What's to understand?

Debra J. Saunders

9/27/2001 12:00:00 AM - Debra J. Saunders
In a Sunday New York Times full-page ad, spiritualist Deepak Chopra wrote of the Sept. 11 attacks, "Everything has a cause, so we have to ask, what was the root cause of the evil?" He added, "Does this evil grow from the suffering and anguish felt by people we don't know and therefore ignore?" And, "Why were we selected to be the focus of suffering around the world?" By all means, look for the "root cause." Then, maybe the next trick can be figuring out why Adolf Hitler "selected" 6 million Jews to be gassed, or what suffering led Timothy McVeigh to blow up a building and kill 168 people, or what anguish led three racists to drag a black James Byrd Jr. behind a truck to his death, or why anti-abortion terrorists kill and maim. I'm all for understanding what motivates the terrorists -- just as long as the reason is to facilitate a thorough job of crushing them. But if Chopra truly wanted more understanding of al Qaeda, he could have included quotes from Osama bin Laden instead of running a full page ad calling for more understanding (since the murder of more than 6,000 souls wasn't a clear enough message for him). Bin Laden, after all, has been as open with the world as Hitler was about his genocidal thinking. There's the 1999 interview with Time magazine in which bin Laden said: "We are sure of our victory against the Americans and the Jews as promised by the Prophet: Judgment day shall not come until the Muslim fights the Jew, where the Jew will hide behind trees and stones, and the tree and the stone will speak and say: 'Muslim, behind me is a Jew. Come and kill him.'" So here's a hint for those of you who want to understand bin Laden: He doesn't like "the Jews." Understanding Hint No. 2: He wants to kill Jews. Another bin Laden greatest hit: "Hostility toward America is a religious duty, and we hope to be rewarded for it by God." Understanding Hint No. 3: He hates Americans. And: "We do not have to differentiate between military or civilian. As far as we are concerned, they are all targets." Bin Laden even called the killing of Muslims when his terrorists bombed U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania as "permissible under Islam." Understanding Hint No. 4: His al Qaeda band will kill children, civilians, Muslims, anyone. So what's left to understand? Afghanistan's Taliban government kills Muslims who break religious laws as well as "infidels." The Taliban have instituted a near-universal ban on women working or going to school, which forces widows to beg for food. The Taliban government also imprisons women inside a head-to-foot veil and burns books. If that doesn't offend you, consider this: The Taliban supports prayer in public schools. The peacenik crowd likes to argue that Americans should examine how U.S. conduct may have invited terrorism. OK. By his own account, bin Laden turned against America in 1990 when then- President George H.W. Bush sent U.S. troops -- also known as "infidels" -- to Saudi Arabia with Saudi approval after a Muslim country (Iraq) had invaded a Muslim country (Kuwait). Helping a Muslim country defend against an aggressor was the genesis of his jihad. Later, bin Laden was enraged when the first President Bush sent troops to Somalia to ensure starving Somalis could receive food. Bin Laden bragged that he sent thugs to assault U.S. troops on a humanitarian mission. This is a man we're supposed to understand, as DeepChop says, "at the deepest level"? Frankly, it's insulting for Chopra to imply that Americans didn't question U.S. foreign policy before the attacks. Worse, Chopra and the Understanding crowd are lazy. They don't understand bin Laden, so they figure other people don't. Or they don't want to understand bin Laden, because then they might have to say something negative about him (as opposed to saying something negative about the United States, which shows they're patriotic). Yes, they're such nice people that they shouldn't be forced to say the clear truth: bin Laden is a butcher.