Would Arabs Love Lady Gaga?

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The Wall Street Journal's Bret Stephens begins his latest column asking, "Pop quiz—What does more to galvanize radical anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world: (a) Israeli settlements on the West Bank; or (b) a Lady Gaga music video?" He insist it's (b), as "the historical roots of modern jihadism" are all about Muslim rage against decadent Western culture and "the American Temptress," as typified by Lady Gaga's sex-soaked music videos.

But the Center for New American Security's Andrew Exum asks, "Brett Stephens may have read a few books on Islamist thought, but how many Arabic-language music videos has he watched? I ask because I have seen a lot (as they play pretty much 24-7 in 90% of the cafes and restaurants of the Arabic-speaking world)." Exum compares the provocative, hyper-sensual videos of Lady Gaga with the provocative, hyper-sensual music videos of Haifa Wehbe, a "Hizballah-supporting" Lebanese singer popular in the Arab world. Here's Lady Gaga's Bad Romance followed by Haifa Wehbe's Boos El-Wawa:


The Verdict? Maybe Muslims, at least those in the Haifa Wehbe-watching Arab world, wouldn't find Lady Gaga so shocking after all. Exum sighs, "For all his talents, Stephens is no scholar of Islam, and a few things that should not be studied as a hobby include:"
  1. Brain surgery
  2. Multilinear algebra
  3. The strands and evolution of Islamist thought
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.