In the immediate aftermath of September 11, a number of voices on the left asked, predictably, “Why do they hate us?” Always, of course, with the answer that it’s our fault. It quickly became apparent that this was not the question on the American public’s mind (people were more likely to ask, “How can we kill the bastards?”), so for a while the “Why do they hate us?” chorus died down.
Now, however, with the widespread (albeit premature) perception that Iraq is a failure, “Why do they hate us?” is creeping back into public discourse.
In this morning’s Minneapolis Star Tribune, retired Lutheran Bishop Lowell Erdahl has a column titled “If our leaders had seen 9/11 as a crime against humanity.” Erdahl’s theory is that everything might have been fine if our government had “understood and proclaimed 9/11 not as a war against the United States but as a crime against humanity.” This would have involved working exclusively through the U.N., relying on the International Criminal Court to deal with terrorists, and so on. (It is interesting to contemplate how the International Criminal Court would have gone about dislodging al Qaeda from its base in Afghanistan.)
But then, in a stunning bit of self-contradiction, Erdahl does an about face and says, “Imagine the difference it would have made if our leaders…had been honest in answering the question, ‘Why do they hate us?’ instead of arrogantly asserting that they hate us because we are so good, so successful and so free,” and also if our leaders “had been willing to confess and to change policies, especially concerning the Middle East, that have been less than perfect and have evoked understandable resentment.”
But wait! If the September 11 attacks were a crime against humanity and not against the United States, why are we talking about why they hate the United States?
Contradiction aside, there is a sense in which Bishop Erdahl is on to something. The terrorists do, indeed, commit crimes against all humanity, not just against America. Why, indeed, do the Islamofascists hate not just America but Indonesia, Australia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Kenya, Morocco, Russia, India and Iraq? And many more countries that they haven’t succeeded in bombing yet. Surely al Qaeda and its allies are not just protesting all of these countries’ policies on the Middle East.
The fact is that the Islamofascists are at war with all humanity–or, at least, all humanity that is not devoted to Wahabist Islam. If the United States has a unique role to play in this war–and we do–it is not because we are the only ones the terrorists hate. It is because we are the only ones who have the military might and the resolve to take the war to the enemy and win it. With, of course, a little help from our friends.
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“Arise and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time.” Winston Churchill
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