Take a look at the subheads for the Washington Times’s five-part series on (tribute to?) America’s global impact, “America on the move.” In parts one through four, a veritable orgy of self-congratulation, the subheads read: “America enjoys view from the top,” “America becomes global marketplace,” “World speaks our language and attends our colleges,” and “Second place not an option in U.S. sports.” These articles are about as critical of American policies as the subheads make them sound.
Then comes hard-hitting part five: “U.S. pop culture seen as plague.”
The first question I had was, “seen as a plague by whom?” Well, the article answers this question quickly, by heralding as arbiter of world opinion on U.S. pop culture none other than arch-conservative former Nixon hatchetman Robert Bork, radical ideologue author of Slouching Towards Gomorrah.
The article leads off: “Robert H. Bork remembers his ambivalence in 1989 as the Berlin Wall came down and dungarees and rock music poured into the former East Germany. ‘You almost began to want to put the wall back up,’ says the former Supreme Court nominee.”
The Times follows Bork’s admission of ambivalence at the fall of communism with a lurid description of the way American pop culture turns innocent children into seething agents of sin and depravity. Apparently unable to find any more current examples, the article quotes Sayyid Qutb, a founder of political Islamism, who wrote of pop culture’s “subversive potential” in the late 1940s. At a church dance in Greeley, CO, Qutb recounted, while a disc jockey played the swing-era classic, Baby, It’s Cold Outside, “The dancing intensified…The hall swarmed with legs… Arms circled arms, lips met lips, chests met chests, and the atmosphere was full of love.”
The Times adds sternly: “After love, license. Followed by perversion. Then chaos.” Indeed, nothing causes chaos in the Arab world faster than American…pop culture.
Thank God the Washington Times has cleared things up for us: it’s not America’s foreign policy that irks Islamic moderates, it’s swing dancing.