Brett Stephens opens up his Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal with the following pop quiz:
"What does more to galvanize radical anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world: (a) Israeli settlements on the West Bank; or (b) a Lady Gaga music video?"
The question "Why do they hate us?" has been debated since the 9/11 attack. The following video outlines the 2 most plausible answers, our foreign policy or our freedom:
Stephens agrees with Dubya that the answer is 'our freedom.' Unlike Dubya, he then goes on to say what this freedom is FOR. Not only does he spell out its legitimate use, he also says this use is worth defending: “If America wants to tilt the balance of Muslim sentiment in its favor, it needs to stand up for its liberties, its principles and its friends—Israel, Playboy, and Lady Gaga included.”
Carson Holloway offers the following critique of Stephens' view: "In any case, it is strange to hold that Playboy and the sexually permissive culture it represents are manifestations of American principles and American liberty. Both the magazine itself and the sexual behavior that it encourages would have been actively suppressed by American law and mores even as recently as sixty years ago. Are we to understand that America then was not a free country? This would be news to the Americans of that time, who understood themselves to have just finished a tremendous national exertion intended precisely to preserve a free society—a society distinguished from others, they might have held, by a commitment to ordered liberty, and not to unrestricted license."
A critic of Holloway might respond that whatever our Forefathers thought freedom once WAS, it is no longer what we believe freedom is for TODAY. Justice Kennedy says what one generation sees as a perfectly reasonable limitation of its freedom is found by the next generation to be tyrannical.
I suspect the average American would agree with Stephens that such music videos should not be banned, but would disagree that it is worth defending. He does not want to seem puritanical so he is against censorship, yet he is not willing to get killed over something so base. Has there ever existed a society in history which has put itself on the line for such a freedom? This is probably why President Bush had to couch his terms in such elevated and lofty rhetoric in his 2nd Inaugural Address; most Americans would not have supported the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq if it was to defend our right to consume massive amounts of MTV.