, what’s a few thousand more in their mind?
I do have some concerns about his proposed solution, however. To begin with, he rightly draws a distinction between radical Islam who is at war with us and traditional Islam who shares the values of radical Islam, while not wishing to engage in a war with us. He argues that traditional Islam can be our ally in our struggle with radical Islam if we don’t upset them. We need to stop belittling and attacking Islam and casting all Islam as hopelessly violent. As D’Souza points out, Islam in many ways has done a better job in maintaining its values in its society, whereas in the West, it’s doubtful whether we can truly be called a Christian society any more.
He then proposes that rather than viewing the Culture War and the War on Terror as separate conflicts, they should be viewed as one and the same since one can’t be won without winning the other. As long as the Left in America seeks to impose their values, not just on Americans, but on the world, we will have traditional societies of all religions hating us.
D’Souza suggests conservatives reach out to traditional Islam by pointing out that we, too, have issues with the Hollywood lifestyle and coming up with a common strategy to counteract it. This can help conservatives win the culture war, and in turn keep traditional societies from deepening their dislike for us. This part of the strategy makes perfect sense. It will let Muslims know that there are many Americans who are willing to work with them and help protect their societies from American cultural imperialism. It’s the second part of the strategy I have issues with, though.
He argues that we need to expose Leftists who are actively working to undermine American success in the War on Terror, hurting the country in favor promoting their own lifestyle. He acknowledges that this runs the risk of charges of McCarthyism, but he points out that McCarthy’s main theme was correct, despite the falsehood of some of his specific claims. (As it was put in “A Beautiful Mind”: “McCarthy’s an idiot, but he’s right.”) This risks undermining the conservative cause domestically and giving the liberals what they want: power. I think the first part of the strategy is more likely to help us, and will pay electoral benefits domestically as well.
Overall, a good, but somewhat flawed, book that should make conservatives and liberals rethink their positions if they read it with an open and honest mind. Worth the read.