Many are speculating about why radical Muslim terrorists hate America so passionately. It's an important question that needs to be addressed, but not primarily for the reasons some may think.
Right after the Sept. 11 attacks, the peaceniks were the first to raise the issue. "We should examine the root causes for the tragedy," they said. "Perhaps if we could better understand the 'alleged' attackers, we could address their concerns and eliminate the terrorist threat."
Thankfully, it doesn't appear that too many people are buying into the idea that America provoked the attacks in any way. But plenty of others are examining the reasons for the consuming hatred of Osama bin Laden and his ilk.
In a Wall Street Journal editorial, Yale Professor David Gelernter discussed the two "competing theories about the Sept. 11 massacres." One (the Israel-connection theory) is that they hate us because we are Israel's major ally. The other (the Great Satan theory) is that they hate us because of who we are.
Gelernter observed that the Israeli-connection theory is being pushed "by Europeans and other shady characters who hope that America will take this occasion to turn her back on Israel, as Europe has long done." Regardless, Gelernter reluctantly concluded that the Israel theory is closer to the mark. He pointed out that if freedom and democracy and "intrusions into the Middle East" were the reasons, then Britain, France and Italy would have earned greater hatred than the U.S. Britain and France have been quite imperialistic in the Mideast, he said, but terrorists don't hate them because they haven't been consistent friends of Israel.
Others, including former Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, subscribe to the Great Satan theory. According to this theory, they hate us quite apart from our friendship with Israel, because of our capitalism, materialism, religion and culture.
I ran these theories by a very astute friend of mine who added another factor to the mix. He doesn't believe the Israel connection is the primary culprit, but that the United States stands between Muslim fundamentalists and their rule over the Muslim world. America, he notes, has defended Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, and has supported Egypt, Jordan and Pakistan.
There is obviously a great deal of merit to all of these theories. The mistake is in assuming that they are mutually exclusive. National Review's always-lucid Byron York, after examining bin Laden's own words, agrees that there is no single cause for his hatred. He cites bin Laden's statements to demonstrate his outrage over America's intervention in Palestine, its military actions and sanctions against Iraq, and its troops in Saudi Arabia.
Perhaps we can gain even more insight into bin Laden's antipathy toward America by reading his chilling words in a 1998 interview: "Every Muslim, the minute he can start differentiating, carries hate towards Americans, Jews and Christians. This is part of our ideology. Ever since I can recall, I felt at war with the Americans and had feelings of animosity and hate towards them."
There you have it. Osama's hatred toward us is part of his makeup. Sadly, among Muslim extremists, he's not alone in that sentiment. Saddam Hussein, the Palestinians dancing in the streets, the militant Pakistanis and other radicals in numerous countries are of the same mind.
We must understand that bin Laden is not an isolated threat. His brand of terrorist is going to continue to hate us no matter what we do. So long as they are capable of waging war against us, they will.
So how do we profit from our insight into their hatred? First, it should strengthen our resolve to focus on eradicating the terrorist threat until we have accomplished our mission. Second, we should finally empathize with Israel, which has been dealing with this same hatred for years. They need no lectures from us about negotiating with terrorists – nor must we force upon them a Palestinian state.
But we should also accept this atrocity as a wake-up call about a truism that history has reaffirmed ceaselessly. We live in a dangerous world because evil and sin are part of the human condition. Even eradicating terrorism will not guarantee a lasting world peace.
Every time a dominant world menace fades away, another rises up to replace it. For the sake of our security, our freedom and our way of life, we must remain ever vigilant and prepared for the worst contingency. No matter how much we strive for peace, we must always be prepared for war. We owe that to our children.