The America I want
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    The America I want

    This is Chapter one from a great book that summarizes my feeling about America. It's What's So Great About America by Dinesh D'Souza. It's a great read.

    CHAPTER ONE
    WHY THEY HATE US: AMERICA AND ITS ENEMIES


    The cry that comes from the heart of the believer overcomes everything, even the White House.


    --Ayatollah Khomeini


    Before the terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center, crashed a plane into the Pentagon, and began their campaign to bring to America the horrors of the war-ravaged Middle East, life in the United States was placid and even a little boring. The dominant issue in politics was the Social Security lockbox, an especially curious subject of dispute since no such lockbox exists or has ever existed. For diversion and entertainment, Americans could follow the Gary Condit sex scandal or watch "reality TV" shows like Survivor. Newspapers devoted front-page reports to such issues as road rage, a man bitten by a shark, and the revelation that over-age kids were playing Little League baseball. The biggest issue in the airline industry involved something called "economy class syndrome." Essentially this referred to rather obese people sitting in coach class and fretting that during long flights their legs became stiff.


    All this triviality and absurdity was swept aside by the hijackers. In an act of supreme chutzpah, coordination, and technical skill, some 19 men seized control of four commercial jet planes, crashed two into the twin towers of the World Trade Center, and rammed one into the shoulder of the Pentagon. The fourth plane did not find its target-possibly the White House or Camp David-but crashed in the woods of Pennsylvania. In a single day of infamy-September 11, 2001-the terrorists had killed more than 3,000 people.


    Not since Pearl Harbor, which provoked American entry into World War II, had America been directly attacked in this way by a foreign power. But even that was different. Pearl Harbor is in Hawaii, not on the American mainland. Moreover, Pearl Harbor was a military operation directed against the U.S. Navy. By contrast, the terrorists had struck New York City, and most of the people they killed were civilians. One would have to go back more than a century, to the Civil War, to count such large numbers of American casualties on a single day. As for civilian casualties, the citizens of the United States had never endured such mayhem. Historian David McCullough called September 11, 2001 the worst day in America's history.


    Now, amidst our grief and sad memories, we find ourselves at war against the forces of terrorism. It is an overt war, such as we saw in the overthrow of the Taliban regime, as well as a covert war, with secret campaigns to identify and destroy enemy networks and cells. It is a war that has come home to America, as people cope with fears of further attacks, including those involving biological, chemical and-God forbid-nuclear weapons. Moreover, this is a new kind of war against an enemy that refuses to identify himself. Our enemy is a terrorist regime that inhabits many countries, including the United States. It is made up of very strange people most of whose names we do not yet know and whose motives and inspiration remain unclear to us. And the enemy conducts its operations in the name of Islam, one of the world's great religions and a very old civilization that has somehow now become an incubator of fanaticism and terrorism.



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    Know your enemy, Clausewitz instructs us, and then you will be able to fight him. Despite our early success in Afghanistan, it is not clear that we understand our enemy very well. Indeed America's incomprehension of the enemy became apparent in the days immediately following September 11, with the insistence of our leaders and pundits that the terrorists were "cowards" or "faceless cowards." President Bush first used this term, which was then repeated by many others. The reasoning is that the terrorists cravenly targeted women and children. But of course the terrorists did no such thing. They didn't really care who was on the hijacked planes or in the World Trade Center. As it happened, most of their victims were men. Their targets were the symbols of American capitalism and of the American government. One of them was the Pentagon, by any reckoning a military target. Usually we consider people who pick on women and children cowardly because they are trying to avoid harm to themselves. But in this case the terrorists went to their deaths with certainty and apparent equanimity. Like the Japanese kamikazes, the terrorists were certainly fanatical, but cowards they were not.


    A second enduring myth about the terrorists is that they were poor, miserable souls who performed these terrible actions because they were desperate or more likely insane. Several commentators argued that the terrorists are drawn from "the wretched of the earth." In this view, they strike out against the affluent West because they have nothing to live for. Television host Bill O'Reilly carried this logic even further. He could not consider the terrorists brave, O'Reilly said, because they labored under the illusion that they were going straight to heaven, where they would be attended by countless nubile virgins. This, in O'Reilly's view, was simply "nuts."


    But these theories do not square with the facts. Indeed it is irrational and reckless to dismiss the terrorists in this way. O'Reilly's lunacy theory it can be tested by releasing a bunch of mentally handicapped people from one of our asylums. Could they have pulled off what the terrorists did? Of course not. The unnerving reality is that the terrorists were educated people who knew how to fly planes. They had lived in the West and been exposed to the West. Some of them, like Muhammad Atta, were raised in secular households. Many came from well-off families. Indeed the ring-leader, Osama Bin Laden, had a reported net worth of more than $100 million. Normally men with Bin Laden's bank account can be found in Monaco or St. Tropez, sailing yachts with beautiful women on each arm. Bin Laden, by contrast, spent the past several years living in a cave in Afghanistan.


    What motivates such men? One vital clue is the diary composed by Muhammad Atta and circulated to the other terrorists prior to the attack. The FBI found it in Atta's apartment. Out of respect for Allah, it says, clean your body, shave off excess hair, wear cologne, and "tighten your shoes." Read the Koran and "pray through the night" in order to "purify your soul from all unclean things." Try and detach yourself from this world because "the time for play is over." Keep a steadfast mind because "anything that happens to you could never be avoided, and what did not happen to you could never have happened to you." On the morning of the attack, "pray the morning prayer" and "do not leave your apartment unless you have performed ablution." Pray as you enter the plane and recite verses from the Koran. Ask God to forgive your sins and to give you the victory. Clench your teeth as you prepare for the attack. Shout "Allahu Akbar." Strike your enemy above the neck, as the Koran instructs. Moreover, "if you slaughter, do not cause the discomfort of those you are killing, because this is one of the practices of the prophet, peace be upon him." Finally, "You should feel complete tranquility, because the time between you and your marriage in heaven is very short."i


    These are not the instructions of cowards or lunatics, but of deeply religious Muslims. They were armed with an idea, and their colleagues have the weapons, the strategy, and the ruthlessness that are required to take on the United States and the West. It is a mistake to regard them as "suicides" in the traditional sense. A suicidal person is one who does not want to live. These men wanted to live, but they were prepared to give their life for something they deemed higher. This in itself is not contemptible or ridiculous; indeed it raises the question of what we in America would be willing to give our lives for. No serious patriotism is possible that does not attempt to answer that question.


    It is difficult for those of us who live in a largely secular society to understand that people would willingly-even happily-give their lives for their faith. When a few people show such tendencies, we deem them extremists; when large numbers of people do, we convince ourselves that they have been brainwashed. They say they are acting in the name of Allah, but we insist that this is not their real motive; they are being manipulated by elites. They believe they are martyrs, but we pronounce that they are not really Muslims. President Bush even suggested that they were betraying their faith. British Prime Minister Tony Blair has said he regrets the term "Islamic terrorists" because the vast majority of Muslims are not terrorists.ii


    True Islam, many pundits noted, is a religion of peace. As Nada El Sawy, an Arab American, wrote in Newsweek, "Muslims who kill in the name of their beliefs are not true Muslims."iii Advocates of this position point out that the term jihad does not mean "holy war," it refers to a moral struggle to conquer the evil in oneself. So if Islam wasn't the driving force behind the attacks, what was? The New Yorker comfortingly concluded, "This is a conflict that pits all of civilized society against a comparatively small, essentially stateless band of murderous outlaws."iv


    These statements may have been made for the political purpose of isolating the terrorists and keeping together an alliance against terrorism that includes several Muslim countries. But they are profoundly misleading. Political unity is important, but so is mental clarity and honesty. If we misunderstand what is driving our enemy, then our strategy in fighting him is likely to be erroneous. Despite the early success of the U.S. military campaign, it is not clear that America has a well-conceived long-term strategy for getting rid of terrorism. Moreover honesty, together with an informed sense of history, obliges us to admit that the things that we have been saying about Islam are half-truths, and dangerous half-truths at that.


    Tony Blair is right that the vast majority of Muslims are not terrorists, but it is equally a fact that the vast majority of terrorists are Muslims. Indeed most of the states that the U.S. government classifies as "terrorist" or "rogue" states, such as Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, and the Sudan, fall within the Muslim world. While Americans insist that the terrorists are fringe figures-similar perhaps to our Ku Klux Klan-the evidence is that they enjoy considerable support in their part of the globe. Immediately following the attack, Bin Laden became a folk hero in the Islamic world. The actions of the terrorists were cheered in Iraq, Libya, and among many supporters of the Palestine Liberation Organization. In Gaza, for example, a poll showed that 78 percent of Palestinians supported the attacks.v Another poll showed that 83 percent of Pakistanis sympathize with Bin Laden's Al Quaeda group and oppose the United States' military response.vi Even the governments of Muslim countries that are allied with the U.S. in the war against terrorism have proved very reluctant to involve themselves in the fighting. Nor have the leading authorities of any Muslim country condemned the terrorists as acting in violation of the principles of Islam.


    The reason for such waffling is that our allies know that terrorism and anti-Americanism have substantial support among the population in the Islamic world, even in so-called moderate Arab countries. Virtually the entire Muslim world has, over the past few decades, experienced a religious resurgence, what we may term the revival of Islamic fundamentalism.vii The authority of the fundamentalists is not confined to a few countries, such as Iran and the Sudan. Of the 22 nations of the Muslim world, none are exempt from fundamentalist influence. This movement is powerful enough, in numbers and in political intensity, to threaten the stability of countries allied with the United States, like Pakistan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. Indeed the leadership of those countries is constantly on the defensive against the militants; it is they-not the terrorists or the militants-that are under suspicion for betraying Islam.


    The terrorists and their supporters don't have to prove their bona fides. They do what they do in the name of jihad, a term that literally means "striving." Some Muslims, especially in the modern era, understand jihad as a form of internal warfare in the soul against sin. But the Koran itself urges Muslims to "slay the idolaters wherever you find them. Seize them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them."viii In his classic work, The Muqaddimah, the influential Muslim writer Ibn Khaldun asserts, "In the Muslim community, holy war is a religious duty, because of the obligation to convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force."ix These passages convey how Muslims themselves have usually understood their religious mission. Historian Bernard Lewis writes that the traditional Islamic view, upheld by the vast majority of jurists and commentators, is that jihad usually refers to an armed struggle against infidels and apostates. Lewis writes:


    In the Muslim world view the basic division of mankind is into the House of Islam (Dar al-Islam) and the House of War (Dar al-Harb). Ideally the House of Islam is conceived as a single community. The logic of Islamic law, however, does not recognize the permanent existence of any other polity outside Islam. In time, in the Muslim view, all mankind will accept Islam or submit to Islamic rule. A treaty of peace between the Muslim state and a non-Muslim state was thus in theory impossible. Such a truce, according to the jurists, could only be provisional. The name given by the Muslim jurists to this struggle is jihad.x


    The clear implication of Lewis' remarks is that the terrorists who profess the name of Allah and proclaim jihad are operating squarely within the Islamic tradition. Indeed they are performing what Islam has typically held to be a religious duty. Of course it could be pointed out that there are millions of Muslims who do not agree with this view of Islam. They prefer what may be termed the "jihad of the heart" or perhaps the "jihad of the pen" to the "jihad of the sword." But traditionally Islam has embraced all these forms of jihad as legitimate, so that the only reasonable conclusion is that many Muslims today, both in the West and in the Islamic world, no longer profess Islam in its classical or traditional sense.xi In a word, they are liberals, not in the Michael Dukakis sense, but in the classic meaning of the term. From the point of view of the Bin Ladens of the world, these people are apostates for diluting the faith and refusing to do battle against the infidels.


    I realize that terms like "apostate" and "infidel" sound harshly unfamiliar to the Western ear. There is something strange and antique about them, as if they belong to the world of our ancestors. And of course they do. A thousand years ago, during the time of the Crusades, the ancestors of the West understood their Islamic foe very well. Nobody spoke of "the West" at that time; they spoke of "Christendom." It was a time, one may say, when the Christians too had their jihad, and it was aimed at the reconquest of the Holy Land. For Christians, the crusades combined two traditional practices, pilgrimage and holy war. Kings and popes alike proclaimed that those who died in battle were martyrs for the faith and would go straight to heaven.


    There are important differences, of course, between Islam and Christianity, and the religious armies who faced each other in the eleventh and twelfth centuries were very conscious of them. But they were also conscious of the deep similarities between the two faiths. Islam and Christianity are both monotheistic, and they are the only two religions that can truly be called universal. Judaism is a religion for God's chosen people, and God's instructions are intended for them, not for anyone else. Hinduism is largely confined to India and the surrounding areas. Buddhism has longer tentacles, but it too is largely an Asian religion with a few adherents in the West. Confucianism is not really a religion, and in any case it too has a limited reach. Christianity and Islam, by contrast, believe in a universal truth handed down by God that is true for all people in all places at all times. Believing themselves in possession of this exclusive truth, Christians and Muslims have historically sought to inform the whole world of their truth, and to bring them to the one true faith. During the Crusades they both had a name for each other, "infidel." It was the same name, and both sides interpreted it the same way. Islam and Christianity clashed, not because they failed to understand each other, but because they understood each other all too well.


    But a lot has happened since the twelfth century, and we have forgotten a lot of things. American culture is rather present-oriented, and even what happened in the 1980s now seems dated. It is time that we started to learn and to remember, because our enemies do. When Bin Laden invokes the name of Salah-al-Din (Saladin), he is drawing inspiration from the great twelfth-century Muslim general who threw back the Crusaders and recaptured Jerusalem. In his videotaped statement released on Al Jazeera television, Bin Laden said Americans should get used to suffering because "our Islamic nation has been tasting the same for more than 80 years." He was referring to the dismembering of the Ottoman empire, the last of the great Muslim empires, by the victorious European forces after World War I.


    Say what you will about the terrorists, they know who they are and where they are coming from. And behind their physical attack on America and the West is an intellectual attack, one that we should understand and be prepared to answer.



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    One reason the terrorist assault startled Americans so much is that it occurred at a time when American ideas and American influence seemed to be spreading irresistibly throughout the world. The zeitgeist was captured by Francis Fukuyama in his best-selling book The End of History. Fukuyama argued that the world was moving decisively in the direction of liberal, capitalist democracy.xii In Fukuyama's view, history had ended not in the sense that important things would cease to happen, but in the sense that the grand ideological conflicts of the past had been forever settled. Of course the pace of liberalization would vary, but the outcome was inevitable. The destiny of **** sapiens had been resolved. We were headed for what may be termed Planet America.


    Fukuyama's thesis, advanced in the early 1990s, seemed consistent with the remarkable events going on in the world. The collapse of the Soviet Union left America as the world's sole superpower, with unrivaled military superiority. The discrediting of socialism meant that there was no conceivable alternative to capitalism, and all the countries of the world seemed destined to be integrated into a single global economy. Dictatorships crumbled in many parts the world, especially in Eastern Europe and Latin America, and were replaced by democratic regimes. America launched the silicon revolution, and continues to dominate the world in technology. And American ideas and American culture have captured the imagination of young people around the world, and made deep inroads into previously remote outposts in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.


    These are undeniable and hugely important facts, but the complacent confidence of the Planet America thesis has been shattered. The Cold War is over, and yet the world has become a more dangerous place. Americans, never particularly attentive to the rest of the world, have become acutely aware that there are powerful currents of resistance to globalization and Americanization. There are lots of people who do not want to become like us, and many people, especially in the Muslim world, apparently hate our guts and want to wipe us off the face of the earth. This realization, for Americans, comes as a surprise.


    In his 1997 book The Clash of Civilizations, Samuel Huntington warned that America and the West should not arrogantly assume that the rest of the world would uncritically embrace the principles of Judeo-Christian civilization. Huntington disputed the thesis of "the end of history" and pointed out that the great victories won in recent years by liberalism and democracy were mainly in Latin America and Eastern Europe, regions of the world that were within the traditional orbit of the Judeo-Christian West. Huntington argued that in the post-cold-war world, the most dangerous conflicts would occur "across the fault lines between the world's major civilizations."xiii Huntington identified civilizations mainly in terms of religion: Hindu civilization, Confucian civilization, Islamic civilization. Given the deep differences between these religious tribes, Huntington predicted that they were bound to quarrel.


    So who is right, Fukuyama or Huntington? This is one of the questions that this book will try to answer. But first let us examine the three main currents of opposition to the global spread of American influence.


    First, the European school. Actually this may be more precisely described as the French school, although it has sympathizers in other European countries. The French seem to be outraged by the idea that any single nation, let alone the United States, should enjoy complete global domination. The French foreign minister, Hubert Vedrine, termed the United States a "hyperpower" and scorned its "arrogance." The French are not against arrogance per se, but in the case of the United States they regard the arrogance as completely unjustified. For the French, the grotesque symbol of Americanization is McDonalds, and many French citizens cheered in 1999 when a sheep farmer named Jose Bove trashed a McDonald's in France. The French worry that the spread of English threatens the future of the French language and, even more precious, French culture. Their anti-Americanization is based on a strong belief in French cultural superiority combined with a fear that their great culture is being dissolved in the global marketplace.


    Most Americans find it hard to take the French critique seriously, coming as it does from men who carry handbags. French anti-Americanism is also a political device to legitimate the use of tariffs, thus protecting French products that cannot compete in the global marketplace. But at the same time the French have a point when they object to the obliteration of local cultures and the homogenization of the planet in the name of globalization and Americanization. Probably we can also agree that the world would be a worse place without the French language and French cuisine, although whether we can do without French films and French intellectuals remains open to dispute.


    A second and more troubling critique of America comes from what may be termed the Asian school. This view, which has advocates in Singapore and Malaysia and, most important, China, holds that America and the West have solved the economic problem but they have not solved the cultural problem. As Lee Kuan Yew, the former prime minister of Singapore, has argued, America has generated a lot of material prosperity, but that has been accompanied by social and moral decline. Champions of the Asian school hold that they have figured out a way to combine material well-being with social order. In Singapore, for example, you are encouraged to engage in commerce, but there is no chewing gum in public and if you paint graffiti on cars, as one American visitor did, you will be publicly caned. The result, advocates of the Asian school say, is that people can enjoy a high standard of living but without the crime, illegitimacy, and vulgarity that are believed to debase life in the West.


    The "Asian values" paradigm is often viewed as an excuse for dictatorship. Admittedly it serves the interest of Asian despots to portray democracy as a debauched system of government, so that they can justify keeping political power in their own hands. But it is hard to deny that there are powerful elements of truth in the way that Lee Kuan Yew and others portray America and the West. That there may be an alternative model better suited to the human desire for prosperity, safety, and public decency cannot be rejected out of hand. Lee Kuan Yew's slogan for this is "modernization without Westernization."xiv


    Undoubtedly the most comprehensive and ferocious attack on America comes from what may be termed the Islamic school. From what Americans hear of this group, with its slogans that we are the Great Satan, land of the infidels, and so on, it does not seem that this is a very sophisticated critique of Western society. On television we see protesters in Iraq, Iran, and Pakistan, and they seem like a bunch of jobless fanatics. But behind these demonstrators who chant and burn American flags in the street, there is a considered argument against America that should not be lightly dismissed. Americans should not assume that because they haven't heard much of this argument, it does not exist or has no intellectual merit.


    On the surface it seems that the Islamic critique is mainly focused on American foreign policy. Certainly many Muslims angrily object to the degree of U.S. political and financial support for Israel. "We consider America and Israel to be one country," one Palestinian man told CNN. "When the Israelis burn our homes and kill our children, we know that it is your weapons, your money and your helicopters that are making this happen." Interestingly the Palestinian problem was not initially a big concern for Bin Laden; he seemed more exercised about the effect of American sanctions on the Iraqi people, and about the presence of American troops in Saudi Arabia, the "holy soil of Islam." Another issue for Bin Laden, which resonates especially with Muslim intellectuals, is the proclaimed hypocrisy of America. In this view, the United States piously invokes principles of democracy and human rights while supporting undemocratic regimes, such as that of Pakistan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, that do not hesitate to trample on human rights. Probably Bin Laden strikes the biggest chord with the man in the Arab street when he blames the poverty and degradation of the Islamic world on Western and specifically American oppression.


    Clearly the foreign policy element is important, but there is much more to the Islamic critique than that. Once we begin to peruse the newspapers and listen to the public discussion in the Muslim world, and once we read the thinkers who are shaping the mind of Islamic fundamentalism, we realize that here is an intelligent and even profound assault on the very basis of America and the West. Indeed the Islamic critique, at its best, shows a deep understanding of America's fundamental principles-which is more than one can say about the American understanding of Islamic principles. This critique deserves careful attention not only because of its intrinsic power but also because it is the guiding force behind the jihad factories-the countless mosques and religious schools throughout the Muslim world that are teaching such violent hatred of America.


    Islamic critics recognize that other people around the world are trying to selectively import aspects of America and the West while rejecting other aspects that they do not like. Thus the Chinese, the Indians, the Africans, and the Latin Americans all want some of what the West has to offer-especially technology and prosperity-but they want to keep out other things. "Modernization without Westernization" expresses a widespread desire to preserve the treasured elements of one's own culture and identity in the face of Westernization.


    But the Islamic thinkers argue that this is an illusion. In their view modernity is Western, and they regard the notion that one can import what one likes from America while keeping out what one dislikes as a terrible illusion. The Islamic argument is that the West is based on principles that are radically different from those of traditional societies. In this view America is a subversive idea that, if admitted into a society, will produce tremendous and uncontrollable social upheaval. It will eliminate the religious basis for society, it will undermine traditional hierarchies, it will displace cherished values, and it will produce a society unrecognizably different from the one it destroyed. As Bin Laden himself put it, Islam is facing the greatest threat to its survival since the days of the prophet Muhammad.


    He's right. And the Islamic thinkers who fear the dissolution of their traditional societies are also correct. America is a subversive idea, indeed it represents a new way to be human, and in this book we will explore what this means and whether this subversive idea is worthy of our love and allegiance.


    So what is the Islamic objection to America? In conversations with Muslims from around the world, several common themes emerge. "To you we are a bunch of Ay-rabs, camel jockeys and sand-******s." "The only thing that we have that you care about is oil." "Americans have two things on their mind: money and sex." "Your women are *****s." "In America mothers prefer to work than to take care of their children." "In our culture the parents take care of the children, and later the children take care of the parents. In America the children abandon their parents." "America used to be a Christian country. Now atheism is the official religion of the West." "Your TV shows are disgusting. You are corrupting the morals of our young people." "We don't object to how you Americans live, but now you are spreading your way of life throughout the universe." "American culture is a kind of syphilis or disease that is destroying the Islamic community. We won't let you do to us what you did to the American Indian people."


    What stands out about the Islamic critique is its refreshing clarity. The Islamic thinkers cannot be counted in the ranks of the politically correct. Painful though it is to admit, they aren't entirely wrong about America either. They say that many Americans see them as a bunch of uncivilized towel-heads, and this is probably true. They charge that America is a society obsessed with material gain, and who will deny that this is an accurate perception? They condemn the West as an atheist civilization, and while they may be wrong about the extent of religious belief and practice, they are right that in the West religion has little sway over the public arena, and the West seems to have generated more unbelief than any other civilization in world history. They are disgusted by our culture, and we have to acknowledge that there is a good deal in American culture that is disgusting to normal sensibilities. They say our women are *****s, and in a sense they are right. Even their epithet for the United States-the Great Satan-is appropriate when we reflect that Satan is not a conqueror; he is a tempter. The Islamic militants fear that the idea of America is taking over their young people, breaking down allegiances to parents and religion and traditional community; this concern on their part is also justified.


    The most important and influential of the Islamic critics of the West is the philosopher Sayyid Qutb.xv Born in Egypt in 1906, Qutb became disenchanted with Arab nationalism as a weapon against Western imperialism. He became a leader and theoretician of the Muslim Brotherhood, a terrorist organization that is also one of the oldest institutions of radical Islam. Qutb argued that the worst form of colonialism-one that outlasted the formal end of European colonialism-was "intellectual and spiritual colonialism." What the Islamic world must do is to destroy the influence of the West within itself, to eradicate its residue "within our feelings."


    What, for Qutb, was so evil about the West? Qutb argues that from its earliest days Western civilization separated the realm of God from the realm of society. Long before the American doctrine of separation of church and state, the institutions of religion and those of government operated in separate realms and commanded separate allegiances. Consequently, Qutb argues, the realm of God and the realm of society were bound to come into conflict. And this is precisely what has happened in the West. If Athens can be taken to represent reason and science and culture, and Jerusalem can be taken to represent God and religion, then Athens has been in a constant struggle with Jerusalem. Perhaps at one point the tension could be regarded as fruitful, Qutb writes, but now the war is over and the terrible truth is that Athens has won. Reason and science have annihilated religion. True, many people continue to profess a belief in God and go to church, but religion has ceased to have any shaping influence in society. It does not direct government or law or scientific research or culture. In short, a once-religious civilization has now been reduced to what Qutb terms jahiliyya-the condition of social chaos, moral diversity, sexual promiscuity, polytheism, unbelief, and idolatry that was said to characterize the Arab tribes before the advent of Islam.


    Qutb's alternative to this way of life is Islam, which is much more than just a religion. Islam is not merely a set of beliefs; rather, it is a way of life based upon the divine government of the universe. The very term "Islam" means "submission" to the authority of Allah. This worldview requires that religious, economic, political and civil society be based on the Koran, the teachings of the prophet Muhammad, and on the sharia or Islamic law. Islam doesn't just regulate religious belief and practice; it covers such topics as the administration of the state, the conduct of war, the making of treaties, the laws governing divorce and inheritance, as well as property rights and contracts. In short, Islam provides the whole framework for Muslim life, and in this sense it is impossible to "practice" Islam within a secular framework.


    This is especially so when, as Qutb insists, the institutions of the West are antithetical to Islam. The West is a society based on freedom whereas Islam is a society based on virtue. Moreover, in Qutb's view Western institutions are fundamentally atheist: they are based on a clear rejection of divine authority. When democrats say that sovereignty and political authority are ultimately derived from the people, this means that the people-not God-are the rulers. So democracy is a form of idol-worship. Similarly capitalism is based on the premise that the market, not God, makes final decisions of worth. Capitalism too is a form of idolatry or market-worship. Qutb contends that since the West and Islam are based on radically different principles, there is no way that Islamic society can compromise or meet the West half way. Either the West will prevail or Islam will prevail. What is needed, Qutb concludes, is for true-believing Muslims to recognize this and stand up for Islam against the Western infidel and those apostate Muslims who have sold out to the West for money and power. And once the critique is accepted by Muslims the solution presents itself almost automatically. Kill the apostates. Kill the infidels.


    Some Americans will find these views frightening and abhorrent, and a few people might even object to giving them so much space and taking them seriously. But I think that they must be taken seriously. Certainly they are taken seriously in the Muslim world. Moreover, Qutb is raising issues of the deepest importance: Is reason or revelation a more reliable source of truth? Does legitimate political authority come from God or from man? Which is the highest political value: freedom or virtue? These issues are central to what the West and America are all about. Qutb's critique reveals most lucidly the argument between Islam and the West at its deepest level. For this reason, it should be welcomed by thoughtful people in America and the West.



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    The foreign critique of America would not be so formidable if Americans were united in resisting and responding to it. Patriotism, then, would be an easy matter of "us" versus "them." But in truth there are large and influential sectors of American life that agree with many of the denunciations that come from abroad. Both on the political left and the right, there are people who express a strong hostility to the idea of America and the American way of life. In many quarters in the United States, we find a deep ambivalence about exporting the American system to the rest of the world. Not only do these critiques make patriotism problematic, but they also pose the question of whether an open society, where such criticisms are permitted and even encouraged, has the fortitude and the will to resist external assault. They also raise the issue of whether, if the critics are right, America is worth defending.


    Conservatism is generally the party of patriotism, but in recent years, since the end of the Reagan administration, patriotism on the right has not been much in evidence. This is not just due to post-cold-war lassitude. Many conservatives are viscerally unhappy with the current state of American society. Several right-wing leaders have pointed to the magnitude of crime, drugs, divorce, abortion, illegitimacy and pornography as evidence that America is suffering a moral and cultural breakdown of mammoth proportions. The Reverend Jerry Falwell even suggested that the destruction of the World Trade Center was God's way of punishing America for its sinful ways. Falwell was strongly criticized, and apologized for the remark. But his cultural pessimism is echoed in the speeches of Bill Bennett and Gary Bauer, as well as in books such as Robert Bork's Slouching Toward Gomorrah, Patrick Buchanan's The Death of the West, and Gertrude Himmelfarb's The De-Moralizing of America.


    How, then, can we love a society where virtue loses all her loveliness, one that has promoted what Pope John Paul II has called a "culture of death"? Some conservatives say we cannot. A few years ago the journal First Things argued that America had so fundamentally departed from the principles that once commanded allegiances that it was time to ask "whether conscientious citizens can no longer give moral assent to the existing regime."xvi Pat Buchanan characteristically goes further, asserting that for millions of Americans, "the good country we grew up in" has now been replaced by "a cultural wasteland and a moral sewer that are not worth living in and not worth fighting for."xvii


    On the political left, anti-Americanism has been prevalent and even fashionable at least since the Vietnam War. Admittedly a direct attack on the American homeland by Islamic fundamentalists who imprison homosexuals and refuse to educate their women was a bit too much for some, like Christopher Hitchens and David Rieff, who enrolled as supporters of the U.S. war effort. Some on the left, too embarrassed to rationalize mass murder, and too timid to provoke the public's rage, fell prudently silent. But others could not help muttering that "America had it coming" and that "we must look at our own actions to understand the context for this attack." Columnist Barbara Ehrenreich, for example, said the United States was responsible for "the vast global inequalities in which terrorism is ultimately rooted."xviii This viewpoint was applauded at a Washington, D.C., town meeting sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus.xix And on the American campus, several professors went further, blaming the United States itself for the carnage of September 11. University of Massachusetts professor Jennie Traschen suggested that America deserved what it got because throughout the world it was "a symbol of terrorism and death and fear and destruction and oppression."xx


    These strong words should not have come as a surprise. For years the left-wing opponents of globalization have carried banners in Seattle and elsewhere saying "America Must Be Stopped" and "The World Is Not For Sale." On campuses across the country, professors have been teaching their students what Columbia University scholar Edward Said recently argued: that America is a genocidal power with a "history of reducing whole peoples, countries and even continents to ruin by nothing short of holocaust."xxi Many intellectuals and activists have devoted a good deal of their adult lives to opposing what one termed "a world laid to waste by America's foreign policy, its gunboat diplomacy, its chilling disregard for non-American lives, its barbarous military interventions, its support for despotic and dictatorial regimes, its marauding multinationals, its merciless economic agenda that has munched through the economies of poor countries like a cloud of locusts."xxii Could Bin Laden have put it better? If what these people say is true, then America should be destroyed.


    The most serious internal critique of America comes from the political movement called multiculturalism. This group is made up of minority activists as well as of sympathetic whites who agree with their agenda. The multiculturalists are a powerful, perhaps even dominant, force in American high schools and colleges. The pervasiveness of their influence is attested in the title of a recent book by Nathan Glazer, We Are All Multiculturalists Now. This group has become the shaper of the minds of American students. The multiculturalists are teaching our young people that the Western civilization is defined by oppression. They present American history as an uninterrupted series of crimes visited on blacks, American Indians, Hispanics, women, and natives of the Third World. This is the theme of Howard Zinn's widely-used textbook A People's History of the United States. Other leading scholars affirm Zinn's basic themes. Cornel West, who teaches black studies at Harvard, says that American society is "chronically racist, sexist and homophobic."xxiii Political scientist Ali Mazrui goes further, charging that the United States has been and continues to be "a breeding ground for racism, exploitation and genocide."xxiv


    The reason America exercises such a baleful influence, multiculturalists argue, is that the American founders were slave owners and racists who established what one scholar terms "a model totalitarian society."xxv No wonder that multiculturalists are not hopeful about the future of the American experiment. In the words of historian John Hope Franklin, "We're a bigoted people and always have been. We think every other country is trying to copy us now, and if they are, God help the world."xxvi


    Multiculturalists insist that immigrants and minorities should not assimilate to the American mainstream because to do so is to give up one's identity and to succumb to racism. As the influential scholar Stanley Fish puts it, "Common values. National unity. Assimilation. These are now the code words and phrases for an agenda that need no longer speak in the accents of the Know-Nothing party of the nineteenth century or the Ku Klux Klan of the twentieth."xxvii The multicultural objective is to encourage non-whites in America to cultivate their separate identities, and to teach white Americans to accept and even cherish these differences. For multiculturalists, diversity is the basis for American identity. As a popular slogan has it, "All we have in common is our diversity."


    Multiculturalists also seek to fill white Americans with an overpowering sense of guilt and blame so that they accept responsibility for the sufferings of minorities in America and poor people in the rest of the world. One favored multicultural solution, taken up by the Reverend Jesse Jackson upon his return from the recent United Nations-sponsored World Conference on Racism in Durban, is for the American government to pay reparations for slavery to African nations and to African Americans. "The amount we are owed," says black activist Haki Madhubuti, "is in the trillions of dollars."xxviii


    What we have, then, is a vivid portrait of how terrible America is and of the grave harms that it has inflicted on its people and on the world since the nation's founding. These charges of the low origins of America, and its oppressive practices, and its depraved culture, and its pernicious global influence-are they true? If so, is it possible to love our country, or are we compelled to watch her buildings knocked down and her people killed and say, in unison with her enemies, "Praise be to Allah"?



    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    "To make us love our country," Edmund Burke wrote, "our country ought to be lovely."xxix Burke's point is that we typically love our country for the same reason that we love our children-because they are ours. Some people have kids who are intrinsically unlovable, but they love them anyway. This partiality that we all show for our own seems to be part of our tribal nature. But Burke implies that this is not the highest kind of patriotism. In the movie The Patriot, the hero played by Mel Gibson refuses to fight for America until his son is killed and his home is burned to the ground. Despite its great battle scenes, the film conveys the message that patriotism is a kind of selfishness. But this would not seem to be the noblest form of patriotism, which calls us to look beyond private interests to the public benefit. As Burke suggests, the genuine patriot loves his country not only because it is his, but also because it is good.


    Now, more than ever, we need this higher kind of patriotism, and it is by necessity a patriotism of the reflective sort. Reflection was not in evidence when, in the aftermath of the terrorist attack, an Arizona resident named Frank Roque fired three bullets into a Sikh gas station attendant, killing him. When the police arrived, Roque explained his actions: "I am an American." Actually, so was the man he killed, Guru Khalsa. Roque apparently thought Khalsa was a Muslim from an Arab country. Wrong man, wrong country, wrong religion. This was a rare incident, but even so it is brutish exhibitions of nativism like this one that convince some thoughtful people, like philosopher Martha Nussbaum, that attachment to any tribe or nationality is dangerous and that our moral allegiance should be to "the community of all human beings."xxx


    If the only possible patriotism were based on "my country, right or wrong," then Nussbaum would be correct. If patriotism were to inevitably degenerate into the kind of blind hatred that motivated Roque, then we are better off without it. But one can make a distinction between nativism, which is based on resentment, and patriotism, which is based on love. The former is objectionable, but the latter is indispensable. Certainly America requires it now, and will require it even more in the foreseeable future. Even when our initial anger toward our enemies has cooled, we still need an enduring attachment to our country to see her through the long trials ahead. America desperately needs the love of her citizens, for what she is and for what she might become.


    A patriotism of this sort-a thoughtful and affirming patriotism-must necessarily be based on an examination of first principles. The need for this approach was illustrated by an American radio show host who recently erupted, "I don't know why those crazy Muslims want to fight with us. They believe in Allah this, and Allah that, and they don't realize that we don't give a damn. So why can't we just agree to disagree?" The reason, of course, is that agreeing to disagree is a liberal principle and it is liberalism itself that is being disputed here. The procedural liberalism that we are so used to invoking-which presupposes that liberal mechanisms like free speech and equal rights are the best way of organizing society-is ineffective against those who do not believe that these are self-evident goods and who insist that religious truth and virtue have higher claims. We have to show why our society is a moral improvement on theirs, and this is neither an obvious nor an easy task.


    I feel that I am in a unique position to write about this subject. I am a native of India who grew up in Bombay and came to the United States as an exchange student in the late 1970s. Since I spent the first part of my life in a different society, I am able to see the United States from the outside and to identify unique aspects of American society that seem completely unremarkable to the natives. This may be called the "Tocqueville advantage," although in invoking it I am by no means comparing myself to Tocqueville. Visiting America in the 1830s, Tocqueville declared that he had encountered "a distinct species of mankind." Tocqueville was especially struck by the average American's "inordinate love of material gratification." At the same time, Tocqueville detected a restlessness of soul that afflicted even the most fortunate and prosperous families. Tocqueville observed that, by contrast with Europeans, Americans exhibited a high degree of civic activism and religious fervor. Tocqueville further remarked that Americans were fierce egalitarians who, despite differences of income and status, refused to bow and scrape before anybody.xxxi


    These are perceptive observations, and most of them are true today. But a great deal has also changed since Tocqueville came here, and the United States displays some new distinguishing characteristics. I am impressed at the fact that Americans cannot fight a war and say they are doing it for strategic advantage or for oil; they have to be convinced, or to convince themselves, that they are fighting to expel a tyrant, or to secure democracy, or to ensure human rights. In other societies there are multiple measures of social recognition, such as family background, education, caste, and so on: in the United States, it pretty much comes down to how much money you have. Even so, "old money" carries very little prestige in America: all it means is that your grandfather was a robber baron or a bootlegger. As a frequent speaker at American companies, I am struck by the ease with which Palestinians and Jews, Hindus and Muslims, Turks and Armenians, all work together in apparent disregard of the bitter historical grievances that have shattered their communities of origin. Elsewhere in the world the poor aspire to middle-class respectability, but in the United States the wealthy seek to dress and act like middle-class people, or even like bums. American children seem to believe quite literally that you can "be whatever you want to be," implausible though this seems to people in other places. American parents seem unnaturally eager to befriend their children and to treat them as equals, yet the children seem firmly convinced that they are far wiser than their elders. Young people in the United States "go away to college" and typically never return home to live; in many other countries this would be regarded as abandoning one's offspring. Americans are the friendliest people you will encounter, but they have few friends. Most people in the United States do not believe in idleness and pursue even leisure with a kind of strenuous effort. There are very weird people in America, but nobody seems struck or bothered by the amount of weirdness. In many countries old people believe their life is over and pretty much wait to die, while in America people in their mid-seventies pursue the pleasures of life, including remarriage and sexual gratification, with a zeal that I find unnerving. While the funeral is a standard public ceremony in most countries, funerals are a very rare public sight in America, and no one likes to go to them: it seems that Americans don't really die, they just disappear. The significance of some of these cultural peculiarities will be explored later in this book.


    Another reason I feel especially qualified to write this book is that I have the background and credentials to evaluate the various accusations that are launched against the United States and the West. Having been raised in a country that was colonized by the West for several hundred years, I have a good vantage point to assess how Western civilization has harmed or helped the peoples of the non-Western world. As a "person of color" who has lived in the United States for more than 20 years, and having devoted a decade to studying issues of race and ethnicity, I am competent to address such questions as what it is like to be a non-white person in America, what this country owes its indigenous minorities, and whether immigrants can maintain their ethnic identity and still "become American."


    I became an U.S. citizen myself in 1991. I took the oath that fateful day, and over the years my identification with America has deepened to the point that I truly feel that I have "become an American." This phrase has become common enough that we don't give it a thought, and yet it is fraught with meaning. An American could come to India and stay for 40 years, perhaps even taking Indian citizenship, but he could not "become Indian." Indians would not consider such a person Indian, nor would it be possible for him to think of himself in that way. The reason is that being Indian, like being German or Swedish or Iranian, is entirely a matter of birth and blood. You become Indian by having Indian parents.


    In America, by contrast, millions of people come from all over the world and over time most of them come to think of themselves as Americans. Sometimes their children and grandchildren forget where they came from, or stop caring. Whatever their origins, these people have somehow, like me, “become American.” Their experience suggests that becoming American is less a function of birth or blood and more a function of embracing a set of ideas. It is only for this reason that terms like “un-American” and “anti-American” make sense. You could not accuse someone of being “un-German” or “un-Pakistani.” They would not know what you were talking about.


    I believe that over the years I have developed an understanding of the central idea that makes America great, and I have seen the greatness of America reflected in my life. At the same time I take seriously the issues raised by the critics of America. I know that they are on to something as well. In recent years my enthusiasm about America has been shaken by the experience of parenthood. As the father of a seven-year-old girl, I have come to realize how much more difficult it is to raise her well in America than it would be for me and my wife to raise her in India. We are constantly battling to shield our daughter from toxic influences in American culture that threaten to destroy her innocence. And even as I seek to insulate her from those influences, I am not sure that I can. This is a battle that I know I might lose. Why, I sometimes ask myself, do I stay in America?


    I mention these details to make the point that I feel the force of the arguments for and against America, because they play out in my own life. This is a book that seeks to integrate my research and study about America with my personal experience of American life. It is a book that faces the harshest critics of America and the West, but concludes that those critics are wrong. They are missing something of great significance about Western civilization, and about the American way of life. So for all my qualms, I will not be returning to India. I know that my daughter will have a better life if I stay. I don’t just mean that she will be better off; I mean that her life is likely to have greater depth, meaning and fulfillment in the United States than it would be in any other country. I have come to appreciate that there is something great and noble about America, and in this book I intend to say what that is.



    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    i“Notes Found After the Hijackings,” New York Times, September 29, 2001, p. B-3.
    iiJohn O’Sullivan, “Volatile Ideas that Bombs Can’t Destroy,” San Diego Union-Tribune, October 14, 2001, p. G-1.

    iiiNada El Sawy, “Yes, I Follow Islam, but I’m Not a Terrorist,” Newsweek, October 15, 2001, p. 12.

    ivHendrik Hertzberg and David Remnick, “The Trap,” New Yorker, October 1, 2001, p. 38.

    vJoseph Lelyveld, “The Mind of a Suicide Bomber,” New York Times Magazine, October 28, 2001, p. 50.

    vi “Don’t Count on Muslim Support,” The American Enteprise, December 2001, p. 11.

    viiI understand the limitations of the term “fundamentalism,” which refers to a specifically American Protestant movement to return to biblical fundamentals. I use the term here to refer to Muslims who are seeking to return the Islamic world to a purer version of Islam unadulterated by non-Islamic ideas and influences.

    viiiThe Koran, translated by N.J. Dawood, Penguin Books, New York, 1995, p. 186.

    ixIbn Khaldun, The Muqaddimah, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1967, p. 183.

    xBernard Lewis, The Muslim Discovery Of Europe, W. W. Norton, New York, 1982, p. 60-61; see also Bernard Lewis, “Jihad vs. Crusade,” Wall Street Journal, September 27, 2001.

    xi For readings on the meaning of jihad, see Rudolph Peters, Jihad in Classical and Modern Islam, Markus Wiener Publishers, Princeton, NJ, 1996.

    xiiFrancis Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man, Avon Books, New York, 1992.

    xiiiSamuel Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, Touchstone Books, New York, 1997, p. 20.

    xivLee Kuan Yew, “America Is No Longer Asia’s Model,” New Perspectives Quarterly, Winter 1996; Fareed Zakaria, “A Conversation With Lee Kuan Yew,” Foreign Affairs, March-April 1994.

    xvJohn Esposito, ed, “Sayyid Qutb: Ideologue of Islamic Revival,” in Voices of Resurgent Islam, Oxford University Press, New York, 1983; John Esposito, The Islamic Threat: Myth or Reality?, Oxford University Press, New York, 1999, pp. 135-137; Ibrahim Abu-Rabi, Intellectual Origins of Islamic Resurgence in the Modern Arab World, State University of New York Press, Albany, 1996, pp. 133, 158, 172; Roxanne Euben, “Pre-modern, Anti-modern or Postmodern: Islamic and Western Critiques of Modernity,” The Review of Politics, Summer 1997, p. 434-450.

    xvi “The End of Democracy?” First Things, November 1996, p. 18-42.

    xviiPatrick Buchanan, The Death of the West, St. Martin’s Press, New York, 2001, p. 6.

    xviiiCited in “Idiocy Watch,” The New Republic, October 15, 2001, p. 10.

    xixAnn Gerhart, “Black Caucus Waves the Caution Flag,” Washington Post, September 28, 2001, p. C-1, C-8.

    xxJames Bowman, “Towers of Intellect,” Wall Street Journal, October 5, 2001.

    xxiStanley Kurtz, “Edward Said, Imperialist,” The Weekly Standard, October 8, 2001, p. 35.

    xxiiThese words, from the writer Arundhati Roy, were quoted in “Sontagged,” The Weekly Standard, October 15, 2001, p. 42-43.

    xxiiiCornel West, Keeping Faith: Philosophy and Race in America, Routledge, New York, 1993, p. 236.

    xxivAli Mazrui, “Islamic and Western Values,” Foreign Affairs, September-October 1997.

    xxvNathan Huggins, Black Odyssey: The African American Ordeal in Slavery, Vintage Books, New York, 1990, p. 113.

    xxviDennis Farney, “As America Triumphs, Americans Are Awash in Doubt,” Wall Street Journal, July 27, 1992, p. A-1; see also John Hope Franklin, “The Moral Legacy of the Founding Fathers,” University of Chicago Magazine, Summer 1975, p. 10-13.

    xxviiStanley Fish, There’s No Such Thing as Free Speech, and It’s a Good Thing Too, Oxford University Press, New York, 1994, p. 87.

    xxviiiHaki Madhubuti, Black Men: Obsolete, Single, Dangerous?, Third World Press, Chicago, 1990, p. 28.

    xxixEdmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France, Penguin Books, New York, 1982, p. 172.

    xxxMartha Nussbaum, “Genesis of a Book,” Liberal Education, Spring 1999, p. 38.

    xxxiAlexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Vintage Books, New York, 1990, Vol. I, p. 394

  2. #2

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    Document dump.

    Can I assume in here somewhere it says atheists or avowed Satanists or people who want to tax churches should/should not be allowed to vote and hold office in America? Maybe you could summarize what it says on that question so I don't have to spend all afternoon looking..

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    Second summarizing, get to the point.

    It is neet that you have all this time to OCR scan a book in to your PC.

    But you do not seem to get to what your take is and why it is relevent to you.

    Based on your previous posts I have an idea where you stand but just come out and tell us and see if we care enough to respond.
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    i'll make it easy for you lazy @ss

    On the political left, anti-Americanism has been prevalent and even fashionable at least since the Vietnam War. Admittedly a direct attack on the American homeland by Islamic fundamentalists who imprison homosexuals and refuse to educate their women was a bit too much for some, like Christopher Hitchens and David Rieff, who enrolled as supporters of the U.S. war effort. Some on the left, too embarrassed to rationalize mass murder, and too timid to provoke the public's rage, fell prudently silent. But others could not help muttering that "America had it coming" and that "we must look at our own actions to understand the context for this attack." Columnist Barbara Ehrenreich, for example, said the United States was responsible for "the vast global inequalities in which terrorism is ultimately rooted."xviii This viewpoint was applauded at a Washington, D.C., town meeting sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus.xix And on the American campus, several professors went further, blaming the United States itself for the carnage of September 11. University of Massachusetts professor Jennie Traschen suggested that America deserved what it got because throughout the world it was "a symbol of terrorism and death and fear and destruction and oppression."xx


    These strong words should not have come as a surprise. For years the left-wing opponents of globalization have carried banners in Seattle and elsewhere saying "America Must Be Stopped" and "The World Is Not For Sale." On campuses across the country, professors have been teaching their students what Columbia University scholar Edward Said recently argued: that America is a genocidal power with a "history of reducing whole peoples, countries and even continents to ruin by nothing short of holocaust."xxi Many intellectuals and activists have devoted a good deal of their adult lives to opposing what one termed "a world laid to waste by America's foreign policy, its gunboat diplomacy, its chilling disregard for non-American lives, its barbarous military interventions, its support for despotic and dictatorial regimes, its marauding multinationals, its merciless economic agenda that has munched through the economies of poor countries like a cloud of locusts."xxii Could Bin Laden have put it better? If what these people say is true, then America should be destroyed.


    The most serious internal critique of America comes from the political movement called multiculturalism. This group is made up of minority activists as well as of sympathetic whites who agree with their agenda. The multiculturalists are a powerful, perhaps even dominant, force in American high schools and colleges. The pervasiveness of their influence is attested in the title of a recent book by Nathan Glazer, We Are All Multiculturalists Now. This group has become the shaper of the minds of American students. The multiculturalists are teaching our young people that the Western civilization is defined by oppression. They present American history as an uninterrupted series of crimes visited on blacks, American Indians, Hispanics, women, and natives of the Third World. This is the theme of Howard Zinn's widely-used textbook A People's History of the United States. Other leading scholars affirm Zinn's basic themes. Cornel West, who teaches black studies at Harvard, says that American society is "chronically racist, sexist and homophobic."xxiii Political scientist Ali Mazrui goes further, charging that the United States has been and continues to be "a breeding ground for racism, exploitation and genocide."xxiv


    The reason America exercises such a baleful influence, multiculturalists argue, is that the American founders were slave owners and racists who established what one scholar terms "a model totalitarian society."xxv No wonder that multiculturalists are not hopeful about the future of the American experiment. In the words of historian John Hope Franklin, "We're a bigoted people and always have been. We think every other country is trying to copy us now, and if they are, God help the world."xxvi


    Multiculturalists insist that immigrants and minorities should not assimilate to the American mainstream because to do so is to give up one's identity and to succumb to racism. As the influential scholar Stanley Fish puts it, "Common values. National unity. Assimilation. These are now the code words and phrases for an agenda that need no longer speak in the accents of the Know-Nothing party of the nineteenth century or the Ku Klux Klan of the twentieth."xxvii The multicultural objective is to encourage non-whites in America to cultivate their separate identities, and to teach white Americans to accept and even cherish these differences. For multiculturalists, diversity is the basis for American identity. As a popular slogan has it, "All we have in common is our diversity."


    Multiculturalists also seek to fill white Americans with an overpowering sense of guilt and blame so that they accept responsibility for the sufferings of minorities in America and poor people in the rest of the world. One favored multicultural solution, taken up by the Reverend Jesse Jackson upon his return from the recent United Nations-sponsored World Conference on Racism in Durban, is for the American government to pay reparations for slavery to African nations and to African Americans. "The amount we are owed," says black activist Haki Madhubuti, "is in the trillions of dollars."xxviii


    What we have, then, is a vivid portrait of how terrible America is and of the grave harms that it has inflicted on its people and on the world since the nation's founding. These charges of the low origins of America, and its oppressive practices, and its depraved culture, and its pernicious global influence-are they true? If so, is it possible to love our country, or are we compelled to watch her buildings knocked down and her people killed and say, in unison with her enemies, "Praise be to Allah"?

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    HAL9000 , that post wasnt for you. sorry.

    .....

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    If thats the *summary*

    I might as well read the original.

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    Alright I struggled through it and I also don't see

    where anyone answered the original question of whether nonbelievers get to vote in Flip's Christian America.

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    Understood,

    No sweat.
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    You're too funny!

    At least this author you cite.

    You ignore the two largest populations in the world (Chinese, India) As if

    You give historical evidence to the negative aspects of the two largest religeons in the world. To summarize, "my truth good, your truth evil. Evil must be quashed."

    Of course you forget to mention that both religeons spread mostly via conquest, not via hearts and minds.

    You ignore the relative liberal "Golden age" of Islam.

    You give all credit for democracy to the Judeo/Christian traditions, when it should be properly attributed to the rationalists. Yet you ignore rationalist thinking which you call "Humanist"

    And this is only in the first third of the post! This is the most self contradictory post in this forum I have ever read, and I have been lurcking for at least two years.

    You and your precious author makes the best argument for the absolute seperation of church and state. I shudder to think anyone holding your views in govermental positions of power.

    Just so you know, although I am not religeous in the traditional sense, I do belong to a religeous congragation and do raise my kids in that faith.

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    You've got to read the book

    The book goes into the main arguments and who's making them about why AMerica is a lousy country.

    The author shows how America is great. Again, I just gave you the intro, he shows in the book why America is great for all the right reasons (freedom).

    He goes into why forced virtue (religious state) is not better than freedom of choice, where you get greatness and evil.

    God is into that also. Freedom of choice. Sure evil is in the world, but there is also great good.

    Doug was right, I'm for freedom and not a religious state. I hope you can read this line because you keep harping as if I won't say it. I just did.

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    Sorry about implicitly accussing that you advocate for a Christian state

    still, any time I hear "evil talk", it makes me very uncomfortable, I think Islam in its current militant interpretation and practice and not Islam itself is the enemy. More broadly speaking intolerance, which is not exclusive to militant Islam, is what we must combat along with terrorism.

    I whole heartly agree that freedom in the U.S. is one of its great virtues. I also consider the selft criticism in what we call the West is one of the greatest recent developments in human civilazation. This self criticism allows us to move beyond writing history to justify our assent and mask our transgressions. It can help us move the world beyond national darwism and better ensure our security when the sun sets for our empire as it has for every empire.

    As the pre-eminant power I expect that the U.S. receives more scruitny. This is the price of limelight and power. As the pre-eminant world power, we have added responsibility that no one else bears.

    No doubt some criticism from within and without are without merit, are self-serving, and can be and have been used to inflame. The alternative to me is much much worse.

    Best Regards,


    Quote Originally Posted by Flip Flash
    The book goes into the main arguments and who's making them about why AMerica is a lousy country.

    The author shows how America is great. Again, I just gave you the intro, he shows in the book why America is great for all the right reasons (freedom).

    He goes into why forced virtue (religious state) is not better than freedom of choice, where you get greatness and evil.

    God is into that also. Freedom of choice. Sure evil is in the world, but there is also great good.

    Doug was right, I'm for freedom and not a religious state. I hope you can read this line because you keep harping as if I won't say it. I just did.

  12. #12
    Every little counts...
    Reputation: Spunout's Avatar
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    LOLOLOLOL!!! Good Stuff!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Flip Flash
    God is into that also. Freedom of choice. Sure evil is in the world, but there is also great good.

    Doug was right, I'm for freedom and not a religious state. I hope you can read this line because you keep harping as if I won't say it. I just did.
    Sorry, couldn't resist ;-)

  13. #13

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    Good job Mr. Spunout!!! :)

    no darn message

  14. #14
    Deliciously Ironic
    Reputation: Rollo Tommassi's Avatar
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    Dinesh D'Sousa is a Master of the Obvious. This is no great scholarly work, merely a rehash of what most educated and informed people glean from their surroundings. By educated people I mean those that yearn for an understanding of the world around them and pursue many options for learning about it. Not just schooling
    And why post all this from a two year old book?
    mohair_chair: And everyone knows that a menstruating woman attracts bears

    buy my old bike stuff: https://sites.google.com/site/carbonscyclingcloset/

    my playlist on Blip.fm: http://blip.fm/rollotommassi

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