Deserving Innocents?

I think it was Chomsky who said rulers rely on a consenting governed who don’t realize they are holding the keys. Chomsky has explored this topic in considerable depth, and I was inspired to re-explore it by “Josh”, who commented in response to my “There Are Too Many Cops” post. You can see his entire comment there, but I’ll excerpt a little:

“What disturbs me about your post is the last point, and the underlying theme, is that [somehow 9-11] and future terrorist events are our fault. Do you seriously believe that somehow ‘our behavior in the world’ caused an attack by Islamic Extremists? The US and its people hold zero responsibility for the events [of 9-11]… the last thing we should do is placate this behavior by blaming ourselves…”

I think this kind of delusion gets us into these geopolitical messes in the first place. Sure signs of a population either unaware of its power or unwilling to accept the responsibility that comes with it. How far can we extend this logic? First of all, I was not talking about 9-11 in particular, but about future acts of terrorism that might be inspired by our violent, imperialistic behavior. How much responsibility does a population bear for the actions of elected leaders who serve at their pleasure? I believe we bear quite a lot. Certainly it is impossible, with any intellectual honesty, to argue that we bear zero. We are so fond of saying we live in a democracy, yet seemingly unwilling to live up to our end of the governance bargain. Suggestions that we should accept any responsibility whatsoever are met by breathless indignance and outrage, as if any suggestion that Americans are not innocent victims is blasphemous.

Is it really?

If you, American taxpayer and citizen, purchase the planes and bombs, and actively or passively support your President and Congress as they wage elective wars against nations that are no threat to us, and those actions further inflame tensions and the feelings against us, and as a result, vicious terrorist attacks are unleashed against us in revenge, I am sorry, but you do not hold “zero responsibility.”

Likewise, if (as we are seeing presently) American bombs kill hundreds of innocent civilians in Lebanon, and seeing this, some citizens decide to avenge the deaths of their friends and family, how dare we claim “zero responsibility?”

In fairness, I think some citizens bear more responsibility than others. One who actively fights against such injustices should bear less and vice versa. Sociological roles also need to be considered. A relatively uninformed single parent working 60 hours a week at Wal-Mart to support his family in East Detroit bears less culpability than someone on a first name basis with her Congressman who doesn’t bother to pick up the phone.

The more informed and connected you are, the more responsibility you bear and share, and thus, the more duty you have to engage. We should fight our own imperialistic urges as hard as we fight the fatalistic jihadist mindset that threatens the free world. And we do ourselves no favors by claiming to bear “zero responsibility.”

15 thoughts on “Deserving Innocents?”

  1. I agree. The more responsible a person is in fighting against injustices right here, the less responsible he is for attacks against us. The weakening of the citizenry makes us all vulnerable. A country that ensures the well-being of its citizens is a stronger country. As it is, we need to vote with our wallets, literally and figuratively, to bring the revolution we desperately need.

  2. I agree. The more responsible a person is in fighting against injustices right here, the less responsible he is for attacks against us. The weakening of the citizenry makes us all vulnerable. A country that ensures the well-being of its citizens is a stronger country. As it is, we need to vote with our wallets, literally and figuratively, to bring the revolution we desperately need.

  3. One of the most challenging notions related to the brand of Islamic terrorism practiced today is that there isn’t a high ground or intellectual solution to eliminate this problem. As the French witnessed first hand in WWII, not taking action against a force doesn’t protect you from that force. Before Germany invaded many pacifies argued it’s not our war and they tried to appease Hitler to deter him from invading. Because of their actions, or lack of actions, the French were forced to surrender to the Germany in 1940, becoming Vichy France.

    Ultimately the Allies liberated France and crushed Germany to the point that her people realized that Hitler and the Nazi party was a complete failure. The same solution needs to be applied today. Instead of the Fascist dictators from Germany and Italy, we are witnessing a system of corrupting the teaching of the Korean with an end goal of creating an extremist Islamic state that covers the globe.

    Call me unenlightened, if you wish, but I can’t see a single positive element to their end goal. Certainly I can’t think of a single action by our government that justifies 9-11 or other attacks. Given all this, I’m still willing to listen to you. You state:

    “I was not talking about 9-11 in particular, but about future acts of terrorism that might be inspired by our violent, imperialistic behavior”

    I assume you would agree that we need to examine past actions to determine future policies. Following that logic, there must have been a terrorist attack against America that was justifiable. If not 9-11, please provide another terrorist attack against America that you feel was justifiable because of American action.

    How can a terrorist attack that kills a single parent working at Wal-Mart, a campaign supporter or newborn can be justified to advance a terrorist’s agenda? Terrorism is sign of cowardice; its goal is bring fear into the civilian population by performing cruel and unexpected acts.

    Following your logic, one would assume that you’re arguing that we hold some responsibilities for terrorist attacks against us, including 9-11. Since the planning started years before the attack, some policy of Clinton Administration must have helped cause this attack.

    Although I agree that if Clinton spent more time going after Bin Laden, opposed to nailing interns in the Oval Office, 9-11 could have been prevented. I still can’t figure out what he or his administration did to cause the attack.

    What are the examples of our “violent, imperialistic behavior” that caused 9-11? The reason this is difficult to answer is that one is forced to assume there is a rational behavior behind the attack. I’ve read others, like yourself, that imply there is causality between our “behavior in the world” and attacks against us, but I have yet to read a concrete example of this theory.

    Trying to claim the higher ground by implying Americans hold responsibility for terrorist attacks against her is the modern day equivalent to the French elitists arguing against building a defense against Germany in 1939.

    Put simply: They hate us not for our actions, but because we are not them.

  4. The best ‘concrete example’ might be to ask anyone with the Islamic Brotherhood / the Resistance why they do what they do and they will cite our actions. In his 1998 fatwa, bin Laden cited our support of Israel, our aggression against the Iraqi people, and our occupation of Arabia. He is very specific about his grievances, and they all relate to our behavior in the world.

    And if they hate us ‘because we are not them’, then why don’t Switzerland, Japan, Argentina, China and Brazil face the same problems? I’ll tell you why: their behavior.

  5. Do you honestly feel any of these actions, supporting Israel and Kuwait and whatever “occupation of Arabia” means, justifies the killing of Americans? This is outright propaganda from Bin Laden, Hitler was good with it as well, doesn’t mean he was right either.

    Also, for the record, the countries you listed have had either terrorists attacks, harbor terrorists or have a poor record of “behavior” against their own people:
    * Switzerland – Rising Radicalism
    * Japan – Subway Bombings
    * Argentina – suicide bombing attack at the AMIA Jewish community center
    * China – Do I really have to list why China is not a model country? Tiananmen Massacre
    * Brazil – Harbors terrorists

  6. This is right. Even though Americans support the great ideas of democracy and prosperity, they could attract bad thoughts over them. It’s hard to democratize countries that are in other era!!

  7. This is right. Even though Americans support the great ideas of democracy and prosperity, they could attract bad thoughts over them. It’s hard to democratize countries that are in other era!!

  8. Josh,

    You completely miss my point. I said that these countries have not been targeted by Jihadists as we have. If we were truly being targeted because “we are not them”, we’d not be so alone.

    But we are nearly alone – because of how we behave.

    Bin Laden’s fatwa may prove him a nutjob, but those three primary complaints are 100% true, so to compare them to Hitler’s propaganda strains credulity.

    Does it justify the killing of innocents? Not really. Then why is it alright when we do it? Oh, I get it – terrorism is what other people do.

  9. What I still fail to understand is the causality between “our behavior” and the attacks against us. Maybe if I could understand what other countries have done to deserve terrorist attacks.

    What did Argentina, which has had terrorist attacks from Islamic extremists, do deserve there attack?

    What behavior can we associate with the Swiss, who pride themselves on being neutral, deserve to be in the
    crosshairs of Islamic radicals? Quote from the Washington Post:

    As the global jihad movement becomes more decentralized and fragmented, however, Swiss security officials are warning that their country could become a target.

    Frankly you can’t assign a rational process to their behavior. Targets for them appear to be ANYONE BUT THEM, not those who have taken actions against them. As I pointed out in an earlier post, what did France do cause their country to be invaded by Germany in 1939? Nothing.

    In an ideal utopian society we would be able to solve problems through an intellectual analysis of the issues and agree on a solution. The reality is that those who have twisted the teaching of the Koran do not want peace with others, they want to dominate over others.

    As much as the world may fear the so-called “American Imperialism” of influence, we should have far more fear of justifying, placating and sympathizing with Bin Laden and his movement.

  10. It’s well-known that people of a nation pay for their commanders acts. Even if the Americans try doing good things in this agitated world, they are often perceived in an opposite way. Strange!

  11. It’s well-known that people of a nation pay for their commanders acts. Even if the Americans try doing good things in this agitated world, they are often perceived in an opposite way. Strange!

  12. To stretch the WWII analogy even further than Josh, I would compare the motivations of the Nazis with the motivations of the average Islamist terrorist/sympathizer. In both cases we are talking about people who are humiliated and seek to prove their intrinsic superiority to those that they see as their unjustifiably smug oppressors. Hitler convinced his beaten-down country-men that they were a superior race that had been unjustly victimized by the Jews and their lackeys in Britain and France. Bin Laden and his crew have convinced their fellow Islamists that the Jews and their lackeys in the US are trying to hold down Muslims everywhere.

  13. To stretch the WWII analogy even further than Josh, I would compare the motivations of the Nazis with the motivations of the average Islamist terrorist/sympathizer. In both cases we are talking about people who are humiliated and seek to prove their intrinsic superiority to those that they see as their unjustifiably smug oppressors. Hitler convinced his beaten-down country-men that they were a superior race that had been unjustly victimized by the Jews and their lackeys in Britain and France. Bin Laden and his crew have convinced their fellow Islamists that the Jews and their lackeys in the US are trying to hold down Muslims everywhere.

  14. There is an enormous difference between Israel defending itself agaist aggressors and the United States pursuing interventionism. Israel and the USSR have always been known for improportional retaliation against unfriendlies. This is the way they are and noone should be at all surprised by any of this.

    The conversion rate has always been one suicide bomber equals the suicide bomber’s family’s city block razed to the ground by an Apache’s gatling gun. So, that is the offer on the table. It always has been.

    Texas ain’t got nothing on Israel. Don’t mess with Israel.

    That said, interventionism is even worse.

  15. There is an enormous difference between Israel defending itself agaist aggressors and the United States pursuing interventionism. Israel and the USSR have always been known for improportional retaliation against unfriendlies. This is the way they are and noone should be at all surprised by any of this.

    The conversion rate has always been one suicide bomber equals the suicide bomber’s family’s city block razed to the ground by an Apache’s gatling gun. So, that is the offer on the table. It always has been.

    Texas ain’t got nothing on Israel. Don’t mess with Israel.

    That said, interventionism is even worse.

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