Sunday, September 11, 2011

Why? Ten Years Later

It’s hard to believe ten years ago the enemies of freedom flew two aircraft into the Twin Towers and one into the ground in Pennsylvania, killing close to 3,000 innocent people. One would hope the imagery of that day would fade, but it hasn’t. It took quite some time for me to come to grips with the brutality of the enemy we face, but I believe I understand them a little more now. So, what have I learned? While many might disagree with my viewpoint, I will share what I believe to be true. You will have to judge for yourself.

1. It’s not over. There are constant reminders that the Al Qaeda franchise will continue their attacks on the West and other countries that disavow their brand of hatred. Simply key into Google “foiled terror attacks against America since 9/11” and you will get a long list. There have been many attacks against other countries as well. Hardly a week goes by that a mass killing doesn’t go down somewhere. This enemy will not stop until our freedom is vanquished or he is defeated.

2. It’s not all about killing. The Islamists’ War of Terror is also an economic war. While many ignore it when lamenting the economic condition of the U.S., I believe the real genesis of our trouble began with the events of 9/11, not with Wall Street greed or the housing crisis. The attack precipitated three wars that are still raging and driving us further in debt (I include Libya because it could become just another Al Qaeda franchise). There is no question Wall Street, Fannie and Freddie helped a bunch, but I am talking about where it began, not the contributing factors.

3. The sheer size of the population working against us is ignored by most because it is politically correct to not blame large segments of a population because of the acts of a few. However, the information I see indicates that about 10% of the Islamic population worldwide supports the activities of the few who carry out the acts of terror. That’s a big number because there are more than 1.57 billion Muslims worldwide—somewhere between one in four and one in five across the globe. If the 10% figure is correct, then 2 to 2.5 people out of every 100 worldwide support terror activities. That’s a lot of people. If they all lived in the U.S., they would represent roughly 80% of our current population.

4. Very few ask, “Why?” This was so puzzling to me I dedicated a chapter to it in my book, Kill Zone. Kill Zone is my Michael Crichton-like contemporary fiction novel scheduled for release by Eternal Press in Nov 2011. The following excerpt from the book explains what I found. The scene takes place during a military assessment briefing, when General Jessup asks the following question: “I’ve often wondered, but never fully understood, why Muslims hate the West? Why do they feel so compelled to attack? Why the hatred and killing? What’s the real basis for their War of Terror?” Here’s the excerpt:

The General’s question was open-ended, but the lead Cleric folded his hands on the table and leaned forward signaling his acceptance of the challenge. “The reasons Islamists choose war are many, General, and probably cannot be fully understood from an American cultural perspective. I will try to explain, but you must first understand the Koran does not present an overarching story, as the Christian Bible does. Instead, the Koran is organized from long verses to short verses that stipulate how the followers of Islam should conduct their lives. Without a contextual narrative, followers who choose violence in the name of Islam can easily claim they are acting in accordance with their faith. They pick and choose the verses that satisfy their need at the moment, without regard for the others. The same could be done with the Christian Bible if one disregards the overall narrative.

“Also understand Islamists take the words and deeds of the prophet Mohammad as an example of what Islam should be, just as Christians look to the life of Christ for guidance. Mohammad was a warrior; Christ was not. Mohammad conquered by force and met violence with violence—he did not turn the other cheek—whereas Christianity spreads the message of forgiveness even unto death. The different personalities of the two leaders explains much as to why there is more violence in Islam than in Christianity.

“With that overall background, then there are four, perhaps five, fundamental issues that have developed in the Muslim mind over time. The first is control. Until this war, Muslim nations had little direct control over the West, and control is important to them. Yes, I understand they have had some influence through oil pricing, but what I’m talking about goes much deeper than that. From the bottom up, you need to understand how vital this issue is.”

The cleric paused briefly to gather his thoughts. “Start by understanding that Muslim men hold all power in the marriage and that Shiite marriages are temporary marriages, a mut'a, a contract that can be entered into for a set time between one day and ninety-nine years. A woman entering the mut'a is paid a set amount of money, and according to some Shiite traditions, a man performing four mut'as is secured a place in Paradise. Further, a man may divorce a wife simply by saying, ‘I divorce thee’ three times before witnesses prior to registering the decree in court, but the process for divorce is much more difficult for a woman.”

The General cocked his head and his eyes narrowed. “I didn’t think a Muslim woman had a choice in divorce.”

The Cleric smiled thinly. “In some communities it is virtually impossible for a woman to divorce without her husband’s consent. But my point to you concerns the absolute control Muslim men exercise over their women and families, a precept that extends fully through their social hierarchy and into their political life. Control is hammered into these people by the mandatory exercise of religion, a concept not at all understood in the West. Where, when and how often a man prays is specified and enforced. Everything is controlled, both within the family and outside it.”“Okay, but why is that reason to start a war?”

“We have not yet addressed the reasons, General. The information is additional background for your understanding. The second critical issue you need to understand is ‘honor’, but it is a different view of honor than defined in Western terms. Muslims live and die by ‘family honor’. A Muslim man is even entitled to kill for the honor of his family. These are the so-called ‘honor killings’ you hear about.”

The General leaned forward, clasped his hands together, and placed them on the edge of the table. “Like the one in New York, where the abused wife filed for divorce, and the husband decapitated her. As I understand it, the husband felt a special need to control his wife because his business was failing.”

The Cleric nodded. “Indeed so, and such stories bring shame on Muslims in general. Nevertheless, the stories illustrate the point I’m trying to make. In a Muslim family, if a woman brings shame to the family, through allegations of premarital or extramarital sex, by refusing an arranged marriage or attempting to obtain a divorce, her male relatives are bound by duty and culture to murder her. The problem of ‘honor killings’ is not a problem of morality, or of ensuring that women maintain their own personal virtue. Instead, it is a problem of domination, power and hatred of women who, in these instances, are viewed as nothing more than servants to the family, both physically and symbolically.”

“You’re talking about tradition?”

“Yes, exactly. The murder of females in the Middle East is an ancient tradition. Even prior to the arrival of Islam in 622 AD, Arabs occasionally buried infant daughters to avoid the possibility they would later bring shame to the family, and that practice still occurs among Bedouins, who consider girls most likely to sully the family honor.

“Another example that might help you understand honor in a Muslim’s life is that all sexual encounters, including rape and incest, are blamed exclusively on the woman. Men are presumed innocent. In all cases, the woman must have tempted him into raping her or enticed him into having an affair. Some even believe that a woman who does not wear a burka invites rape! A woman is expected to protect her honor, even at the cost of her life and, if she sur

vives a violent rape, she is condemned for her ‘mistake’ and might be brutally killed by her family.”

The General shook his head in near disbelief. “Seems a little harsh.”

“Yes, perhaps a little harsh. Honor concepts are also behind the practice of female circumcision, and that practice is integrated into the Muslim religion by some followers. What the Arabic actually says is circumcision is obligatory, for every male and female, by cutting off the piece of skin on the glans of the penis of the male, and by cutting out the clitoris of the female. This is called HufaaD. Shafi’i law requires circumcision of girls by excision of the clitoris. This is mandatory and is widely practiced in Egypt, where the Shafi’i school of Sunni law is followed.”

The General’s disgusted look projected his inner feelings. “Clearly the West understands male circumcision, a Hebrew tradition from the same ancient basis, but female circumcision is harder to fathom. In fact, the whole concept that man can, in the name of religion, ‘surgically improve’ the body that God created is hard for some Westerners to swallow.”

“Yes, General, I understand. This is hard for many nations, but I mention it here only to illustrate how far Muslims will go to protect what they see as their honor. Even to disfiguring their children to prevent a ‘possible’ breach of honor in the future.

“As with control, the concepts associated with ‘honor’ in daily life can extend to a Muslim’s public and political life. When a Muslim loses honor, he can become like an animal exhibiting ‘uncontrollable rage’, yet not be held accountable for what he does in that state. It is the equivalent of ‘innocent by reason of insanity’ in America.”

The cleric slowly stroked his long white beard, giving the General time to assimilate the concepts. “Consider then that Muslims may well view actions of the West, whether to embarrass Muslim nations or to mock their God, in whatever way they define it at the moment, from cartoons of Muhammad to rumors of mistreatment of one of their Holy Books, a loss of honor. Perhaps then you will understand their reactions of rage and destruction.”

The General became serious. “This concept, their concept of honor, that can bring them to war?”

“Indeed it can, General, and has, but more issues might be in play. A third concept you need to consider, to understand the Muslim mind, is ‘situational honesty’. For example, one Shiite innovation is the use of pragmatic dissimulation, the denial of faith in public while maintaining it in private.”

The General looked the Cleric in the eyes. “Excuse me for interrupting, but that’s another difficult concept for the West because it’s exactly opposite Christian beliefs. Christians believe a man should worship and do good deeds in private, unseen by others, and not live a hypocritical life—that his public and private life should be equivalent.”

The Cleric nodded. “You are correct, but understanding pragmatic dissimulation will give insight into the reason Mohammed Atta chose to spend his last night on earth receiving lap dances instead of communing with his God in prayer. Absolute morality is not a concept understood by Muslims, and there is significant historical backing for this. For example, Muhammad himself clearly condoned dishonesty, as well as murder when it suited his purposes.

“Muslim’s believe it is allowable to tell a falsehood to save one’s life, to accomplish peace or reconciliation, to persuade a woman or on the occasion of a journey or expedition. Because of this, treaties can mean nothing to them. Muhammad also treated truth and deception according his own style of situational ethics, condoning lying to further his goals. From this you can understand the reasons the Iranians were so adamant they were not developing nuclear weapons, when everyone knew they were.”

Slowly stroking his chin, the General added, “Probably the thinking behind the adage, ‘Never trust an Arab’!”

“Perhaps so. You just need to know, and understand.” The Cleric paused again, knowing the information he’d provide next would be very hard for the General to accept. “The fourth concept, sir, is the fear of being wrong. Being wrong is like losing honor. It is not the same in the West. Here, you admit your mistakes and move on, but in Muslim nations, being wrong can lead to loss of honor and outrage. If the West is seen as challenging their beliefs, their customs or literally anything at all they consider Muslim, then that is a challenge to their being right. They will react, sometimes violently.

“Finally, General, relative to the war, there is the most easily understood reason of all, the reason the West most generally considers the basis for the War of Terror, although it is not the whole story, as I have said. That would be that you are not Muslim. That alone is a problem for many Muslims, and it goes to the heart of their being right.

“If Christianity is correct, then they are wrong. If the Hindus are right, then they are wrong. If any other religion is right, then they are wrong. You get the picture. That is the reason this war is global, but this concept goes even deeper. If the Sunnis are right, then the Shiites are wrong. You see, General, they lose honor if they are wrong, and they will fight to be declared right, so the war could go on indefinitely, not only between Muslims and the West, but between Muslims and Muslims.

“And then you must add one final element. Muslims are ‘justified’ in killing those who cannot be converted, and there is a reward in heaven for those who martyr themselves in that way. Not only do their traditions, which are older than Islam, make them prone to war, but the religion condones forcing Islam on others, and rewards it.”

The General took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. “Pretty damn depressing, almost a hopeless picture, like there’s no way out until every last person on one side or the other is dead.”

“Very depressing, indeed. This war is as old as recorded time and it may continue forever. I hope you now see, General, that many complex issues are at play. Perhaps you would better understand the Muslim’s War of Terror if the name were changed to ‘The Muslim Culture Wars’?”

The General shook his head slowly. “But you are here, on my staff. Therefore, not all Muslims believe these things are worth dying for or going to war. Why don’t more Muslims stand up and be counted, as you have? Why are Western setbacks so vigorously celebrated by Muslims worldwide?”

“Yes. Why? I believe there are many reasons. Some believe the Islamists are winning, that there will come a time when the entire globe is Muslim. At that time, all people will be united under Muslim law, and they strongly support such an outcome, even if achieved by radical tactics. Others simply follow without thinking. Those with the mentality of sheep are at the mercy of the wolf.

“Still others have succumbed to a culture of hatred, brainwashing and fear, a culture that may never be completely eliminated. Generations of young Muslims have been schooled in that culture. The textbooks they read, the television and movies they watch, and the music they hear, all carry messages of hatred of the West.

“The objective of such teaching is to instill the notion that the West in general, and Jews in particular, are evil, and that it is the duty of all true Muslims to exterminate that evil. They are taught to hate from the time they first enter school, and they will continue to hate until they die, or are victorious. Older Muslims either have accepted the propaganda or do not speak up at all because they fear the young, and the radicals who teach them.”

The elder adviser stopped for a moment, and then leaned forward to emphasize his final point, and his words shook the General to his core. “And make no mistake, General, the same message of hatred fuels the domestic terrorism you face in this country. Muslim converts have been recruited within your prisons for years. Those converts have willingly accepted radical and violent views of Islam. They thrive on hatred and are equally eager to destroy you from within, even without benefit of the cultural heritage driving the true believers.”

5. Whether the thoughts above are correct or not, 9/11 has had an enormous impact on my writing. I attribute the following works, in some part, to those events: The Empress of Tridon (xoxopublishing.com), Kill Zone(Eternal Press) and “The Final Experiment” (xoxopublishing.com).

Thank you for reading.


James L. Hatch








Tina Donahue said...

I'm currently watching Flight 93. What those people went through before their plane went down is unimaginable.

Good post, James.

James L. Hatch said...

Hi Tina. Yes, the horror of it all makes me shudder. Makes you wonder why people can't just live and let live, but they don't seem to be able to do that. Sometimes peace seems impossible.

Sarah J. McNeal said...

Americans will never be the same. It all changed on that day. The world doesn't seem as friendly any more, airports are like Check Point Charlie at the Berlin Wall and we've become more cynical.
My dear friend Col. Kathy Groce of the USAF is deploying to Afghanistan to command a medical evacuation for the military. She's been to Iraq twice. Seems like the war will never end.
I never knew there was so much hatred in the world until 9/11.
A wonderful post, James.

James L. Hatch said...

Hi Sarah. I agree. I did not know the degree of hate either. I wonder if it is better to be naive, or actually face the truth so many want to harm us. Freedom is a dangerous concept, but one worth fighting for. I applaud your friend's service. I suspect the war will go on for many, many years, perhaps even the rest of my life. Nothing will ever be the same until the Muslims themselves address the problem from within their own ranks. I doubt the Islamist ideology (the violent side of Islam) can co-exist with any other concept.

Cheryl Pierson said...

Hi James,

EXCELLENT POST! I have wondered, too, why the Muslims don't take more of a stance against those extremists who commit terrorist actions. It seems that by their silence, they condone what's going on, and then they want to cry "Nobody likes me, everybody hates me." on the evening news. I think if they were serious about NOT agreeing with what's going on, that they would take much more of a vocal stance on the issues than they have. In today's world, we have been taught we have to be PC about so many things and not "judge", yet these people do nothing to say, "Hey, this is not really how we believe as a religious whole. We do not condone these actions."etc. I'm honest to admit that I do judge because of this. Past behavior is a clear indicator of future behavior. Thanks so much for this insightful post and your excerpt.

James L. Hatch said...

Hi Cheryl:

Thanks for reading! I appreciate your comments more than you know. The attack troubled me so much I wrote "Kill Zone" in response, and part of that novel was the excerpt I included (yes, 9-11 was the genesis of my attempt at being an author). I have added to the excerpt over the years as I began to understand more, and now believe the only solution is within the Muslim community itself. It could take a long time for them to realize they have to fix things themselves before anything will get better.

Thanks again for the comment.

Fiona McGier said...

I have some friends who are Muslim and they do NOT condone violence, but claim that Islam is a religion of peace. Christianity has had its share of violence, ie, The Crusades, The Inquisition, and more recently, the hatred seen by the small church whose members see everything wrong with the world through their prism of "God hates fags", and use that as their excuse to invade the grief of military funerals.

A columnist I admire, Neil Steinberg, writes for the Chicago Sun Times. A few years ago he wrote (I paraphrase), that the hatred felt by terrorist Muslims is eventually doomed to fail, because they are fighting a losing battle. Technology and contemporary culture make the extreme brand of control they insist upon impossible to impose to convert the world to their extremist views. It may not happen in our lifetimes, or our children's, but eventually they will be as powerless and thought of as pitiful as the once-powerful Ku Klux Klan is in our country, where we now laugh at the idea of scared white guys putting on white sheets with pointy hats, to lynch black people for the crime of being born black.

There will always be fringe groups espousing hatred, because President
Obama was right when he said that frightened people cling to their "guns and their religions"...it is up to those of us who actually use our brains, no matter our religious beliefs or our nationalities, to stand up for the concept of universal humanity. To an alien, we would all be just "humans". And that must be our eventual salvation.

James L. Hatch said...

Hi Fiona:

Interesting post. I'm not sure I followed it totally, but, like you, I believe some Muslims do not condone violence. In fact, as I said, only 10% do according to surveys. Nevertheless, the violence will continue until the other 90% puts a stop to it. That is the message. The change must come from within them, not from the outside. Until that happens, I will cling to my guns (although I'm a little weak on the religion part)...and my concern. Ignoring that millions of people want to do us harm will do nothing to solve the problem. In fact, recognizing that there is a problem is the first step to finding a cure.

Thanks for the thoughts. I always appreciate sincere ideas and words.