Was Islamic Terrorism Caused by Square Dancing and Lady Gaga?

In some quarters, it’s popular to blame the rise of Islamic terrorism on economic factors (poverty) and geopolitical factors (Israeli “settlements,” American troops in the Middle East.) Bret Stephens argues that a far more important driver of terrorism is rage at the freedom–and especially the sexuality–of Western women. At the link, Stephens cites the horrified reaction of Sayyid Qutb, who is considered the intellectual godfather of Al Qaeda, to his experiences during his visit to the U.S. in the late 1940s. Qutb was particularly repelled by what he called “the American Temptress.”

Stephens doesn’t mention it, but–Qutb formed his vision of the American Temptress while observing a square dance at a church social!

The point about the connection between sexual fear and hostility on the one hand, and Islamic terrorism on the other, is by no means new with Stephens, of course, but he describes the case well and uses it to explain why the growing fashion of casting Israel as the root cause of terrorism is a ridiculous one.

Link via psychiatrist Dr Sanity, who adds extensive commentary.

21 thoughts on “Was Islamic Terrorism Caused by Square Dancing and Lady Gaga?”

  1. My sense has always been that it is womb envy that runs the world – at its best it explores new frontiers (in Africa, in America, in space); it builds roads and bridges; it builds civilizations and great art. We have been far too content with our womb power to project as much power in tne world. Well, that’s my theory. I doubt anyone will buy it.

    But when womb envy goes crazy (as it can) and turns to fear and paranoia – well, then you get a cratered society and the Taliban, covering womem in burkhas and dynamiting Buddhas. “Let us choose life” Winthrop quoted the Bible, but looked out to the people in 1630. For a long time I couldn’t figure out that that was acutally a choice. But modern literature, modern life, and, finally, postmodernism demonstrated some chose differently. And these guys, well, they show us how much death can truly be a choice – just a pretty stupid one.

  2. “From Greece to the Ganges, half the world is afraid of girls and gratified by their subjugation.” Ralph Peters, Spotting the Losers: Seven Signs of Non-Competitive States (1998). See also the section entitled “Scared of the Girls” in Peters’ WHEN DEVILS WALK THE EARTH: The Mentality and Roots of Terrorism, and How to Respond. The discussion of Middle Eastern Muslim endogamous marriage in the writing of Emmanuel Todd (discussed here) is also pertinent.

  3. The Ralph Peters essay that Lexington Green linked (“when devils walk the earth”) is an important one, especially in its disinction between practical and apocalyptic terrorism…basically, the practical terrorist wants to achieve some real-world political outcome, whereas the apocalyptic terrorist is consumed by the sheer joy of destruction.

    The “scared of the girls” section that LG mentions starts on page 10.

    Strange world we live in when a site with an au.af.mil suffix (USAF air university) needs to carry essays on sexuality and violence.

  4. I’m sure its been mentioned before, but I wonder if finding suicide bombers is easier in polygamous societies? Perhaps the sexual frustration is so great that guys just want to blow up? I wonder if the suicide bombers are the beta and omega males of society? Perhaps the key to winning in the middle east is sending “Roissy in DC” to teach pick-up-artist skills? This will give more men access to sex and make them more happy? LOL

  5. Ginny I think what you suggest may be valid?

    I’ve often felt that the desire for women and the energy produced by woman’s beauty is the real motivation behind most men?

  6. Right now, the urgency is in Iran. The West is standing by, politically neutered, while Iran is nearing the capability of waging nuclear war. Mutual Assured Destruction does not apply with Iran. Iran’s leaders believe that a great war is a prerequisite for their ultimate triumph.

  7. Seerov/motivation…well, that was clearly what Goethe thought, as spoken in the last line of Faust:

    “The eternal feminine draws us upward”

    …nicely captured in Charles Simonyi’s mission patch for the Soyuz space station mission.

  8. Bret Stephens argues that a far more important driver of terrorism is rage at the freedom–and especially the sexuality–of Western women.

    This seems to argue that the rise of terrorism is a reflection on the self-identity of Muslim men, or Islamic-based societies. In the sense that this might be true, I don’t believe that the sexuality aspect is the primary focus, rather I think that there is a convincing case to be made the self-identity is threatened by failure, or to put it into a sexualized framework, symbolic impotence.

    If you look at economic statistics going back over the lat 60 years, you see that countries like Iran, Iraq and others in the regions had gdp/cap figures that were superior to South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, etc and that there hasn’t been much improvement over time in the Middle East compared to the gains that have been seen in the rest of the world.

    If the Islamic way of ordering society is superior, then why are the Islamic countries not improving? The answer, of course, must be external forces, the West, holding them back. There is a strong sense of male dignity inherent in Islamic cultures, such that many men feel it is beneath them to work low on the global economic labor ladder, as was the case with the Asian Tigers, and there is a strong sense of being owed a position in life that is commensurate with their view of Islamic superiority. You see this “chip on the shoulder” frequently in the labor market – working in the private sector is beneath the dignity of many Gulf Arabs – they all feel that they deserve a sinecure in government, so they import workers to toil in the private sector economy and to do menial labor.

    The feeling of impotence, of not being respected, and seeing other societies prosper while their’s stagnates gives rise to a sense of inferiority and a sense of fury at the injustice of the situation, for clearly they feel that they deserve a level of respect that the world isn’t paying them.

  9. I like your posts here, especially your quote from Moses “choose life.” The islamist terror boys are light years away from our (the American founders’) way of thinking—they walk around with the entitlement/chip on the shoulder ideas that they are too valuable to start at entry level anything. We gently mock people who take philosophy degrees without thinking how they might actually use those degrees to make a living. If they choose to live in poverty, so be it. Same with islamic societies that prefer animosity to self-help. But to kill us out of covetousness is also part of the Mosaic prohibition—not that they care.

  10. In a word: yes. Radical islamism is just one front on the battle between romantic conservatism and modernity. To people who have set up their lives, their culture, their societies, and their very economic base on an ideological foundations that runs counter to modernity (i.e. individual liberty; open and honest scientific inquiry; social, economic, and legal equality across gender, ethnicity, and socio-economic lines) that modernity is a very potent enemy to their way of life and their very conception of the world. It’s no wonder that they recoil from modernity and attempt to fight it. The fascinating element is the degree to which there is an accidental alliance between truly conservative (or at least retrograde) forces such as islamism, arabic culture, etc. on the one hand and merely anti-modern romantic forces such as socialism, post-modernism, “multi-culturalism”, identity politics, etc. on the other hand.

  11. This article was discussed at Abu Muqawama too, with, as expected, a different perspective:


    I mentioned in that thread that Lady Gaga reminded me (and I should have added stylistically and visually) of a Zeigfeld girl. Seriously, look at those old photos of the Zeigfeld follies and the crazy costumes they wore. Stylistically, it’s Busby Berkely – a little bit, anyway!

    – Madhu

  12. I’ve never read so much B.S. in my life.

    Violence is nothing new to Islam. Finding a convenient excuse du jour for it is simply a vast display of ignorance of the culture and intellectual masturbation of the worst sort.

    Islam is older than the 40’s and 50’s. It’s always been violent and it hasn’t become any more violent than its always been. It’s just that now the radicals have a new focus – the West. And they’ll latch onto anything that excuses their murderous rage in their twisted minds. Before they got access to modern weapons and communications the focus for radical Muslims (the Wahhabis, for instance) was other Muslims.

    Western intellectuals are just looking for an excuse to check out Lady Gaga and seem legit.

  13. You’re not excusing violent Islam, David. You’re just trying to find something rational in the irrational and it’s pretty comical.

  14. to add….I didn’t mean that in a condescending way. But, it is frustrating for a person capable of reason to try to understand that which is unreasonable. Somethings are unreasonable in the modern world – and those things exist in large amounts in the Islamic world.

  15. Sometimes, David. Not always – and it’s important to know when there isn’t any logic.

    But, if there is some internal logic to Islamic radicalism, it’s not going to be found in the knee-length skirts and short sleeved shirts of Western women. Islam had this problem long before its followers became aware of the West in any meaningful way. It’s typical of the Western superiority complex that they think every action is simply a reaction to them. As much as I like Ron Paul, he suffers from this affliction. No culture can have its own internal drivers and if some guy SAYS that it’s all about the short skirts and square dancing or troops on “holy soil”, then it must be true. You have to look at Islam and Islamic “radicalism” in the context of Islamic history and regional culture. You’ll find that this “radicalism” is completely normal behaviour for them and existed long before the West got there. The target of radicals were other Muslims – and still is. Were it not for “the West”, they’d be whacking each other with still more gusto. Nobody in the Middle East sits around thinking about how Western women dress. That’s a line of crap they sell to Westerners who obviously lap it up with a big spoon.

  16. I don’t think anyone here is saying that radical Islamic violence is “simply” a reaction to the West. But observe that they’re *not* “just whacking each other.” The attacks on the West are certainly motivated by *something*, and that “something” surely includes a sense of being threatened.

    Ralph Peters, speaking of Osama bin Laden (in the essay that Lex Green linked)

    “His methods make cruel sense, but his goals are far beyond the demise of a particular regime or the recognition of a Palestinian state. He wants to destroy, at the
    very least, a civilization he has cast as Satanic. He does not want to defeat the West—he wants to annihilate us. If he had the technology today, he would use it.”

  17. David,

    They’re not whacking each other as much because they’re busy whacking (or trying to whack) us. I’m sure every maniac feels threatened by reality. So what?

    Sure, the maladjusted Osama wants to nuke anything he doesn’t agree with and make himself king of the world. If it were not for the West, he’d be focused on other Muslim sects and Sunnis he didn’t consider “Muslim enough” (as his Wahhabi forefathers did).

    The rise of radical Islam is not a rise. It’s always been there. It wasn’t caused by poverty because Muslim nations (and, until they created wealth, every other nation) have always lived in poverty for time immemorial. Bret wants to find a driver for the rage. The driver is Islam and Islamic culture. Until they decide that perma-outrage and endless bloodshed isn’t worth it anymore, we’re going to have to deal with it.

    I’ve married into it. I used to think there was some rational reason beyond the Koran and the haddith. I found out, all the rage is almost mandated by the Sunna. Even those who are rich, educated and productive mostly support the slobbering radicals.

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