Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Enemy with the Book Deal at Home

A few days ago, Dinesh D’Souza wrote a piece in the Washington Post to answer the critics of his new book “The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11.”

What I admire most about Dinesh’s approach in this piece is how free of sniveling, broad, baseless statements, and cultural stereotyping it is. He also completely refrains from whining about how he can’t understand the ferocity of the response against him, and how the resulting publicity was so not a calculation on his part.

And so, as I am wont to do, I have taken DeeDee’s article, and I have imagined a little dialogue in my head with the definitely-not-a-royalites-whore D’Souza, and I share it with you now:


DD: Why the onslaught? Just this: In my book, published this month, I argue that the American left bears a measure of responsibility for the volcano of anger from the Muslim world that produced the 9/11 attacks.

V: Is that all? I don’t know why those liberals are so upset. Just because you wrote a book called “The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11,” doesn’t mean you meant that liberals are the 9/11-causing enemies of America. Obviously your point is SO much subtler than that.

DD: President Jimmy Carter's withdrawal of support for the shah of Iran, for example, helped Ayatollah Khomeini's regime come to power in Iran, thus giving radical Islamists control of a major state;

V: That’s so clever, DeeDee. See, some people might have blamed any one of a number of presidents who supported the brutal Shah and his oppressive regime and its CIA-trained and -equipped secret police. Because some people might say, of course completely erroneously, that it was the Shah’s persecution of Muslim opposition that lead to his overthrow and the installation of Khomeini and the resulting fundamentalist regression of Iran. But those people don’t look at history with the same kind of persistent, um, agenda, that you do, obviously, because only you are smart enough to blame the president who STOPPED supporting the Shah.

DD: And President Bill Clinton's failure to respond to Islamic attacks confirmed bin Laden's perceptions of U.S. weakness and emboldened him to strike on 9/11.

V: I agree, it is regrettable that Clinton failed to capture or kill Bin Laden prior to Bush’s inaugural on January 20, 2001. If only we could think of someone to blame for the fact that he has remained a free man from that day to this!

DD: I also argue that the policies that U.S. "progressives" promote around the world -- including abortion rights, contraception for teenagers and gay rights -- are viewed as an assault on traditional values by many cultures, and have contributed to the blowback of Islamic rage.

V: I’ve heard you say this so many times, and I’m just breathless in anticipation of the day when you finally favor us with your data on this one. Not that you should have to back up any of your assertions, DeeDee. Really, just your word that it’s true is good enough for me.

DD: The reaction I'm eliciting is not entirely new to me. As a college student in the early 1980s, I edited the politically incorrect Dartmouth Review and was frequently accosted by left-wing students and faculty.

V: “Politically incorrect”? Oh, DeeDee, you are too modest by half. That magazine was truly in the vanguard of the “making fun of minorities” genre. Give yourself some credit.

DD: They called me names back then, too. And at the time I didn't care. I often informed them that taking on our iconoclastic paper was like wrestling a pig: Not only does it get everyone dirty but the pig likes it.

V: I love that you are not afraid to be the pig in that analogy!

DD: But the personal attacks have reached new heights with "The Enemy at Home." So much so, in fact, that I feel compelled to explain why I wrote this book, what it does and doesn't say and why I think it prompts people to threaten me with hospitalization.

V: It’s really outrageous that people would threaten you just because you accuse them of responsibility for the brutal public murder of 3000 innocent Americans, some of whom were probably their friends or family. Can’t they take a little constructive criticism?

DD: But five years later, that unity [following 9/11] has dissolved amid a furious national debate over the war in Iraq and the war on terrorism. I thought it was time to go back and reconsider 9/11; in so doing, I concluded that the prevailing conservative and liberal theories explaining Muslim rage were wrong.

V: Besides, why should Ann Coulter get to corner the “blame the left for 9/11” dollar? That’s a good dollar.

DD: Contrary to the common liberal view, I don't believe that the 9/11 attacks were payback for U.S. foreign policy. Bin Laden isn't upset because there are U.S. troops in Mecca, as liberals are fond of saying. (There are no U.S. troops in Mecca.) He isn't upset because Washington is allied with despotic regimes in the region. Israel aside, what other regimes are there in the Middle East? It isn't all about Israel. (Why hasn't al-Qaeda launched a single attack against Israel?) The thrust of the radical Muslim critique of America is that Islam is under attack from the global forces of atheism and immorality -- and that the United States is leading that attack.

V: I’m so glad you told me that liberals are fond of saying that Bin Laden is upset that U.S. troops are in Mecca. I never knew that. I’m sure I don’t know why liberals would say that, because Mecca is a holy city that only Muslims are allowed to enter, and it just seems like a really unlikely thing that we would have troops in the city of Mecca. In fact, the only Google references I can find to “U.S. troops in Mecca” are from you, but I’m sure I don’t understand liberals the way you do. I do know that there are U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, which is the country Mecca is located in, and also the country Bin Laden is from, and I’m pretty sure that he’s made a few references over the years about how pissed he is about that.

Come to think of it, DeeDee, doesn’t it seem like Bin Laden might be pretty steamed about the royal Saudis being in bed with American oil interests, and how their obsession with wealth and power has taken them, and their country, away from the Muslim religious ideals that Bin Laden espouses, and made them seem like kind of these money-grubbing puppets of the west? Wow. I hope the liberals aren’t saying that, because that would be pretty hard to refute, huh? And then you would have to work like a motherfucker to whip up some unlikely premise that would seem to point blame in the opposite direction, and none of us would want that.

DD: Contrary to President Bush's view, they don't hate us for our freedom, either. Rather, they hate us for how we use our freedom. When Planned Parenthood International opens clinics in non-Western countries and dispenses contraceptives to unmarried girls, many see it as an assault on prevailing religious and traditional values. When human rights groups use their interpretation of international law to pressure non-Western countries to overturn laws against abortion or to liberalize laws regarding homosexuality, the traditional sensibilities of many of the world's people are violated.

V: Christ, why do we have to take the blame for those damn liberal ideas? I’m sure that England, and probably those Scandinavians, and for sure the goddamn Frenchies have people overseas too, promoting all sorts of liberal ideas about gays, and contraception, and equality, and vaccinations, and, um, food-eating, and clean water-drinking and the like. Why does the U.S. have to take the blame only? Why would we be the target, when we’re just one of hundreds of countries advancing liberal agendas throughout the world? What makes us stand out? Why did they choose us to pick on, anyway? Come on, DeeDee, I’m sure your keen mind can figure this one out.

DD: This argument has nothing to do with Falwell's suggestion that 9/11 was God's judgment on the ACLU and the feminists for their sins. I pose a simple question: Why did the terrorists do it? In a 2003 statement, bin Laden said that to him, the World Trade Center resembled the idols that the prophet Muhammad removed from Mecca. In other words, bin Laden believes that the United States represents the pagan depravity that Muslims have a duty to resist. The literature of radical Islam, such as the works of Egyptian writer Sayyid Qutb, resonates with these themes. One radical sheik even told a European television station a few years ago that although Europe is more decadent than America, the United States is the more vital target because it is U.S. culture -- not Swedish culture or French culture -- that is spreading throughout the world.

V: Oh, okay. I understand now. I think. Except, don’t the radical Muslims mostly refer to us not as pagans, but as “crusaders”? And also, don’t they express a hatred for, how do they say, the “infidels”? So…isn’t it not so much that we are godless, but that we are Christian? Because we do go throwing our Christianity around rather a bit. Wait a minute. Shit. I don’t think you want to go blaming our Christian-ness for 9/11, dude. That would NOT go over well with the president’s base.

DD: What would motivate Muslims in faraway countries to volunteer for martyrdom? The fact that Palestinians don't have a state? I don't think so. It's more likely that they would do it if they feared their values and way of life were threatened. Even as the cultural left accuses Bush of imperialism in invading Iraq, it deflects attention from its own cultural imperialism aimed at secularizing Muslim society and undermining its patriarchal and traditional values. The liberal "solution" to Islamic fundamentalism is itself a source of Islamic hostility to America.

V: The liberals are invading Muslim countries with their secular values? Oh, you mean like with their degrading music videos and games and their slutty teen movies and their hoochie clothing and stuff? Well, why don’t we just forbid American companies from doing business in Muslim countries, then, if they’re going to get so upset about it? Why don’t we just tell the heads of Viacom and Sony and Disney and General Electric and all those corporations that own media that hey, free enterprise or no, they are going to have to stop making all those secular liberal dollars at our nation’s expense.

You can use that idea if you want to, DeeDee. I give it to you for free. For the good of my country.

DD: Contrary to the accusations of Alan Wolfe and others, I have no sympathy for bin Laden or the Islamic radicals. But I do respect the concerns of traditional Muslims, the majority in the Muslim world. In fact, the United States cannot defeat terrorism without driving a wedge between radical Islam and traditional Islam, because the latter has been the main recruiting pool for the former.

V: I’m not sure how the U.S. should go about driving this “wedge,” but I say yeah! the more our government involves itself in the affairs of Muslims, the better!

DD: All my arguments can be disputed, but they are neither extreme nor absurd. So why has "The Enemy at Home" been so intemperately excoriated? I can imagine only two reasons. The first is given by James Wolcott himself. I am not, as he says, an unqualified right-wing hack. Rather, I am a scholar at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, so Wolcott fears that I will be taken seriously.

V: As well he should. I mean, if Michele Malkin and Bill O’Reilly are taken seriously, just imagine what YOU could accomplish.

DD: The second reason can be gleaned from the common theme in the reviews: that mine is a dangerous book. But if a book says things that are obviously untrue and can be disproved, then it is not dangerous -- it is merely fiction and should be ignored. A book is dangerous only if it exposes something in the culture that some people are eager to keep hidden.

V: See, that is puzzling to me, because I think of a book like Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf, for instance, and I find it hard to reconcile that I was always lead to believe that that was a dangerous book. So, does what you’re saying mean that Mein Kampf told the truth, or that it wasn’t dangerous?

DD: And what is that? It is that the far left seems to hate Bush nearly as much as it hates bin Laden. Bin Laden may want sharia, or Islamic law, in Baghdad, they reason, but Bush wants sharia in Boston. Indeed, leftists routinely portray Bush's war on terrorism as a battle of competing fundamentalisms, Islamic vs. Christian. It is Bush, more than bin Laden, they say, who threatens abortion rights and same-sex marriage and the entire social liberal agenda in the United States. So leftist activists such as Michael Moore and Howard Zinn and Cindy Sheehan seem willing to let the enemy win in Iraq so they can use that defeat in 2008 to rout Bush -- their enemy at home.

V: You’re right, the left DOES hate Bush, and for what? I mean, unless you’re directly related to one of the 3000 Americans who’ve been killed in Iraq, I’d think hate was a pretty strong reaction. But DeeDee, I know you’re dumbing down your arguments so that us regular folk can understand your brilliance, but I think even liberals would find your Bush vs. Bin Laden enemy argument a tad simplistic. I think you can come out and admit that while it’s Bush who threatens that liberal “pursuit of happiness - no matter who gets offended” agenda, it’s Bin Laden who threatens their, well, their lives, kinda. I mean, I don’t think even liberals really believe that Bin Laden could come in and take over congress. Just a thought.

DD: When I began writing my new book, this concern was largely theoretical, because the left was outside the corridors of power. Now I fear that the extreme cultural left is whispering into the ears of the Democratic Congress. Cut off the funding. Block the increase in troops. Shut down Guantanamo Bay. Lose the war on terrorism -- and blame Bush.

V: Don’t worry DeeDee, when we give up on Iraq and start concentrating on Al-Qaeda’s activities in the U.S. and Afghanistan, and start taking those billions of dollars that we were spending in Iraq and spend them instead on flight and port and border security, we’ll know exactly who’s to blame for the results.

(In the above piece, I have edited D’Souza’s remarks for length, or because some parts were so boring that I couldn’t think of a way to make fun of them, but I have not changed any of the text. I swear. I couldn’t make that shit up, people.)


Anonymous said...

I heard he lives in the same community my sister does. Can't wait to roll by his house when he's out washing the car and scream, "Hey D.D, how does it feel to be Colbert's bitch?" Good times!

Johnny Yen said...

That's fucking brilliant, Vikki.

My friend Larry says that D'Souza is definitely an argument for tightening up immigration here.

The disengenousness of his and his ilk's arguments are remarkable. When Clinton launched attacks at Bin Laden, he was accused of "wag the dog"' to try to take attention from his sex scandal. Then the same fucktards are blaming him for 9/11 because he didn't kill Bin Laden.

I love how he refers to "the enemy" in Iraq. What enemy? Shiite death squads? Sunni militants? We stuck a bunch of kids and old men in our military reserves into the middle of a civil war that only a Tito-like evil genius tyrant was able to prevent for 40 years. They fail to explain how, given that the WMD's were a blatant fiction, there was any compelling national interest in invading Iraq. Time and time again, they use subterfuge after subterfuge to evade responsiblity for the fact that they've completely stepped on their dicks, and brought us along for the ride.

And now they are making rumblings about invading Iran. I can't think of anything that would help their oppressive regime in stamping out dissent than having the nation that invaded the country next door threatening them.

I just look at the whole right and try to figure out-- did they eat lead paint chips or get dropped on their heads a lot as kids? What gives?

dad said...

It strikes me that Bin Laden is mentally ill as are people that sign up for suicide to kill innocents or those that just kill for a cause built on psycotism. Trying to assign causes for this evil built on anything besides mental illness, is denial, evidenced by assigning responsibility to other forces outside. "See what they made me do".

This is why religions have a devil, i.e. to allow responsibility to be shifted somewhere else.

D'Souza is truely doing the devil's work.

vikkitikkitavi said...

Kirby: If you do, will you post it on YouTube?

JohnnyY: You know, I hate to even pay attention to DD, just like I hate to give any more publicity to Coulter, Malkin, or O'Reilly, etc. It's just obvious that they are attempting to sell books and book the talking head shows by saying outrageous things that can't really be backed up. But then to write a piece in WaPo like DD did, about how everyone's picking on you and that must mean you're important - it was too much to bear.

BTW, I like you. You're wicked smart.

Dad: Your comment has reminded me of wonderful quote about Pol Pot from Spalding Gray's Swimming to Cambodia:
"So five years of bombing, a diet of bark, bugs, lizards and leaves up in the Cambodian jungles, an education in Paris environs in a strict Maoist doctrine with a touch of Rousseau, and other things that we will probably never know about in our lifetime. Including perhaps an invisible cloud of evil that circles the Earth and lands at random in places like Iran, Beirut, Germany, Cambodia, America, set the Khmer Rouge out to commit the worst auto-homeo genocide in modern history ."

SV said...

Remember the book Unfit for Command? How about W shifting the rhetorical cause for Iraq comabat from WMD to "Freedom?"

These days, Republicans are much more concerned with misleading titles and sound bites than truth. What continually amazes me is that the US press doesn't call bullshit with regularity and at high volume.

SV said...

Comabat! Tha's Kentucky for Combat! Tha's what I'm talkin' 'bout!