E-Letter To BlackElectorate.com Re: "Why Do They Hate Us?" From Marc Anderson
Dear Cedric Muhammad:
Given the plethora of mainstream and conservative coverage of the question, "Why do the hate us?",which is being played out as part of a larger mass media campaign, or perhaps we should call it what it really is in the lingo of the US military Special Forces - "a domestic PSYchological OPeration" -always associated with shaping the thinking in American society during a time of conflict with a foreign enemy.
I was very interested in your commentary on the question and subsequent answers being offered.
As you regularly do in your commentaries, your thoughts were balanced, insightful and thought provoking, as opposed to simply trying to substitute the "correctness" of your thinking versus others. I appreciated your efforts to offer a method of analysis in addition to an analysis. While I can't honestly see anything in your analysis which I disagree with, I'd like to offer you and your readers if you choose to share it with them the following complimentary or supplementary thoughts on the question, "Why do they hate us?"
1. The question itself is flawed. As you noted, unless someone is willing to deal with the undisclosed premises and assumptions embedded in ones thinking, it is almost impossible to have an honest and open discussion. With that said, the question "Why do they hate us?" is not being asked in some kind of vacuum. It comes at a time when uninformed Americans "hate them" for what happened on 9/11. Our government understand that such uninformed hate has to become "informed" in such a way to rationalize the military war as opposed to criminal justice oriented response, AKA REVENGE and PAYBACK. The question itself hides so much truth and perpetuates a number of pre-existing beliefs in American society associated with racism.
The biggest lie embedded in the question is that the "us" in the question is not the American people. I have traveled all over travel the world(something which most Americans don't do) and one of things that you will always find is that the people of the world "they" do not hate "us" the people of America. Even people in countries like Cuba and Nicaragua, who have been victims of untold terrorist violence by the American armed and intelligence forces, clearly say that they have no problems or hate for Americans. They make a clear distinction between the people of America and the government of America. In fact, the main beef "they" have with the people of America is that they wonder why we don't have more control over the actions of the American government(often done in our name) and corporations in their countries.
So we should be clear, most people in the Arab world may have hate for the US government because of US policies and supplies of weapons to state and non-state militaries. They likely have little time to either like, hate, or be jealous of Americans, because they are too busy trying to survive, support their families and live their lives often under corrupt political regimes (which are supported by the US government) and in conditions of socioeconomic deprivation and hardship(often a result of the policies of US led global institutions and the actions of US based corporations operating in association with their "junior partner" friends.
2. Throughout your commentary, you have correctly noted the absolute arrogance displayed in asking the question "Why do they hate us?" The only thing comparable to this arrogance is the absolute level of ignorance by the American people about the world and the past and present actions of our government and corporations around the world. If it was not for the existence of the high degree of ignorance, the question itself could not even be asked. For the underlying assumption in the question, is that America is so innocent in the world that one has to ask, "Why do they hate us?'. I even watched a member of the US Congress stand on the floor of the Capital and say that "since everyone knows that America has no ill will to anyone or nation on the earth and does not seek to take over any nation on the earth [tell that to the people of Iraq, Grenada, or Panama] the only reason why someone would hate America is because they are evil".
We must be clear (and you noted it several times) that maintaining the "moral correctness" of waging a war(state murder) requires the demonization and ultimately de-humanization of an enemy. Only when this is done can the "moral correctness" and justification of killing be sustained over time. Of course we as people of African descent are quite familiar with de-humanization, given that it was and continues to be used to explain and justify everything from slavery, genocide, oppression and exploitation of African people world wide via institutional and systematic racism.
Even more importantly the dehumanizing process in terms of the "good versus evil" construct of reality is a necessary dimension to sustaining the ignorance of the American public. By falsely conceptualizing the war on terrorism, like other wars such as the war on drugs or the cold war, as a war between civilizations versus barbarians, good versus evil, freedom versus fear and all of the other superficial constructs associated with the "Why do they hate us?" question, as you correctly noted the serious, legitimate and detailed reasons, analyses and conceptualizations of the causes of conditions of conflict, poverty and war associated with past and present US policy actions are kept out of the public domain and consciousness.
3. If there is one ultimate irony of this question it is Attorney General Ashcroft's statement in response to questions from the US Senate. He noted that, the act of raising questions about the unilateral creation of secret military tribunals by the administration helps terrorists, because it undermines the resolve and unity of the American public to support fight the war against terrorism. So we should be clear, asking and answering the question "Why do they hate us?' is OK, but questioning how our government both answers the question and chooses the nature of the response is considered as supporting terrorism!
Mr. Muhammad, I could go on with a number of additional points you raised regarding the individual countries you explored. I would encourage you and your readers to also obtain perspectives from progressive elements in each of those societies for insights into why communities in other societies "hate" the policies and actions of the US government, sometimes in partnership with their own regimes. Much of what we are dealing with today are the byproducts of actions taken during the cold war and based on what I would call a cold war paradigm or mode of thinking. What is clear, is that very little learning has taken place as evidenced by the early signs of the western defined war on terrorism paradigm or mode of thinking which resembles the cold war.
The issues are complex, multi-dimensional and have multiple sources of shared blame. Again, the purpose of my letter to you is not to argue for the superiority of my thoughts over anyone else. I like you, simply want people to THINK seriously about these issues. I know that for most Americans there are some degrees of sincerity and a sense of humanity that have not been totally destroyed by our culture of individualism and consumerism which has been elevated almost to a "god" like status.
If 9/11 does anything to our ability to think about our relationship to the world, hopefully it will open a new mind set that there are direct costs for being ignorant and arrogant about what is happening in the world and that our reality here is linked with other realities in the world.
Most of all, it is people(not the governments or corporations) which pay the costs of being unconscious in an increasingly globalized world!
Thursday, December 13, 2001