There is no media meme I hate more than the question, “Why do they hate us?” The implication is that “their” hatred is justified and thus their actions against us — on 9.11 — are justified (and our war there is unjustified). This is a despicable bit of tortured logic and morality. The rhetorical equivalent is to ask why another “they” — the Germans — hated the Jews as if there is any reason for bigotry and hatred and as if that, then, justifies what the atrocities that resulted. Both questions are equally offensive, equally wrong.
I don’t give a goddamn why “they” hate us.
I have to make my moral and political judgments based on what I think is right — not on the basis of a popularity contest and especially not a popularity contest among countries and dictators who do not allow democracy or equal rights or free speech, countries that do not allow the governed to govern, countries that are nothing but repressive dictatorships.
Now, having said all that, I now see that there is a reason why “they” will hate us:
“They” — that is, the repressive, anti-democratic, dictators of the Arab world — will hate us, indeed, for bringing demoracy to Iraq — if we are successful — for that will make their people want to rise up and gain their rightful freedoms.
“They” — the fearful leaders, not their oppressed peoples — will hate us for making their people question — and then overthrow — their leadership.
“They” are scared shitless by what their satellite channels showed to their people this week.
Of course, we are going to hear criticism of us from Arab leaders. We heard criticism of us from Saddam Hussein, didn’t we? But when he left, the true feelings of his people came out, didn’t they?
Note, then, this from today’s Washington Post on the rumbles caused in Saudi Arabia by the liberation of Iraq:
Mohsen Awajy knows better than most Saudis the perils of speaking his mind on such subjects as elections and government accountability.
Nine years ago, not long after the Persian Gulf War, the religious scholar and agronomist was thrown into prison for co-writing a petition that suggested Saudis be given a “choice” on who ruled the country. He was released in 1998, four years into his nine-year sentence, with the admonition that he could end up back in jail if he spoke out again.
Dissidents like Awajy were emboldened once more by the current conflict in Iraq. Many recognized that the government was allowing dissent and anger to flow. Saudis watching the war have been successively outraged by civilian casualties, elated at Iraqi resistance and depressed when the war turned in favor of U.S.-led forces, and are now expressing humiliation at the rapid collapse of Baghdad. The government has sought to manage and co-opt antiwar fervor. In a country where public demonstrations are banned, there is new debate about political reforms that were suggested long before the first U.S. strikes against Iraq.
“The regime used to be brutal in peaceful conditions,” said Awaji, who intends to call on the government to distance itself from the United States when the war finally ends. “In this crisis, we find a lot of opportunities to express our feelings. Without trouble in the region, we aren’t able to say anything.”