Victor Davis Hanson
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Radical Islamists love to scream about the "decadent" West. Everything from our operas to our attitudes about women outrage these loud pious critics.

As part of their condemnation, fundamentalist Muslims say they put a higher premium on family values and reverence for the past than crass modern Americans and Europeans do. But that is hardly true.

In Wahhabist Saudi Arabia, unforgiving sharia law administered by stern state clerics dictates the cutting off a hand for theft.

Is there less stealing then? Not at the highest levels at least. Sheiks from the ruling House of Saud are notorious for gambling and squandering abroad their nation's collective petro-wealth. But few such royals walk around Riyadh with missing limbs from "judicial amputation."

Recently on a British Airways flight to London, members of Qatar's royal house were outraged that its princesses had been seated next to male passengers who weren't related to them. Was this a clash of civilizations?

Not quite. The entire entourage was, in fact, returning from an all-day shopping spree in Milan, Italy. The angry members of Qatar's royal house may claim outrage at gender equality, but they seem to have no problem with the libertine West when it comes to splurging their kingdom's wealth on luxury items.

This type of hypocrisy in the Muslim world is not limited to supposedly devout oil-rich Gulf sheiks who cherry-pick Western sin. Terrorists -- with one foot in the 7th century and the other in the 21st century -- want it both ways, too.

How often have we heard Ayman al-Zawahiri, the mouthpiece of al-Qaida, damn the disruptive culture of the West? Yet he has no reservations about broadcasting his infomercials using video technology made possible by a secular science unique to Westernized culture. And does the observant Zawahiri object that his pals, the pious Taliban, are linked to heroin traffickers?

Jihadists champion sharia law, too. But when captured, they hire sophisticated secular Western nitpicking lawyers to sue over conditions in Guantanamo or incarceration in British prisons. Al-Qaida, of course, complains about everything from American troops once stationed in Saudi Arabia to even the U.S.'s failure to sign the Kyoto accords. Meanwhile, by blowing up religious shrines across Iraq, they show far less respect for mosques than we do.

There is a general pattern in these various paradoxes of fundamentalist Islam, both its violent and non-violent manifestations.

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Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal.