American Proscenium

After Iraq

As soon as the long-anticipated war with Iraq has been brought to a temporary close, the United States will be able to get on with the post-September 11 agenda declared by President Bush: the eradication of evil.  Even a minimal definition of evil would include the acts of terrorism inflicted every day by Islamic extremists against the West and its allies.  No war against Islamic terrorism will accomplish much, however, if it is not accompanied by an honest evaluation of the reasons why Muslims around the world look upon the United States as the enemy.  

Part of this hatred may be inevitable: the hatred of the have-nots for the haves, of the defeated for the victors.  But some of the antipathy expressed not just by terrorists but by traditional Muslims stems from what they perceive as American arrogance.  Not content with boasting of our superior firepower and greater wealth, our leaders and pundits, whenever they speak on the subject, claim that people in traditional societies envy our freedom and our way of life; that Muslims, in particular, hate us because of our moral and cultural superiority and not because of anything we have ever done wrong.  Such rhetoric is as insulting as it is false.  Like other Western countries, the United States is undergoing a moral crisis whose dimensions are measured by the rates of divorce, abortion, drug use, television watching, and suicide.


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