One reality that Americans need to come to grips with when thinking about the danger of radical Islam is that the reason that Islamists hate us has very little to do with our current foreign policy or our alliance with Israel (or what’s left of it now that Obama has been put in charge); rather, the core of the issue between America and the Islamists goes to the fundamental question of who we are, and the fact that our lives and society aren’t dictated by the principles of Islam:
Now consider Lady Gaga—or, if you prefer, Madonna, Farrah Fawcett, Marilyn Monroe, Josephine Baker or any other American woman who has, at one time or another, personified what the Egyptian Islamist writer Sayyid Qutb once called “the American Temptress.”
Qutb, for those unfamiliar with the name, is widely considered the intellectual godfather of al Qaeda; his 30-volume exegesis “In the Shade of the Quran” is canonical in jihadist circles. But Qutb, who spent time as a student in Colorado in the late 1940s, also decisively shaped jihadist views about the U.S.
In his 1951 essay “The America I Have Seen,” Qutb gave his account of the U.S. “in the scale of human values.” “I fear,” he wrote, “that a balance may not exist between America’s material greatness and the quality of her people.” Qutb was particularly exercised by what he saw as the “primitiveness” of American values, not least in matters of sex.
“The American girl,” he noted, “knows seductiveness lies in the round breasts, the full buttocks, and in the shapely thighs, sleek legs and she shows all this and does not hide it.” Nor did he approve of Jazz—”this music the savage bushmen created to satisfy their primitive desires”—or of American films, or clothes, or haircuts, or food. It was all, in his eyes, equally wretched.
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 Shariah law.
Remember – it’s not so much about what we do, it’s about who we are. Of course, none of this is to defend the cultural or social value of Lady Gaga; goodness knows she has very little if any of that. But we must remember that they hate us primarily because we possess the freedom that can allow a Lady Gaga-type to appear and thrive. That’s the core of the issue.
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
WB Yeats – 1919
…in 1952, anyway. That was then…
Assisted suicide for anyone over 70 who has simply had enough of life is being considered in Holland.
It is rare for me to run across an interview that is powerful enough to raise a lump in my throat, but today I’ve found one. William Stuntz is a Professor at Harvard Law School and a Christian who has lived for the last decade with excruciating pain, and was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer and is not expected to live through 2010. Timothy Dalrymple interviewed him in order to get his reflections on suffering and death, and the result is very powerful, especially to those who have lost a loved one to cancer.
Here, Dalrymple asks Stuntz if he has any favorite quotations or scriptures when it comes to death. Stuntz’s response:
Yes, a passage in the fourteenth chapter of Job. The passage as a whole is not hopeful. Job is uncertain what will happen to him when he dies. In the end, he says that he will return to dust and there will be nothing after death.
In the midst of the passage, however, before he turns to despair, he has a moment of hope. It’s a brief moment, just a couple of verses in the midst of an extended passage. Yet he says, “You will call and I will answer. You will long for the creature your hands have made” (Job 14:15).
I find those lines very powerful. The concept that God longs for the likes of me is so unspeakably sweet. I almost cannot bear to say them aloud. They are achingly sweet for me to hear.
There are many passages I love, but that one in particular has grabbed hold of me. Job’s hope, it turns out, is more realistic than his despair.
I have wondered, from time to time, what it must be like to face death. If I live long enough to die a natural death and know that it is coming, how will I cope? I like to think that I will be courageous in the face of death, much like my grandmother and my father, but death is so foreign to all that I know and understand. I have faith in God and believe that He did not create me to simply be annihilated after death, and yet there are times when the idea of life after death seems too strange to contemplate. Will I overcome those doubts? Will those doubts even appear? Will I be able to let go, or will I cling to life desperately? I don’t know, to be honest. I just don’t know. I pray that I will have years yet to build the maturity that I feel I need to face the end in a way that brings comfort to my family, which is really what I want. At the very least, Mr. Stuntz has given us a wonderful insight into a time of life that we all will face, and I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to absorb it.
…like butterflies always looking for a prettier flower, these intellectuals keep flitting to the next “proof” of America’s shortcomings. For some, such as New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, the prettiest flower out there right now is China. For others, it’s France or Canada. For the truly demented, it’s Cuba.
The problem with all such efforts is that they look abroad solely for what they wish to see at home. For instance, in an effort to push its green agenda, the Obama administration likes to tout the farsighted vision of Spain, which has invested heavily in windmills and other renewable technology. Never mind that today, Spain’s economic crisis is just slightly less dire than Greece’s and politicized bets on green technology contributed to its problems.
Meanwhile, France’s generous health-care system is widely hailed as so much more enlightened than America’s. What Francophiles usually leave out is the fact that France’s per capita income is 30 percent lower than America’s. Such a disparity, according to Nobel Prize–winning economist Ed Prescott, is the difference between economic prosperity and economic depression, and it’s explained by France’s much higher taxes.
‘Twould be so nice if all of our dissatisfied intellectuals and impatient pundits would, you know, move to the countries that they think work so much better than the US and just leave the rest of us to prosper in peace and freedom.