A new youth phenomena is taking shape in the Middle East. No, these are not teenagers strapping on suicide belts, taking orders from some fanatical austere mullah. This is something much more prosaic and encouraging.
The Arab youth are reveling in a pop music revolution led by female singing stars such as Lebanese Arab Haifa Wehbe. These singers, particularly in Lebanon and in Egypt, are capitalizing on the rising demographic youth market in the Arab world, and much of the singer's appeal on stage and on tape seems as subliminal and sensual as in America.
Indeed sultry and sexy Haifa Wehbe (SEE CLIP OF LIVE SHOW) makes Britney Spears, look almost dowdy by comparison.
With the conflict of cultural changes, inevitable when East meets West, the burgeoning youth population, buoyed by the internet and pop music instead of adopting their parent's stricter religious ways, are saying Goodbye to grandfather's Arab world. For example, the emergence of globalized modern values -- particularly in the well-off Gulf states.
As one sign of this trend, respected American pollster John Zogby offered the almost total absence of a gender gap in answers to the survey questions - even on most gender-related issues. Strong majorities in most Arab countries, for example, found it acceptable for women to work outside the home, with under-30-year-olds even more affirmative than their parents. One reason for this change was may there was "disappointment and disillusionment with the results of pan-Arab policies and attitudes, including a sense of humiliation, betrayal and anger at events in Iraq, Palestine and other parts of the Arab world."
But this cannot be solace for the U.S. The Bush administration has a difficult, some would say impossible, job ahead to win over hearts and minds in the region. In another Zogby poll: "Nearly 80 percent of those surveyed stated they had unfavorable attitudes -- 57 very unfavorable and 21 percent unfavorable -- towards the United States."
Bush and the conservatives seem obsessed with what the President calls the great ideological struggle of the 21st century; what Bush term's 'freedom on the march' versus extreme fundamentalist Islam. I feel both of them, fundamentalist Islam and Bush's hard counter-attack strategy, are going to be irrelevant in a few years time -- except for the remnants of flash points like Iraq and Afghanistan.
My advice to Bush would be just to chill out for awhile. No one in their right minds in the world of modern Arab young people are buying into the idea of the Caliphate, an extreme authoritarian Islamic empire reigning from Spain to Indonesia. Relax, George, no one is likely to try to put singer Haifa Wehbe in a burka, unless partly as a consequence of your effort to elevate the conflict in the Middle East to the status of a World War 3 everything could become so politicized.
Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!