Monday, April 28, 2008

Chickens...Often Roosting, Sometimes Headless

Jeremiah Wright spoke at the National Press Club today. He quoted Paul who, in his letter to the Galatians, noted what is so often a truism: "whatever one sows, that will he also reap." Equally true is the frenzied reaction some people have to being reminded of this fact (Ward Churchill also knows something about this).

Concerning the September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States the "9/11 Commission" put it more subtlety. In their final report the commission simply noted that "America's policy choices have consequences." They viewed this problem primarily as a public relations issue however, recommending that "we need to defend our ideals abroad vigorously." These ideals ostensibly include a democratically elected government and personal freedoms, which others have claimed are precisely why the terrorists hate us (Bush, September 20, 2001). Catch 22?

Perhaps an anecdote will help to illustrate the problem with both of these claims, as well as the psychology that makes Paul's warning a frequent truism:

When the hijackers of the TWA airliner in 1985 reportedly shouted the words "New Jersey" in the aisles of the plane, most Americans, if they heard it at all, would scarcely have been aware that the reference was to the battleship New Jersey. After the bombing of the Marine Barracks, the battleship had turned its 16-inch guns upon Shiite Moslem villages in Lebanon, hurtling 1,000 pound shells into the homes of those who could not possibly have been responsible for the bombing. One of the hijackers, it was reported, lost his wife and daughter in that shelling.

- Robert Holmes, "Terrorism and Violence: A Moral Perspective" (in Issues in War and Peace: Philosophical Inquiries).

This is in no way meant to imply that all terrorists have suffered personally from U.S. policies or actions, or that terrorist acts are justified, or that the victims of terrorism deserve it. But our policies and our actions do have consequences. And satellite television and library programs are unlikely to mitigate them. But more importantly, as Paul warned, bombing and torture are very often paid back in kind. Frenzied denials notwithstanding.

2 comments:

  1. From the last link in my post, I thought this was worth transcribing. Does anyone think Rudy Giuliani really believes this nonsense?

    "Look it's real simple what happened. These people came here and killed us because of our freedom of religion, because of our freedom for women, because they hate us."

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  2. It is a missed opportunity at enlightenment that manifests itself in (at least partially) blaming belligerent US policy for motivating Muslims to "strike back" at the US. The enlightenment I speak of here is the recognition that the vast majority of ills man has suffered have been caused by, and continue to be caused by, the "Trifecta of Doom": Christianity, Islam and Judaism. One can only conclude that attacks against the US by Muslim extremists are a result of US policy if one accepts the baseless principle that these three desert-gutter religions are, in and of themselves, peaceful belief systems. This premise is clearly false even to the most casual observer of world history.

    So-called "faiths" arising among tribes from a desert region are naturally divisive: They don't believe like us, so they must be punished so that we can have their water and food. Over millennia, these "truths" have manifested themselves in such things as the Christian "belief" that unless one "accepts Christ" as one's "personal Savior" one may burn in Hell forever, the Jewish belief that God is a landlord and demands that non-Jews surrender their homes and personal belongings so that a God State of Jews may be created and defended, and yes, the Muslim belief that all infidels must be killed. If it weren't transgressions committed in the name of US policy, I've no doubt Muslims would find some other rationale for killing non-Muslims. Just as the Christians and the Jews have throughout history.

    The real problem is not US policy, it is the incredible number of lunatics in the 21st century still clinging to the Medieval, superstitious, nonsensical belief systems that arose in the deserts of the Middle East centuries ago.

    Unless and until we address this cancer, many more thousands are destined to die violent deaths in the name of God.

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