Monday, February 05, 2007

Dinesh D'Souza, King of the Idiots

My take on the whole spreading-freedom-in-the-Middle-East program can be summed up thusly: A good idea in theory, assuming it doesn't lead to things like this, and assuming the country spreading the good word isn't itself preoccupied with, uh, spreading the good word. That is, it's great to rid the world of gun-crazed theocracy, but is a gun-crazed theocracy the best sort of nation for the job?

Via Arts and Letters Daily, I just read Andrew Stuttaford's review, in the New York Sun, of Dinesh D'Souza's latest book, The Enemy at Home. It seems unfair to bash a book I haven't read, but if the argument is, as Stuttaford claims, "that America should somehow attempt to keep 'traditional' Muslims out of the extremist camp by doing what it can to stress this country's own more socially conservative side," then this is not a book worth reading. Lately I feel as if maybe half of what I read consists of books I know I'm likely to disagree with politically, but expect nevertheless to learn from, and have. But the D'Souza argument sounds like the very worst of the left and the right, all mixed up together in a bucket.

Far more bizarre, still, is a comment a reader has made in response to Stuttaford's review:

Why assume sexual decadence is the only target of their hate? What about the kind of materialism that requires us to have 150 kinds of fruit juice available to choose from at each corner gas station? What about a spiritual vacuity that extends from shallow born again christian conservatives to kooky new age liberals? What about an enormous ignorance of history, including a total lack of concern about about the importance of history, even our own? What about our ridiculous media obssessions with so many things that matter very little to a life: celebrity, tv sports, fashion, gadgetry, consumption, status? I think we are decadent beyond our ability to see it anymore--as this article demonstrates. It can only contribute to why a man would strap a bomb to his stomach in a futile gesture to stop us.

We are also free, and have the right to defend ourselves. But abandoning clear vision of of who we are is not the way to engage the enemy.

Ah yes, the decadence of having too many grocery options. Think of the Borat "cheese" sketch, in which Borat asks a man at an American supermarket what a whole aisle of items are, all of which are, it turns out, cheese. So we have different options, is that the end of the world? As for "our ridiculous media obsessions with so many things that matter to a life," shall our media switch focus to things like air, food, and water? Oh dear.


Anonymous said...

Phoebe, anyone that uses the NY Times as a reference would be laughed out of any college. If also that same writer called anyone King Of Idiots should not be taken seriuosly.

Phoebe Maltz Bovy said...

New York Sun, not Times. And the "King of the Idiots" is a reference to Seinfeld, an episode in which George refers to himself as "Costanza, King of the Idiots," although I don't know how much that helps my case.

Anonymous said...

nice blog....

Screening of "Obsession" about Radical Islam at NYU & resulting Jewish/Muslim "dialouge".

Pretty scary, if you ask me.

Anonymous said...

Charlie Hebdo (English: Charlie Weekly) is a French satirical political weekly newspaper.
The French has a similar “love to hate” (note the apostrophes) relationship towards the Belgians as the Americans towards the Canadians, notably the French Canadians.
I recall that when King Baudouin I of Belgium passed away in 1993, the issue on 8/4/1993 was called:
Charlie Hebdo N° 58 : Le Roi Des Cons Est Mort - (The King of the Idiots is dead) - Well, who's quoting whom....