I was frequently embarrassed by the way George W. Bush presented the United States to the world. He said some inane things. He mispronunciated [sic] words. He displayed his doofus look with regularity, making me wonder what, if anything, was going on inside his head.
One of the things he said that seemed patently stupid was his claiming that Islamic fundamentalists hate us because of our freedom. Really? It wasn’t because we had spent decades supporting despotic middle-east rulers who made the lives of their people miserable and often too short? It wasn’t because Palestinians, their religious brothers, were suffering and, as the Islamists saw it, because we support Israel? It wasn’t because they wrapped their politics in their violent religion and saw us as infidels?
Interestingly, while all those reasons are true, we in the West really are hated for our freedom – in a certain sense.
Islam is an absolutist religion. You either believe and obey or you are an infidel. There is no middle ground, no wiggle room for changed circumstances or new information. Qur’anic law mandates harsh penalties, so for true believers, their explanation (not justification, but their explanation) for brutality and murder is, “Allah requires me do it.”
Their personal responsibility is solely to obeying directives from 7th century Arabia, as recorded 150 years after the Prophet Muhammad died. You might want to read any of the books by Ayaan Hirsi Ali for clarity about that and on the drivers of the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The point is that the 9/11 killers and the ISIL members now committing atrocities believe that they are doing God’s work. They see themselves as holy. They are motivated by their notion of right as spelled out in the Qur’an and interpreted literally. Because what they do is for Allah and is at Allah’s direction, there can be no compromise. And that’s exactly why they will be ever-dangerous to people in the west and why there is no room for negotiation with them.
To them we are infidels, unholy, dirty and perverse in the eyes of God because we afford ourselves the freedom to believe as we choose, to live with individual free will – personal freedom. That is why, oddly enough, George W. Bush actually got this one right.
Copyright 2019 by Jack Altschuler
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