Monday, June 12, 2006


After coming back from an Alaska cruise with my parents and figuring out some blogging code, I am ready to start posting in earnest. I'd like to first post essays I wrote from 2001 - 2004 as a columnist for the Duke Chronicle; I will place them here and as links in the Essay Vault on the sidebar. So, here's the first one, titled, Clarity (published in abridged form on Oct. 2, 2001 at
the Duke Chronicle ) :


In the wake of last 9/11, many have asked “Why?” It is disquieting that many have passed off mass murder of 7,000 people as a consequence of US policy, i.e., support of Israel, bombing of Iraq and Sudan, and American arrogance. Some have even said America had it coming or deserved it. These cranium-in-the-rectum justifications are as dangerous as they are obtuse, as false as they are immoral.

The terrorists of Black Tuesday were motivated by hatred. That there were no demands or ultimatums and that not a single hijacker was Palestinian, Iraqi, or Sudanese belies the pretense of grievance. These were not people who lost loved ones in refugee camps or to Israeli bullets or American bombs, but people who were brainwashed into hating us by a belief that killing themselves and thousands of others was a divine duty leading to Paradise, with countless virgins and sensuous delights to boot. While we have hurt many peoples, do Vietnamese, Cambodians, Zaireans, or Chileans (who America hurt much more) plot mass murder? The glib response that they are not able to attack the US is fatuous: all it took to murder last week were knives, boxcutters, money, and diabolical hate, the essential ingredient.

So, let’s stop trying to justify the terrorists’ motives and actions. Those who are kind to the cruel end up cruel to the kind. To ask what America did to deserve this is as repulsive as asking a rape victim what she did to provoke her attack. America was brutally violated last week. We must never forget that.

It is a terrible irony that the barbarians who attacked America and masquerade as the guardians of Islam did nothing to protect Muslims in Somalia, Bosnia, or Kosovo. It is another bitter irony that those seeking to blame America for what happened and argue against military action are the same individuals who championed US military intervention in those places. Let me ask these individuals, did you question Bosnians or Kosovars what they did to provoke ethnic cleansing? Or are Americans just more deserving of slaughter? Is American blood that much cheaper to you?

Still, we must know the roots of this hatred. Sun-Tzu stated, “He who knows the enemy and knows himself will not be in danger in a hundred battles.” The root of this evil is not foreign policy, despair, poverty, or repression, nor even terrorism or Osama bin laden. The root is fanaticism & disregard for life cloaked in the mantle of religion: radical Islamic fundamentalism. From Nigeria imposing Shar’ia on Christians to Abu Sayyaf (funded by bin Laden) beheading tourists in the Phillipines, from Kashmiri terrorists throwing acid on the faces of unveiled women to the destruction of the World Trade Center, there is a powerful segment of “Islamic” fanatics seeking to “kill every American and Jew”, “purify” lands of “infidels”, and compel others to live their way of life. Their vision for the world is the Taliban, an abomination that not only barred the frills of modernity (photography, music, art, TV), but also banned girls’ education, vitiated medical care for women, turned stadiums into execution grounds, taught 5 year-olds to hate and to shoot, destroyed architectural treasures, and forced non-Muslims to wear yellow stars, in addition to the usual potpourri of massacre, rape, & torture emblematic of totalitarians. Not content with brutalizing their own, they have transformed Afghanistan into a terrorist university, hosting bin Laden and exporting hijackers & bombers. The goal of the Taliban and its ilk is global domination. One may scoff at that, but in 1930, worries of Germany reaching the cusp of world conquest would have been brushed off.

Radical Islamic fundamentalism is the biggest threat to America. In a region of captive minds, unworkable economies, and failed states, it conveniently blames America and Israel for its problems, but forgets that the forces that have killed the most Muslims in the last 50 years were not Israel or America but the Taliban (to their own people), Pakistan (in Bangladesh), Iraq (in Iran), Russia (in Afghanistan), and Syria (to Lebanese, Kurds and Syrians). This ideology may pose a bigger threat than Nazism—it may lack the institutional power of Germany, but more than compensates with an equal appetite for murder, suicidal fanatacism, and shadowiness.

We must distinguish radical Islamic fundamentalism from the religion of Islam. No one equates David Duke or Jerry Falwell with Christianity. However, the Islamic/Arab realm is at the age (not quite 1400 years) and stage at which Christendom was ruled by religious fanatics & assorted dictators, and riven by incessant war & brutal repression. Fortunately, secularists in the West slowly separated church from state, marginalized the fanatics, and transferred power to the people. Unfortunately, there is as yet no secular counterweight within the Islamic or Arab worlds to the fundamentalists, who thus have free rein. Yes, most Muslims have condemned last week’s outrage. But while Islamic “clerics” constantly call on all Muslims to kill Jews and Americans and issue fatwas on various authors, I have not heard any Muslim leader state that is the duty of Muslims to fight terrorism.

So what must be done? Yes, America has injured many peoples, and we must do better. And yes, we laid the groundwork for the Taliban’s emergence and even trained bin Laden. But helping to create a Frankenstein does not militate against fighting it; indeed, it behooves us to destroy it. This is a fight against evil; it is immoral to confuse our imperfections with the venom that confronts us. Credibility does not stem from splitting the moral difference between good and evil, so we cannot abandon our friends, beliefs, or security. Churchill said, “Appeasement is like feeding a crocodile hoping he will eat you last.” Clarity of purpose comes from intellectual honesty & clearheaded resolve. We cannot afford indulgences in self-loathing or rationalizing evil. 3,000 murders demand a disciplined concentration of the mind. This will be an arduous fight, but the need for struggle is not grounds for avoidance. Our self-defense is also a fight for freedom, democracy, secularism, and tolerance, the true provocations of 9/11.


At 1:49 PM, Blogger USpace said...

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
never confront Islamists

just let them push you around
change your culture to fit them


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