As the anniversary of 9/11 approaches, I’m pointing out some classic articles. I previously recommended Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts’ column from the 12th predicting the American response and Afghan-American Tamin Ansary’s widely-circulated article in Salon which reminded us that the Afghan people are also the Taliban’s victims.
For my last choice, I present Juan Gato’s answer to the question of why they hate us. People had for months explained that they hate us because we are free, or something to that effect, and I never really understood how that could be until I read this explanation. A couple of excerpts:
So why do they hate us? They hate us for the same reason Homer Simpson hates Ned Flanders. Now, now, I know a lot of people would be upset to be told that the United States is Ned Flanders and not Homer, but just bear with me here. The individual American may be Homer Simpson, but the country’s actions toward the Middle East have always had a bit more of a Ned Flanders feel to them.
Think about it. Ned Flanders, especially in the early episodes, was shown as a man who, because of his honesty and work ethic, always managed to have a nicer house, an easy to manage family, a wife with a higher butt, washboard abs, and generally a better overall life than Homer. Ned was always willing to help Homer at any instance, whether that be some cash, the loan of a power sander, or the invite to a BBQ.
Much the same right now. We, the West, are much more prosperous than the Middle East because of our ethos (property, secular rule of law, tolerance, blah blah blah), and they see it and are envious. But like Homer, they make no effort to reflect on themselves, choosing instead to seethe at the success of another and suspect that such success comes at a cost to them. Yet there we are, giving them aid in the Carl Sagan ranges, always willing to offer them a free beer from the keg even if it sometimes is mostly foam. Like Homer, given the chance, they would invite us into their homes on the odd chance they could get away with killing us.
There’s stuff I’m leaving out. Read the whole thing.