WHY DO THEY HATE AMERICA?
It has nothing to do with freedom, lifestyle, or religion.
Analysis © 2001 - 2006 by G. Edward Griffin.
First published on 2001 September 14. Updated 2006 August 25
Several months ago, I received a letter from a member of Freedom Force urging me to place more emphasis on the threat from global Islam. It stated:
I have noticed that you have virtually nothing, either on your Freedom Force website or your Reality Zone website that alerts people to the seriousness of the Islamic threat to our freedom. Much less, even words like “Islam” and “Muslim” are missing from both of your websites. This is shocking to me. Is there a good reason for this? ... Do the collective governing forces that you are making everyone aware of have something to do with this threat? If so, I would like to know how an Islamic takeover of every non-Islamic nation could possibly benefit those forces. ... Since 1981, I have been studying and on a mission to expose the insanity that Islam is all about and how it’s goals of world domination are quickly being realized. ... We have reached a point where it is going to be impossible for us to prevent Muslims from reaching their goal of world domination if we do not resort to the most serious and the most drastic of measures.
Before attempting a response, I would like to call attention to two statements from this letter that are critical to an understanding of the issue. The first is the question of whether or not the collectivist forces that we oppose may have something to do with the threat of Islam. That is a very perceptive question that most people would not even consider, because it is outside their information stream that flows from the major media. However, as I shall show shortly, the answer is yes, and that makes a huge difference in knowing what to do about it. We cannot trust solutions that are offered by the people who created the problem in the first place.
The second statement is at the end of the last sentence: “... if we do not resort to the most serious and the most drastic of measures.” I will reserve comment on this for the proper place in my analysis, but I would like to highlight it now, because it is the key to an understanding of why the Reality Zone has not been on the “fear/hate Islam” bandwagon. Please be assured that we take the threat of extremist Islam very seriously, and I am not even remotely sympathetic to its leaders or their goals; but the world in which we live is full of booby traps, and one of them is the temptation to think that, if we have an enemy, then everyone who opposes that enemy is our friend. We must be aware that they can be just as much an enemy as the one we recognize. If they advocate “serious and drastic measures” in the name of national security, those measures could be aimed at us. We must not be tricked into thinking we can defend our freedom by giving it up.
To provide appropriate background for that statement, I submit the following essay. The information about Mohamed Atta and the data from Robert Pape’s book, Dying to Win, was added on August 20, 2006. All else was written during the three days following 9/11.
WHY DO THEY HATE AMERICA?
The first question we need to ask is why? Why do the terrorists hate America? 
I am reminded of the story of a young man in medieval times who wanted to become a knight. He obtained an audience with the king and offered his services, explaining that he was an excellent swordsman. The king told him that the realm was at peace, and there was no need for a knight. Nevertheless, the young man insisted that he be allowed to serve. To put an end to the discussion, the king finally agreed and knighted him on the spot. Several months later, the young man returned to the castle and requested another audience. When he entered the throne room, he bowed in respect and then reported that he had been very busy. He explained that he had killed thirty of the king’s enemies in the North and forty-five of them in the South. The king looked puzzled for a moment and said, “But I don’t have any enemies.” To which the knight replied, “You do now, Sire.”
Do Muslim terrorists hate America because of its religion or culture? Is it because they are envious of America’s wealth or that American women wear short skirts? Is it because they really do hate freedom?There are several passages in the Qur’an that, indeed, create the impression that Muslims are told to kill non-believers as a matter of religious faith. For example, in chapter 9, verse 5, we find: “Slay the idolaters wherever you find them.” In 9.14 it says: “Fight them; Allah will punish them by your hands and bring them to disgrace.” In 9.123 we find: “Fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness.” Chapter 2, verse 191 says: “Kill them wherever you find them, and drive them out from whence they drove you out.”
On the other hand, there are other passages that seem to contradict this theme. Muhammad says repeatedly that killing is only justified in self-defense or in retaliation – only after the enemy strikes first. For example, in chapter 60, verses 8 and 9, he says: “Allah does not forbid you respecting those who have not made war against you on account of [your] religion, and have not driven you forth from your homes, that you show them kindness and deal with them justly…. Allah only forbids you respecting those who make war upon you on account of [your] religion, and drove you forth from your homes.” Chapter 9, verse 13, says: “What? Will you not fight a people who broke their oath and … attacked you first?” Chapter 22, verse 39, says: “Permission (to fight) is given to those upon whom war is made because they are oppressed.” Chapter 47, verse 4, says: “So when you meet in battle those who disbelieve, then smite their necks until you have overcome them. Then make [them] prisoners and afterwards either set them free as a favor or let them ransom themselves until the war terminates.”
So, what is going on here? Which concept are we to believe?
To unravel this mystery, we must look beyond the words themselves and view the historical events that were unfolding at the time the words were written, which was around 620 A.D. The key to understanding is in the last phrase of the previous quote: “… until the war terminates.”
After Muhammad revealed that he had been chosen as a prophet of Allah, it took many years for him to attract a large following. In the earlier days of his proselytizing, he often entertained Christians and Jews in his own home and counted many of them among his personal friends. He clearly did not think of them as enemies who should be killed on the spot. In those days, “un-believers” were simply those who were not convinced that he had spoken to the angel Gabriel or really had been ordained by Allah to lead mankind. The most prominent of these unbelievers were members of the Quraysh tribe who worshiped multiple gods represented by seven idols located within the shrine called Kaaba, in Mecca. When Muhammad finally began to attract a following, the leaders of the Quraysh plotted against him and attempted to abort his movement by harassing and even torturing his followers. He was forced to flee the city to avoid assassination. When Muhammad used the word “idolaters” in the Qur’an, he was referring to the Quraysh.
This is important because, while the Qur’an was being written from the oral teachings of Muhammad, and while his followers became embroiled in many deadly conflicts with the Quraysh, they were often in relative harmony with Christians and Jews. Shortly after becoming the religious and civil leader of Medina in 622 A.D., Muhammad openly accepted friendship and trade with the Jews there. To clarify their relationship, he drew up a concordat that proclaimed:
The Jews who attach themselves to our commonwealth shall be protected from all insults and vexations; they shall have an equal right with our own people to our assistances and good offices; they … shall form with the Muslims one composite nation; they shall practice their religion as freely as the Muslims.
Unfortunately, this tranquility did not last. By 623, Muhammad and his followers, in order to obtain food and other necessities, were regularly raiding caravans passing nearby, many of them belonging to Quraysh merchants from Mecca. This led to retaliation by the Quraysh who returned to Medina with 900 men intent on annihilating the Muhammadan community, but their attack was repelled.
Before long, Jews and Muslims in Medina became bitterly divided over doctrinal and economic disputes. Armed conflict broke out between the two groups, and the Jews were ordered to abandon the city and leave their possessions behind. But Muhammad was not to enjoy his supremacy for long. Early in 625, the Quraysh arrived from Mecca with an army of 3000 men and routed the Muslims from Medina. Muhammad was severely wounded in the battle. The previously ousted Jews returned to their homes. Six months later, after Muhammad recovered from his wounds, he returned to the city and attacked the Jews, accusing them of aiding the Quraysh. Once again the Jews were driven from the city.
In 626 A.D., the Quraysh and the Jews combined forces and, with an army of 10,000 men attacked the Muslim stronghold at Medina. Muhammad knew he could not defeat such a force in open battle and chose, instead, to protect the city by digging a deep trench around it. Fortunately for him, extreme wind and rain kept the invaders at bay. After an unsuccessful 20-day siege, the Quraysh abandoned the effort and returned to Mecca. Muhammad at once led an army of 3000 men against the remaining Jews who were overpowered. He gave his prisoners a choice of death or accepting Islam.
By this time, Muhammad had become an able and experienced military leader. He planned sixty-five campaigns and raids and personally led twenty-seven. In 630, he led an expedition against Mecca, which surrendered without a fight. Arabia was finally entirely under his control. Parts of the Qur’an read like military stratagems because that is exactly what they were.
PUTTING THE QUR’AN INTO HISTORICAL CONTEXT
The reason for going into all of this is to clarify that, while the Qur’an was being written, there was a war going on. Those passages that direct the faithful to kill unbelievers were not motivated by religious intolerance but by the passions of warfare and the necessity of survival against an enemy. It was a question of kill or be killed. This fact becomes clear when we recall that, after the fighting was over, and Muhammad finally became the undisputed master of all Arabia, the Christians were allowed to remain and enjoy full liberty of worship. If he had wanted unbelievers killed solely because of their religion, they would have been slaughtered. However, the only limitations placed upon them were that they pay a modest tax and refrain from charging interest on loans. 
When passages from the Qur’an are taken out of historical context, it may seem that Muslims are instructed to kill innocent people whose only crime is that they do not believe in Islam. However, when they are understood in terms of the events that were unfolding at the time the Qur’an was written, that notion cannot be supported.
There are those who would divide us today along religious lines and manipulate us into fearing and hating and killing each other. They rely on us not to know this history. They take passages from the Qur’an out of historical context – just as they do with passages from the Bible and the Torah – to prove whatever point they wish.
Islam is not a unified faith with a hierarchy of control to establish doctrine. There is no single leader or council to make pronouncements about how to interpret the Qur’an. The spiritual leader of each congregation can offer guidance and scholarship; but, ultimately, each person is free to make his own interpretation. Consequently, many Muslims since Muhammad’s time have used Scripture to justify aggression, and some of the radical sects of today are continuing to put their own hate-twist to the message, but we must realize that this is not an intrinsic part of the Islamic faith. As Shaikh Abdul Ali Alishtari explained to me in personal correspondence:
Contrary to opinion, most Muslims love America due to its freedoms, especially of religion; and, like any other minority group, we have 1% criminals and nuts…. In Islam, we have many splits, but each split or sect claims not to be a sect but to represent the entire Islam. This leads to the ability of people of ill intent to misrepresent us.
In fairness to reality, we must be aware that some of the groups within Islam that claim to represent the whole are very powerful and have vast financial resources. The royal Saudi family is the foremost example. The branch of Islam they embrace is called Wahhabism (a movement founded 250 years ago by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab). It is intolerant of non-believers and administers harsh punishment for those who deviate from the faith. The regime has drawn upon its funding from oil exports to establish thousands of schools, not just in Saudi Arabia, but all over the world. These schools are the instruments of a theocratic state and have a monopoly over education. Children are taught beginning at the earliest age that Muslims may not establish loyal friendship with non-believers because they are inferior in God’s eyes. Jews are described as apes and Christians are called swine. Because of international condemnation of these teachings, in 2006, the Saudi government claimed that it had changed its school curricula to eliminate religious intolerance, but a review of currently used textbooks shows that very little had changed. Millions of Muslim children around the world are still being indoctrinated with religious intolerance. 
The point to keep in mind, however, is that the Wahhabis represent just one interpretation of Islam. As Shaikh Alishtari said, “Each split or sect claims not to be a sect but to represent the entire Islam. This leads to the ability of people of ill intent to misrepresent us.”
This is not unique to Islam. One only has to reflect on the long history of crimes against humanity committed over the ages by other political regimes claiming to represent the will of God. This always happens when the power of the state is combined with the power of religious faith, but that is an outgrowth of theocracy, not of religion. Throughout history, the Qur’an, the Torah, and the Bible have all been used by cunning leaders to justify their wars; but that is not the fault of mainstream Islam or Judaism or Christianity, it is the fault of cunning leaders.
There is a vast difference between religious intolerance and religious war. It is true that intolerance may prepare the stage for war, but there are millions of fundamental Christians and Jews in the world today who also believe as a matter of doctrine that they hold the true religion and that they are favored in the eyes of God. Some of these groups also believe that they must not establish loyal friendships with non-believers, but none of these people are fired up to kill anyone over it. We need to ask what is it that brings a human being to this level of hatred and passion?
When one looks at the wars raging in the Middle East, the Balkans, and many other places in the world, we can see obvious differences in religion or ethnic origin between the combatants, but these are not the real causes of the conflict today. The hatred that exists between them stems from a history of armed conflict in which each side perceives itself as the victim of aggression and cruelty from the other. Religious or ethnic differences may have played a part at the origins of these conflicts, but in their modern context, they are grudge wars. That is the reason different tribes within Islam often fight among themselves just as fiercely as they do against unbelievers.
One of the world’s most recognized authorities on suicide bombings is Robert A. Pape, a Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago. He prepared a database of every suicide terrorist attack that occurred in the world from 1980 through 2003. There were 315 attacks in all. In his book, Dying to Win, Professor Pape says:
The data show that there is little connection between suicide terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism, or any one of the world’s religions. In fact, the leading instigators of suicide attacks are the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, a Marxist-Leninist group whose members are from Hindu families but who are adamantly opposed to religion. This group committed 76 of the 315 incidents, more suicide attacks than Hamas.
Rather, what nearly all suicide terrorist attacks have in common is a specific secular and strategic goal: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from territory that the terrorists consider to be their homeland. Religion is rarely the root cause, although it is often used as a tool by terrorist organizations in recruiting and in other efforts in service of the broader strategic objective. … Even al-Qaeda fits this pattern: although Saudi Arabia is not under American military occupation per se, a principal objective of Osama bin Laden is the expulsion of American troops from the Persian Gulf and the reduction of Washington’s power and influence in the region.
Since September 11, 2001, the United States has responded to the growing threat of suicide terrorism by embarking on a policy to conquer Muslim countries – not simply rooting out existing havens for terrorists in Afghanistan but going further to remake Muslim societies in the Persian Gulf. … The close association between foreign military occupation and the growth of suicide terrorist movements in the occupied regions should make us … recognize that the sustained presence of heavy American combat forces in Muslim countries is likely to increase the odds of the next 9/11. 
The man credited with being the ringleader of the 9/11 attacks is Mohamed Atta. For terrorists to be motivated by religious fervor, they would have to be strong adherents to their faith. Yet, according to Amanda Keller, Atta’s American girlfriend who was interviewed after the attack, he and his friends frequented stripper bars, drank heavily, and snorted coke.  It is absurd to think that they were willing to die for the glory of Allah in a holy war against decadent infidels.
Even if we knew none of this, we would be faced with the fact that Islamic terrorists today are not attacking non-Islamic countries at random, which would be the case if their crusade were motivated by religion. They are attacking only those that previously have launched military campaigns against them or which currently occupy territory that they consider to be their homeland. Clearly, their motivation today does not come from religion. To them, it is a grudge war. It comes from a desire for revenge.
So, the next question is: revenge for what?
AMERICA BECOMES WORLD POLICEMAN
Ever since the end of World War II, America’s politicians have viewed themselves as global leaders with a responsibility to manage the affairs of the world that outweighs or at least equals any obligation to their own country. For over five decades, the nation’s universities and media have extolled the virtues of internationalism. The old tradition of avoiding foreign entanglements was sneeringly called isolationism. We were conditioned to think that the old way was stupid. The wave of the future was shown to us, and it was a New World Order. Over the years, we watched with approval as our leaders increasingly entangled our once sovereign nation into a world community called the United Nations.
Treaty by treaty, we watched and approved as we became increasingly subject to international edicts and played the role of world policeman. It is in that role that our military began to wage wars against populations far removed from our shores and even further from our national interests. To justify those wars, we were told that we were defending victim groups against their despotic neighbors or ridding the world of drug lords; but, after the smoke of battle cleared, we discovered that there were hidden agendas that were much less noble. More often than not, the real purpose of the war was to control oil fields, pipelines, ports, mineral resources, or military supply lines – or even to distract voters from thinking about scandals in the White House. If you roam around the globe shooting and bombing people, and aligning yourself politically with others who do the same, you cannot expect your victims to like you very much. Some may even be willing to die for revenge.
A MOMENT OF TRUTH IN MEDIA
On the evening of September 12, 2001, the day after 9/11, Henry Sigman, reported on Nightline:
The U.S. is seen as a sort of an insensitive hegemony-with-arrogance that seeks to impose it’s own values on the rest of the world. It is seen as an uncritical supporter of the State of Israel in its conflict with the Palestinians, and the combination of the two does not make for U.S. popularity in that part of the world.
Adding to this theme was Magnas Raisdorff, who also appeared on Nightline while Ted Koppel, the show’s host, was speaking from London. Raisdorff, a reporter in the London branch of CBS, and an expert on terrorism, confirmed Sigman’s view. He said:
Many in the Arab world regard the U.S., not as an honest broker, but as protecting and shielding Israel over very important political as well as religious issues. Among these issues are: Israel’s control over holy Islamic sites, like the Dome of the Rock;  the presence of U.S. troops near Islamic religious places such as Mecca and Medina; the sanctions the U.S. has placed on Iraq are mostly depriving children of drugs and food they desperately need; and, most importantly, Israel’s attacks on prominent Palestinian militants are using equipment, like helicopter gun ships, provided by the U.S.
Then Jim Ruden, also in London, came on the program to summarize Raisdorff’s report saying:
And that is why what happened yesterday, happened, not because ‘America is the world’s brightest beacon [of freedom].’
At the time of the terrorist attack in September, the United States had a quarter of a million soldiers stationed in 141 countries around the world. Since the end of World War II, it has launched military strikes against Panama, Kosovo, Albania, Bosnia, Serbia, Iraq, Kuwait, Sudan, Haiti, Granada, Afghanistan, and Somalia – all in the pursuit of stopping drugs, defending freedom, resisting Communism, or stopping terrorism. In the great majority of cases, these objectives were not achieved. The only measurable result has been the creation of hostility toward America. That is the Oops Factor that has been a dominant feature of U.S. foreign policy for over five decades.
Politicians never admit that they have made a mistake – especially a big one. To do so would imply that they are not qualified to lead. No matter what errors they make, they find something or someone to blame. Their standard excuse is that they didn’t have enough money or large enough staff or enough authority. If only we will increase their budget and give them more power, everything will be corrected. Typically, they already have spent too much money, hired too many people, and exercised too much authority, so their proposed solution is more of exactly what created the problem in the first place.
In the case of terrorism, the politicians who create U.S. foreign policy cannot be expected to tell the world they made a mistake. It will be a chilly day in Hades when they announce that they, themselves, have any responsibility for these acts. They will not want the American people contemplating the possibility that the attack on 9/11 might have been related to an interventionist foreign policy. They will try to single out a person and then demonize him so he will become the central focus of anger and retaliation. That person probably will be Osama bin Laden, so, let us see what he has to say about this. (Please remember that these words were written three days after the attack of September 11 and, at that time, bin Laden had not yet been firmly declared as the responsible party.)
FROM THE MIND OF BIN LADEN
In May of 1998, ABC reporter John Miller interviewed bin Laden at his camp on a mountaintop in Southern Afghanistan. This is what he said:
The Americans impose themselves on everyone. … They accuse our children in Palestine of being terrorists. Those children who have no weapons and have not even reached maturity. At the same time, they defend … with their airplanes and tanks, the state of the Jews that has a policy to destroy the future of these children. … In the Sabra and Shatilla massacre, … houses were demolished over the heads of children. Also, by testimony of relief workers in Iraq, the American-led sanctions resulted in the death of more than one million Iraqi children. … We believe that the biggest thieves in the world and the terrorists are the Americans. The only way for us to fend off these assaults is to use similar means. … So, we tell the Americans as a people, and we tell the mothers of soldiers, and American mothers in general, if they value their lives and those of their children, find a nationalistic government that will look after their interests and … does not attack others, their lands, or their honor. 
I am not quoting bin Laden because I think he is a nice guy or that I want to exonerate him in any way. In my view, there is never any excuse for terrorism. I include his words only to emphasize what I stated earlier. He and his followers are not motivated by hatred of freedom or religious zeal but by a desire for revenge. In the days ahead, as we contemplate how to put an end to terrorism, we had better be clear on that. As long as we follow a foreign policy of interventionism, we will create new enemies faster than we can track down the old ones and we will never be able to erect anti-terrorist measures capable of stopping them all. If we retaliate against populations or geographical areas, we could unite all of Islam in a holy war against us and light the fire of hatred in the hearts of a billion Muslims whose primary passion in life will be to seek revenge. Religion will have little to do with it. 
 Five days after I wrote these words, USA Today carried an eyewitness report from Pakistan echoing the same sentiment. It said: “In Pakistan this week, thousands have demonstrated. They’ve burned American flags, raised clenched fists, and held aloft banners telling the world what they think of the USA. One, written in English, asked a stunning question: ‘Americans, think! Why does the whole world hate you?’” See “Extremists’ hatred of U.S. has varied roots,” USA Today, Sept. 19, 2001, p. 1.
 The preceding historical synopsis is drawn from Will Durant, The Age of Faith, (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1950), pp.155-174; also The Columbia Encyclopedia, 3rd edition, p. 1397; also “The World of Islam,” by Don Belt, National Geographic, Jan. 2002, pp. 76-85.
 See “This Is A Saudi Textbook,” by Nina Shea, Washington Post, may 21, 2006, p. B01. Also on the Internet at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/19/AR2006051901769.html.
 Robert A. Pape, Dying to Win (New York, Random House, 2005), pp. 4, 6. It should be noted that Pape is the founder of the Chicago Project on Suicide Terrorism, which is funded by the Carnegie Corporation, the Pentagon's Defense Threat Reduction Agency, the University of Chicago, and the Argonne National Laboratory. This raises the question of possible bias in favor of the agendas of these institutions. Indeed, there appears to be bias in Pape’s work, but it is surprising because it is contrary to the policies of the current Administration. For example, he calls for better immigration controls (p. 240) and reduced American military presence in the Middle East (p. 247). This does not make him a peace activist or a member of Freedom Force, but it shows a degree of independence and gives reason to have confidence in the integrity of his data.
 Excerpts from her video interview are at www.informationliberation.com/?id=14738. A higher quality version of the entire interview (over an hour long) is on a DVD entitled Mohamed Atta And The Venice Flying Circus, available from Mad Cow Productions, www.madcowprod.com.
 Although the Dome of the Rock presently has a Muslim mosque built upon it, the Jews and Christians also regard it as a holy site. It is the location where, according to Scripture, Abraham was tested by God to see if he would obey God’s command, even to the extent of sacrificing his only son, Isaac.
 See http://www.abcnews.go.com, John Miller Interviews Bin Laden (May 1998), Sept. 27, 2001.
 By the end of the December, 2001, more civilians had been killed in the military action against Afghanistan than in the terrorist attack against the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon – and the war on terrorism was just beginning, we were told, soon to be taken to other countries. See “Afghanistan’s civilian deaths mount,” BBC News, Jan. 3, 2002, http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/south_asia/newsid_ Printed on 27 April 15 at 15:07
Printed on 27 April 15 at 15:07