Madonna has decided, what with the news and all, that the time may not be right for her new video, "American Life." Maybe it's that troupe of video actors costumed as transvestite American soldiers that now gives the pop diva a case of cold feet. Or maybe it's her own star turn on the video as an assassin targeting a President Bush look-alike with a hand grenade. "I do not wish to risk offending anyone who might misinterpret the meaning of this video," the singer explained by way of announcing that the "shock video" would not be making its U.S. debut. Which is probably a good thing, since cross-dressing GIs and exploding presidents are so easily misinterpreted.
Of course, what probably saved Madonna from being commercially fried a la Dixie Chick was a panicky read of the U.S. population: her likely hunch that most Americans would be repulsed by the video's cartoonishly vicious, anti-military, anti-Bush animus at a time when most of us are intensely concerned about the safety and success of our real-life troops and president. This, of course, shouldn't stop Madonna from making it grand in France, where a recent poll tells us that one-in-three French citizens is actually pulling for Saddam. And she's a cinch in the Arab world, where anti-American animus is all the rage. Literally.
Odd how we deal with that rage, tiptoeing around it, holding our breath. We will it away with a portfolio full of diplomatic and strategic plans to win Muslim hearts and minds poisoned against us by a seemingly unstaunchable flow of disinformation -- extreme, and extremely toxic, to the point of lunacy. And I mean "lunacy." Many of these people believe 9/11 was a Zionist-Mossad-CIA plot to twist world opinion against the Arab world. And what word better describes the weird, even grotesque political analysis coming out of that core Arab institution, the government mosque?
Take the mosques of the Saddam Hussein-supporting Palestinian Authority, whose "road map" to statehood has again been green-lighted by British and American leaders -- even as coalition forces are still finding their positions to dislodge the Iraqi dictator who is an inspiration and paymaster to Palestinian homicide bombers.
"The aggression against Iraq is an assault on Islam, the Koran and the message of Muhammad," said Sheikh Muhammad Abu Al-Hunud during a recent sermon on Palestinian Authority television (translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute, www.memri.org), sounding a favorite theme of the Arab world.
Terrorists? Weapons of mass destruction? Never heard of them. "The U.N. has proven this claim is not true," said, (or lied, actually) Sheikh Ibrahim Madeiris in another televised sermon. Mosque analysis has it that the American-led war is not just a so-called oil-grab; it is also a campaign to put an Arab chicken in every American pot. The United States is "enduring now an economic crisis that nearly finishes it," the imam added. "Hence it has no choice but to start a war ... to raise the American standard of living."
Maybe when British troops are done handing out water bottles in Basra, they could be redeployed to Main Street, U.S.A.
Then there's my personal fave: the "slap in the face which Iraq gave America." This is said to have occurred during the first Gulf War, "when," Madeiris explained, "Iraq gave a knockout (punch) to America, the result of which was that Pharaoh the father (the first George Bush) lost the presidency."
Only heaven knows where to begin to pick apart this terrible collection of lies. Not that anyone is asking: "Allah," Abu Al-Hunud prayerfully concluded last week, "make their possessions a booty for the Muslims, Allah, annihilate them and their weapons, Allah, make their children orphans and their women widows."
Such sermonizing, meanwhile, represents only a microscopic look at some of the milder sludge coming from the government pulpit. And how does America respond to these and other offenses? As though truth wouldn't set these people free, but would set them off.
Much of the Arab world says 9/11 was a Zionist plot? Fine, we'll scrounge the world over, from Albania to Zanzibar, for allies in the war on Iraq, but bar Israel from the "coalition of the willing" so as not to "upset" anyone.
Hundreds of members of PA Chairman Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement are heading for Baghdad to serve as suicide attackers for the Iraqi regime? The PA renames the main public square in Jenin for the suicide bomber who detonated four U.S. marines at a checkpoint in Iraq? Better get moving on that road map to Palestinian statehood (particularly now that the PA has a new, Arafat-appointed prime minister who is a Holocaust-denier) -- otherwise, they might not like us.