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Radical Islam easily finds common ground with the religious right on women’s issues.  This point ultimately led Dinesh D’Souza to blame American cultural freedoms for the Islamic radicals’ legitimate dislike of us!  D’Souza is  an important conservative writer, biographer of Jerry Falwell, American Enterprise Institute scholar, and Fellow at Stanford’s conservative Hoover Institution.  (Michael Ledeen has also been closely associated with the AEI.)  According to D’Souza the most important two reasons for our battle with radical Islam are “First, the cultural left has fostered a decadent American culture that angers and repulses traditional societies, especially those in the Islamic world, that are being overwhelmed with this culture.   In addition, the left is waging an aggressive global campaign to undermine the traditional patriarchal family and to promote secular values in non-Western cultures.”

Anyone knowing much about traditional Islamic societies knows that by any measure these countries are the least “overwhelmed” by Western culture.  In this respect only North Korea might be a competitor . Yet D’Souza, an Indian immigrant, claims our way of life angers some people in dead-end societies such as these, and therefore we must change to harmonize with their way of life.  More truthfully, it is our way of life that angers him.

Referring to Jerry Falwell’s post 9-11 comments,  D’Souza observes “What impact did the abortionists, the feminists, the homosexual activists and the secularists have on the Islamic radicals who conspired to blow up the World Trade Center and the Pentagon?   Unfortunately this crucial question got buried, and virtually no one has raised it publicly.”  He then does so claiming[1]

there are two clashes of civilizations that are shaping the world today.  The first is a clash between liberal and conservative values within America.  The second is a clash between traditional Islam and radical Islam, a clash within Islamic society.   So realize it or not, American conservatives are fighting a two-front war.  The first is a war against Islamic radicalism and fundamentalism.  The second is a political struggle against the left and its pernicious political and moral influence in America and around the globe.  My conclusion is that the two wars are intimately connected.  In fact, we cannot win the first war without also winning the second war.

 

Saudi Arabia is one of the cultures D’Souza thinks of as having a legitimate beef with our liberal decadence.  The conservative Saudis are also targeted by the radical Al Qaeda.  Given the logic of his argument, how can D’Souza not approve an American businesswoman being jailed by Saudi religious police “for sitting with a male colleague at a Starbucks in Riyadh,” an exhibition of secular values if ever there was one.  The London Times added.  “The woman, who spent a day behind bars, was strip-searched and forced to sign a false confession before being released.”[2]   Only recently a Saudi court  sentenced Shaima Jastania, a Saudi woman, to ten lashes for the offense to traditional morality of driving a car.[3] The sentence was later overturned by the king, who had also over turned n earlier decision to punish a rape victim with 200 lashes and several months imprisonment.[4]    These are D’Souza’s ‘traditional values’.

This kind of behavior is not unusual in Saudi Arabia.  It is not simply due to the excesses of a single over zealous official.  CNN reported that in Saudi Arabia[5]

Every year, officials with the conservative Muslim kingdom’s Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice clamp down on shops a few days before February 14, instructing them to remove red roses, red wrapping paper, gift boxes and teddy bears. On the eve of the holiday, they raid stores and seize symbols of love.

In language that closely follows D’Souza’s argument, Sheikh Khaled Al-Dossari, a Saudi scholar in Islamic studies, explained “As Muslims we shouldn’t celebrate a non-Muslim celebration, especially this one that encourages immoral relations between unmarried men and women, “

Right wing Hindus, India’s equivalent to the religious right, agree. The BBC reports[6]

Bal Thackeray, who heads the hardline Shiv Sena, has ordered his party activists to target celebrations in India’s commercial capital, Bombay.

Other right-wing Hindu organisations have attacked shops selling Valentine’s Day cards in the northern city of Kanpur. . . .

“This shameless festival has been celebrated by our young people for the last 10 years, but it is totally contrary to Indian culture,” he said in an article in his party paper, Samna.

 

Let us be clear here.  For culture warrior and ‘Christian’ Dinesh D’Souza, putting women in their traditional place is essential to winning the war with radical Islam.  Once their values are respected conservative Muslims will not feel drawn to the radicals.  As he urged, “American conservatives should join Muslims and others in condemning the global moral degeneracy that is produced by liberal values.”  One wonders why D’Souza does not return to Mumbai where he was born and where conservative Hindus are sympathetic to his sensibilities.



[1] Dinesh D’Souza, The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11, (NY: Doubleday, 2007).  For intelligent comment, see Alan Wolfe’s review of D’Souza’s book: None (but Me) Dare Call It Treason, New York Times, January 21, 2007 and that of Warren Bass: Incendiary, The Washington Post, January 14, 2007. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/21/books/review/Wolfe.t.html?ref=books

[2] Saudi Cops Grab U.S. Woman in Starbucks, CBS News, February 7, 2007. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/02/07/world/main3800725.shtml

[3] Ahmed Al Omran, Saudi Woman Sentenced to Lashes After Defying Driving Ban, NPR. Setember 27, 2011. http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2011/09/27/140847069/saudi-woman-sentenced-to-lashes-after-defying-driving-ban?ft=1&f=103943429

[4] Ahmad Al Omran, Reports: Saudi King Cancels Lashing Sentence Against Woman Who Drove, NPR, Sept. 29, 2011, http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2011/09/28/140887141/reports-saudi-king-cancels-lashing-sentence-against-woman-driver

[5] Saudi Arabia bans all things red ahead of Valentine’s Day, CNN, February 12, 2008, http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/02/12/saudi.valentine/index.html?iref=mpstoryview

[6] Militant Hindu Valentine Threat, BBC News, Feb. 12, 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/1166055.stm