By Jonathan Madsen
I”ve had a harmless poster of Britney Spears in my kitchen for over a year.
I actually didn”t even buy it – it was free. My friend picked it up somewhere as part of a Pepsi promotion, so it”s pretty much a Pepsi advertisement that wound up on my wall. It”s just an innocent, humorous piece of paper in the corner of the room. It”s cute – she”s got nice abs.
Lately, however, I”ve felt like such things aren”t so innocent.
Let me change the subject just a little bit.
Since Sept. 11, I”ve wondered why a large segment of the world hates me and the United States so much. Obviously there are many reasons, but one thing has stuck out in my mind for the past few months.
A lot of times we think of the fundamentalist Muslim world not only as extreme, but archaic, sexist and cruel. Surely they think of us in a completely different way. They might envy us because of our lavish lifestyles – I”m not really sure. Another possibility is they despise us for being uncivilized.
Before Mohammed established his influence in the world, the ancestors of many of today”s fundamentalist Muslims were incredibly decadent. Mohammed brought with him enlightened ideas such as limiting the amount of wives a man could have and property ownership for women.
Present-day extreme Muslims quite possibly see us as they saw themselves hundreds of years ago: decadent, objectifying, lusting, worldly, uncivilized.
It”s not just this difference that probably causes them to hate us. They also feel threatened by our society. American commercial imperialism exists through such things as suggestive music, sex-oriented television and fast-food restaurants. Although we may think the way they run their lives is extreme and oppressive, they see their ways as righteous and worth preserving.
Over Memorial Day weekend I had the opportunity to spend some time with my visiting brother who lives in Switzerland. He lives in an area that has a number of affluent Muslim Middle Eastern immigrants. Apparently many of these people have shirked their daily prayers and embraced the western way of life and luxury.
The affluent Muslims of the Middle East aren”t contributing to the enlightened society, they”re just leaving to live with the barbarians on the outside. In come men like Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden is easily able to gain followers and power by manipulating the devout by playing up the evil threat of the Western World.
There”s no denying that what terrorists did to us in September was evil. There”s no question that I”ve felt more patriotic within the past year than I”ve ever felt before. Unfortunately, I know I could feel much more patriotic.
Now, honestly, I don”t feel that a Britney Spears poster is that much of a big deal, but it does symbolize the kind of attitude a certain segment of the world feels threatened by. I don”t like being hated for embracing so many things that are decadent, objectifying, worldly and uncivilized. I would rather have someone hate me for living up to high standards, for being good, for using the great amount of freedom I have to embrace morality and decency above all else. I”m afraid that like so many of my countrymen, I may have failed miserably.