Psychology, history, culture, politics: it all seems to get so
muddled when Americans start asking why others hate us enough
to kill us. It is a natural question for Americans to ask.
We care. Most of us want to get along, whether with our
neighbor or co-worker or other countries. We are the people
who smile and say have a nice day. We give to
charities. We adopt children. We rescue dogs and cats.
We are a
civilized society. Despite our imperfections, despite strains
of aberration and perverseness, we expect our government to
protect the Constitutional rights of all citizens. If it does
not, the courageous few will speak up until the wrongs have
been righted for the benefit of all.
citizens, however, seem to cope by using a defense mechanism
of benign projection. We project onto others our own
tendencies. We believe that, deep down, other people are just
like us. That is, nice. It is difficult for us to fathom the
chilling depths of antisocial behavior to which some
individuals are capable. It seems incongruous to the national
mind that those who do not have freedoms still have free will.
Niceness can be just as one-dimensional as extremist
So, why do some
people hate us? Let me answer a question with a question.
Why do people single out America? World history is filled
with atrocities. Other countries had slavery. There are
segments of the Islamic world today where slavery still
exists. Why the double standard? Other countries had
military conquests. I loathe what the European explorers and
early Americans did to the Native peoples. But the fact is,
the white Europeans conquered this land. We all have to live
together now and make the best of it. Nobody can turn back
the clock and undo history at this point.
There is a
problem of logic with the collective guilt theory. There are
certain misled critics who state that, with the September 11th
attacks, America is paying for its sins. These critics have a
sort of grotesque version of what goes around comes
around. This is illogical. The Americans who were
killed were of various ethnic backgrounds, including some
American Muslims. Also killed were visitors from a large
number of foreign countries.
Besides, if we
take a very cold look at this, does anyone really think that
the 5,000 lives lost at the World Trade Center could possibly
atone for the massacres committed against the indigenous
peoples? Or for the emotional damage experienced by even one
black female slave who was repeatedly raped by her white
owner? How can the critics measure or judge the sins of
history and conclude that America deserved what it got on
September 11th? The people against whom these sins were
committed are not here to speak for themselves. Where did the
critics get the authority to speak for them?
critics are in denial. Perhaps it is easier to criticize
America than to face the reality of terrorism. If we blame
ourselves for what happened on September 11th, we could
develop a national identity of co-dependency. Like the spouse
of an alcoholic, or like a battered woman, or an abused child,
we would accept others' unacceptable behavior and then wonder
what is wrong with us instead of what is wrong with them. We
would always be asking: why do some people hate us enough to
to regard themselves as victims and therefore justified.
Antisocial personalities have that same tendency. Terrorists
also use projection: you are a terrorist. Criminal
behavior is extremely difficult to comprehend, especially for
those not of that type. There are people who feel entitled to
take what others have worked hard for. They do not care about
you. They do not mind manipulating your history and your
feelings to get what they want. Or, killing you.
(Written 12/03/01 - Revised 12/01/03)
Until we meet