Ideological thickness

Sunday, 21 January 2007

US conservative Dinesh D’Souza, in his new book, has reached back to the Jimmy Carter administration to lay blame for the 9/11 attacks on the liberals. In an interview with Salon (subscription required), he says that there are foreign-policy dimensions and cultural dimensions to the hatred in the Muslim world that led to 9/11 that have not been recognised. He says

Jimmy Carter came to power, [and] he said, ‘I believe in human rights,’ and the left basically got around Carter and said, if you believe in human rights, then you can’t support the shah, the shah of Iran is a dictator, he has a secret police, and so Jimmy Carter was encouraged and pressured to withdraw American support for the shah, which he did … In trying to get rid of the lesser evil, we got the greater evil. That’s one small way in which the left sowed the seeds of 9/11.

On the cultural side he says that when the Islamists say they feel under attack by American values as they are perceived overseas- atheism and homosexuality among them- these being the values that the liberal left pushes.

From a review of his book in The Washington Post, which calls it “dim, dishonorable” and “the worst nonfiction book about terrorism published by a major [publishing] house since 9/11”:

Here’s the main argument, such as it is. Why has al-Qaeda targeted America? “Not because of U.S. troops in Mecca,” D’Souza writes. “Not even because of Israel. . . . The suicide bombers of radical Islam are not blowing themselves up because they are distressed over the Gulf War of 1991 or because they are in solidarity with the Palestinians.” Rather, “what bin Laden objected to was America staying in the Middle East, importing with it the immoral ingredients of American values and culture.” That makes the left “responsible for 9/11” because it “has fostered a decadent American culture that angers and repulses traditional societies” and has waged “an aggressive global campaign to undermine the traditional patriarchal family and to promote secular values in non-Western cultures.” In sum, “the cultural left and its allies in Congress, the media, Hollywood, the nonprofit sector, and the universities are the primary cause of the volcano of anger toward America that is erupting from the Islamic world.”

Salon’s questions bring out several areas of ignorance and even dishonesty in D’Souza’s views as have others such as the Washington Post article quoted above.

In the culture wars that continue post-9/11 and post the Iraq invasion, it is clear that a refusal- or inability- to learn is still a hallmark of the ideologues of the right wing.

For a lighter take see Stephen Colbert’s interview with D’Souza.

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