Cultural Icons: Britney and bin Laden
.…They're both popular celebrities in some pockets of the world. I stopped short at the following anecdote, which I found in a recent book by Mark LeVine, a University of California professor, Why They Don't Hate Us: Lifting the Veil on the Axis of Evil
As one Saudi doctor explains, "My daughter is for bin Laden. When I go to wake her up, I see pictures of Palestinian girl martyrs on her wall. It scares me to death. If we go into her room at night, she'll be listening to Britney Spears, but as soon as we close the door she's listening to martyr songs."
LeVine brings up the anecdote to point out an ongoing failure by the American government (and American corporations) to understand that loving American soap operas and sneakers doesn't necessarily produce love of American policy.
The United States has gone out of its way to pay big lip service (and a few dollars) to making sure that women in the Middle East are liberated. It's a cornerstone of the idea that American style democracy can be placed wholesale on foreign ground and it will thrive the way we want it to. What irony: here is the daughter of a Saudi professional who dreams of personal liberation and professional satisfaction. She keeps role models of women she admires on her wall. But they're suicide bombers.