The Westernized Anti-Westerner

One of the stranger things about East–West relations these days is the schizophrenic attraction to, and hatred of, Western culture that characterizes many foreign leaders and celebrities.

Did these mixed-up folk idealistically flock to the West, and then end up bitterly disappointed that their experience did not match their dreams, in the infamous manner of Sayyid Qutb (“The America That I Have Seen”)? The Egyptian intellectual Qutb leveraged his subsidized residence in Colorado into an unhinged and racist screed against Western popular culture; among his targets were provocative women, “primitive Negroes,” rampant divorce, and heartless capitalism. Qutb’s two years in the U.S. were the font of his anti-Western and Islamist thought, which he developed as a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. His work in turn inspired much of the anti-Americanism of al-Qaeda specifically and current radical Islam in general.