We have met the enemy- and he is us.
Earlier this week an alert reader sent me a link to an article entitled "Real Men Moisturize" at Townhall.com
. I did not, at the time, follow up on it. Now Little Green Footballs
has beat me to the punch. The Townhall piece refers to an article from "Hi
" magazine (Sharp-dressed Men
). I have long been an advocate of aggressive public diplomacy (see here
, and here
, and here
for a few examples), and I believe that the use of the Internet to reach out to audiences we may not reach with "traditional" methods, via an on-line magazine, is a great way get more bang for our PD buck. But this is ridiculous.
Mona Charen, the author at Townhall.com asks the following:Is this what the U.S. State Department thinks America is really like?
For what it is worth, I can only say: NO. I have not the slightest idea where the impetus for this article came from, but anyone who has ever visited an Embassy, Consulate or the Department of State would quickly realize that we are not a trendy, well groomed organization. My co-conspirator, Smiley, was not kidding when he wrote "The Foreign Service Fashion Deficit
":Which leads me to the other problem confronting FSO fashion failures: the problem of being trendy. You see, there are some FSOs out there who are capable of being trendy. The problem, however, occurs when they leave for the Far Abroad. Even if they are au courant when they leave Washington DC, and they arrive at post at the leading edge of fashion, style will change, as it always does, and they will return to DC from some far away place some years later, failing to comprehend that the fashion scene in the US just may have moved on, while the scene in, say, Niamey (Niger) may not have quite kept the pace. This is true of diplomats who have been abroad for any number of years; when returning to the Department one begins to believe that some people must have been overseas since the mid-seventies Â this is the only possible way to account for all the polyester grape smugglers and weird suits (plaid, linen, anyone?) one sees swishing through Foggy BottomÂs halls.
While Smiley and I like to poke fun at our leisure suit comrades, some of the commenters at LGF are none too pleased with this article, and I can't blame them:You gotta understand, people, that the goal of a certain class of people in this country is to blur the genders, to feminize men, to masculinize women, and to trumpet this fact to the world. Why? For the specific, stated purpose of ridding us of our macho culture. And so we must present ourselves as girlie-men (aka metrosexuals) to our opponents.
This is not some kind of blunder by the State Department -- it's a conscious policy decision. Maybe the next issue of this stupid magazine will include articles like "Real Men don't blow up children" and "Real Men don't commit honor killings" or "Real Men don't get bent out of shape cus somebody looked sideways at their stupid koran"
Maybe getting them to moisturize is just the first step down the road to being civilized.
I agree whole-heartedly with the second commenter quoted above, and have to assume that there was some editorial control over the article, so it certainly is someone's policy. What I can't figure out is why. Why are we not providing articles on Muslim success stories in America? Why aren't running interviews with scholars who think suicide bombers were promised 72 raisins
, not virgins? Why aren't there articles about Muslims in the US military, fighting for the freedom of other Muslims in the ME?
Instead of anything that might actually produce results, with all the possibilities out there for presentation to the Muslim world, we are running articles on metrosexuality, blind dating, smokers rights, basketball fans with faces painted as devils, and women in the workplace. And that is just the current issue! Has anyone on the staff of this magazine ever met an Arab male? Do they have any idea what these topics are like in an Islamic context? Let's see- vaguely homosexual overtones, non-traditional marriage, use of tobacco, apparent devil worship, women working outside the home. I can only imagine an al-Qaeda recruiter pointing to this site and saying "See! They admit it!" I am not saying that we should pander to the hardliners in the ME, but that a little common sense needs to be applied.
It is a wonderful thing that a man in America can choose to get a facial if he wants to, and that women can work, and that your parents don't force you to marry your cousin. The editors of "Hi" magazine missed the point, though- none of these things mean anything on their own, but the freedoms which allow these things are everything. When we can produce a magazine that speaks to Muslim men and addresses these issues we will have taken a step- but only a small one. When we can convert a few minds, a precious few, we will have taken another step. It too will be a small one. While we are fighting in the streets of the ME and telling the people there that when the fighting is over their men too can get pedicures while their wives, who they met on a blind date, smoke Marlboros at work we will continue to be our own worst enemy. I know that public diplomacy has its limits and that it will not turn ardent "death to America" types into globalists. But the least we can do is stop selling an image to the Arab world that is at best a snap shot of a small section of America, and at worst directly at odds with the real message, and promise, of freedom and liberty.