Abstinence and coherence.
Since 1993, about 2.4 million young people have signed a pledge to wait until marriage to engage in sexual intercourse as part of True Love Waits, a church initiative promoting premarital sexual abstinence. For seven years, researchers from Columbia University and Yale University studied 12,000 teenagers who took the pledge. In March 2004, they reported on their findings. Eighty-eight percent of those who pledged reported having sexual intercourse before marriage; just twelve percent kept their promise.1

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The Da Vinci Code.
For the uninitiated, The Da Vinci Code is a novel by Dan Brown that has been on top of best-seller lists since early summer of 2005.  In Brown’s novel, the “Da Vinci code” refers to cryptic messages supposedly incorporated by Leonardo Da Vinci into his artwork. According to the novel, Leonardo was a member of an ancient secret society dedicated to preserving the “fact” that Jesus designated Mary Magdalene as his successor since she was married to Jesus and had his children.  The Holy Grail of legend is really Mary Magdalene.  Brown’s an excellent writer.  Let’s give him credit — he knows how to fill the reader’s imagination.  But we also need to recognize this horse has left the barn.  Like Arab youth (see 4/14 Commentary), most readers already have their imaginations formed.  This is why we need an East Wing Strategy that reframes the conversation.

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Batteries and Baywatch.
During her tenure as ambassador to Morocco, Margaret Tutwiler1 discovered that the average day for a Moroccan man went like this: work hard all day, come home in the evening, unplug the car battery, haul it into the house and connect it to the TV so that the family can catchBaywatch, the most widely watched TV show in the country. 2 But what alarmed Tutwiler is that most Moroccans assume Baywatch is a Discovery Channel-type show documenting life in America. As a result, it shapes how Arabs, especially youth, imagine American life — and that is not good. Why? Because the U.S. conducts its foreign policy from the West Wing, while Arab attitudes are assembled with what originates from the East Wing.

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