By Merrily Davies
the 9/11 attacks, I was horrified when our president asked in all
earnestness, "Why do they hate us? We're good." My thoughts
were, "My God, you're president!!! Why don't you know????"
Although the question is incredible for its ignorance on the part
of a sitting president, it is critical that we understand that many
people DO hate us and why they hate us. It is imperative that we
ask the question seriously and not allow it to be brushed aside.
The answer we were given by our president, recently
reaffirmed by Condoleezza Rice, is that they were "cowards"
who "hate freedom" and hate us for "who we are".
That kind of talk is both crazy and dangerous. Even terrorists don't
"hate freedom." They
may hate what we do, but they don't hate who we are. And anyone
willing to die for their cause, no matter how misguided, is not
a coward. These answers were designed to dehumanize the enemy for
propaganda purposes. That the press and the media have accepted
these answers uncritically is gross negligence.
The questions the Commission of 9/11 is asking are
simply questions of timing and priorities: What did the president
know, and when did he know it? Never the question,"Why did
it happen?" These attackers were religious men pursuing what
in their eyes was a holy cause. What could motivate them to give
up their own lives and justify before God the taking of thousands
of innocent lives?
bin Laden, in his "Letter to America," November 2002,
spelled out his reasons for fighting against the US. His statements
have been ignored in the mainstream media, but it is critical to
hear what he has to say if we are to understand him. To understand
is not to justify, but NOT to understand because we refuse to listen
is both arrogant and foolish. In his "Letter to America"
he does not claim credit for 9/11 but he does spell out the issues
causing him to fight against the U.S. The letter is lengthy, but
here are some of the reasons he gives. "Hating Freedom"
and "hating who we are" are not among them.
The first reason he gives is US
and Israeli occupation of Palestine and suppression of the Palestinian
people. The state of Israel was originally created by pushing
Palestinians off their land, creating a nation of refugees. Whatever
the merits of creating a homeland for the Jews, this action came
at a terrible price. 780,000 Arabs were expelled from their towns
and farms. This land had been in Palestinian families for generations.
There are now 3.4 million Palestinians crowded into the West Bank
and Gaza living under a military occupation designed to strangle
their economy. One in ten Palestinian children are mentally deficient
because of starvation. Current Israeli policy, if it were happening
anywhere else in the world, would be condemned as "ethnic cleansing".
The US is implicated because we not only tolerate Israel's behavior
toward the Palestinians; we subsidize it. Israel
is our largest recipient of foreign aid, by far. Wouldn't we
Americans struggle for our land and our right to exist under this
kind of tyranny?
Another reason he gives are the sanctions placed
on Iraq after the First Gulf War, which blocked medicines and chemicals
needed for water purification. Between 500,000 and 1.5 million innocent
Iraqi children died as a result of the sanctions. What actions would
we Americans take if our own precious children were dying under
similar circumstances? When then Secretary of State Madeline Albright
was questioned about these figures she didn't deny them. Rather,
she said, "It was worth it." One can almost hear the same
words coming from the lips of the 9/11 hijackers.
Another reason is the ongoing American military
presence on sacred Arabian soil. The US installed a corrupt
government in Saudi Arabia which is kept in power, over the
cries of the Saudi population, by US military aid. If we were being
ruled by a totalitarian government installed and maintained by a
foreign power, what would we do?
Is there any substance to Osama bin Laden's charges?
Absolutely. These people don't "hate who we are," they
hate what we do. Does this justify the violence of 9/11? In their
eyes it does; in our eyes it doesn't, but that is not really the
point. What is critical for us to understand is that for us to impose
our will on the world through overwhelming military force is to
invite violence in return. Since they can't compete with us, head
on, with conventional warfare, they will come at us any way they
can. Our moralizing about it won't stop them.
The question we need to ask is, "Is it worth
Visit us at