In the Muslim world, American pop culture shocks and awes
Regarding Dinesh D'Souza's Jan. 25 Opinion piece, "War on terror's other front: cleaning up US pop culture": Mr. D'Souza's attempt to transfer responsibility for our disastrous relations with the Muslim world to American "liberal culture" is transparently silly.
If we believe D'Souza, Osama bin Laden and the jihadists are more concerned with TV shows such as "Desperate Housewives" than with American support for Israel or the presence of American forces in Islamic lands. The writings of Mr. bin Laden and his cohorts make it crystal clear that their grievance is against what they perceive as the victimization of the Muslim world by American policies. Moreover, the radical Muslim critique is not limited to American liberal culture, as D'Souza seems to argue, but rather extends to the entire edifice of Western civilization: the rights of women and minorities, freedom of religion, and separation of church and state.
Finally, Muslim criticism of American culture predates the liberal culture that D'Souza takes to task. It has its origins in the popular writing of the Egyptian Sayyid Qutb, who complained about the "animal-like" mixing of the sexes in the US. Mr. Qutb died in 1966, just as the era of liberal "cultural depravity" took off.
East Greenbush, N.Y.
I am writing to express my sympathies with those Muslims whom Dinesh D'Souza said are offended by American popular culture. I am a fourth-generation American citizen and have, for a long time now, tried to maintain a barrier between myself and the bulk of American pop culture. In high school I found that the drugs that were always available to us and the fact that my peers had little in the way of moral rectitude or concern about right thinking and right acting made me pull back and look critically at our shared culture.
These high school years were the beginning of my disillusionment with American popular culture. The television programs, movies, pop music, comics, etc. all contained a sort of recipe for degradation. My heart goes out to those who express their desire to have "modernization without Westernization."
The Jan. 25 Opinion piece by Dinesh D'Souza featured the line, "...America should work with Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and others to block the efforts of leftist groups around the world who promote radical feminism, homosexuality, prostitution, and pornography as 'rights' under international law."
Equality and property protection for women should not be blocked by any country, and disguising these tenets as "radical feminism" is hate speech. The rape and genocide in Darfur has nothing to do with Eve Ensler or Howard Stern, and the sooner Mr. D'Souza stops blaming "blue" America, which is allegedly fascinated with such details, the sooner he might be able to consider how useful American diplomacy and globally exported American culture (via TV shows such as "Sesame Street") could be in helping to end suffering in the developing world.
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