Targeted by a History of Hatred The United States is now the unquestioned leader of the free world, also known as the infidels.
By Bernard Lewis Link from JCPA
By Bernard Lewis Link from JCPA
The reasons for hatred [of Islamism] are known and historically attested; the hatred has been growing steadily for many years and has been intensified by the conduct of some of the rulers whom we call friends and allies and whom their own people see and resent as American puppets. A more important question, less frequently asked, is the reason for the contempt with which they regard us. The basic reason for this contempt is what they perceive as the rampant immorality and degeneracy of the American way -- contemptible but also dangerous, because of its corrupting influence on Muslim societies. What did the Ayatollah Khomeini mean when he repeatedly called America the "Great Satan"? The answer is clear. Satan is not an invader, an imperialist, an exploiter. He is a tempter, a seducer, who, in the words of the Koran, "whispers in the hearts of men." An example of this perception and the resulting attitude may be seen in a recent Arabic newspaper article in defense of polygamy. The writer argues as follows: In Christianity and more generally in the Western world, polygamy is outlawed. But this is contrary to human nature and needs. For 10 days a month during menstruation and for longer periods during pregnancy, a woman is not available. In the monogamous West, the deficiency is made up by promiscuity, prostitution and adultery; in Islam, by polygamy. Surely this, the writer argues, providing respectability for the woman and legitimacy for her children, is the better of the two. This makes good sense, if one accepts the writer's view of the relations between men and women.
Another aspect of this contempt is expressed again and again in the statements of bin Laden and others like him. The refrain is always the same. Because of their depraved and self-indulgent way of life, Americans have become soft and cannot take casualties. And then they repeat the same litany -- Vietnam, the Marines in Beirut, Somalia. Hit them and they will run. More recent attacks confirmed this judgment in their eyes -- the attack on the World Trade Center in New York in February 1993, with six killed and more than a thousand injured; the attack on the American liaison mission in Riyadh in November 1995, with seven Americans killed; the attack on the military living quarters in Khobar in Saudi Arabia in June 1996, with 19 American soldiers killed and many more wounded; the embassies in East Africa in 1998; the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen in October 2000, with 17 sailors killed -- all those brought only angry but empty words and, at most, a few misdirected missiles. The conclusion bin Laden and others drew was that the United States had become feeble and frightened and incapable of responding. The crimes of Sept. 11 were the result of this perception and were intended to be the opening salvo of a large-scale campaign to force Americans and their allies out of Arabia and the rest of the Muslim world, to overthrow the corrupt tyrants America supports, and to prepare the ground for the final world struggle.
The immediate and effective response against their bases in Afghanistan must have come as a serious shock to the terrorist organizations and compelled some revision of their earlier assessment of American weakness and demoralization. We must make sure that they are not misled, by the unfamiliar processes of a democratic society, to return to that earlier misjudgment.