Pharyngula

Despicable D’Souza gets it all wrong

That third-rate right-wing wanker, Dinesh D’Souza, had a article in the Washington Post, in which he attempted to defend himself from accusations of appalling stupidity in trying to blame radical Muslim attacks on the US on liberal culture. Of course, he failed. Instead, he just repeated his crazy claim that it’s all godless Hollywood’s fault.

The thrust of the radical Muslim critique of America is that Islam is under attack from the global forces of atheism and immorality — and that the United States is leading that attack.

David Neiwert ably rips that apart on matters of fact—it’s simply absurd that anyone would associate the chosen targets as symbols of atheism and immorality.

Funny that D’Souza would assume that the “pagan depravity” that angers Muslims and radicalizes them has something to do with hip-hop music and the Oscars, when the only real “pagan depravity” that the World Trade Center and the Pentagon represents is the willingness of entrenched American powers to readily oppress and blithely murder thousands of Arabs in the sake of a nonexistent threat from “weapons of mass destruction.”

I was thinking, though, that D’Souza is also wrong in principle. If extremists and jihadists despise our culture and are using violence and threats to try and compel us to change, isn’t it the grossest kind of cowardice to throw up our hands and say “they’re right, we need to align our culture with that of our enemies”? That’s basically what D’Souza is suggesting—not a military retreat, but instead the abject, unresisting abandonment of portions of Western culture, simply because terrorists demand it.

It seems to me that instead of surrendering, we ought to be celebrating those aspects of our culture that they find most objectionable: things like diversity, secularism, atheism, sex, independent women, and irreverence. And I thought of someone representative of those ideals, who’d also piss off the right wing as much as she would the Muslim freaks.

It came to me because I happened to read this post by Larry Moran right after reading Orcinus—Jane Fonda is back, speaking out at a peace rally. I’d rather have Jane Fonda to represent my country than Dick Cheney, I assure you; much as some detest her willingness to see the point of view of our enemies, I see that as a strength, that we’re willing to be who we are at the same time that we can recognize that other people have different goals.

She’s an uppity woman, too. I’m all for more outspoken women, although I suspect it would infuriate the bearded medieval extremists of the Middle East. How dare she speak her mind, and not swaddle herself up in a burka?

Errm, speaking of burkas…

That movie clip isn’t entirely safe for work, although it should be—it turns out that astronauts don’t wear underwear under their spacesuits, but it’s fairly mild stuff. Barbarella is an awfully silly, campy movie, but at the same time, there shouldn’t be anything wrong with people casually dropping their clothes and speaking of love and peace (ah, the sixties…). I also like the way she describes people who war: they are in a “primitive state of neurotic instability”. That could apply to both our leaders and the terrorists.

I say D’Souza has it completely backwards. Let’s flaunt Jane Fonda and John Phillip Law, let’s disrespect religion, let’s give gay men and women some dignity, let’s just do everything to make the other side gnash their teeth and tear at their beards and rend their garments…because we’re so much better.

Comments

  1. #1 Dutch vigilante
    January 29, 2007

    Well, I can’t say that the united states foreign policy is very ‘moral’, and I could see the pentagon as a symbol of that. But I understand that this isn’t what the guy meant, he just wants to blame atheists for something, a truly new and refreshing thing to do… meh.

  2. #2 Blake Stacey
    January 29, 2007

    Oddly enough, over in the WaPo’s bloggy domain, Joel Achenbach has just delivered a great answer to the “Dawkins is not an expert theologian” people:

    This is why you should never let the expert review a book. Books aren’t written for experts, they’re written for readers, and the one sure way to make a good book unreadable is to make it comprehensive.

    This is known among a few of us in the business as The Albanian Problem. The term comes from a remark by John Le Carre to another colleague, way back when. This colleague had written a terrific book, but perhaps it was a bit too broad, too sweeping. Le Carre, choosing his words carefully, said of the book, “There is a tendency to be comprehensive. ‘And then there is Albania’.

  3. #3 K
    January 29, 2007

    What’s even more intensely galling about this clown is how he acts as if, were each and every _L_iberal to defect to Canada tonight, that the remaining Americans would be off the hook by the Bin Ladens of the world… even culturally.

    Conservatives watch Hollywood movies. They buy expensive shoes. Conservative women wear bathing suits and other revealing articles. Conservatives dance, drink alcohol, eat pork, and do every bloody thing that Islamic extremists despise about the west.

    To reduce all of our foes’ cultural complaints to abortion and homosexuality is to _miss_ all those other cultural complaints they make in every grainy videotape released. Dinesh isn’t just a liar… he’s a stupid liar, to boot.

  4. #4 Monastic Fisticuffs
    January 29, 2007

    OK…I’ll take devil’s advocate…

    “If extremists and jihadists despise our culture and are using violence and threats to try and compel us to change, isn’t it the grossest kind of cowardice to throw up our hands…”

    One could argue that this is the same kind of logic behind the Administration’s reluctance to leave Iraq – that, in the face of a challenge, abandoning the steps which have already been taken toward some goal is the act of a coward.

    Of course, for this to be true, it would have to be the case that the things which the jihadists despise are, in fact, bad. I agree that they should instead be celebrated. But D’Souza clearly thinks otherwise, and that’s where the trouble comes.

    In essence, I think both you and he would agree that one should defend the good and retreat from the bad. The sticky part is coming to common definitions for bad and good.

  5. #5 Saint Gasoline
    January 29, 2007

    Have any of you read D’Souza’s latest book, The Enemy at School: How the Nerds are Responsible for the Wedgies and Swirlies Given to Them? It’s very intriguing. Basically he argues that the Bullies only attack nerds because they are just so nerdy, and if they only stopped being that way the bullies would stop. So you see, it’s all the nerds’ fault!

  6. #6 Russell
    January 29, 2007

    D’Souza doesn’t reject liberal society because of Muslim reaction. He rejects liberal society from his own dislike for it. More than anything, D’Souza is demonstrating how much our own religious right have in common with the Islamic religious right.

  7. #7 Lago
    January 29, 2007

    Fundy Islam hates us. It does not matter that we are at war with them or not, as they would hate us no matter what. The very fact that I am not out smacking women with a stick for dressing as some do is enough for these guys to think we are sided with Satan…

    Also, calling us all atheists, and at the same time calling us Christian crusaders, or Satanists, would seem like a series of contradictions to many, but not so much to religious fundy folk. How many times have you heard some fundy call you a, “God-hating atheist”? The contradiction just does not occur to most of them..

  8. #8 Steve Watson
    January 29, 2007

    I saw D’Souza on Colbert — unlike O’Reilly, DD did not seem to know, or realize, that he was there as an object of satire. Colbert had a lot of fun with him ;-).

  9. #9 CJColucci
    January 29, 2007

    Why does Dinesh D’Souza hate America?

  10. #10 garth
    January 29, 2007

    does anyone else think that people become radicalized not from how other people carry themselves, but from how they themselves are treated? D’sleeza saying that it’s some active hatred of HOW WE ARE, rather than WHAT WE DO (in this case our representatives in government, etc), is an attempt to turn the focus away from where it should be: global policies that cause grievous harm to people.
    a palestinian man won’t decide to become a bomber because he looks at a TV and someone’s wearing a bikini…jesus, do we even have to say that? He’ll do it because of a) something really, really shitty happened to him, and he wants revenge, or 2) he’s been convinced by hucksters of religion it’s the only way to usher in some paradise.

    and bin laden! )(*#@*&@^#()O* did these people ever read what bin laden said? he wants a middle eastern oil caliphate! that’s what he’s said all along! he constantly reminded people not to harm oil infrastructure! )*#($_*&(#(*%& he comes from an oil family (well, oil-related construction)! he’s just a Bush by other means.

    it makes me want to find this dude and kick him square in the gents. you can’t be accidentally this ignorant. he’s literally just making things up to snow people.

  11. #11 quitter
    January 29, 2007

    Ugggh, not Jane Fonda.

    We’re trying to get liberals away from association with Hanoi Jane and whatever other people they were busy demonizing 30 years ago.

    I nominate Maggie Gyllenhaal for our new young hot chick that is badass, seriously wicked and fun. Anyone see Secretary? That would piss off the fundies.

  12. #12 Colugo
    January 29, 2007

    Osama bin Laden, open letter to America: “We call you to be a people of manners, principles, honour, and purity; to reject the immoral acts of fornication, homosexuality, intoxicants, gamblings, and trading with interest.”

    While the craven and foolish Dinesh D’Souza is correct that al-Qaeda does indeed condemn our alleged immorality, this is hardly their only complaint, nor is it the prime motivator of their terrorism.

    Nor is it the case, as some argue, that al-Qaeda terrorism is only motivated by their opposition to specific US foreign policies.

    The global campaign of al-Qaeda and its affiliates is driven by a radical interpretation (associated with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood movement) of Sunni Islam that views all non-Salafis, Muslim or not, as enemies of Islam. That is why al-Qaeda, its affiliates, and like-minded organizations kill Buddhists (Thailand), Christians (Indonesia, southern Sudan, Philippines), Hindus (Kashmir, India), and Shia Muslims (Pakistan, Iraq), and why houses of worship (not just symbols of economic and military power) are frequently targeted by such terrorists. It is also why al-Qaeda statements directed at the United States sometimes contain “invitations” to convert.

  13. #13 John Bode
    January 29, 2007

    Yeah, Colbert basically ripped the guy a new one, from “How can we blame Truman?” to “so you agree with the terrorists.” Colbert came very close to breaking character several times, and D’Souza was looking very uncomfortable by the end.

  14. #14 llewelly
    January 29, 2007

    Democrats would be well-advised to think likewise with respect to their own stance versus that of the Republicans. The latter have skillfully terrorized the former into abandoning many a Democratic cause by pretending to hate the sin, and pretending the sinner would be accepted if only he would give up the sin.

  15. #15 MYOB
    January 29, 2007

    I think what we have here is fear. D’Souza knows that America is going after the dark skinned peoples of Persia and Arabia and is trying to get on their good side before he finds himself sitting in a cell in ‘gitmo.
    The same thing applies to Michele Malkin. Perhaps Michele will some day realize that the last thing the white men on her side want is to have some uppity woman speaking for men when the men can do it themselves. Sooner or later someone on the right is going to tell her to shut her piehole and get back to making babies and cooking turkey pot pies and she’s going to finally know what side she should have been on to begin with.
    It’s aleady begun. It was only a year ago when I was following a link to a post at LGF where the morons were complaining about feminists when one of them pointed out that Coulter and Malkin better not talk to conservatives the way they talk to liberals, followed by a few others who agreed then posted some nonesense how once the ‘revolution’ has been won and we are back to traditional conservative christian morals, they expect women like Coulter and Malking to leave their jobs and help restore the population so that white people can retake the country.
    It was only a few posts later when someone corrected them by letting them know that Malkin is asian.
    Suffice to say that person didn’t say a word after that.
    Then again I didn’t stick around long. That place tends to dirty a person up real fast.

    MYOB’
    .

  16. #16 Moggie
    January 29, 2007

    Why are the “global forces of atheism and immorality” being led by perhaps the most overly religiose nation in the western world? Can’t you guys let, say, Sweden take over? I’m sure they’d do a better job.

  17. #17 craig johnson
    January 29, 2007

    Pandora’s Thong

    THE ISLAMIC WOMEN’S VOTE:
    IS IT ALL THAT IT’S CRACKED UP TO BE??

    The Setting: a MIDDLE EAST WOMEN’S RIGHTS RALLY: an Arabic Mother & Daughter are speaking as Laura Bush approaches the podium.

    Mom: Doesn’t Mrs. Bush look lovely? She somehow reminds me of Mary Tyler Moore.

    Dghtr: You actually know other American rights’ activists?

    Mom: (laughing) Oh no. Mary Tyler Moore is a TV character. She represents an ideal, a woman who works and of course votes yet knows exactly where women’s rights end and “pushy” begins.

    Dghtr: If you say so Mom, but speaking of rights, can I get a thong?

    Mom: A what? A thong?

    Dghtr: You know, underwear. Like Brittany and Madonna wear. The single strip up your bum. I want a bright red camel thong.

    Mom: (momentarily thinking) ….And a tattoo to match, right?

    Dghtr: That would be nice.

    Mom: And all this would be followed by your Father giving his blessing for your Brother to marry his buddy Gamel…?

    Dghtr: (In great consternation) Mother!

    Mom: (aside) Perhaps we shouldn’t have come here.

    END

  18. #18 J Daley
    January 29, 2007

    It must be so wonderful to be one of these conservative pundits. All you have to do is dream up the most ridiculously right-wing things to say about how atheist, affirmative-action-weilding feminist homosexuals are at fault for this country’s problems, and you get to be regularly published in the Washington Post and get book deals and have a cushy job at a Stanford think tank. It’s all so simple!

    Seriously, though, this is the kind of “They hate us for our freems” propaganda that tends to distract from the distinct problems of U.S. foreign policy. Religious fanatacism certainly notwithstanding, the hijackers weren’t taking those planes to, say, Tijuana or Amsterdam.

  19. #19 Brian
    January 29, 2007

    Well, we could just consider D’Souza a stupidy barometer… I mean, at some point there has to be a book that is just so inarguably stupid that not even the conservatives can swallow its drivel. This would seem to be it.

  20. #20 MikeM
    January 29, 2007

    Don’t you see, PZ? By allowing hip-hop music and culture to survive, by allowing pornography, by letting feminists exist, by allowing freedom of religion, by allowing alcohol to be consumed in this country, and by allowing gambling, that we’re basically forcing the Invisible Man in The Sky to drop His defenses of this country.

    So sure, we’re asking for it.

    My daughter went to a Bar Mitzvah this weekend. That’s right, we allow Jewish culture to thrive in this country! The audacity, don’t you think??

    And you say we don’t deserve it?? See, this PROVES the existence of Biblical Mythology! He’s smiting us!

    (Please, tell me your sarcasm meters are pegged…)

    I did see one tacky thing at the Bar Mitzvah: One of the guests decided to wear her “Got Jesus?” shirt to the party.

    Now that’s tacky. Even from one who thinks she just pitted one myth against another, I still say that’s tacky.

  21. #21 Kseniya
    January 29, 2007

    Right, Mike, that’s exactly the argument that Robertson and Falwell used shortly after 9/11 to “explain” the attacks: God “raised the curtain” of protection to “allow” the attacks because we deserved it, thanks to all those gays and liberals and … you know. People like us.

    D’Sousa overlooks the inconvenient fact that it’s good, moral, Christian conservative Americans who are most actively and self-righteously making (or inciting) war in the Middle East, whereas the more liberal elements of the American population advocate peace, dimplomacy, and the end to war. Therefore, it’s the liberals who incur the wrath of radical Islam. Uh-huh.

    I have it on good authority that D’Sousa has always been a fucking idiot. My father went to college with him.

  22. #22 Cat of Many Faces
    January 29, 2007

    What bothers me most about his little “novel” is that there is a basic assumption underlying it. And that assumption is that the things the left are associated with is worth killing to stop.

    Seriously WTF? Is gay marriage really so terrible? Oh noes! A woman can vote or be skimpily clad. I guess we should just randomly kill things till it’s all better.

    Do you think D’Souza would do it too but he’s just lacking the guts required?

    I simply can’t put how much that bothers me into words.

  23. #23 BlueIndependent
    January 29, 2007

    Mr. D’Souza tries to carry himself as a learned political historian, but his um, theory, about the cause of 9/11 is so obviously wrought with holes as to make Swiss cheese jealous. He says bin Laden made his message against us clear, and that it in part had to do with our “depravity”. He also said in an interview that if he hated democracy, he’d be attacking Sweden too. I guess the whole depravity thing isn’t really the reason, and it has more to do with oil and chosen dictators…

    D’Souza is literally blaming America for being America. He is taking bin Laden’s “points” about America and making them as a proxy for bin Laden himself, even though he wouldn’t say he was. He is so obviously asking us to follow the commands of radical Islamic leaders that one wonders if he’s an al Qaeda plant in the republican party.

    Falwell shares a similar distinction, although Falwell attributes the event to an act of God against us for supporting gays, feminism and any other thing that the Bible tells him to hate. But then the question would arise: if God perpetrated Islamic terrorists attacking us, is God using the Islamic terrorists as cannon fodder, or deliverers of his divine message? Is the Islamic God the one that attacked us because we support depravity? And so on. As usual, throwing a god into the mix muddies the mental waters…

  24. #24 John M. Burt
    January 29, 2007

    Appeasing the right-wing aggressor has been conservative policy for a long time in this country.

    D’Souza would have fit in just fine with Lindbergh and Father Coughlin, urging America to deny entry to Jewish refugees so that the Axis would leave us in peace.

  25. #25 Geral
    January 29, 2007

    If anything, it sounds like the ‘liberals’ are used as a scapegoat for this.

  26. #26 David Marjanovi?
    January 29, 2007

    garth is right. Not being a religious fundamentalist of course makes them think you’re hellbound, but it doesn’t make them come across an ocean and kill over 2700 people at random. Read OBL’s own speech here at Aljazeera.

  27. #27 David Marjanovi?
    January 29, 2007

    garth is right. Not being a religious fundamentalist of course makes them think you’re hellbound, but it doesn’t make them come across an ocean and kill over 2700 people at random. Read OBL’s own speech here at Aljazeera.

  28. #28 tim gueguen
    January 29, 2007

    I wonder if bin Laden and his ilk are familiar with the Nation of Islam? That would give them another excuse to hate the US given the disparity between NoI teachings and mainstream Islam. After all the US lets such horrible apostates go about their business, perverting the Koran.

  29. #29 wistah
    January 29, 2007

    Geez, D’Souza needs some therapeutic emission therapy or something.

    And yes, it was a thing of beauty to behold the inimitable Colbert make Camembert out of D’Souza’s febrile rantings.

  30. #30 Chris
    January 29, 2007

    Here’s a short (and no doubt partial) list of traditional values liberals have been against over the years:

    Slavery
    Censorship
    Monarchy
    Racism
    Misogyny
    Sexism
    Execution of heretics and apostates
    Jim Crow, apartheid and similar systems of discrimination
    Torture
    Mutilation as a criminal sentence
    And from D’Souza’s own home country, suttee, the practice of burning widows (alive if necessary) on their husbands’ funeral pyres.

    Every one of these traditional values was defended, tooth and nail, by the conservatives of its day. Some still are. Liberals assaulted all those traditional values – and we’d do it again. Let the terrorists do their worst, we will not abandon our principles. Give us liberty or give us death.

  31. #31 eyelessgame
    January 29, 2007

    Indeed. Colbert’s ability to sneak in “So what other cultural editing notes should we be taking from the terrorists?” and getting D’Souza to agree that 9/11 was FDR’s fault were marvelous.

  32. #32 Cairnarvon
    January 29, 2007

    If anyone can’t be bothered to search YouTube, the Colbert interview with D’Souza is here.

  33. #33 Joseph O'Sullivan
    January 29, 2007

    From Alan Wolfe’s review of The Enemy at Home in last Sunday’s NY Times book review:

    “So let this “decent” liberal make perfectly clear how thoroughly indecent Dinesh D’Souza is. Like his hero Joe McCarthy, he has no sense of shame. He is a childish thinker and writer tackling subjects about which he knows little to make arguments that reek of political extremism. His book is a national disgrace, a sorry example of a publishing culture more concerned with the sensational than the sensible.”

    I wish I could be that eloquent.

    I saw D’Souza on the Colbert Report. Steven Colbert seemed really angry at him and did come close to breaking character.

  34. #34 mike
    January 29, 2007

    I blame liberal multiculturalism for the suicidal social policies pursued in Europe towards Muslims (and the almost equally suicidal policies pursued by the United States in regard to Hispanic immigration). I don’t necessarily blame liberals alone for that. Multiculturalism has become a dominant theme for all mainstream, politically respectable people these days.

    Here is the end result of those policies: in Britain, today’s younger Muslims are more radical than the older ones. Great job!

    Through multiculturalism and its insidious sister, political correctness, progressivism is taking us forward into the Stone Age. Multiculturalism cannot exist without political correctness. We have to suppress almost all talk of possible cultural differences (don’t even get me started on possible racial differences) in order to not offend anyone.

  35. #35 Colugo
    January 29, 2007

    Chris: “traditional values liberals have been against over the years: Slavery etc.”

    The persistence of slavery in Sudan (onetime base of Osama bin Laden and Hezbollah’s Imad Mugniyah) and Mauritania

    Salon interview with Ronald Segal
    http://archive.salon.com/books/int/2001/04/05/segal/print.html

    Hansen: “Why has slavery survived in Sudan and Mauritania?”

    Segal: “The resurgence of fundamentalist Islam has a lot to do with slavery in both countries. Both describe themselves as Islamic states and pursue policies of Arab-Islamic religious law, but they are essentially exercises in the maintenance of control. Sudan is an imperial agglomeration of two countries — one part of black Africa, one part of North Africa. Involved in the war is a question of control and power. In Mauritania, the so-called white Moors represent a third of the population, another third are the Haratin — who are the descendants of freed slaves and largely black — and the last third are blacks still held in slavery.”

  36. #36 g
    January 29, 2007

    The spammers are getting slightly more subtle. Take a look at “Dedicated Hosting”‘s pseudo-comments above; they almost make sense and, so to speak, if they made sense they’d probably be relevant here. None the less, they’re spam. PZ? ๐Ÿ™‚

  37. #37 Craig O.
    January 29, 2007

    When I first read D’Souza’s column in the Post, I could only think of this Tom Tomorrow comic:

    http://archive.salon.com/comics/tomo/2001/10/22/tomo/index.html

  38. #38 The Ridger
    January 29, 2007

    Let’s not forget that bin Laden’s primary goal is to get infidels (read : US troops) out of the Kingdom. We won’t go, of course, because, you know, teh oil! But world domination is pretty far down on his list. Reviving the Caliphate is higher. Killing the heretics and apostates (read: Shi’ites, Alawis, lots of moderat Sunnis) is higher than killing the Christians – if the Christians would just go away. Not saying he doesn’t despise us, just saying Hollywood is not exactly his big hate.

  39. #39 Keith
    January 29, 2007

    it Always trips D’souza up when he gets into this sort of argument because it exposes the similarities between the Jihadi and the Religious Right. Change a few propper nouns and they’re speaking the same hatefull tripe.

  40. #40 Caledonian
    January 29, 2007

    The ugly truth is that there’s an American group quite similar to many respects to al Qaeda. It’s called the KKK. And if they had their way, Mr. D’souza would be taking a long trip at the end of a short rope.

    For the first time ever, I have a bit of sympathy with the KKK.

  41. Fundy Islam hates us. It does not matter that we are at war with them or not, as they would hate us no matter what.

    Fundy Islam hates liberal culture because it is inherently more attractive than fundamentalist Islam. Given a choice, vast numbers of Muslims will try to reconcile their religion with, you know, human rights, tolerance, the laissez faire attitude to others. The fundies HATE that.

    Strangely enough, this is why fundy Christians hate liberal culture as well.

  42. #42 Steve LaBonne
    January 29, 2007

    D’Souza makes quite a lot of money for saying this stupid shit, and you can safely assume he’ll go on saying whatever keeps the cash flowing no matter how idiotic. The wingers have quite a posh welfare system going for their homies, ironically enough.

  43. #43 Caledonian
    January 29, 2007

    Is it any different on the Left, Mr. LaBonne?

  44. #44 George
    January 29, 2007

    After his 1983 graduation from Dartmouth College, D’Souza moved to Princeton, New Jersey, where he worked for Concerned Alumni of Princeton, a conservative organization strongly critical of coeducation, affirmative action, and campus access to birth control. As writer and editor-in-chief for Prospect, the organization’s magazine. D’Souza wrote a March 1984 cover story identifying a Freshman undergraduate who had begun a sexual relationship with another student against her mother’s wishes. D’Souza offered details of the woman’s sex life, and criticized Princeton University for paying the student’s tuition fees after the student’s mother withdrew financial support. The ensuing scandal was reported in The New York Times. D’Souza claimed that the woman’s name had been published as the result of a “proofreading error” and that he “care[s] about the girl; that’s why [he] wrote the story.”

    Nice. Obviously a major fucking asshole. Here’s what one Dartmouth alum wrote about D’Souza to the NYTimes in 1988:

    I attended Dartmouth during the heyday of these young conservatives’ efforts on The Dartmouth Review. The editors of The Review wrote malicious and self-serving journalism. The newspaper, which had no association with the college, represented the viewpoints of some old, conservative alumni and a small minority (10 percent) of students. The mainstream students laughed at The Review and its staff, parodying editor Dinesh D’Souza as Distort De’Newsa.

    Looks like he has made a career out of making stuff up.

  45. #45 Ted Turner
    January 29, 2007

    Christianity is a religion for losers, take my ex-wife. Please,

  46. #46 Erich Vieth
    January 30, 2007

    If the radical Muslims were really pissed off at secular godless culture, why didn’t they attack Norway instead of the U.S.?

  47. #47 Garrison Keillor
    January 30, 2007

    Because they secretly love lutefisk.

  48. #48 Brian X
    January 30, 2007

    A tangential thought on Jane Fonda: she was pretty much the archetype of the clueless liberal celebrity, the sort of famous idiot who gives the Right fodder to tell celebrities in general to shut up. I don’t think she was a traitor, but she was, at least back in the day, a moron and a dupe. Look at the PETA crowd and Woody Harrelson as examples of celebrities with more passion and good intentions than common sense — that’s what Hanoi Jane was back in the day. (A lot of bitter old Vietnam veterans need to have Hanlon’s Razor explained to them, I think…)

    As for D’Souza… well, yeah. He’s projecting his own personal dislikes of modern culture on a group of people with entirely different motivations. A common technique. (I once, in an Amazon review, slammed a respected philosophy professor and Christian apologeticist named Peter Kreeft for one of his Socrates books for doing the same thing — projecting his personal dislikes onto a historical figure. I did not get a favorable response to that review, but then the vast majority of the people reading apologetics books are members of the choir looking to be preached to.)

  49. #49 truth machine
    January 30, 2007

    Funny that D’Souza would assume that the “pagan depravity” that angers Muslims and radicalizes them has something to do with hip-hop music and the Oscars, when the only real “pagan depravity” that the World Trade Center and the Pentagon represents is the willingness of entrenched American powers to readily oppress and blithely murder thousands of Arabs in the sake of a nonexistent threat from “weapons of mass destruction.”

    Sadly, Sam Harris isn’t all that much better than D’Souza, as he denies that such oppression and murder has anything to do with the anger and radicalization — he claims that it’s only religious fervor.

  50. #50 truth machine
    January 30, 2007

    A tangential thought on Jane Fonda: she was pretty much the archetype of the clueless liberal celebrity, the sort of famous idiot who gives the Right fodder to tell celebrities in general to shut up. I don’t think she was a traitor, but she was, at least back in the day, a moron and a dupe.

    Were you even alive “in the day”? The morons and dupes were those who supported the war, resulting in 58,000 dead Americans and over 2 million dead Vietnamese.

  51. #51 truth machine
    January 30, 2007

    Ah, Brian X is 31, born after the war was over … as I suspected. Talk about clueless.

  52. #52 truth machine
    January 30, 2007

    I blame liberal multiculturalism for the suicidal social policies pursued in Europe towards Muslims (and the almost equally suicidal policies pursued by the United States in regard to Hispanic immigration).

    Suicide of what? Oh, I get it, the “white race”.

    We have to suppress almost all talk of possible cultural differences (don’t even get me started on possible racial differences) in order to not offend anyone.

    Oh, I’m willing to talk about it: at least one member of your race, whatever it is, particularly a certain person named “mike”, is a cretin.

  53. #53 Nescio
    January 30, 2007

    Here is the end result of those policies: in Britain, today’s younger Muslims are more radical than the older ones. Great job!

    Youths being more radical than elders is as common as sociological patterns come. If you were honestly concerned, you’d be looking at attitude trend within a fixed age class or something of the sort.

  54. #54 Steve LaBonne
    January 30, 2007

    Is it any different on the Left, Mr. LaBonne?

    Yes- the left, sadly, doesn’t pay nearly as well. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  55. #55 llewelly
    January 30, 2007

    But the Left has its perks, Steve. Like Black Helicopter rides.

  56. #56 Dunc
    January 30, 2007

    Barbarella is an awfully silly, campy movie

    I beg to differ – Barbarella is a wonderfully silly, campy movie. Or are you using “awful” in its original sense? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  57. #57 PZ Myers
    January 30, 2007

    Actually, I like Barbarella, so I’m not trying to disparage it in any way.

    I also like Jane Fonda.

  58. #58 quitter
    January 30, 2007

    Actually, I like Barbarella, so I’m not trying to disparage it in any way.

    I also like Jane Fonda.

    Not really trying to disparage Jane Fonda, but I always feel like the ascendant protest generation spends all their time mimicking the boomers (and the least effective traits of the boomers) rather than coming up with their own protest heroes and role models.

    I want Kanye West to show up and say George Bush doesn’t care about black people, not a blast from the past who has the baggage of sitting on top of a Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun, and is reviled by the kind of people whose minds we want to change and who would naturally agree with us without emotional wedges constantly being thrust in into the arguments.

  59. #59 mike
    January 30, 2007

    Nescio,

    Youths being more radical than elders is as common as sociological patterns come. If you were honestly concerned, you’d be looking at attitude trend within a fixed age class or something of the sort.

    If, by radical, you mean that they tend to have more liberal social opinions than their elders, that is usually true. But younger, native-born people are typically better assimilated (and less religious) than their immigrant parents. That isn’t occurring here. In fact, the complete opposite is occurring. Forty percent of younger Muslims calling for the implementation of Taliban-style Islamic religious law in Britain is hardly an encouraging statistic.

    truth machine,

    Suicide of what? Oh, I get it, the “white race”.

    Suicide of western civilization, dumb ass. Or do you think Morocco, Pakistan, Algeria, Turkey, Nigeria, and Mexico are countries we would be better off imitating. None of those countries are front-runners in anything except, perhaps, poverty, corruption, and ignorance. They certainly aren’t leading the way in scientific progress and their immigrant children and grandchildren remain far more likely to be contributors to our welfare rolls, street gangs, and prison populations than to our scientific and technological advancement.

    Oh, I’m willing to talk about it: at least one member of your race, whatever it is, particularly a certain person named “mike”, is a cretin.

    Yawn.

  60. #60 Pierce R. Butler
    January 30, 2007

    Neiwert: … the only real “pagan depravity” that the World Trade Center and the Pentagon represents is the willingness of entrenched American powers to readily oppress and blithely murder thousands of Arabs in the sake of a nonexistent threat from “weapons of mass destruction.”

    Bit of an anachronism there: the nonexistent threat from WMDs wasn’t heard of until after the hits on the WTC & Pentagon… (the willingness to oppress & murder was already abundantly in evidence, of course).

  61. #61 windy
    January 30, 2007

    Or do you think Morocco, Pakistan, Algeria, Turkey, Nigeria, and Mexico are countries we would be better off imitating. None of those countries are front-runners in anything except, perhaps, poverty, corruption, and ignorance. They certainly aren’t leading the way in scientific progress…

    So what did you do for scientific progress today, mike?

    And what’s your beef with Mexico? What have you got against boom economies providing lots of incentives* to better oneself? You some kind of pinko? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    (*massively inequal distribution of wealth & lack of social security)

  62. #62 Steve LaBonne
    January 30, 2007

    Indeed; you’d expect the conservatards would admire Third World countries, considering all the effort they’ve put into trying to turn the US into one.

  63. #63 llewelly
    January 30, 2007

    Indeed; you’d expect the conservatards would admire Third World countries, considering all the effort they’ve put into trying to turn the US into one.

    The surprise implicit in your choice of words indicates you never read 1970s or 1980s issues of Readers’ Digest . My parents and grandparents had hundreds of these. I read most (if not all) of them. It seemed every 3rd or 4th issue contained an article lionizing some Latin American or African dictator.

  64. #64 Nescio
    January 30, 2007

    If, by radical, you mean that they tend to have more liberal social opinions than their elders, that is usually true.

    I used, and assumed you too used, “radical” in the sense of desiring fundamental change and being uncompromising about it. I’d thought this obvious – it’s not the socially liberal element of Islam we’re worried about, is it?

  65. #65 Bryson Brown
    January 30, 2007

    For me the worst part of D’Souza’s book is the mendacious, distorted history. Jimmy Carter is blamed for today’s Iran because he didn’t support the shah (what a liberal wimp!). But the U.S. role in bringing down a secular, democratic government in Iran and putting a greedy tyrant in its place just disappears down the black hole of convenient things to forget. Then Hollywood and abortion and women’s liberation are blamed for the Islamists’ hatred of the U.S. But the conceit that (say) Sayyid Qutb would not have hated the U.S. if it were some kind of Stepford land is a lurid fantasy, made all the uglier by the obvious attempt to put the blame for 9/11 on people Mr. D’Souza doesn’t like (and when did blaming the victims become OK for the right? I thought all discussion of the root causes of terrorism was unpatriotic!). Qutb was a lunatic, a xenophobic religious puritan who saw illicit sex (that he wasn’t getting any of) everywhere, who hated commercialism, lawns, and just about everything else he encountered in middle ‘America’. If this is what we can expect from a high-powered right-wing think tank like the Hoover, I foresee a collapse in the market for their product.

  66. #66 Jake
    January 30, 2007

    The man has to be a plant. He can’t really be a real conservative. I mean, if any conservative (read: Rick Santorum type) actually followed that logic, they would have to admit that if we did away with what D’Souza calls “depravity” then the terrorists have defeated us. They have to choose between tolerating D’Souza’s and Santorum’s version of “depravity” or allow Islamic terrorists to dictate our culture to us. It’s perfect.

    Now, having said that, a little cognitive dissonance never stopped any of these people.

  67. #67 Jake
    January 30, 2007

    Or do you think Morocco, Pakistan, Algeria, Turkey, Nigeria, and Mexico are countries we would be better off imitating.

    Morocco – French colony
    Algeria – French colony
    Pakistan – British colony
    Nigeria – British colony

    Maybe these countries would be something more today if it hadn’t been for the colonialism of European countries.

  68. Suicide of western civilization, dumb ass.

    Because Hispanic immigrants to the US live in caves and wipe their bottoms with leaves?

    Pray elucidate us on how Hispanic immigrants are congenitally unable to join in and transmit Western civilization.

  69. #69 mike
    January 30, 2007

    Windy,

    So what did you do for scientific progress today, mike?

    I’m a chemistry student. Unlike our nation’s welfare rolls or our prison population, you won’t find Mexicans overrepresented in chemistry. What an exceptionally idiotic rhetorical question. Is that the best you can dish out, Windy?

    Steve LaBonne,

    Indeed; you’d expect the conservatards would admire Third World countries, considering all the effort they’ve put into trying to turn the US into one.

    Ad hominem attacks aside, the only people resisting the transformation of the United States into a Third World country are on the right. Certainly, the Democrats, anxious for every Hispanic vote they can get, America’s future be damned, are not leading the charge.

    Nescio,

    I used, and assumed you too used, “radical” in the sense of desiring fundamental change and being uncompromising about it. I’d thought this obvious – it’s not the socially liberal element of Islam we’re worried about, is it?

    Well, then you are simply wrong. Most people moving from more traditionally religious societies to open societies in the west become less religious and better assimilated than their elders. With British Muslims (and undoubtedly other European Muslims as well) the complete opposite is occurring. The loss of self-confidence in the west, fueled by multiculturalism, has meant that British culture seems far less attractive to those not assimilated. The leftist self-loathing of western civilization and the need to bend over backward to accommodate newcomers reaches ever new heights of absurdity with each passing day.

    Speaking of loss of confidence and self-loathing:

    Jake,

    Maybe these countries would be something more today if it hadn’t been for the colonialism of European countries.

    Maybe, but most likely not. Ethiopia, for most of its history, avoided colonialism, but it isn’t paradise. Far from it, Ethiopia is one of the most backward countries in all of Africa. Nor were colonial practices in every country the same. The various colonial regimes were hardly uniform in their practices or in their resultant effects. In spite of this, sub-Saharan Africa is a rubric of messed up countries that nowhere approach European or North American standards of living. Colonialism is often just thrown out by leftists as a blanket excuse for why some people in the Third World never seem to be able to get their act together, kind of like slavery is a blanket excuse in America for why so many blacks cannot succeed.

    This isn’t to say I agree with D’Souza. I agree more with Robert Spencer at Jihad Watch, whom D’Souza has recently been debating, in that the primary cause of Islamic terrorism is Islam. Still, multiculturalism is killing the west on both sides of the Atlantic.

    Because Hispanic immigrants to the US live in caves and wipe their bottoms with leaves?

    Sarcasm aside, Hispanics have three times the incarceration rate for most violent crimes as do whites. They have a nearly 50% illegitimacy rate. They have high rates of government dependency. They have exceedingly low rates of academic achievement. They have no cultural legacy of self-reliance similar to that which has prevailed in the English-speaking world throughout most of its history. Unlike our prison population, you won’t find a disproportionately high share of Hispanics in hi-tech industries, in engineering, in the sciences, or in any other field that requires a great deal of actual thinking.

    Pray elucidate us on how Hispanic immigrants are congenitally unable to join in and transmit Western civilization.

    I don’t think Mexico is the fount of western civilization.

  70. #70 windy
    January 30, 2007

    “So what did you do for scientific progress today, mike?”
    I’m a chemistry student. Unlike our nation’s welfare rolls or our prison population, you won’t find Mexicans overrepresented in chemistry. What an exceptionally idiotic rhetorical question. Is that the best you can dish out, Windy?

    I’m a molecular biologist, and the leader of my lab is Mexican. Yeah, that’s anecdotal, but there aren’t any Americans around here secretly shoving welfare dollars in his pockets, either.

    What is the mystical property that makes Mexicans unable to assimilate to industrial society? Genes? Fundamentalist religion? You could make a case for some Islamic countries, but lumping Mexicans together with them? Please. Send all your tired, poor and hungry Mexicans to Europe from now on.

    They have no cultural legacy of self-reliance similar to that which has prevailed in the English-speaking world throughout most of its history.

    Like back when you were serfs?

  71. #71 Loren Petrich
    January 30, 2007

    I wonder if Dinesh D’Souza is trolling.

    He reminds me of the Islamist in Root of All Evil? who got all worked up over how women are made to dress like prostitutes in our society. Would D’Souza agree with him?

  72. #72 mike
    January 30, 2007

    I’m a molecular biologist, and the leader of my lab is Mexican. Yeah, that’s anecdotal, but there aren’t any Americans around here secretly shoving welfare dollars in his pockets, either.

    There is part of your problem. I hate when people attempt to refute statistical truths with anecdotes. This is the old left-wing trick: the overlap fallacy. I find a Mexican scientist, therefore Mexicans are just as successful as whites in science. I find a white who is on welfare, therefore whites are as likely to be on welfare as Mexicans.

    I think the fallacious reasoning underlying this argument has been known since the time of Aristotle. It has been illustrated with Venn diagrams for over one hundred years. That doesn’t seem to stop the left from employing it again and again.

    What is the mystical property that makes Mexicans unable to assimilate to industrial society? Genes? Fundamentalist religion? You could make a case for some Islamic countries, but lumping Mexicans together with them? Please.

    There is nothing particularly mystical. It is either persistent cultural practices (like not emphasizing education enough) or genes. I suppose we will know in a few decades the exact answer to that question. By that time we should have a pretty good idea as to the role played by genes in cognitive abilities and what role environment plays in intelligence and behavior. In either case, continued Latin American immigration isn’t going to help us solve the problem. If it is more-or-less genes, and our immigration policies are not revamped radically, we will be in serious trouble by the time we find out. The performance of Mexican-Americans in education, even four generations into American life, is apparently abysmal.

    Like back when you were serfs?

    Like after the decline of serfdom. Believe it or not, there was a time between the decline of serfdom and the advent of the 21st century.

  73. #73 Brian X
    January 30, 2007

    Regarding my Fonda comments:

    Would it help if I clarify that I’m only talking about the stupid ones? There are people like Jon Stewart, Steven Colbert, and the like (George Clooney and the Dixie Chicks come to mind) who show a real spine and an informed angle on liberalism. We need a lot more like them, and a lot fewer half-baked limousine liberals who don’t understand the issues on any deeper than an emotional level.

    I think of Jane Fonda’s positions during the Vietnam War the same way I think of Oprah Winfrey’s comments that got her into hot water with the Texas cattlemen: Yes, she had the right to say it, and the court stood with her. That doesn’t mean what she had to say wasn’t boneheaded, or was right.

    I’m not the person who holds someone’s positions to be sacrosanct just because, in broad outline, I agree with them politically.

  74. #74 windy
    January 30, 2007

    “Like back when you were serfs?”
    Like after the decline of serfdom. Believe it or not, there was a time between the decline of serfdom and the advent of the 21st century.

    So improvement was possible for the English back then, but now in the 21st century, nations are more or less fixed as they are. Gotcha.

    There is nothing particularly mystical. It is either persistent cultural practices (like not emphasizing education enough) or genes. I suppose we will know in a few decades the exact answer to that question.

    Don’t be shy, we can make a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation. The Hispanics didn’t drop from the sky, but AFAIK are mainly of mixed European and Amerind background. What predictions can you make from this, if poor educational performance has a significant genetic component?

  75. #75 mike
    January 31, 2007

    So improvement was possible for the English back then, but now in the 21st century, nations are more or less fixed as they are. Gotcha.

    The idea that Mexican-Americans who have been living in America for four generations are as socially restrained as serfs during the European Middle Ages is absurd. Yet, those fourth generation Mexicans show little educational improvement over their first and second generation predecessors. By contrast, most previous European immigrant groups are thought to have been up to educational par with “old Americans” by the third generation, max. Fourth generation Mexican-Americans are nowhere near par and show no signs of getting there any time soon.

    What predictions can you make from this, if poor educational performance has a significant genetic component?

    Who knows? Some studies indicate that Spaniards aren’t the highest IQ European group either. Native Americans don’t score high on IQ tests. How much is nature and how much is nurture is up for debate and requires further research.

    That a portion of intelligence is determined by genetic factors is undeniable. That inherent differences in intelligence exist between individuals is undeniable. That genes are not evenly distributed throughout the entire human population is undeniable. What is up for debate is whether or not those differences in the mean maximum intelligence of various populations are socially significant and where those means might lie. Only further research can answer that. For the time being, it would seem prudent not to bet the farm on the notion that those differences will turn out to be insignificant by allowing further immigration from groups that have not demonstrated much educational or economic success to date.

  76. #76 Melissa
    January 31, 2007

    Hello,

    Just wanted to let you know I linked to your blog in my column on CBSNews.com today. Thanks!

    If you want to take a look, here’s the link: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/01/30/blogophile/main2412248.shtml

    Thanks,

    Melissa

  77. #77 windy
    February 1, 2007

    Who knows? Some studies indicate that Spaniards aren’t the highest IQ European group either.

    At what, 96 points? Are Spaniards uneducable?

    Native Americans don’t score high on IQ tests.

    Interesting, then, that they are genetically very close to East Asians, considering how the IQ nuts are swooning over the latter these days.

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