Why do they hate us?

It’s too bad that Americans are blind to their history and what goes on outside their nation otherwise they wouldn’t ask that question. I wanted to answer that question for Americans, but I am pretty sure that they won’t hear the message. They haven’t heard the message even though it is well published.

For example, Mohsin Hamid’s eponymous article from the Washington Post from 22 July 2007 which is pretty much where a good portion of this comes from. Hamid is a Pakistani who has lived half his life in the US who says: “because where I came from was Pakistan and I was about as all-American as a foreign-born brown boy could be”. The obvious answer is that the US was a rich nation (whether it is truly wealthy is up for debate these days).

But there is another major reason for anti-Americanism: the accreted residue of many years of U.S. foreign policies. These policies are unknown to most Americans. They form only minor footnotes in U.S. history. But they are the chapter titles of the histories of other countries, where they have had enormous consequences. America’s strength has made it a sort of Gulliver in world affairs: By wiggling its toes it can, often inadvertently, break the arm of a Lilliputian.

Hamid was a witness to the effects of US involvement in the Afghan War and its side effects. The US with its distance from the rest of the world can remain oblvious of the problems it causes for other people. As Mr. Hamid points out:

The residue of U.S. foreign policy coats much of the world. It is the other part of the answer to the question, “Why do they hate us?” Simply because America has — often for what seemed good reasons at the time — intervened to shape the destinies of other countries and then, as a nation, walked away.

Mr. Hamid makes some very good points. One:

Americans need to educate themselves, from elementary school onward, about what their country has done abroad. And they need to play a more active role in ensuring that what the United States does abroad is not merely in keeping with a foreign policy elite’s sense of realpolitik but also with the American public’s own sense of American values.

The other point he makes is one I have been pointing out–the the US needs to live up to its ideals:

The challenge that the United States faces today boils down to a choice. It can insist on its primacy as a superpower, or it can accept the universality of its values. If it chooses the former, it will heighten the resentment of foreigners and increase the likelihood of visiting disaster upon distant populations — and vice versa. If it chooses the latter, it will discover something it appears to have forgotten: that the world is full of potential allies.

America gives Muslims most of what they need to be a pious Muslim without it being an Islamic state. The US may not be a perfect country; however, has an Islamic state existed and given anything better than what America has? Muslims of Somalia, Cambodia, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other countries have found asylum and help in the US. They live a better life and are more secure in this non-Islamic country. The U.S. purports to be very tolerant of any religious life. Its constitution, particularly the First Amendment, guarantees all citizens the right to have and express their faith.

Unfortunately, some people in the US see the actions of a few fringe fanatics and then treat all Muslims with the same hatred. This is wrong. We need to work for understanding, not commit acts which lead to further hatred.

See also http://www.commongroundnews.org/article.php?id=1373&lan=en&sid=1&sp=0

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