Chattering Mind

Chattering Mind

Al-Qaeda and the ‘Tasty Flesh’

I encourage you to read Dexter Filkins’s flattering review of Lawrence Wright’s new book “The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11.”


Here’s a salient passage of the review that should get you talking…

Just as dramatic as the portraits of bin Laden and Zawahiri is Wright’s account of the roots of Islamic militancy — the intellectual, spiritual and material world from which the plotters came. Wright draws a fascinating picture of Sayyid Qutb, the font of modern Islamic fundamentalism, a frail, middle-aged writer who found himself, as a visitor to the United States and a student at Colorado State College of Education in Greeley in the 1940’s, overwhelmed by the unbridled splendor and godlessness of modern America. And by the sex: like so many others who followed him, Qutb seemed simultaneously drawn to and repelled by American women, so free and unselfconscious in their sexuality. The result is a kind of delirium:


“A girl looks at you, appearing as if she were an enchanting nymph or an escaped mermaid,” Qutb wrote, “but as she approaches, you sense only the screaming instinct inside her, and you can smell her burning body, not the scent of perfume, but flesh, only flesh. Tasty flesh, truly, but flesh nonetheless.”

It wasn’t much later that Qutb began writing elaborate rationalizations for killing non-Muslims and waging war against the West. Years later, Atta expressed a similar mix of obsession and disgust for women. Indeed, anyone who has spent time in the Middle East will recognize such tortured emotions.

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posted August 9, 2006 at 6:44 pm

Lack of self consciousness is also found not only in the US, but in France, Italy, Spain and other, non-Western countries. 60 Minutes once did a special on Russian women at a beach in their country, and you want to talk lack of self-consciousness, for better or for worse… Anyway, if Atta and his ilk have a problem with it, that’s their problem, except they insist on making it our problem.>

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posted August 9, 2006 at 9:43 pm

If SQ was overwhelmed in the 1940 s modern America and our women, he d be shocked and panicked by today s culture and young women. Specially if he turns on the television, goes to a movie or flips through a magazine. I must not know my American history well because I thought that our sexual revolution began in the 60s, went through the 70s and has continually been evolving. What could possibly shock him in 1940s? Segregation and Racism? Women were definitely not treated as equals: couldn t vote and had few work/career opportunities. Men ruled at home, at work and in politics. Women showed a lot less flesh than they do now. The only thing I can think of is that the Muslim culture has a deep thread of repressing and subjugating women which strongly conflicts with men s natural attraction and love for them. It is sad and maddening when your culture negates what is natural and goes so far as to destroy and disempower its women so that they more easily fit into the role of that society.>

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posted August 9, 2006 at 10:33 pm

They’re overwhelmed by lust & believe their desires are evil so WE should die? DUHHH?>

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posted August 11, 2006 at 10:04 pm

“…and you can smell her burning body, not the scent of perfume, but flesh, only flesh…” For all that Sayyid Qutb wrote in his lifetime — from polemic to book-length analysis and theory — this is one of the most quoted passages for American audiences. It easily makes the case for a 9/11 connection and identifies Qutb as a maniac. Even if true, it does more harm than good. Here’s why: It helps fuel our laziness about understanding Islamic culture. We see only the singular, not the diversity, and what we do see, we demonize. It misconstrues then exaggerates who is the enemy. (All Muslims? I don t think so.) It encourages seeing another culture through our own narrow lens, instead of understanding them in the context of their own. In short, it keeps us exactly where we are: ignorant of Islam, full of fear, still at war. To be clear: I am not a fan or advocate or Qutb or anyone — be they crusaders, jihadists, nationalists, fascists, shahs, PMs or presidents — who urges killing in the name of a deity. Neither am I a fan of media-fueled jingoism and ignorance.>

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