One of the most grating and offensive arguments used by the right wing is that liberals are somehow in league with Muslim extremists. The truth is that the Christian right and the Muslim right share a great deal in common, in ideology if not (yet, or anymore) in tactics. This meme going around Facebook lately sums it up well:
And you know who would agree with this? Our old pal Dinesh D’Souza. Near the end of the Bush administration, he wrote a book called The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11, with the enemy, of course, being liberals. But in that book he admits that the social agenda of the Christian right is in line with the Muslim right:
The heart of D’Souza’s book isn’t his libeling of the American left, but rather his libeling of the American right. D’Souza notes, correctly, that al-Qaida’s hatred toward the West in general, and the United States in particular, is animated to a great extent by America’s permissive culture. But Bin Laden isn’t some Michael Medved figure grumping about the vulgarity of American Pie. He’s got bigger fish to fry. Al-Qaida’s enemy isn’t the excesses of secular culture; it’s secular culture itself. And to a surprising degree, D’Souza is willing to go along for the ride. Theocracy, D’Souza argues, is misunderstood to mean “rule by divine authority of the priesthood or clergy.” Not so! There are checks and balances, just like in the U.S. Constitution. In Iran, for instance, “the power of the state and of the mullahs is limited by the specific rules set forth in the Koran and the Islamic tradition. The rulers themselves are bound by these laws.”
I heaved a sigh of relief when D’Souza conceded, “The Islamic system of enforcing piety and virtue through the heavy hand of the law seems to me both unreasonable and imprudent.” But D’Souza makes no bones about believing, along with Islamic fundamentalists, that the following things are an affront to civilization: equality for homosexuals (“[W]hy would a sane people jeopardize an indispensable and already fragile institution such as marriage by redefining it away from its central purpose? Is the point of marriage to ensure that children have a father and mother, or is it to make Edgar and Austin feel more accepted by society?”); working motherhood (“[M]any mothers choose to have a career because it is more self-fulfilling than the life of a full-time mom”); divorce (“Now you hear people say things like, ‘I feel called to leave my marriage. My life would be wasted if I stayed’ “); and contraception (“Rather than call for non-Western women to have fewer children, the left speaks of a woman’s right to determine the number and spacing of her pregnancies”).
Ordinarily, though, I would never equate hard-right views on these matters—even from a Dartmouth Review alumnus—with the rantings of an Islamist terrorist. I do so now only because D’Souza has written an entire book encouraging me to do just that. He wants his fellow conservatives to embrace their inner mullah. D’Souza scolds conservatives for seeking in the past to win over American leftists and European allies to the war on terror, and for reaching out to liberals in the Islamic world “who can be recruited the cause of ‘civilization’ against ‘barbarism.’ ” Not gonna happen, baby! Conservatives, he argues, should instead demonstrate “common ground” with Muslims sympathetic to Bin Laden—earlier D’Souza has cited a 2004 poll by the Pew Global Attitudes Project showing that Bin Laden is viewed favorably by 45 percent of all Moroccans, 55 percent of all Jordanians, and 65 percent of all Pakistanis—by:
“attacking the left and the Europeans on the international stage. Instead of trying to unify America and the West, the right should highlight the division between red America and blue America, and also between traditional America and decadent Europe. By resisting the depravity of the left and the Europeans, conservatives can win friends among Muslims and other traditional people around the world.”
The truth is that the social agenda of the Christian right is virtually identical to that of the reactionary Muslims they claim to be so different from. The only difference is tactics, not ideology.