April 10, 2007


It's the Culture, Stupid (Dinesh D'Souza, April 9, 2007, Townhall)

Both the Europeans and the Muslims, of course, are only seeing one side of America. They are reacting not so much to "America" as to projections of American policy and American culture across the globe. We in the U.S. know that there is a difference between American popular culture and the way that Americans actually live. But foreigners cannot be expected to know this. The America that they see in the movies and on television is often the only America they know.

We have heard a great deal from critics of globalization about how the United States is corrupting the world with its multinational corporations and its trade practices. But world opinion surveys by the Pew Research Center and other groups show that non-Western peoples are generally pleased with American products. In fact, the people of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East want more American companies, more American technology, and more free trade. Their objection is not to McDonalds or Microsoft but to America's cultural values as transmitted through movies, television and music.

Huge majorities of more than 80 percent of people in Indonesia, Uganda, Kenya, Senegal, Egypt, and Turkey say they want to protect their values from foreign assault. The Pew study concludes that there is a "widespread sense" that American values, often presented as the values of modernity itself, "represent a major threat to people's traditional way of life." These sentiments are felt very keenly in the Muslim world. As an Iranian from Neishapour told journalist Afshin Molavi, "People say we want freedom. You know what these foreign-inspired people want? They want the freedom to gamble and drink and bring vice to our Muslim land. This is the kind of freedom they want."

Muslim critics of American culture are quick to concede its fascination and attraction, especially to the young. Some time ago I saw an interview with a Muslim sheikh on television. The interviewer told the sheikh, "I find it curious and hypocritical that you are so anti-American, considering that two of your sons are living and studying in America." The sheikh replied, "But this is not hypocritical at all. I concede that American culture is appealing. If you put a young man into a hotel room and give him dozens of pornography tapes, he is likely to find those appealing as well. What America appeals to is everything that is low and disgusting in human nature."

There seems to be a growing belief in traditional cultures that America is materially prosperous but culturally decadent. It is technologically sophisticated but morally depraved. As former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto puts it, "Within the Muslim world, there is a reaction against the sexual overtones that come across in American mass culture. America is viewed through this prism as an immoral society." In his book The Crisis of Islam, Bernard Lewis rehearses what he calls the "standard litany of American offenses recited in the lands of Islam" and ends with this one: "Yet the most powerful accusation of all is the degeneracy and debauchery of the American way of life."

As these observations suggest, the main source of Muslim rage is not American foreign policy but American popular culture as it is projected around the world.

That rage is certainly justified, but it's important to note that al Qaeda didn't target Hollywood but Washington & NYC.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 10, 2007 12:00 AM

What really scares them is the thought that America cultural values will no longer allow them to abuse and oppress women.

Posted by: erp2.0 at April 10, 2007 10:52 AM


Why would they think that if they listen to rap/hip hop music or watch pornography?

Posted by: Rick T. at April 10, 2007 11:08 AM

And if the anti-cultural imperialists did attack Hollywood, would that finally get those Hollywood posers and semi-talented hacks to make good on their promise to flee oppression and physical peril and move to the safety of Europe?

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at April 10, 2007 11:59 AM

The article nails it. Our left-wing decries the state of the world's opinions about America and American culture, but where and how have the opinons been formed? They've been formed by the output of the centers of "left-wing progressive" efforts to vulgarize American society. How many outside of the CONUS know anything about USA culture other than our representation by left-wing Hollywood, the media and their own leftists who happily exploit that misrepresentation.

Concerning their opinions: "frankly Scarlett, I don't give a damn". They're just revealing their provincial ignorance.

Posted by: Genecis at April 10, 2007 12:31 PM

Disclaimer: the erp above is not I, the original and one and only, erp.

Posted by: erp [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 10, 2007 1:33 PM

America is not pure, but then, nowhere on the globe is. Much about the Muslim world is debauched and degenerate, in far worse ways than here.

However, the mere mention of that brings out the violence, which is a debauchery all its own, now isn't it?

Posted by: jim hamlen at April 10, 2007 9:34 PM

We've aborted 45 million Americans. They've killed a handful. Who's debauched?

Posted by: oj at April 11, 2007 12:31 PM