With the ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ Uproar, Islam and #MeToo Intersect
Many people have asked me how Leftists can ally with Islamic hardliners who adhere to Sharia, a system of laws that would have many of them executed. One clue to the logic of this curious alliance came recently in the “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” controversy: Here, we see a relationship of “like to like” as two groups of joyless, controlling authoritarians come together.
The #MeToo bans on “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” are ironic in this age of gangsta rap lyrics full of violent rape imagery and open, unapologetic misogyny, and the bans have been rolled back here and there after listener outcries, but they’re still instructive. They show an intersection of Sharia sensibilities with the harsh and angry puritanism of some radical feminists.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s great theorist Sayyid Qutb has been called “the father of modern [Islamic] fundamentalism.” He sharpened his distaste for the West while living in the United States from November 1948 to August 1950. His disgust with the gaudy materialism of postwar America was intense -- and “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” was, for him, Exhibit A of American decadence.
The History of Jihad From Muhammad to ISIS recounts how, in Greeley, Colorado, where Qutb lived for a short time, he was thoroughly scandalized by a dance after an evening service at a local church:
The dancing intensified … The hall swarmed with legs … Arms circled arms, lips met lips, chests met chests, and the atmosphere was full of love.
The pastor further scandalized Qutb by dimming the lights, creating “a romantic, dreamy effect,” and playing a popular record of the day -- none other than “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” One modern-day hater of the song, Glenn Anderson of Cleveland’s Star 102 radio station, would have been no less offended than Qutb:
Now, I do realize that when the song was written in 1944, it was a different time, but now while reading it, it seems very manipulative and wrong. The world we live in is extra sensitive now, and people get easily offended, but in a world where #MeToo has finally given women the voice they deserve, the song has no place.
Anderson and Qutb both no doubt felt righteous and superior to the libertines who dared to enjoy this song. Qutb also sounded much like a modern American Leftist when he concluded:
I fear that when the wheel of life has turned and the file on history has closed, America will not have contributed anything.
Modern Leftists would likely also find much to agree with in Qutb’s influential book Milestones, in which he declared:
Mankind today is on the brink of a precipice, not because of the danger of complete annihilation which is hanging over its head -- this being just a symptom and not the real disease -- but because humanity is devoid of those vital values which are necessary not only for its healthy development but also for its real progress.