How the Left forced the planes to crash

The En­emy at Home: The Cul­tural Left and Its Re­spon­si­bil­ity for 9/ 11 By Di­nesh D’Souza Dou­ble­day, 333pp, $ 55.95

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Books - Richard King

YOU wouldn’t think from his book’s jacket pho­to­graph that Di­nesh D’Souza was a fierce right- winger, a so­cial con­ser­va­tive in the mould of Ann Coul­ter ( au­thor of God­less: The Church of Lib­er­al­ism and the US’s loud­est theo- con). With his age­less face and wist­ful ex­pres­sion, he looks as if he couldn’t hurt a fly even if he wanted to. In re­al­ity, how­ever, his de­ter­mi­na­tion to tor­ment ‘‘ blue Amer­ica’’ borders on the fa­nat­i­cal.

Hav­ing said that, the cover of The En­emy at Home, de­pict­ing a be­fouled US flag and a page of omi­nously smoul­der­ing parch­ment over­laid by a ti­tle em­bossed in Repub­li­can red, is a fairly good in­di­ca­tion of the of­ten sin­is­ter blus­ter within. In D’Souza’s eyes, the ‘‘ cul­tural Left’’ re­ally is re­spon­si­ble for 9/ 11 and the ‘‘ spoiled chil­dren of the 1960s’’ are a gen­uine fifth col­umn in the war on ter­ror.

D’Souza was born in Mumbai, In­dia, in 1961 and im­mi­grated to the US in 1979. Since then he has built a lu­cra­tive ca­reer out of blam­ing the Amer­i­can Left for ev­ery­thing from the de­cline of ed­u­ca­tional stan­dards ( Il­lib­eral Ed­u­ca­tion, 1991) to Afro- Amer­i­can un­der­achieve­ment ( The End of Racism, 1995). His last book, What’s So Great About Amer­ica ( 2002), was a re­sponse to 9/ 11 in which he took on crit­ics from within and with­out the US. The En­emy at Home picks up that theme, with an em­pha­sis on the for­mer.

Ac­cord­ing to D’Souza, the cul­tural Left is the ‘‘ pri­mary cause of the vol­cano of anger to­wards Amer­ica that is erupt­ing in the Is­lamic world’’. The rea­sons, he sug­gests, are twofold: it has ‘‘ rou­tinely af­firmed the most vi­cious prej­u­dices about Amer­i­can for­eign pol­icy’’ and it has fos­tered a deca­dent cul­ture.

The first of th­ese points is the saner one, though D’Souza, in the first of many non se­quiturs, wil­fully con­fuses a phe­nom­e­non with a cause. More­over, the phe­nom­e­non ( the Left’s anti- im­pe­ri­al­ism) has been dealt with far more in­tel­li­gently by lib­eral writ­ers such as Paul Ber­man and Nick Co­hen. Not that it hurts to be re­minded of the as­sorted stu­pidi­ties of the pseudo- Left. Whether we need a McCarthyesque list of ‘‘ do­mes­tic in­sur­gents’’ is an­other mat­ter, but D’Souza pro­vides one, just in case.

Pro­ceed­ing to the sec­ond point, we find D’Souza squarely in his el­e­ment, or rather os­ten­ta­tiously out of it. Press­ing the po­maded hand­ker­chief of tra­di­tional moral­ity to his nose and lips, he walks us through the de­gen­er­acy and de­bauch­ery, the ‘‘ pa­gan de­prav­ity’’, of con­tem­po­rary cul­ture, a gar­den of ob­scen­i­ties for which, it seems, the cul­tural Left is ex­clu­sively re­spon­si­ble. Abor­tion, pros­ti­tu­tion, drugs, pornog­ra­phy, Jerry Springer, Madonna, gay mar­riage: each item of filth is care­fully sealed in its plas­tic bag and stored as ev­i­dence.

From this di­ag­no­sis of lib­eral cul­ture emerges a pre­scrip­tion for the Amer­i­can Right that D’Souza lays out in the fol­low­ing terms. By set­ting it­self against the Left and the sor­did cul­ture it has lov­ingly fos­tered, the Right can con­vince tra­di­tional Mus­lims that it shares their fun­da­men­tal val­ues. Since ‘‘ the real di­vide in the Mus­lim world is be­tween Is­lamic rad­i­cals and tra­di­tional Mus­lims’’, the Right, by al­ly­ing it­self with the lat­ter, can marginalise and de­feat the for­mer. It can thereby win the cul­ture war and the war on ter­ror in a sin­gle push.

To whom, then, is this book ad­dressed? Not to the cul­tural Left but to the Right, the re­li­gious Right in par­tic­u­lar. Con­se­quently, I find it hard to com­ment on whether it’s worth the ask­ing price. Suf­fice it to say: if the thought of an al­liance of Mayflower screw­balls and bor­ing, bearded theocrats doesn’t make you re­coil in hor­ror, if you be­lieve that fe­male eman­ci­pa­tion, hu­man rights and free­dom of speech should take a back seat to so- called tra­di­tional moral­ity or if you’re sim­ply a cur­tain- twitcher and a cap­i­tal- let­ter moral­ist who thinks that what the US needs is more fam­i­lies like the Wal­tons and fewer fam­i­lies like the Simp­sons, then this fee­ble- minded lit­tle book is for you.

Richard King is a Perth- based lit­er­ary critic.

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