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Running Against Sodom and Osama

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Islam and Xenophobia

At the Values Voters Summit, Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney made a relatively obscure reference that implied secular liberalism was to blame for both domestic and foreign policy errors. Romney said, “Let me just underscore something I said that came from David Landes: culture makes all the difference.” Landes is the author The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor.~118 According to Landes, “If we learn anything from the history of economic development it is that culture makes all the difference ... what counts is work, thrift, honesty, patience, tenacity” (pp. 516, 523). Landes has been criticized for promulgating a highly Eurocentric view of the world,119 and his work has been absorbed into the “Clash of Civilizations” thesis of Samuel Huntington and the neoconservatives.120

And this brings us back to the Culture Wars and its intersection with Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations thesis, which provides grounds for a coalition between the Christian Right and the Neoconservatives over Middle East policy, the war on terrorism, and suspicion of Islamic movements. This binds both sectors of the Right to support of the Bush Administration.

Respected sociologist Amitai Etzioni criticized Huntington as a “systematic and articulate advocate of nationalism, militaristic regimes, and an earlier America in which there was one homogenous creed and little tolerance for pluralism.”~121 Others describe this tendency of Huntington’s as xenophobic and Eurocentric.

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