These days many Americans are seeking to recover from the attacks perpetrated by those who are often called. “Islamic terrorists.” For those Americans who are overwhelmed by anger, it will be difficult to wrap their minds around an important question. Certainly most politicians will not ask, “Why do they hate us?” Instead they will outdo one another in calling for the violent deaths of those who have generated this uncontrollable fear.
So what causes these terrorists to seek our destruction? It is certainly not just their religion. The fundamentalism which inevitably leads to violence defines the dark side of most religions, including Islam. Christianity has historically exhibited its share of the religious intolerance that eventually resulted in savagery and bloodshed.
If religious devotion is not the underlying cause, why do they hate us? , Following the 9/11 tragedy, George W. Bush, suggested that, “America was targeted for attack because we’re the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world.” He went on to use this arrogant statement as an excuse for the invasion of Iraq — one of the worst decisions in American history.
So why did Al Qaeda hate us fourteen years ago, and why does ISIS hate us now? While the remains of the twin towers were still smoldering, a group of us sought to take that question seriously. While it was not possible to see the world through the attacker’s eyes, we relied on what they were saying to each other in their electronic and print media.
It was quickly clear that the 9/11 terrorists were not Iraqis, but Saudis, and the United States was not about to bite the hand of our wealthy Saudi friends, nor risk the loss of all that oil. Yet it was Saudi ultra-nationalists who were furious that we had placed troops on their sacred soil, and they vowed revenge. But there were other reasons for the hatred. Here are excerpts from our 2001 statement.
- To believe that the anger comes only from a small band of international terrorists, frustrated enough to become martyrs, misses the signs of the times. Those who planned and executed the attack, were raising serious questions about the role of the United States in world affairs.
- They feared that an imperialistic America claimed the right to dominate others culturally, and militarily, and to impose on them our democratic system.
- They feared the economic determinism by which we sought to shape everyone in our image and make them subject to our will, an attitude which often blinds us to how we are seen by others.
- They saw the two symbols of America’s economic and military might, the twin towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and believed that these symbols of American power helped produce the wretched conditions throughout the Near East.
- They knew that we continued to ignore the plight of the Palestinian people, with our unwavering support of the Israeli government which left the Palestinians without either hope or a homeland.
If these were among reasons for 9/11, consider what must now be the escalated resentment given the “shock and awe” of our invasion and destruction of Iraq followed by the devastation wrought in Afghanistan, compounded by our unsuccessful effort to turn a half dozen other nations into Western democracies. Totally outclassed in terms of sheer military power, they reverted to the only weapon they believe they had, terrorism with its capacity to engender irrational fear!
The above cited reasons, as well as others others, cannot be used to justify the 9/11 attack. Nothing excused the terrorism of 9/11, and nothing justifies what more recently has happened in Paris, San Bernardino and other places where blood has been spilled and the seeds of fear sown.
Is there a creative response to this hatred? Whatever might be a path out of the jungle we have helped create, meeting hate with increased hate, and violence with increased violence cannot be a responsible answer. Prior to any solution to these difficult issues must come some willingness to see the world through the eyes of those who hate us, and that is very hard work.