It may be hard to imagine today, but on 9/11 the thought actually crossed my mind that America’s social divisions would now melt away, or at least radically diminish. After the fall of the Twin Towers, how could anyone continue to believe (or pretend to believe) that gays, for example, were a real threat to America? Surely the U.S. would unite in defense of its freedoms—everybody’s freedoms—and in opposition to the jihadists.
For a moment, that seemed to be happening. Then the finger-pointing started. Leftists railed that America had gotten its payback for imperialism; Jerry Falwell insisted that pagans, abortionists, gays, and others of that ilk had “helped this happen.” This claim was elaborated in an unpublished text later sent to me by a retired member of the Norwegian Parliament who blamed 9/11 on the stateside degenerates—principally “homosexual heroes and anal addicts” (yes, “anal addicts”)—who offend Muslim family values. Now right-wing hack Dinesh D’Souza makes this same accusation in a jaw-droppingly repulsive screed, The Enemy at Home. Charging that “the cultural left in this country is responsible for causing 9/11,” he wants good Christians to recognize that Islamic values resemble their own—and that the real enemy is those fags next door. If only they’d retarget their rage, thereby showing their respect for “traditional values,” Muslims would stop hating the USA.
D’Souza (who says he is Catholic) invites us to “imagine how American culture looks and feels to someone who has been raised in a traditional society… where homosexuality is taboo and against the law…. One can only imagine the Muslim reaction to televised scenes of homosexual men exchanging marriage vows in San Francisco and Boston.” Let it be recalled that D’Souza is referring here to a “traditional society” in which girls of 13 or 14 are routinely forced to marry their cousins, and in which the groom, if his conjugal attentions are resisted on the wedding night, is encouraged by his new in-laws to take his bride by force. Such are the sensitivities that, D’Souza laments, are so deeply offended by the American left, which “would like to have Mapplethorpe’s photographs and Brokeback Mountain seen in every country… the left wants America to be a shining beacon of golden depravity, a kind of Gomorrah on a Hill.”
This isn’t entirely new territory for D’Souza. In What’s So Great about America? (2002), while celebrating the U.S. for enabling him—an immigrant from India—to achieve “a life that made me feel true to myself,” he condemned as contemptibly self-indulgent others who sought to be true to themselves. The West, he summed up, is “based on freedom,” Islam “on virtue”; while praising the latter, he claimed (ultimately) to prefer the former—though it seemed a close call, for while freedom for the likes of himself is cool, freedom for certain others is merely a license to sin. In any event, he’s now firmly in the “virtue” camp. He still claims to prize freedom—he just doesn’t like what some people have done with it. Hence he recommends a more Islamic (i.e., Orwellian) definition of “freedom”—namely the kind of “freedom” in which newly free citizens hold free elections in which they vote in authoritarians who promise to impose sharia.
As for “virtue”—well, D’Souza fumes for pages at length about the moral corruption of everything from Pulp Fiction and Jerry Springer to Britney Spears and Will and Grace, ardently contrasting all this vice and filth to the glorious uprightness of Muslim family values. Forget the sky-high rates of wife-beating and intrafamily rape in Muslim households; forget the stoning to death of gays and rape victims—D’Souza offers only scattered, rote, and understated acknowledgments that Muslim domestic culture might not be 100 percent morally pure (“There is, of course, no excuse for the abuses of patriarchy”). He ignores the Muslim schoolbooks and media that routinely depict Jews as subhumans who merit extinction; he winks at the current persecution of “traditional, family oriented” Christians (and Hindus) across the Muslim world; and he pretends that “most traditional Muslims” condemn honor killings. (On the contrary, when European Muslims slaughter their daughters, journalists struggle to find coreligionists who’ll criticize them for doing so.)
He’s quick to warn, moreover, that in discussing potentially troubling aspects of Muslim culture, “we should be on guard against the blinders of ethnocentrism.” In short, while inviting conservative Christians to buy the idea that Muslim family values are essentially equivalent to their own, he wants them to overlook the multitudinous—and profoundly disturbing—ways in which they aren’t. He labors consistently to minimize this value gap—and thereby reinforce his argument that today’s terrorism (far from perpetrating a centuries-long tradition of violent jihad) is, quite simply, a reaction to America’s post-’60s moral dissipation. He would have his readers believe that if only the U.S. returned to the values of the Eisenhower era, our Muslim adversaries would let us be. But he deliberately obscures the mountains of evidence that for “traditional Muslims,” even small-town 1940s America wouldn’t do. For example, in sympathetically describing the outraged response of Sayyid Qutb, the father of modern Islamism, to America’s debauchery, D’Souza neatly skirts the fact that Qutb first witnessed that debauchery at a church dance in the then-dry burg of Greeley, Colorado, in 1948—a year when, as Robert Spencer has noted, the highlights of America’s decadent pop culture included the movie Easter Parade and Dinah Shore’s recording of “Buttons and Bows.”
Promoting his tract on TV, D’Souza has consistently softened and misrepresented its message. His January 28 reply to critics, which ran in the Washington Post, is a masterpiece of dissembling: he complains that Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert hounded him with the question “But you agree with the Islamic radicals, don’t you?”—but fails to mention that he finally replied “Yes.” Indeed, though he purports to disdain those radicals, he writes about them far more compassionately than about anyone on the American left: Among the images he strives to improve are those of Theo van Gogh’s murderer (he quotes out of context a sensitive-sounding courtroom remark the butcher made to his victim’s mother), of bin Ladin and Khomeini (both of whom, we’re told, are “highly regarded” for their “modest demeanor, frugal lifestyle, and soft-spoken manner”), of Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi (whose criticism of gay marriage he approvingly cites, while omitting to note that Qaradawi also supports the death sentence for sodomites), and even of the 9/11 terrorists (D’Souza excerpts the goodbye letter one of them sent his wife, which he plainly finds noble and poignant).
For those who cherish freedom, 9/11 was intensely clarifying. Presumably it, and its aftermath, have been just as clarifying for D’Souza, whose book leaves no doubt whatsoever that he now unequivocally despises freedom—that open homosexuality and female “immodesty” are, in his estimation, so disgusting as to warrant throwing one’s lot in with religious totalitarians. Shortly after The Enemy at Home came out, a blogger recalled that in 2003, commenting in the National Review on the fact that “influential figures” in America’s conservative movement felt “that America has become so decadent that we are ‘slouching towards Gomorrah,’” D’Souza wrote: “If these critics are right, then America should be destroyed.” Well, D’Souza has now made it perfectly clear that he’s one of those critics; and the book he’s written is nothing less than a call for America’s destruction. He is the enemy at home. Treason is the only word for it.