Lady Gaga Versus Mideast Peace

(Wall Street Journal) Bret Stephens - Pop quiz - What does more to galvanize radical anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world: (a) Israeli settlements on the West Bank; or (b) a Lady Gaga music video? If your answer is (b) it means you probably have a grasp of the historical roots of modern jihadism. If, however, you answered (a), then congratulations: You are perfectly in synch with the new Beltway conventional wisdom. Lady Gaga - or Madonna, Farrah Fawcett, or Marilyn Monroe - personified what the Egyptian Islamist writer Sayyid Qutb called "the American Temptress." Qutb, who spent time as a student in the U.S. in the late 1940s, is widely considered the intellectual godfather of al-Qaeda. Qutb's disdain for America's supposedly libertine culture would not matter much were it not wedded to a kind of theological Leninism that emphasized the necessity of violently overthrowing any political arrangement not based on Sharia law. This, then, is the core complaint that the Islamists from Waziristan to Tehran to Gaza have lodged against the West. It explains why jihadists remain aggrieved even after the U.S. addressed their previous casus belli by removing troops from Saudi Arabia, and why they will continue to remain aggrieved long after we've decamped from Iraq, Afghanistan and even the Persian Gulf. To imagine that Israeli settlements account for even a fraction of the rage that has inhabited the radical Muslim mind since the days of Qutb is fantasy: The settlements are merely the latest politically convenient cover behind which lies a universe of hatred. If the administration's aim is to appease our enemies, it will get more mileage out of banning Lady Gaga than by applying the screws on Israel. It should go without saying that it ought to do neither.

2010-03-31 08:40:15

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