Such observations, however, are now taboo. We're not supposed to suggest that the rap culture is any different from the classical music culture or that one is better than another. As white guy John Kerry put it, "I think there's a lot of poetry in it. There's a lot of anger, a lot of social energy in it. And I think you'd better listen to it pretty carefully, 'cause it's important ... it's a reflection of the street and it's a reflection of life."
You see, we recognize the value of diversity. And what's more, we think everyone else does, too. Hence the left's certainty that the election of President Barack Obama would win over the Muslim world -- his very ascendance would show the rest of the world that we find their cultures charming, praiseworthy and delightfully fascinating. "It's November 2008," wrote formerly-sane Andrew Sullivan of The Atlantic. "A young Pakistani Muslim is watching television and sees this man -- Barack Hussein Obama -- is the new face of America. In one simple image, America's soft power has been ratcheted up not a notch, but a logarithm."
There's only one problem: The Muslim world isn't hung up on skin color the way we are. Which isn't to say they're not racist -- they're busily snatching up black children for use as slaves or murdering them in Sudan, even as the BBC blithely claims, in the name of diversity, that "While Islamic law does allow slavery under certain conditions, it's almost inconceivable that those conditions could ever occur in today's world, and so slavery is effectively illegal in modern Islam." In point of fact, Muslim countries in Africa and the Middle East lead the world in human trafficking.
The Muslim world just doesn't believe that skin color is all that important. Obama may be half-black, but he's still all-Western, according to them. It doesn't matter whether you're black, white or green -- if you're not a devotee of Muhammad, you don't matter. While the West tries to turn its civilization into cultural variety hour, Islam tries to turn Muslim lands into a cultural monolith. The same West that justifies the rap culture thinks that every Muslim terrorist bombing is an expression of economic angst or social alienation. Muslims recognize that terrorist bombings are expressions of a completely different worldview.
In other words, Muslims aren't stupid. They won't be wooed by a West headed by a man rich in melanin any more than a West headed by a Caucasian dude who enjoys the artistic stylings of Bjork would. When President Obama offers Iran an open hand, they slap it away, even though his hand is a different color than President Bush's was.
And the left is stumped. Obama's entire foreign policy was predicated on the notion that by existing, he would bridge all gaps and bury all hatchets. Instead, the Muslim world burns his picture even as he tells them he respects their radicalism. It turns out that diversity is a one-way street for the devotees of global Islam.
What of the West? We have been enervated by our confident feeling that if we could all just respect each other's cultures -- no matter how perverse -- we could beat missiles into plowshares. And if we could show the rest of the world just how much we respect other cultures by electing an emissary of foreign cultures, they would have to love us. We've turned into the world's Sally Field: "You like us! You really like us!" To which the Muslim world says, "No. We really don't."
But, like an obsessive, abused ex-girlfriend, we keep coming back for more. We beg for the beating. We plead for it. We are Keira Knightley's character in "A Dangerous Method" -- the beating excites us. For with every beating, we feel the open hand we seek. "At least they're reaching out to us ... with bombs! If we could only understand this unique form of communication, we'd finally be able to come to some sort of agreement!"
The Muslim world understands that it has us by the ideological throat. They will continue to preach the value of diversity from their outposts in the West, while wiping away any semblance of it across their own lands. And we will buy into it. This is how the West dies: not by being defeated in all-out civilizational battle, but by walking into the hail of bullets, arms outstretched.