WSJ: Lady Gaga Hates Peace in the Middle East

To date, few foreign-policy experts have conjectured that Lady Gaga is a primary cause of conflict in the Middle East, so we were a little surprised when Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens wrote that exact thing today in his Op-Ed, “Lady Gaga Versus Mideast Peace”:

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?

If your answer is (b) it means you probably have a grasp of the historical roots of modern jihadism.

This idea is so bracingly unconventional that we nearly concluded that the editorial was built out of a cynical grab for Internet traffic via Google search.

You see, one way to build traffic to a Web site is to take a popular search term and combine it with another popular search term. If no one else has built a story around the two topics, congratulations! You’ve landed at the top of a Google search result, and anyone weird enough to search for the paired topics will probably land on your piece of, um, journalism.

The Journal may not, however, be deploying the name of a very famous and somewhat sexy lady in the name of boosting reader interest. In the spirit of fairness, we delve into Gaga’s influence on the Middle East peace process, after the jump.

The crux of Stephens’ argument is that anti-Americanism is so strong in many parts of the Muslim world that changing Israeli policy on its settlements in the West Bank will not do much for American security.

Stephens suggests that the late Egyptian Islamist writer Sayyid Qutb’s general notion of “the American Temptress” still greatly informs perceptions of America in the Middle East. Sex signifiers from 20th- and 21st-century America — “Elvis, Playboy, the pill, women’s lib, acid tabs, gay rights, Studio 54, Jersey Shore and, of course, Lady Gaga” — are the type of fuel that add to the anti-American fire Qutb helped ignite.

Qutb died in 1966, Stephens acknowledges, but he sure would’ve hated all those things if he’d lived to see them. And, Stephens says, just as Qutb would’ve hated the pill and Playboy, so the Muslim world hates Gaga:

But to imagine that the settlements account for even a fraction of the rage that has inhabited the radical Muslim mind since the days of Qutb is fantasy: The settlements are merely the latest politically convenient cover behind which lies a universe of hatred. If the administration’s aim is to appease our enemies, it will get more mileage out of banning Lady Gaga than by applying the screws on Israel. It should go without saying that it ought to do neither.

We’ve gotten like five headaches trying to sort out what this argument even means, but here’s what we came up with. A guy who died in the middle of the last century continues to dominate the Muslim mind. He did not like Lady Gaga, who is American and sexy. Therefore Israel and the rest of the Middle East will never get along.

Now that we understand the substance of Stephens’ argument, we’re almost hoping it’s a cynical bid for Google search traffic.