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"Write out of love, write out of instinct, write out of reason. But always for money."
Louis Untermeyer

Weekly Muse
My humble opinion on current events

September 16, 2001

Why Do They Hate Us?

Many are calling the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, DC "senseless" and are asking why would anyone do such a thing.

The only answer I can give is hate. These people, and by that I mean the radical Islamists who most likely instigated this assault, hate us. They hate America. They hate Americans. 

So why do they hate us?

America is wealthy. America strives to practice freedom, tolerance, and generosity. America holds lofty ideals that have made us the leading power in the world, despite the fact that we haven't always adhered to those ideals, and further despite that we've existed for just over 200 years, a relative blink in time. Many countries and cultures have existed for thousands of years, including the Muslim culture and its religion, Islam, yet most of their people remain poor and lack basic necessities that Western countries take for granted. 

The vast, vast majority of Muslims are peaceful, decent, hard-working people. They are tolerant of competing faiths, such as Christianity. While they dislike many aspects of American life and culture (materialism, advertising, shallowness, etc), they abhor all acts of violence and condemned last Tuesday's attack. Virtually all Muslims living in the U.S. are faithful, patriotic Americans, no different than any other citizen in their love of their country.

The small minority of radical Muslims are the people who hate America. The ruling party in Afghanistan, the Taliban, is one example. They believe their version of Islam is the one true faith, which must be imposed on all people. Those who refuse Islam are infidels and subject to death. They are everything most Muslims are not - intolerant, full of hate. They believe in spreading Islam throughout the world, and see the United States and other Western countries as major hurdles in their quest. 

These radicals do not believe in freedom. The people subject to their rule are forced to abide by strict standards of dress and behavior. Deviants are brutally punished. News and events from the outside world are censored and filtered through the authorities, which then disseminate them to their people with a pro-Islam, anti-Western slant. 

In short, they oppose and despise everything we Americans hold dear. They hate us for who we are. The only good American is a dead American. 

There is no way to placate these radicals, short of betraying all our principals and renouncing basic freedom. 

Not so fast, says others. Yes, radical Muslims may not agree with our mode of government, but they hate us because we support Israel. They hate us because we are involved in the Middle East. They hate our military bases in Saudi Arabia. They hate us because of the Gulf War. They hate us because of the economic embargo on Iraq, which has starved thousand of innocent Iraqis. They hate American not because of who we are, but what we do. 

If we want to end terrorism, these people say, if we wish to make friends with the radicals, then we should stop doing what makes them so upset. Lift the embargo on Iraq. Withdraw from the Middle East. End our support (financial and political) for Israel. Then they'll leave us alone.

Once we do all this, then the radicals have no further reason to hate Americans, and therefore no reason to kill them. Our borders, our people, and our country will be safe. We will have peace. If we refuse, if we continue on the same course, then not only should we expect more violence, but we actively encourage it. 

Those seem to be the two competing answers to the question, why do they hate us? 

But which is correct? I lean more toward the first answer. I think the radicals would hate us regardless of our (sometime tepid) support for Israel, or other policies toward the Middle East. 

The second answer implies that when thousands of innocent civilians are murdered by suicide bombers, it's our fault. I find that repugnant.

Despite our shortcomings, America remains a shining torch for hope in a world darkened by despair. America offers opportunity, liberty, tolerance, while too many countries such as Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan, offer only poverty, oppression, and terror.

Besides, it's because of what we believe that we support Israel, the only true democracy in the Middle East. It's because of what we believe that we support the embargo on Iraq, in an effort to force Saddam Hussein to act like a decent human being. Whether the embargo accomplishes this is certainly a debatable question, of course.

I don't think there is any way to placate these people. Any concessions we make would only be seen as weakness. These people have sworn to be our enemies. So long as they insist on doing so, we should return the sentiment, and treat them accordingly.

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