Depth of hatred at US hard to fathom from our Aussie 'friends' : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Depth of hatred at US hard to fathom After the destruction in New York, it is strange to come across anti-American feeling in our press, writes Miranda Devine.

It is surreal to be back in Sydney after a week in shattered New York. The weather in both cities at the moment is almost identical - balmy temperatures, blue skies. But the mindset couldn't be more different. At Sydney Airport, outside the international terminal, there was a rusted steel sculpture that looked uncannily like the skeletal remnant of the World Trade Centre that sticks out of the rubble like a bombed cathedral.

That inadvertent reminder was rare in a city which seems to want to get on with the rugby league grand final and school holidays and forget the threat of terrorism, except as a distant tragedy that killed unfortunate Australians. Inside the airport, a New Yorker at the Customs counter had explained the reason for her trip here, saying: "I live four miles from where it happened. I just wanted to get as far away as possible." She won't be disappointed, at least in an intellectual sense.

At home, the opinion and letters pages of my piled-up back issues of Australian newspapers were like a slap in the face. Here was the worst of anti-American thought, from home and abroad, displayed generously, as if it were reasonable and widely shared. Missing was any understanding of the suffering, the resolve and the restraint so evident in the United States, from rescuers, the bereaved, politicians and ordinary citizens.

Here, most letter writers to both Australian tabloids and broadsheets spoke with one voice. So, too, those who are paid for their opinion: John Pilger, Susan Sontag, Edward Said, even Pauline Hanson and Robert Manne. They were united against the Great Satan, the US, the purveyor of globalism and inequity, which should have seen what was coming and which brought its misfortune on itself, the inevitable result of the haves having more than the have-nots.

The New York Times reported on Sunday that in one firm alone in the World Trade Centre, Cantor Fitzgerald, 1,500 children lost a parent, in some cases their only parent, just one tragic fact among thousands that came from the evil perpetrated on September 11.

But to the anti-Americans, 6,000 dead is nothing on a global scale; when did anyone hold candlelight vigils for the dead babies of the Middle East, they asked? Here were the letter writers. Russ Grigg, Lorne: "Being the most hated and largest terrorist organisation in the world, does this mean that not only will the Yanks have the proud distinction of starting the first war of the 21st century, but also be the first country in history to declare war upon itself?" Walter Bass, Turramurra: "It wouldn't take a genius to work out that if the US spent on food, clothing and economic aid for poorer countries (with no strings attached) the money it's spending on the huge army it is assembling, most of the terrorists in the world would soon disappear." Radwan Chahine, Greenacre: "It is with great hypocrisy that the US accuses others of being faceless cowards and terrorists. Is it not terrorism for thousands of innocent people to starve and die because of food and medical sanctions placed on them in Iraq?" Peter Aubrey, North Curl Curl: "Is it possible that the acts of terrorism in the US are a protest against the very same thing many Australians are unhappy about - capitalism gone mad?" Pat O'Shane, Hunters Hill, complained, about an article in this newspaper on kamikaze pilot Mohamed Atta: "It does nothing to suggest he is/was a 'terrorist'."

Is there any question that the man who piloted a plane full of innocent civilians into an office building full of innocent civilians was a terrorist?

The big names offered more of the same. Susan Sontag: "Where is the acknowledgment that this was not a 'cowardly' attack on 'civilisation' or 'liberty' or 'humanity' or 'the free world' but an attack on the world's self-proclaimed superpower, undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions?"

Robert Manne: "In the end ... the contemporary politics of Western self-absorption - the belief that we will be able to continue in comfort while much of the world struggles to survive - is not only immoral but also unlikely to succeed."

John Pilger: "Far from being the terrorists of the world, the Islamic peoples have been its victims - principally the victims of US fundamentalism, whose power, in all its forms, military, strategic and economic, is the greatest source of terrorism on Earth."

It's hard to differentiate between these sentiments and a message to the American people from the Taliban supreme leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, delivered on Tuesday through the Pakistan-based news agency the Afghan Islamic Press: "Your government is perpetrating all sorts of atrocities in Muslim countries. Instead of supporting your government's policies you should urge your government to reconsider their wrong and cruel policies. The recent sad event in America was the result of these cruel policies and was meant to avenge this cruelty." Pilger et al couldn't have said it better themselves.

It shouldn't be surprising the Blame-the-Victim, Excuse-the-Perpetrator mentality employed by liberal intellectuals so handily when it comes to crime should prove so adaptable. But it's hard to understand the depth of anti-American feeling here, in a country which - in the last world war - was being bombed by the Japanese and was only saved from a terrible fate by Americans. The US also saved Europe from Hitler, defeated communism in the Soviet Union, saved Kuwait from Saddam Hussein and stopped Milosevic's slaughter in the Balkans.

Even if Israel had never existed in the Middle East, there would still be problems in a part of the world that is heading backwards at the same rate the Western world is progressing. "The key intellectual developments of the West - the Renaissance with its concept of humanism, and the Age of Enlightenment when scientific principles by and large replaced religious dogma, passed the Muslim world by," wrote historian and former Middle East war correspondent David Pryce-Jones in The Australian.

If the US were not the world's superpower, who would the anti-Americans rather have in charge? The Taliban? I'd like to see feminist Sontag in a top-to-toe veil with only tiny holes to breathe through.

-- Martin Thompson (, September 26, 2001


Response to Depth of hatred at US hard to fathom from are Aussie 'friends'

"Oh, would some power the giftie give us/To see ourselves as others see us!/It would from many a folly free us/And foolish notion." -- Robert Burns (Anglicized)

"A quarrel never could last long/If on one side were all the wrong." -- Poor Richard's Almanac

Throughout the ages, the ability to wonder, Could I have been at any fault? has always been seen as a property of the wise and the mature.

No wonder it's so seldom engaged.

It is necessary to ask, Why are these people so angry at us? because the cold hard fact is, they are. They are desperately angry, some of them, desperate enough to piss off the biggest power on the planet, to waken the sleeping giant. Why is this so?

(And why is it seen as favoring the angry ones, just to ask why they're angry? Worse, if one can say, Hey, maybe we shouldn't have [whatever], how is that seen as suggesting that one would "rather" have the Taliban in charge? What a weird non sequitur!)

Frankly, it is hypocritical to fly planes safely over the city of Dresden, dropping bombs at no personal risk to oneself (not even the German air force to oppose one) and destroy 25,000 civilians in a city of no military significance, and then call the hijackers "cowards": they, after all, not only risked but gave their own lives to accomplish a quarter of what we did in Dresden.

I think what they did was amazingly stupid. Whatever their grievance, whatever drove them to such an act, their lives were worse than wasted because I'm quite sure that the reaction they will get is exactly the opposite of what they wanted (well, unless they wanted to start WWIII).

But the question will not go away. Why do these people hate us so much that they will die trying to kill us?

Do you really think we are the United Saints of America?

-- L. Hunter Cassells (, September 26, 2001.

It is truly sad what we had to do to get our enemies in WWII to capitulate. We didn't start either conflict but we chose when and how to end them. I don't know if bombing Dresden was necessary; can any historians help me on this? Food for thought, Didn't we have an isolationist policy prior to WWII; we see what the outcome of that was. Some have suggested that our current meddling got us in trouble. I am not saying that all meddling is good but what would have happened if we never meddled?

-- Steve McClendon (, September 26, 2001.

If we had not meddled, all of southeast asia would be speaking Japanese today.

-- Martin Thompson (, September 26, 2001.

In response to L Hunter Cassells

Your words:

I think what they did was amazingly stupid. Whatever their grievance, whatever drove them to such an act, their lives were worse than wasted because I'm quite sure that the reaction they will get is exactly the opposite of what they wanted (well, unless they wanted to start WWIII).

But the question will not go away. Why do these people hate us so much that they will die trying to kill us?

My answer

What they did wasn't stupid for several reasons. Most of it has to do with religion, there rewards in heaven, all that crap but what they did was extremely clever and the timing was prescient. It caused the maximum amount of damage to our economy and freedoms with the minimum of effort and expense. I bet the cost of one of our cruise missiles would have been enough to finance there multi-year operation, well maybe 2. God knows the plastic box cutters didn't cost much. The pilot training cost a few dollars though.

Why do they hate us so much? Easy, brainwashing. How do you think Hitler got the Germans so stirred up? and then later on it was due to fear. Turn in your parents if they say something against the motherland. This stuff IS NOT hard to understand.

If you've read how the Taliban imposes unbelievable, incredible restrictions on its population then its not too much stretch of the imagination that they can do kamikaze in the name of religion.

-- Guy Daley (, September 26, 2001.

We cannot wait to understand

Winston Churchill did not postpone the Battle of Britain until he understood more about the culture that produced Hitler

Published: September 26 2001 19:49 | Last Updated: September 26 2001 20:09

"The resources of civilisation are not yet exhausted." Prime minister William Gladstone after the Phoenix Park murders in Dublin, 1881

Many people love recalling where they were during traumatic events such as the assassination of John F. Kennedy. This is not normally my line. But the circumstances in which I learned of the outrage of September 11 were exceptional.

I was in hospital recovering from a non-threatening, but painful, operation. In many hotels and hospitals radio can only be obtained by first turning on a television channel.

It so happened that I was tuned to a television channel en route between two radio stations. Instead of the usual rubbish, we saw on the screen the World Trade Center on fire.

Predictably, some commentators soon intoned that the world would never be the same again. My own reaction was "you bet". It did not take long before every interest and single-issue pressure group was trying to turn the tragedy to its own advantage, including of course the anti-globalisers.

A few people vaguely remembered that I was opposed to the Falklands war of 1982, or that I am now against arms sales to dubious regimes, some of which have almost certainly ended up in Taliban hands. They were surprised by my hawkish reactions. But September 11, 2001 was not the Falklands. It was more like Pearl Harbor.

Yet it has not taken long for the appeasers to come out of the woodwork with cliches such as "We will never completely root out terrorism" as if that were an excuse for inaction. Instead of discussing how to combat the terrorist scourge commentators were asking "Why do so many people hate America?" There is in fact little evidence that they really do. The hatred comes from zealots who hate the US because it is both free and wealthy.

The US is the most successful society the world has seen. The success is far from confined to business. If you are looking for the best scholarship on Jane Austen, you go to a university in Texas. If you want the best studies of Ludwig Wittgenstein you will find them in North America.

But none of this was of any interest to commentators who claimed that the roots of the hatred was something called "American backing of Israel". Did they mean that the US was not putting enough pressure on Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister, to make concessions for peace? Bush can, should and will take care of Mr Sharon. Or did they support those who wanted to roll back 50 years of history and wipe out the state of Israel altogether? They neither knew or cared.

I suppose I will be accused of being a racist if I say that there are too many attempts to explain away Islamic attitudes. The vast majority of Muslims, whether Arab or not, simply want to get on with their lives and use their mobile telephones and information technology skills. It looks as if the US and UK will avoid the crass error of the early years of the second world war when residents of German or Japanese origin were interned. Thugs who use the September 11 events as an excuse for attacking Afghan cab drivers - probably themselves refugees from the Taliban - are just like the football hooligans or the discreditable wing of the anti-globalisation protesters who are simply looking for a rough house. They need to be treated with the full rigour of the law.

But can you imagine Winston Churchill in 1940 stopping preparations for the Battle of Britain until he felt he understood enough of the origins of the hostility of the German-speaking world to western countries? If somebody wants to blow you up, the most important thing is not to empathise with the combination of heredity and environment that has produced his attitudes but to eliminate him.

We cannot be too squeamish in our choice of allies. But for goodness sake, let us remember that such alliances are based on ephemeral self- interest. General de Gaulle once wrote that countries have no permanent allies, only interests. Leaving aside the personification of countries, the general was right.

One of the most astonishing examples of prevailing softness towards Islamic inciters to murder is the reluctance of an avowedly law and order UK home secretary such as David Blunkett to bring charges against self-styled Arab leaders who preach a holy war. No doubt he was advised that he might "alienate moderate Muslims". I suspect that such moderates would be delighted to see such "leaders" behind bars.

It should not have taken this crisis to teach us the harmfulness of the saying: "My enemy's enemy is my friend." As a piece of formal logic it is simply wrong. In practice, the Taliban would not be there if US administrations had not backed them to fight against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. How many times do we need to heed the warning of the great 19th century liberal statesman Richard Cobden about the lack of knowledge with which we interfere in the affairs of other countries? The Afghans should have been left to deal with the Soviet army as indeed they did.

When Hitler invaded Russia in 1941, Churchill said that as a lifelong opponent of communism, he would ally himself with the devil himself against Hitler. But it was not long before British sentimentalism took over and the mass murderer Stalin became "Uncle Joe" and children were putting pennies in "Mrs Churchill's Aid to Russia fund".

Of course, a network of alliances now needs to be constructed. But there is no need for clerks in the Foreign Office or the Quai d'Orsay to write hymns of praise to regimes that practice amputations and floggings, and refuse to recognise the humanity of their female citizens.

A novice UK foreign secretary ought to have known better than to allow some Foreign Office Arabist to draft a one-sided anti-Israel article for an Iranian newspaper in a pathetic attempt to curry favour with that country's rulers. Like most others, the Iranian regime will co-operate with the west to the extent that it pays it.

Meanwhile, the best that the ordinary citizen can do, especially if we are in for the long haul, is doggedly to pursue our normal activities. It is often forgotten that after an early phase of general shutdown during the second world war, theatres, cinemas and concert halls were reopened the civilian population encouraged to think of non-war activities. We shall indeed overcome. pagename=View&c=Article&cid=FT3BPXZF3SC&live=true

Samuel Brittan's website is

-- Martin Thompson (, September 26, 2001.

YOu can always tell if these writers of this kind of pap were around during WWII, since they don't have a clue of reality at the time. What would have happened had we not "meddled"?? Well, for one thing L. Hunter Cassell wouldn't be submitting us to such crap as "Dresdon" since her/his ancestors would have gone through the ovens or been worked, starved and beaten to death. We would have neither an L Hunter Cassell... nor a society where he/she could voice such an opinion. And I have lots of friends in Australia and spent a good part of my time there in business. Again...its the youngsters that don't have a clue. Ask anyone over 60 about the Coral Sea!! Had it not been for our troops, Australia would not be Australia but the "big Island of Japan"....along with Singapore, Hong kong, Indonesia, etc. Taz

-- Taz (, September 27, 2001.

Dear Taz,

There is so much misleading info and so much pure propaganda in this thread it is hard to limit myself to your remarks, but I will do so.

The mere act of living through WW II does not insure the accuracy of one's understanding. That war was and continues to be the subject of so much propaganda (the reruns of the Hogan's Heroes TV show being a trivial example) that the truth has probably been lost forever.

Civilians know nothing about what happended overseas unless they had a spouse present who then talked about it. What they do know about is rationing, and keeping lights off near the shores, among other things. One WW II veteran I know never spoke more than a few words about his war experiences to his family. Even soldiers know very little except what is happening on their immediate battlefields-- everything else is either rumor or "official" info, ie. wartime propaganda. Propaganda during the war was wild and continued after the war. It continues to this day.

Please don't pretend to some superior knowledge based on living through an event that was so complex that the truth is still unclear.

-- neil (, September 28, 2001.

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