News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Why "They" Hate Us and America Jonesing on Itself

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Why "They" Hate Us and America Jonesing on Itself

Pres. Bush in his news conference and in his speech from the Oval Office on Sunday asserted once again that the reason the terrorists hate us is because we are free. What Bush did not say is that they also resent us for what we have, because we are rich.

Ever since 911 people have asked why other people might want to harm us. The argument that they resent us for what we are and have is an easy one for Americans to relate to, since it plays into the reality of our cultural and political life. In the land of "keeping up with the Jones'", the idea that other people are just jealous of what we have and act out their resentment through violence is a deep-seated feeling and way of understanding other people in the US. It helps explain much about other people, since we assume that everyone is out for themselves, looking out for number one.

(There must be something in the concept of Jonesing as an addiction and that other idea of keeping up with the Jones'. Can it be that America's greatest addiction is their desire to be like all the others who they are not?)

But what if the al-Qaeda and other people who hate the American way are not thinking and feeling that way?

According to Ivan Eland at the American Prospect, the reasons that these groups give is from a different angle than resentment, or what the Presdient calls the "they hate us because of who we are" motive:

Recent publicity surrounding Pape’s study has given much needed, but belated, exposure to the sensitive thesis that the United States is attacked for “what it does” rather than “what it is.” The evidence has overwhelmingly pointed in this direction for some time. Pape’s results are the latest to be added to the pile.
It's hard for Americans to believe that they can do anything wrong. Why is this? Why so self-righteously assume that our actions with the world should be perceived by others as in their best interests? The short answer, no doubt, is that Americans have benefited so much from their way of life that anything done to promote that way of life to others is inherently right and just. Americans have a deep-seated belief that this country and its way of life is the best in the world. This is borne out by all those people trying to get into America, isn't it?

To face reality, these assumptions must be questioned. Americans need to begin to look beyond their own self-interests, their in-born narcissism and begin to see that there is something wrong with the way they live. While al-Qaeda and their ilk may not be completely right, as in most of life there's often a grain of truth in any statement opposed to ours. Americans are so infatuated with their own image in the mirror that they cannot and will not question that there is something wrong with not only looking in the mirror in that way but also in refusing to see what the mirror actually tells us about ourselves.

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