[GCFL-discuss] Links to the past
gcfl-discuss at gcfl.net
gcfl-discuss at gcfl.net
Wed Oct 6 20:30:08 CDT 2004
Lance, I am sure we can find other common ground. In fact, I believe if
we all took a step back from the way "issues" have been defined for
short-term "political" advantage, we would find 90% of us could agree on
90% of what confronts us. Pulling back from the political definitions we
have been taught will be harder than it looks though.
I do have a few thoughts on why certain people, in the name of Islam,
have declared war on America generally. It comes from at least two very
different sources. Before the rise of militant groups parading under
Islam, there were militant groups in the middle east parading under more
or less left-wing banners. Their sources of support were more obvious:
widespread poverty, a sense that national wealth was on the one hand
being handed over to Americans in the form of cheap oil, and on the other
hand squandered by local ruling cliques who kept the oil revenue. These
organizations were effectively suppressed by both local governments and
by American agencies, but the impoverished mass of people were still
there, and received no great benefit from their own governments, or ours.
Into the vacuum stepped Islamic fundamentalists, teaching religious
rather than political solutions, making use of the fact that most people
despised or despaired of their own governments, and the more powerful
institutions in the world, but teaching a hatred of the western nations
beyond anything that any popular or socialist movement had indulged in.
So now we have a general despair based on disparity of wealth, directed
by a conspiracy of individuals united by religious fanaticism. The first
defines part of the target, the second defines the means to be used.
Although it is not the history of Islam, bin Laden literally desires to
kill every infidel who will not convert to his sect. Not only every
non-Muslim, but every Muslim of any other persuasion. We have military
power, we have wealth, we are not Muslim. Families in refugee camps
resent that a large share of the world's money flows to the U.S., but bin
Laden resents that we are not of his faith.
Its a tangled mess, frankly. How do we reach out to people who deserve a
share in what the modern world can produce, who have genuine and
legitimate concerns about the negative moral influences that come with it
(as do many of us about our own national culture), who are being drawn
our of desperation into a military strategy that makes everything about
us the enemy, under leadership that really has no concern for their lives
or ours? The economic, religious, national, and military issues need to
be unwound from each other, but, that is awfully hard to do in the middle
of a life and death struggle. No communist movement would have targetted
the WTC or beheaded invididuals simply for being American, because they
always said "our war is with your government, not your people." Bin Laden
makes no such distinction. His war is literally a form of genocide. We
can't negotiate with him. There is no ground to.
His logic is not much different from the Europeans who launched the first
Crusade, who burned the libraries of Constaninople (because the Greek
Orthodox church did not recognize the authority of the Popes), who killed
Christian inhabitants of Palestine when they captured Arab-held cities
(partly because that was their style of warfare, partly because any
Christian who lived under the Sultan was deemed unworthy to live). There
is no sense to be made of such thinking.
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