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The History Behind the Hate MAG
Followingthe September 11th attacks, some Pakistanis waved signs reading:"Americans, think! Why does the whole world hate you?"Americans, however, did not need that urging, as they had been forced towonder as they struggled to understand what could have provoked suchanti-American hostility (Beyer)*. During their search for answers, manystarted to blame the Middle East. Although Americans have legitimatereasons for their anger and desire for revenge, they have failed torecognize that the "clash of civilizations" is just as much aresult of their country's foreign policy and religious, political, andcultural differences with the Middle East as anything else. Perhaps theUnited States has been oblivious to the fact that the conflict betweenthemselves and the Middle East lies in a "complicated web" ofhistory, religion and cultural misunderstandings, and that the need tounderstand and untangle this web is urgent (Hale and Walt).
Oneof the first steps in understanding the animosity toward the U.S. byMiddle Eastern nations requires the U.S. to understand that thepassionate anger the Middle East feels is "deeply rooted inhistory" (Beyer). Much of the resentment is a direct result of ourpast policies and actions. Many in the Middle East resent the U.S. formeddling in their affairs because American intervention has usually onlyled to more disappointing outcomes. For example, the United States'attempt to be a mediator in the conflict between the Israelis andPalestinians could be seen as biased because of America's support ofIsrael.
Contradictory actions by the U.S. may also account forsome of the resentment. In the 1980s Iran-Iraq war, the U.S. suppliedboth countries with arms and intelligence. In 1956, America cut offpromised funding for the Aswan Dam in Egypt. And since 1991, economicsanctions have been placed on Iraq by the U.S. in an attempt to forceout Saddam Hussein. He is still in power, but thousands of Iraqicitizens have died (Shalom). It seems obvious when reviewing theseevents why such actions have created hostility.
Another grievanceof the Middle East is America's steadfast support of Israel. Israel, aJewish democratic state, is regarded as an unwelcome alien in agenerally Islamic land. America has also been known to supportrepressive regimes in the region that Middle Eastern people don't like,and has attempted to justify its actions by claiming a right and need toprotect oil interests (Paul).
Also, "the way U.S. culturedominates the world, often steamrolling religious and culturalinstitutions" to protect their own interests has created "afertile ground for anti-American fervor," according to Ellen Haleand Vivienne Walt of USA Today.
Because some of the Middle Eastregards America's lack of sensitivity on civil rights as "only intheir selfish interests," the general complaint re-garding pastU.S. involvement in the Middle East is that the U.S. policy seemsinconsiderate. Bernard Lewis, an expert on Islam, feels that some ofAmerica's actions seem to contradict its assertion that it is ademocratic and caring nation.
The anti-American sentiment in theMiddle East is also partly attributed to the fact that the region'sfeelings of despair and shame have led to resentment of the UnitedStates' economic and military superiority (Lewis). The general consensusin some Middle Eastern countries is that a civilization "rich andcomfortable, materially advanced but soulless, technologically complexbut lacking spirituality and vitality," does not deserve to be aworld power (Lewis). Accordingly, "the feelings of resentmentdirected at the U.S. have to be placed in the overall context of thesense of humiliation, decline and despair in the Middle East,"according to Lewis. Many in the Middle East feel that as "thecenter of truth and enlightenment," they should be thehighest-ranking society in the world. Because they are not, they seem tobe directing their hate at the "millennial enemy."
Parts of the Middle East have grown to resent the Americandemocratic values of tolerance, equality, and self-determination becausethey feel frustrated by their own repressive governments and failingsociety. And even though they regard America's capitalism andmaterialism as sins, their resentment seems to grow each time they are"overtaken, overborne and overwhelmed by those whom they regard astheir inferiors" (Lewis). Even though it is true that the U.S.hasn't always been considerate of other nations, it obviously does notmean that anyone has the right to drive plane loads of innocent peopleinto buildings filled with civilians.
Although the resentment theMiddle East feels toward the U.S. is understandable, the anger must endif these two very different societies want to live peacefully. The U.S.needs to devise a strategy that will deal with the terrorism. Accordingto the Newsweek article "Why Do They Hate Us?" by FareedZakaria, "this may sound like a daunting challenge, but if theworld unites around American leadership, perhaps we will see theemergence of a new global community and consensus." Zakaria writesthat to end Middle Eastern rage, the U.S. needs to destroy Al Qaeda, theterrorist group linked to Osama bin Laden that is "the product offailed societies that breed anger." Destroying Al Qaeda mayeliminate the terror and hate.
Along political lines, the U.S.must form a broad international community that is willing to cooperatein creating world peace, especially between the U.S. and the MiddleEast. Zakaria also suggests that the United States should help Islamenter the modern world and teach them to embrace moderation, eliminatingthe extremism of terrorist groups. At the same time, however, the U.S.should realize that their actions may be considered extreme and must doits best to strive to achieve a better appreciation of other cultures.This means that both must adopt some of the other's fundamental values.If this becomes widespread, much of the conflict between the Middle Eastand the West would probably end. If the United States and the MiddleEast can make peace, Zakaria believes that "we will have done morethan achieve security, we will have changed the world."
According to David Limbaugh of Jewish World Review, "theU.S. must remain ever vigilant and be prepared for anything, but mustalso learn to understand the roots of rage that led to recent tragicevents involving the Middle East." By doing so, Limbaugh believesthe U.S. will be able to im-prove Middle Eastern relations and, in theprocess, drastically change the world for millions.
To this end,the U.S. must learn to acknowledge other cultures, and hope that thosewill try to achieve a better understanding of theirs. If America and theMiddle East can respect each other, past misunderstandings will notmatter because peace will reign. The only way to do this, though, is toaccept history and be willing to learn from ourmistakes.
Beyer, Lisa. "The Roots of Rage - Why We WereAttacked." 28 September 2001, Time Magazine. Accessed 12 November 200 1. http:Hwww. time. com/time/magazine/printout/0,8 816,17 5 979, 00. html
"Fear andHate." 11 September 2001. Christianity Today Magazine. Accessed 28 November 2001.http:Hwww.christianit3ioday.com/ct/2001/137/30.0.html Hale, Ellen and Walt,Vivienne. "Why they hate us." 23 September 2001. USA Today.
Accessed November2001. http://www.bergen.com/op ed/attackhate20010923 I. htm
Kahn, Muqtedar."Opinion: Understanding the Roots of Muslim Rage." 8 October 2001 Scoop Media.Accessed 17 November 2001. http://www. scoop. co. nz/mason/stories/HLO IIO/SO0044.htm
Lewis, Bernard. "The Roots of Muslim Rage." September 1990. TheAtlantic Monthly.
Accessed 7 November 2001. A:\TheRootsofMuslimRage-90-09.htmand http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/90sep/rage2.htm
Limbaugh, David."Terrorism, hatred, and evil." I I October 2001. Jewish World Review. Accessed 3November 2001. http://www.-jewishworldreview. com/david/limbaugh 10 110 1asp
Paul, Ron. "Our Foolish War with the Middle East." 20 November 2000. TexasStraight Talk. Accessed 19 November 2001. http: Hwww- house.gov/paul/tst/tst2000/tst 112000. htm
Pitts, Leonard. "Hatred for the U.S.?Evil is as evil does." 20 September 2001. Miami Herald. Accessed 4 November 2001.http://www.miami.com/herald/content/features/columnistU/itts/digdocs/01064,1.html
Shalom, Stephen. "The United States and MiddleEast: Why Do They Hate Us?" 22 September 200 1. Z-Net. Accessed 4 November 200 1.http://www.zmaiz.org/shalomhate.htm
Zakaria, Fareed. "The Politics of Rage:Why Do They Hate Us?" Newsweek 15 October 2001: 22- 40.