Burch: The roots of terrorism

Thursday, May 5, 2011 at 10:05pm
By Michael R. Burch

The front page of Tuesday’s The Tennessean hailed the death of Osama bin Laden as a “Victory For Freedom” while calling him “the very face and embodiment of evil” and a man whose “actions, words and beliefs were about destroying our way of life.”

According to The Tennessean, and many other American newspapers, it sounds as if bin Laden had nothing else on his mind but making Americans miserable for unfathomable reasons.

But does this image of bin Laden jibe with reality? Now that he’s gone, will Americans be safe from terrorism, since he was clearly irrational to attack us for no reason? Is the madness finally over with the death of the madman?

All around Nashville there is a jumble of emotions: celebration bordering on jingoism, more reserved feelings of hope and relief, and of course more than a few doubts.

The media image of bin Laden is not entirely accurate, and we’re probably no safer with him dead than when he was alive. Unfortunately, we will continue to live in jeopardy of events like 9-11 until we finally face the hard facts and understand why 9-11 happened. (Please understand that I am in no way excusing bin Laden’s masterminding the murders of so many innocent American civilians. I simply believe that if we want peace, it does no good to demonize him while ignoring the cataclysmic mistakes our government made in the Middle East, as those errors helped lead to 9-11 and the subsequent wars.)

The key to understanding Muslim terrorism against the U.S. lies in the Nakba (“Catastrophe”) of the Palestinian people. Here’s what bin Laden said about 9-11, as reported widely by various sources:

"Allah knows it did not cross our minds to attack the towers but after the situation became unbearable and we witnessed the injustice and tyranny of the American-Israeli alliance against our people in Palestine and Lebanon, I thought about it. And the events that affected me directly were those of 1982 and the events that followed when America allowed the Israelis to invade Lebanon, helped by the U.S. Sixth Fleet. As I watched the destroyed towers in Lebanon, it occurred to me to punish the unjust the same way [and] to destroy towers in America so it could taste some of what we are tasting and to stop killing our children and women."

In a diary entry eerily dated 9-11 (1983), Ronald Reagan wrote prophetically that the U.S. Sixth Fleet shelling Lebanon “could be seen as putting us in the war.”

According to many Muslims — including the vast majority who do not approve of bin Laden’s methods — Americans are hypocrites because our government has caused untold suffering to millions of completely innocent Palestinian women and children over the last 60 years. From bin Laden’s point of view, he chose to fight fire with fire, killing Americans because Americans caused so much suffering and death among innocent Muslim women and children.

Today millions of Palestinian women and children continue to suffer, and many die prematurely, due to the injustices of Israel’s government. Our government continues to hypocritically preach sermons about “equal rights” and “democracy” to the rest of the world, while vetoing one U.N. resolution after another that could have required Israel to treat Palestinians like human beings, rather than herding them into giant corrals while their ever-dwindling land is stolen by Israeli “settlers.” If we want a real, just, lasting peace, killing extremists accomplishes little or nothing because such terrible injustices only produce a never-ending supply. The path to peace can only materialize if Israel and the U.S. recognize the human rights of Palestinians before World War III erupts.

Yes, bin Laden was a mass murderer. But because causing innocent women and children to suffer and die is a terrible crime, we need our government to look in the mirror.

Michael R. Burch is a Nashville-based editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry and other “things literary” at www.thehypertexts.com.

Filed under: City Voices

130 Comments on this post:

By: brrrrk on 5/6/11 at 2:02

BenDover said

"Because something's legal doesn't make it right any more than something being illegal makes it wrong, brrrrk."

Ahhhh, I see..... extremism then, is in the eye of the beholder. Thanks for clearing that up.

By: BenDover on 5/6/11 at 2:20

Ya... some more of that blind confirmation bias on display... illustrated for the rest to observe in brrrrrk's post even if you can't see it in yourself. I used to think people were just ignoring things so it would bolster their argument but now I believe they actually don't even see the parts that don't align with their predispositions.

I never said that because something is illegal that it's not wrong, brrrrk. I went on to say that in our country we, at least for now, have the right to disagree with it. I further went on to give an example of a situation that they are approaching in Europe with respect to euthanasia of retarded and elderly people in poor health yet you ignored that question. I further said it's my opinion that the person should be arrested if he breaks the law and tried by jury.

Brrrrk saw 'extremism is situational'. I swear, liberalism is a mental disorder.

By: BenDover on 5/6/11 at 2:57

Have a great weekend everyone.

By: brrrrk on 5/6/11 at 3:07

Hey Ben,

Come back to me on the abortion issue when you're ready to go after the wealthy on the issue. I guess restricting it for those that need it the most and can least likely afford it is enough to sooth your conscience.

By: Mike Burch on 5/6/11 at 4:20

My father was stationed in Wiesbaden in the late sixties. He was in the Air Force. We lived there for four years. I also lived in England for five years. My mother is English and she met and married my father during his first tour of duty in England.

US military bases around the globe and our propensity to use military force at the drop of a hat are not helping our nation's deficits or our standing in the world. Having a strong defense is one thing, but using our military to "secure" Iraqi oil fields is something else entirely. Now Americans are flush with a feeling of "victory" and remain unwilling to understand that 9-11 was the result of the US throwing its weight in the Middle East, helping to cause the Nakba of the Palestinians, shelling Beirut in 1982-1983, engineering coups in Iran in 1958 and Gaza more recently, invading Iraq on false premises, etc.

Yes, we need a strong defense in a very dangerous world. But when we go around creating unnecessary mayhem, we may reap what we sow.

By: yogiman on 5/6/11 at 4:47

We didn't have a latrine where I was at revo-lou. We just went outside.

By: yogiman on 5/6/11 at 5:01


Consider the old saying "like father, like son".

I don't remember when they "gave it up" (yeah, I could look it up), but I do remember the old saying "The sun never sets on England".

Well, considering when our nation was founded, England was our "father". It seems our nation is now following "daddy".

How many military bases do we have around the globe? I believe the last count I read was over 700. Are we the world's protecting parent now?

By: Mike Burch on 5/7/11 at 1:07


I don't think we have to be like daddy, but that is obviously something we can do, if we choose to.

Imperialism and colonialism have been major problems for developing nations. If Great Britain and the United States would choose to respect the human rights of people in the Middle East, we might save trillions of dollars and avoid World War III. But it seems to be difficult for the "chosen few" to respect the rights of other people.

This lack of respect and wisdom led to 9-11 and two unwinnable wars.

Americans seem unable to understand that we should not do to other people what we would never accept them doing to our women and children.

By: Captain Nemo on 5/7/11 at 9:49

Mike for some to understand what lead up to 9/11, would involve an complete change in understand other cultures. I’m not even sure that certain people that would or even could see the world in another light. After all hate is a powerful and easy emotion.

By: BenDover on 5/7/11 at 10:26

What led up to 9/11 was feverent blame-casting for their failed societies by pointing the fingers at Israel and the US. It was because of them deflecting the angst build-up caused by the need for political and social reforms in their own societies onto the ‘Evil Satan’ so that the Sheiks and royal families and totalitarian dictators could live in splendor and decadence while pointing to the decadence in the US as the cause of all the world’s ills.

Interestingly they had about half of the US who buy into the same divisive bullsh*t the uneducated masses of the middle east buy into; such that the rhetoric of a frothing democrat on the stump can hardly be differentiated from the ravings of these crazy terrorists anymore. It’s critical thinking just for the sake of critical thinking with no contribution to society except to tear it down; and if we don’t turn it around soon the Marxists from the Frankfurt school will finally have their biggest desire… to destroy the American society from the inside out.

By: Captain Nemo on 5/7/11 at 1:33

That is the job the Tea Party, Neo-Nazis and Aryan Nations, are doing, Ben.

By: BenDover on 5/7/11 at 2:17

How many Tea party events have you been to, Nemo?
How many times have you listened to Rush Limbaugh?
How often do you watch Fox News?
How much is your opinion of the above affected by other people's opinion of them?

By: yogiman on 5/7/11 at 6:02


I hope I'm wrong, but I think if things don't go right, politically, we will be in WWIII next year. An election is coming up you know. WWII kept FDR in office for (going on) four terms.

Other than "conflicts", what official wars have we been in since WWII?

By: yogiman on 5/7/11 at 6:05

Did you guys see the SEIU running around yesterday without a doubt of who they are?

By: frodo on 5/7/11 at 9:52

I come too late to this party, and I don't have time to read every post, but let me add to the sentiment of some that this article is a filthy piece of trash. There, I said it. One thing about the government's reason for not releasing audio of the captured Bin Laden videos puzzles me. They say they will not release it because they contained the usual message "condemning U.S. policy and denigrating capitalism." If that is the case, then they need to cut the president's audio on every other sentence his teleprompter says.

By: frodo on 5/7/11 at 10:06

Seriously, folks, this "US made women and children suffer" is silly. Say it long enough and someone will believe it, I suppose. Yes, women and children suffer in the Palestinian occupied territories. So do the wife and children of criminals. But whose fault is that? The criminal justice system? Don't get me wrong. I don't want to see these Palestinians suffer...peace be upon them...but these people make their choices to work for the destruction of Israel. I don't care who is trying to kill me. I'm going to defend myself and hope that good and honorable friends support me in that defense. That is all that Israel is doing, and the US is (or at least used to) support their defense.

By: Mike Burch on 5/7/11 at 10:56


I'm an editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry, and obviously not an enemy of the Jewish people. But it is obviously Israeli propaganda that the Palestinians are the "problem." The simple truth is that Israel has been practicing ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians since 1948 and continues to do so to this day. Anywhere else in the world -- Darfur, Rawanda, etc. -- the US would oppose ethnic cleansing. But because Israel has inordinate political influence here, American politicians will not be honest with the American public.

The Palestinians are in the same position as Native Americans who walked the Trail of Tears while white Americans accused them of being "the problem."

Because Americans fail to understand the reality, we keep heading down the path toward World War III. It is ignorance of history that makes us keep repeating the errors of the past. We already have two Holocausts in our past: those of black Africans and Native Americans. Now we have a third: the Nakba of the Palestinians.

Americans have nothing to gain and everything to lose in this case. The only people profiting are a few thousands robber barons who keep stealing land and water from Occupied Palestine. For the sake of those robber barons, we are risking everything.

By: Mike Burch on 5/7/11 at 11:05


I have been reading the biography of the former head of the Mossad, and he seems to think we are already in World War III.

If the danger weren't so real, his book would be comical. He seems to think the war boils down to the free world defeating Hamas. But as long as Israel continues its policy of ethnically cleansing Palestine, there will be a never-ending supply of extremists.

The real danger to the world is the hubris of Israel and the US, which seem incapable of understanding that in a world with 1.8 billion Muslims, it is suicide for Jews to practice ethnic cleansing of Muslims. Unless the US can persuade Israel to treat the Palestinians as human beings, with equal rights, a plague or epidemic in Gaza could ignite the entire Muslim world against the US. Any event that causes a large number of deaths in Gaza could set off a powder keg.

Our government is so blind it can't see the obvious. We have nothing to gain and everything to lose by allowing Palestinians to suffer and die in ever-increasing numbers. But our politicians are addicted to the money and votes of the pro-Israel lobby, so we ignore human rights and fiddle while Rome burns.

By: Mike Burch on 5/7/11 at 11:13


Who do you mean by "they"? The Palestinians have been stripped of equal rights and justice. They live under the thumb of the Israeli military. Their situation is much like that of the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto. Yes, the Nazis had "laws" the Jews were supposed to abide by, or have their teeth broken. But the laws were racist, unjust, and the intention of the laws was to keep the Jews passive until they could be "cleansed" from Germany. But the Nazis were never able to find a place for the Jews to go. Eventually the Jews started to die in large numbers, and they understood the horror of the "final solution." So they rose up against the Nazis.

So the question is this: was it "wrong" for the Jews to fight the Nazis, clearly knowing what the Nazis were doing to them? Of course not. Well then, it is not wrong for Palestinians to resist what is being done to them, because it's the same thing: ethnic cleansing, racism, fascism, and completely innocent women and children being punished collectively for the crime of having been "born wrong."

Most Americans are so clueless they insist that such things are wrong when done to Jews, but acceptable when done to Palestinians.

Those of us who have studied history know that such things being done to Palestinians will in all likelihood lead to another World War. And this time the US will be fighting on the side of the oppressors.

By: yogiman on 5/7/11 at 11:39


As posted before, there is only two reasons for a war: Religion and political power. And I'm afraid the USA is on the downhill side of the road to Rome.

By: BenDover on 5/8/11 at 7:14

Mike... that's just a bunch of contrarian babble used to justify your defense of the under-dog regardless of the real history and any sense of right and wrong. The situation is not an oppressed minority but rather a political machine that has refused any reasonable two-state compromise and is fueled by continuing conflict. It's just like the Sharptons and Jacksons of our society today keeping the race issue on the table because they would become irrelevant without it.

The fact is that Israel is a tiny postage stamp of a country in the middle of the Arab world populated by the descendants of people who were pushed out of their various homelands in the Middle East in the way you claim the Palestinians are being treated now. Israel has agreed to a two state solution but it is the Palestinians who always balk because then they lose their status as oppressed minority.

The whole Arab world tried to take out Israel based on anti-Semitism and hatred yet this little country turned around and whipped all of their @$$s. Since then some of the more reasonable countries that are not Islamic theocracies intent on holy war have made peace with Israel and they are encouraging the Palestinians to do the same.

By: yogiman on 5/8/11 at 10:20


I believe Israel is like that brat child to the bigger boy he kept hitting. When the big boy got tired of it, he just picked the brat up and slammed him to the ground. The bullying was over.

And speaking of the Jacksons and Sharptons, It seems like the racial issue has made an about face in the US. While its OK to have black only groups, try having a white only group. How discriminant can you get?

By: yogiman on 5/8/11 at 2:31

Hey, I made a booboo, BenDover. I believe I reversed my wording. I meant "Israel is like that big boy to the brat that was hitting him". Take so much and them slam him.

By: pswindle on 5/8/11 at 2:39

OBL was just going after Bush with all of his crazy actions. I just hope American can rebuild after Bush. TN is the reason that Bush took offfice. I did not say elected

By: BenDover on 5/8/11 at 3:28

People's ignorance about Bush is astounding.

By: Captain Nemo on 5/8/11 at 4:27

Maybe so Ben, but your ingnorance about Bush is just shameful.

By: BenDover on 5/8/11 at 5:57

Ain't me nemo. I think in others it's willful delusion though. Kinda like the way they see Obama with halos and cupcakes.

By: Loner on 5/8/11 at 6:26

Ben regurgitates the Kosher Kool-Aid: "The whole Arab world tried to take out Israel based on anti-Semitism and hatred yet this little country turned around and whipped all of their @$$s."

With all the billions in US aid squandered on these Jewish theocrats, they should be able to kick the @sses of the destitute, stateless Palestinians... as well as their neighbor's @sses....hey, with their arsenal of nukes, and their hit-squads they could kick our @ss....and most Americans, of Ben's ilk, would probably say that we had it coming.

Ben is a smart fellow, but he has been completely duped by the Jewish supremacists, or maybe he just admires supremacists in general...after all, he is a professing Christian...the ultimate in supremacist ideology.

Perhaps Ben's professed "love" for the Jewish State and the Jewish People is based upon a desire to have every Jew in the USA pack-up and git...to the Jewish dumping grounds state in Palestine. Making the USA "Judenfrei" may be the real goal. Herzl predicted that sort of thing....he was wrong on just about everything, except for that. He knew that the most anti-Semitic nations would be Israel's primary bank-rollers and defenders.

I sense that Dr. Dover's love for the world's Jews is disingenuous, because he has not objected, not one iota, to the killing of tens of thousands of unborn Jewish children every year, in Israeli abortion mills...generous US aid to the abortion-loving, apartheid-loving, Chosen People makes these state-sponsored abortions free or very cheap. US Christians have turned a blind eye to these Israeli abortion mills...why is that?

Ben is not alone, I dare to guess that over 90% of Americans share Ben's passionate attachment to the apartheid Jewish state...oh, they have their "good reasons" for this Israel-first view; their real reasons are more cynical, concealed and self-serving.

I'd like to see Ben Dover and the other American-born Israel-firsters convert to Judaism and make Aliyah to Israel; this would leave only the America-first citizens behind, to re-establish the nation, as the Founders envisioned it....to exercise its own sovereignty, and cease to be a shameless vassal state of Israel.

Holy Wars Suck.

By: yogiman on 5/8/11 at 6:54


You beeter hope America can rebuild after Barry Soetoro, or Barack Obama.... whichever one he is.

By: BenDover on 5/8/11 at 8:33

Loner... the swerve meister... making reason seem unreasonable.