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The Grotmonster alerts us to an essay written last Friday by a student at St. Olaf College, an hour south of the Twin Cities and about two light years from reality. In an effort to make us all question the value of a Minnesota education, English and history major Megan Sutherland informs her fellow Olafians that between Osama bin Laden and John Ashcroft, she fears the one that hasn't murdered 3,000 people:
As I write this article I can only hope that John Ashcroft doesn't show up at my door. This is not to say that Osama Bin Laden is a cuddly teddy bear.
Rather, I aim to point out that Bin Laden has motives for his actions. Motives which have been bypassed, simplified and just plain misconstrued by the current administration.
Further, just because Bin Laden attempts to highlight his objections through violent means does not mean his underlying cause is invalid or undeserving of consideration.
Yeah, just because he murdered 3,000 civilians doesn't mean we shouldn't take him seriously as a political voice. Richard Ramirez also provides us a unique perspective on residential security, and Charles Manson has value as a supporter of family values. Sutherland makes the mistake of taking Osama seriously in what she calls his latest "Osamagram", where bin Laden gave yet another excuse for his decade-long jihad against the US. First he objected to American troops on Saudi soil, then the oppression of the Palestinians -- and now bin Laden wants payback for the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon. The history major makes no mention of the al-Qaeda chief's shifting rationalizations, and her essay makes clear that she started paying attention sometime this summer.
For instance, in her next breath, she offers this:
Bin Laden has been touted by President Bush as an "evil" fundamentalist who hates America because of its freedoms.
Thus, instead of participating in intelligent discourse, Bush chooses to dumb down ideological differences and reduces them to generalizations which aren't necessarily true.
Let's see ... he murdered 3,000 noncombatants -- men, women, and children -- in order to further his vision of a radical Islamist empire in Southwest Asia, as exemplified by his close allies, the Taliban in Afghanistan. At the time, the Taliban earned its reputation for oppression by outlawing toys, music, and art, while beating men and women in the street for the most minor of violations. Women had no voice and had to cover themselves from head to toe in public, where they were not allowed to be unless accompanied by a husband, father, or adult male family member.
Doesn't Sutherland thinks that qualifies Osama as an "evil" man who "hates freedom"? Perhaps St. Olaf needs a refresher course on the concepts of evil and freedom. Megan, here's a hint: in Osama's world, merely publishing this essay would likely get you beaten by the morality police. Not the fictional, cynical morality police that you assign to John Ashcroft's fervent desires, but literally the Taliban's morality police. You'd be lucky to survive it.
Sutherland makes much of the fact that bin Laden chose to attack us rather than Sweden, as Osama mentioned in his tape:
In the tape Bin Laden jokingly denounces Bush's freedom rhetoric and challenges Bush to "explain to us why we don't strike, for example, Sweden." Aside from his injections of humor, Bin Laden actually makes some rather intelligent points. ...
I don't mean to imply that Bin Laden is justified in mass murder (because he is not) ...
I'm glad she cleared that up.
Terrorism is only a label used to evoke feelings of righteousness amongst those who toss the term around.
The people who flew planes into the World Trade Center felt they were justified because they believed that the United States had encroached upon their homeland.
Similarly, one could use civilian casualties in Iraq or Afghanistan to label the United States as a state which sponsors terrorism. It is all a matter of perspective.
Sutherland joins the long list of so-called intellectuals who cannot differentiate between military operations that causes unintended civilian casualties and terrorists that deliberately target civilians in order to affect political change through fear. Invoking Afghanistan is particularly telling. Why not check with the Afghanis themselves to see whether they approve of dumping the 12th-century tyranny of the Taliban in favor of the first democratically-elected governmen in their history? After all, the Afghanis could simply have voted them back into office. Only military action would ever have removed the Taliban from their grip on power, subsidized and protected by Osama's own organization.
The English major continues with this statement [sic]:
In his tape Bin Laden correctly identifies this hypocracy when he says that violent U.S. policies are always translated as "freedom and democracy, while resistance [to these policies] is [called] terrorism and intolerance."
Perhaps the English major means hypocrisy. One can't accuse her of that, however, as she moves inexorably to the logical conclusion of her argument -- it's all about the Joooooooos:
The fault within U.S. policy is that it very heavily sides with Israel, often overlooking Israel's aggression towards other nations. This obviously ties in with the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East.
In the video Bin Laden cites the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon as the incident which first triggered his extreme animosity towards the United States. During this invasion, the United States was seen as silently backing the Israelis.
What the history major forgets to mention is that the PLO and other terrorists had based themselves in Lebanon prior to that invasion and had used Lebanon as a launching pad to attack Israel, much as they use the West Bank now. Further, while the US condoned the initial military action in southern Lebanon as provoked, we objected to the continuing occupation. In fact, we stationed Marines in Lebanon in an attempt to set up a security force to convince the Israelis to withdraw -- and the terrorists responded by killing 243 Marines, leading to a withdrawal that we would later regret.
So we have an English major who doesn't know how to spell or proofread, a history major who doesn't have a clue about fifty years of Arab aggression against Israel or the context of the conflict on which she comments, and a student at a school named after a saint that has no clue about the nature of evil. Minnesotans should be proud of their handiwork.Sphere It View blog reactions
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