Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The U.S.: Puritan or Pornographer? The Economist Weighs In

The Economist, the best weekly newsmagazine out there, has an interesting article on how the U.S. is producing anti-Americanism by supporting two rival industries: the industry of Puritanism that springs from the nation’s deep-rooted spiritual commitment and the industry of Pornography, stemming from the work of Hollywood and other culture cesspools which serves to debase the public taste. The puritanical streak, the magazine says, engenders a kind of crusade that threatens the Muslims.

The magazine is half-right. We have a lot to atone for in the dissemination of foul culture which we purvey throughout the world. By reacting to this the Muslims are indubitably right. I have real doubts whether Islam believes we are on a Crusade to convert it. The crusader effort began in 1095 and ended in 1250, the last crusader cities falling to the Muslims in 1291. The Economist has a fashionably scoffing attitude concerning religious belief, linking its distaste for anti-abortion and support of gay rights to archaic legacies from Christianity. We’re going to have to do much more than shuck our Christian ideals to convince the Muslims we’re o.k. When the tsunami hit South Asia in 2004, Colin Powell said confidently that the aid we would give to countries hit by the devastation could encourage them to like us better.

However it didn’t register with South Africa’s mufti Ebrahim Desai, the celebrity of “Ask the Imam” on a Muslim website. A questioner asked if the West deserved any praise at all from Muslims for sending troops to Bosnia and condemning the killing of Muslims elsewhere. The Imam’s answer: “In simple, the uffaar [unbelievers] can never be trusted for any possible good they do. They have their own interest at heart.” Was it just his opinion? Well, no. The Qur’an tells believers not to “take for friends or helpers unbelievers rather than believers. If any do that, in nothing will there be any help from Allahl; except by way of precaution, that ye may guard yourselves from them” [Qur’an 3:28]. This from a book by Islam historian Robert Spencer whose work was greeted by RevivingIslam.com with this nice statement: “May Allah rip out his spine from his back and split his brains in two, and then put them both back and then do it over and again. Amen.”

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