March 21, 2002
someone hates you so badly that hes willing to kill himself
in order to hurt you, it may be a good idea to ask yourself why. You may
just decide that he is evil, but thats a moral
judgment. It doesnt explain his specific reason for targeting you,
and it wont help you anticipate his next attack.
We often hear it said, for example,
that Arab hostility to Israel stems from anti-Semitism,
meaning a general, unprovoked hatred of Jews. Of course the word implies
that most Jews are Semites and Arabs arent, which is the reverse
of the truth; but let that pass. The important fact is that Arab hatred of
Jews has greatly increased since the founding of Israel.
This hatred didnt used to be
pronounced; many Jews lived peacefully in the Arab world, including
Palestine. But that changed when Jews claimed a right not only to inhabit
Palestine, but to rule it.
Imagine that what is now Israel were
taken over by heavily armed, well-funded, fanatical Methodists.
Lets say they claimed it as their homeland by divine right and
renamed it Wesleyland. Then they expelled the current occupants and
seized their homes. Then they announced that Methodists from all over the
world were welcome to immigrate, with full and immediate citizenship
and privileges denied to the few remaining non-Methodists. Then organized
Methodists in the United States managed to get Wesleyland large subsidies
paid for by the American taxpayer.
Suddenly there would be a new and
fervent hostility to Methodists in the region and beyond. There might be
violent reprisals against Methodists not only in Wesleyland but in other
countries too. Diaspora Methodists, who had always been ignored by their
neighbors, would find themselves regarded with keen attention, some of it
hostile, wary, and suspicious, by people who now wondered where their
In short, millions who previously had
hardly known what a Methodist was would soon become strongly
In that case it would be silly to look
for the roots of anti-Methodism in old antagonisms between, say,
Methodists and Anglicans. The source of the trouble would be immediate
and obvious. It would have nothing to do with the ancient persecutions of
Methodists in England, or with some supposedly perennial anti-Methodism
in Western or Islamic culture. It
would have everything to do with the imposing presence and activities of
Methodists in the Middle East right now. And this would be true even if the
Methodist claim to Wesleyland were absolutely justified.
We likewise hear it said that Islamic
anti-Americanism, as expressed in recent terrorist acts, can be traced to
a hatred of the West dating back to the Crusades. But this is an even worse
explanation than blaming hatred of Israel on an a priori hatred of Jews.
Its true that Muslims have
always taken a dim view of infidels, and they have long memories. But the
Crusades were a long time ago, long before the creation of the United
States, and the old grudges have been in abeyance for centuries. No Islamic
terrorists disturbed this country in the days of Millard Fillmore. What has
activated Muslim hostility to America just now?
Gee, thats a tough one. Could it
be that the Muslims feel as if America has been crowding them a bit
lately? Could it even be that they have a point?
Of course any such suggestion is
anti-American, if you hold that America is always in the
right no matter what the U.S. Government does. Never mind U.S. support for
Israel, the U.S. military presence in the Muslim world, the many thousands
of civilian deaths the United States has inflicted in Iraq, the capricious double standards by which the United States judges Muslim countries, and so forth.
Most of these things have been
ignored in the American news media, which is why the 9/11 attacks came
as a surprise to most Americans. You can read about them in the
specialized press and in foreign newspapers; but in this country, facts
that induce conscientious introspection are generally considered unfit for
Its both a mark of maturity
and a matter of prudence to be able to look at yourself with a certain
degree of objectivity. No wonder much of the world regards the United
States and Israel as a pair of bullying countries that refuse to grow up.