Harvard Square Observer: Why They Hate Us

Ernest Cassara

Author’s note: I thought that I would be back in Harvard Square to write a commentary, but, alas, my stay in the U.S. heartland has been extended.  No pain without gain, as they say.  I am not only in human company, but that of two adorable canines, one of whom has laid claim to me and shoos the other away, if she gets too close.

Again, this week, I have delved into the archives and have come up with the following, originally published 20 June 2005.  It is amazing how little has changed in the interim.

Why They Hate Us

The war in Iraq is going so badly that, at last, members of Congress have had the gumption to raise questions about the administration’s actions.  Even Republicans!  Could be, of course, skeptic that Ye Olde Observer is, that President Bush’s plummeting poll numbers may have put some steel in the backbones of the congressional critics.  Day after day, the news is of suicide bombings and general mayhem in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities.

What leads a person to sacrifice his life for a cause?  Is it because he “hates freedom,” as Mr. Bush constantly claims, or, could it be that he hates our guts?

Why do they not love us?  Let me count the ways!

Abu Ghraib.  Americans may have tried, some successfully, no doubt, to block that blot on the American escutcheon from their minds, but, we can be very sure that the rest of the world, especially its Arab and Islamic components, have not.  And, by the way, we were only treated to a small selection of the outrageous pictures of the torture and humiliation of Iraqi prisoners there.  The Congress had a much wider selection but chose not to share them with us.

Then, later, we read the horrific story of how suspects were beaten to death by our U.S. troops at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.  Oh, yes, it was then decided some of them had been picked up for no reason.  Just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The CIA sending its agents to other countries, where, wearing hoods, they scoop up
terrorism “suspects” after dark, drive them to the airport and put them on CIA planes that fly them to countries known to indulge in torture.

The American practice of “extraordinary rendition.”  That is, sending suspects to countries to be tortured.

CIA secret prisons, the names and locations withheld from the International Red Cross and Amnesty International, lest they raise embarrassing questions about the treatment of prisoners there.

And, of course, that latest bur under the saddle of the international community, Guantánamo prison camp, or, as Amnesty International labeled it, today’s “gulag,” which is holding more than 500 in captivity.  We have heard so many stories re the abuse of prisoners there that, as mentioned above, even Republicans in Congress are appalled and calling for it to be closed. Like Abu Ghraib before it, it undermines the old American faith that we are a superior people.

The prisoners have been held there for three years, most of them without having been charged. “It’s our position that legally they could be held in perpetuity,” said J. Michael Wiggins, deputy associate attorney general.

Jimmy Carter and a whole array of citizens have denounced our policies there and called for closing the prison camp.  Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont said it is  “an international embarrassment to our nation, to our ideals and remains a festering threat to our security.” Senator Edward Kennedy correctly called the prison, “a powerful recruiting tool for terrorists.” Of course, Vice President Cheney (he who told Leahy on the Senate floor not long ago, “Go fuck yourself!”) has assured us that it is not harming the reputation of the U.S. around the world.

You will recall that long after even Bush admitted that Saddam Hussein did not possess weapons of mass destruction, and did not have any contact with the men who flew the planes into the World Trade Center towers, Cheney was claiming he did.  (Who was it who said that everyone is entitled to his own opinion but not to his own set of facts?)

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says that we will need the Gitmo prison for years, so, friends, this just indicates how tone deaf the leaders of this administration are.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  The Islamic world cannot help but notice that the U.S. gives Israel billions of dollars a year, as it has done for many years.  Why?  Our government prattles about it being the only “democracy” in the Middle East.  We overlook, of course, the unequal status of the Arab citizens of Israel.  We overlook that Israel, having killed or driven from their homes, thousands of Palestinians, will not let them return.  Any Jew in the world can migrate to Israel and immediately be declared a citizen of the country, but, contrary to international law, Palestinians cannot return to their ancestral homes.

The wall that Israel is building, much of it on Palestinian land, is another salt in the wounds of the Middle Eastern world.  It often cuts off farmers from their land, children from their schools, and creates more bitterness.

The U.S. administration claims to be concerned with the possibility that North Korea and Iran may attain the ability to build atomic weapons, but it is remarkably hypocritical over the atomic weapons that Israel possesses. 

As long as the U.S. acts as listed above, it will be subject to terrorism.  Ain’t going to cease as long as we continue our unjust policies.

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