Monday, April 05, 2010

A Sexual Revolution will Reform Muslims

What scares them so? Muslim men are petrified by female sexuality. It drives them crazy, the idea that women want orgasmic satisfaction. Too bad. The fear of these men adds up to a big loss for everyone, the men and the women, and then of course, the whole world. Clearly the anger of muslim men is tied to their attitudes and experience with sex and female sexuality, and their views are a result of believing in Islam. Suckers.

About That Playboy in My Drawer . . .

If America wants to tilt the balance of Muslim sentiment in its favor, it needs to stand up for its principles, its liberties and its friends—Israel, Playboy and Lady Gaga included.

It's time to make a personal and professional admission: I keep a copy of the Feb. 2007 issue of Playboy in a desk drawer in my Wall Street Journal office.

This is not the sort of thing I ever thought I'd publicly confess. But I'm prompted to do so now in response to a string of online rebuttals to my Tuesday column, "Lady Gaga Versus Mideast Peace," in which I argue that Western liberalism (in its old-fashioned sense) has done far more than Israel's settlements to provoke violent Muslim anti-Americanism.

In particular, I was taken to task by Andrew Exum—the "Abu Muqawama" blogger at the Center for a New American Security—for allegedly failing to watch my share of racy Arabic-language music videos, such as those by Lebanese beauty queen and pop star Haifa Wehbe. "With music videos like this one," writes Mr. Exum, "Stephens can hardly argue that Lady Gaga is the one importing sexual provocation into the Arabic-speaking world and stirring things up, can he?"

So let me tell you about that Playboy, and how I came to purchase it.

In the spring of 2007 I wrote a series of columns from Indonesia about the battle lines then emerging between religious radicals and moderates in the world's largest Muslim-majority country. I profiled Abdurrahman Wahid, then the former (now late) president of Indonesia and a champion of his country's tolerant religious traditions. I visited a remote Sumatran village that had expelled an itinerant Islamic preacher for his militant Wahhabi teachings. I interviewed Habib Rizieq, head of the Front for the Defense of Islam, a vigilante group known for violently suppressing "un-Islamic" behavior.

I also spent a delightful evening in the company of Inul Daratista, the Indonesian equivalent of Shakira, who had been accused by a council of Muslim clerics of committing pornoaksi—or "porno action"—for gyrating a little excessively in one of her music videos. A million Indonesians had taken to the streets to denounce the video, and legislation was introduced in Indonesia's parliament to ban pornoaksi, which could be defined as any female behavior that could arouse a sexual response in a man, such as the sight of a couple kissing in public or a woman wearing a backless dress.

One person I didn't manage to interview was Erwin Arnada, the editor of the Indonesian edition of Playboy. I did, however, get hold of a copy of the magazine (the one now in my office): It contains not a single picture of a naked woman. The Playmate in the centerfold is clad in the kind of lingerie that would seem a bit old-fashioned in a Victoria's Secret catalogue; a second photo essay in my magazine looks as if it belongs in a J. Crew ad.

Nevertheless, upon beginning publication in 2006 Mr. Arnada was almost immediately charged with violating Indonesia's indecency laws. (He was ultimately acquitted.) His Jakarta offices were violently attacked by Mr. Rizieq's goons, forcing the magazine to move to the predominantly Hindu island of Bali. "For Arnada," wrote New York Times reporter Jane Perlez, "all the fuss represents fears about the intrusion of Western culture. 'Why else do they keep shouting about Playboy?' he asked."

Mr. Arnada's comment gets at the crux of the argument I made in my column, which is that it is liberalism itself—liberalism as democracy, as human rights, as freedom of conscience and expression, as artistic license, as social tolerance, as a philosophy with universal application—to which the radical Muslim mind chiefly objects, and to which it so often violently reacts. Are Israeli settlements also a provocation? Of course they are, as is Israel itself. Should Israel dismantle most or even all of its settlements? Sure, if in exchange it gets a genuine peace.

But the West will win no reprieve from the furies of the Muslim world by seeking to appease it in the coin of this or that Israeli withdrawal or concession. To do so would be as fruitless and wrong-headed as cancelling a performance of Mozart's Idomeneo because it might offend radical Islamic sensibilities—though that's precisely what a Berlin opera house did in September 2006 for fear of sparking a violent outburst of Muslim rage.

Fortunately, the West has better options for dealing with that rage than pressuring Israel. Though he doesn't seem to realize it, Mr. Exum makes my point very nicely by noting the inroads that artists like Ms. Wehbe have made in much of her region. Liberalism, not least of the sexual kind, sells in the Muslim world: The first issue of Playboy Indonesia, tame as it was, sold out its entire print run of 100,000 copies. In Bahrain, efforts by Islamists in parliament to ban a performance by Wehbe failed on account of popular demand: As one Bahraini fan told the Lebanese Web site YaLibnan, "If certain people find it offensive, they shouldn't go to the concert." It's hard to imagine a more liberal outlook than that.

There was a time when liberals believed that rock'n'roll would change the world. They were right, though not in the way most of them imagined. Instead, in places like communist Czechoslovakia—where Vaclav Havel took inspiration from the likes of Lou Reed—and today in the repressive lands of Islam, the sensual currents of Western life exert a constant and ineradicable attraction, even as they also provoke censorious and violent reactions.

If America wants to tilt the balance of Muslim sentiment in its favor, it needs to stand up for its principles, its liberties and its friends—Israel, Playboy and Lady Gaga included.

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Blogger SNAKE HUNTERS said...



* Any ruler that seeks to reign over the common herd...must be chosen by All, and if he Lies to his loyal subjects, he must have rocks thrown in his bed, gravel put in his shoes, and his tongue painted with Tabasco Sauce! - reb


10:00 PM  
Blogger no_slappz said...


I'm not sure which leader you are referring to, but if it's Obama, he may well lose the next election.

His move to announce a restriction on America's use of atomic weapons seems like a surrender plan announced before the battle has begun.

I think he wants to make the country a punching bag for every extremist nation on the planet.

When I think of dumb moves by leaders, I think of leaders who sacrifice their authority by telling enemies they are soft and pliant and ready to withstand any abuse thrown at them.

That's Obama. Not good.

3:25 PM  
Blogger SNAKE HUNTERS said...

Sir No_slappz -

This Obama-Cat has made too many mistakes in his first year, and progressive-socialism is on the ropes. Quack, quack! (Hear that?)

The confusion & anger within his own adoring fan-club is obvious, and reverberates in all the major polls > Gallup, Rasmussen, etc.

Progresssivism is a crippled duck...
November 2nd is coming up fast!


11:09 PM  
Blogger no_slappz said...


You are correct. Obama is a wounded duck who wants to allow rogue dictators to set the course of as many countries as possible.

It is amazing that we have a president who, when he thinks about equality, thinks all forms of government are equal.

It is truly a loss for the world that America is now led by someone who is oblivious to the extraordinarily beneficial and and benevolent forces that arise in nations that a capitalistic and democratic.

I thought we were through with this type of idiocy after Jimmy Carter left the White House.

9:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry--why are you allowed to copy and paste a WSJ column in here without giving credit?

Copyright law anyone?

5:08 PM  

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