Salman Rushdie knows a thing or two about Islamisists — the fundamentalists who are mad at the world, or more precisely, our world.

They tried to kill him for writing The Satanic Verses. I remember that time well. I was flying about on airliners, reading the book in a brown paper cover. You never know who's nearby watching, and maybe getting fatwa angry.

Anyway, Rushdie wrote a piece today in the New York Times trying to explain what America is up against.

Fascinating piece. He says our problem is that people hate us simply because we are us. America's war, Rushdie says, is anti-Americanism. It isn't just the fanatic Muslims of Usama. It's also a large number of our so-called friends from Western Europe who are mad because their predictions on the war didn't go right.

We didn't have a hard time winning. We didn't see a blood bath when the Northern Alliance took Kabul.

Rushdie says anti-Americanism is becoming the "in" thing over there in Europe, and around the globe.

Among the Muslims who hate us, he says:

"It [anti-Americanism) has become too useful a smokescreen for Muslim nations' many defects — their corruption, their incompetence, their oppression of their citizens, their economic, scientific and cultural stagnation."

But even in the first world, they hate us. He says:

"America-hating has become a badge of identity, making possible a chest-beating, flag-burning rhetoric... that makes men feel good. It contains a strong streak of hypocrisy, hating most what it desires most."

So what is America to do when we are hated because the hater is too backward, and when we are hated because the hater is thoroughly modern and up-to-date?

What are Americans to do when they find themselves viewed as arrogant, swaggering and rich, even if — as individuals — they are modest, moral and simply mildly successful?

We know what the president is going to do about all this. He's going to plunge ahead. He's going to do what he has to do, even if he has to do it all alone.

For those Americans going to visit Rome or London or Paris this summer, I can tell you what you're going to get — endless debates in pubs and cafes with overbearing know-it-all Europeans who think Bush is so lowbrow and American foreign policy too pro-Israel.

It's just too tiresome. My advice? Go see Yosemite instead.

That's My Word.

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