James Walcott has received the galley proofs for Dinesh D'Souza's new book, wherein he blames the "cultural left" for 9/11 because our horrible decadence makes the whackos so very angry. I think Walcott's reaction is about right:
It isn't rare that I take instant animus against a book like this. But I don't tend to react right away. The responsible thing for me to do as an occasional book critic is to wait until the official pub date, find a suitable venue for review, and thrash the book based on its merits.
But this is a special book, deserving special mistreatment. With The Enemy at Home, I prefer to do the irresponsible thing and declare war on Dinesh D'Souza and his stinking mackerel of a book starting now. I intend to pound this scurrilous piece of scapegoating at every convenient opportunity.
And he points out why it's more important to do so in this case than with similar tripe from the carnival barkers of conservatism:
It's one thing when Michael Savage or Ann Coulter denounce liberals as heathen traitors. One spouts halitosis on the radio, the other is an exhibitionist hag; both cater to their fan base. But D'Souza isn't some low-grade, high-volume performance artist. He's a research scholar at the Hoover Institution at Stanford, which he thanks in the acknowledgments "for providing me with the institutional support to do my work."
The fact that this kind of idiocy is being written and promoted by a serious thinktank does, I think, make it far less excusable and more egregious. Ann Coulter is a sideshow act, taken seriously only by the terminally stupid; the same goes for MIchael Savage, Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly. But D'Souza is a prominent conservative intellectual with a relatively serious reputation, and that makes it all the more appalling that he would engage in this kind of vile and utterly irrational nonsense. And as Walcott shows, this is really scraping the bottom of the barrel material:
The theme of the book is quite simple, and vile.
"In this book I make a claim that will seem startling at the outset. The cultural left in this country is responsible for causing 9/11."
Then the qualifiers begin multiplying. The term 'cultural left' doesn't refer to the Democratic Party, nor to all liberals. (Peter Beinart presumably gets a pass.) Nor is he saying that cultural lefties actually brought the towers down. He isn't so rash as to suggest Molly Ivins piloted one of the planes, parachuting to safety before impact. So what is he saying?
"I am saying that the cultural left and its allies in Congress, the media, Hollywood, the nonprofit sector [profiteers are always patriots, of course], and the universities are the primary cause of the volcano of anger toward America that is erupting from the Islamic world."
Note well: the primary cause. Not the treatment of the Palestinians, the caging and starving of those on the Gaza Strip, the hundreds of thousands of clusterbomb droplets left behind in Lebanon, the U.S. military bases on Arab soil, Abu Ghraib, the Mideast tyrannies propped up by American money and influence--these are secondary. Muslims are angry, D'Souza concedes, but they are mostly angry because their anger has been fueled and fanned by the cultural left.
"Thus without the cultural left, 9/11 would not have happened."
I like that "Thus," as if he's actually proven something.
"I realize that this is a strong charge," D'Souza writes, "one that no one has made before."
The reason it hasn't been made before is that it's a sleazy, shameless, ignorant, ahistorical, tendentious, meretricious lie, one that was waiting for the right brazen liar to come along to promote it, and here he is, and his name is Dinesh D'Souza, who's fatuous and fuddy-duddyish enough to think that it's Britney Spears, the rap lyrics of 2 Live Crew, and the buggering photographs of the late Robert Mapplethorpe that have Islam in a tiz. This is someone so out of touch with pop culture that he thinks liberals look down on risque sitcoms like Will & Grace because "their moral depravity is not highbrow enough for their taste." Does that description fit anyone you know? D'Souza blunders on: "Sophisticated liberals prefer plays like The Mistress Cycle, described by New York Times reviewer Miriam Horn as featuring 'four women from remote places and times, all of whom have slept with men not their husbands."
D'Souza is a right wing appeaser. He claims that the terrorists hate us because we have the freedom to do things they morally disapprove of, and therefore we should do away with that freedom. The only proper response I can think of is this: that freedom includes the right to tell a miserable git like D'Souza to go fuck himself. And that, frankly, is as sophisticated as the response need be. Go fuck yourself, D'Souza.
Well, maybe we shouldn't do away with the freedom to do those things, we should just not do them. Then we can talk about how noble we are to have all this freedom that we don't dare use because some people might not like it...
What an abysmally stupid worldview.
This kind of thinking makes my head hurt. So.....our exercise of freedom makes the terrorists mad and want to attack us, so we should stop exercising freedom....so that we can be more like the terrorists? Do I have that right?
Even if it is absolutely, undeniably true that the attacks happened primarily because "they hate our freedom" (which I do not believe it is), isn't that an argument for more freedom, not less? Doesn't it completely kill the "us vs. them" mentality to try and make us more like them?
Add 'with a cattle prod" to that last statement, and I heartily agree.
Of course, if the cultural left has caused this hatred among the terrorists, then that can only mean the terrorists are against the cultural left; and if the cultural right in the US are also against the cultural left -- so much so that they publish books fanning the flames of cultural-left-hatred -- that means that they are aligned with the terrorists -- in an [finger quote] axis of evil [close finger quote], if you will. Thus, we see that the cultural right and the terrorists are one and the same.
So when will Dinesh D'Souza and the mullahs at the Hoover Institution be named unlawful enemy combatants and rounded up?
I never thought of myself on the left but jpf's comment makes me think - boy if narrow minded violent people kill thousands of others because they are against something like the left, then maybe the left is where I want to be - opposed to those freedom hating terrorists. I think D'Souza has come up with a dangerous argument for the right. The left here is painted as the freedom loving group, not the conservatives evidently, and perhaps there is more here than meets the eye.
"I realize that this is a strong charge," D'Souza writes, "one that no one has made before."
I'm pretty sure he's wrong about that and that I've been hearing this exact same charge on and off for a few years now (I think maybe even via this very blog, but I can't recall specific examples).
What always struck me a strange about the charge is that it is an admission by the cultural right in the US that it has a lot of the same goals as the Islamists, something that, at the very least, would be a strategically unwise thing to mention, even if true.
It is also at odds with the "the Left blames America" charge so often levelled at those who point to all those supposedly secondary causes that Walcott lists as inflaming Islamist hatred for the West. In short, D'Souza is blaming America. (Of course, his ilk doesn't think the cultural left is really American, but then those on the left in the US who "blame America" are usually pointing to things that they feel to be un-American too.)
If the cultural left is what the terrorists are attacking, does that make the cultural right (whatever that means) terrorist appeasers?
jpf-- The place you heard it before first was most likely Jerry Falwell, although he only said that the abortionists, feminists, gays, ACLU etc. "helped" the terrorist attacks to happen. D'Souza calls them "the primary cause," demonstrating that apparently he isn't even brighter than Falwell.
The Offkey Souzaphone is wrong in so many ways that almost any review of a readable length misses the majority of it. A review of THE ENEMY AT HOME, as a review of a Coulter book, should come with the following disclaimer: "Choosing certain specific examples of slander, error, misinterpretations of fact and simple stupidity is not to be taken as an acceptance of those other parts of the book that the reviewer has not space enough to discuss."
To hit from a slightly different angle, there is a certain small amount of truth in Souza's claim that some of our values do help fuel the hatred of radical Islamists towards America. (Of course, Wolcott is right in pointing out that there are much greater causes for this anger.)
The trouble with using this as an argument is D'Souza's ignorance as to what those values are, or what society it would be necessary to construct to eliminate this anger. In the specific area of sexual values, he seems to think that were we to return to the mythical world of the Fifties, of Ozzie and Harriet and the black-and-white part of PLEASANTVILLE, this would be sufficient. (Of course the Fifties were also the inspiration for PEYTON PLACE, but ignore that for now.)
In fact, the type of radical Islamist -- hardly the majority even among this group -- that is inflamed by our relations among the genders would have us create a society based on the Fifties -- the Fifties of segregation, of rural Mississippi and Bull Connor, of 'separate entrances' and 'whites-only' and 'the back of the bus' (in fact, separate buses as well), of lynching, of courts that wouldn't accept the word of a black against a white, of acceptance and celebration of white sexuality towards blacks -- despite formal condemnations of it -- and total fear of black sexuality in any sense, but particularly towards whites.
Only, of course. they would change 'white' to 'male' and 'black' to 'female.'
This is the society described as proper and 'the way of Allah' by the extreme Selafists, as shown by several "Islamic Q&A" sites.
And it is our refusal to accept these ideas that is the additional fuel to the hatred.
I can only wonder where D'Souza could find allies in his idea of changing our society this much to avoid future 9/11s, because by this standard, even most extreme dominionists are 'liberals.'
(I have to again point out that few Muslims would, in practice welcome or accept such a society outside, at least, of Saudi Arabia, but it is the preaching of the strictest of them.)
D'Souza is now firmly established in the constellation of such luminary and intellectual figures as Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, et. al.
That does it. I am going to listen to Britney Spears. Take THAT, Osama.
D'Souza's argument here looks a lot like the arguments of those people who say that the Mohammead cartoonists "brought on the riots" and were thus in the wrong. It's all about being sensitive to the sensitivities of very, very touchy people.
Since when was Distort D'Newsa ever considered a serious intellectual?
Re: Gretchen's link
Well, yes, those two wacky nuts, but I was thinking of others who made the claim... on WND maybe? Bah, I can't remember.
Anyway, I noticed this (from 2004) at the end of that link:
[Robert Knight] has pinned blame for the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib and the subsequent beheading of businessman Nick Berg on gays getting married and serving in the military, among other acts of American "decadence."
Before coming to Washington, Knight wrote for the Los Angeles Times for seven years and was a fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.
Was that institute so named in honor of the former President or because it sucks?
Don't know, but apparently D'Souza is there as well. Go figure!
I learned two new words today: Tendentious and Meretricious.