Here’s the walkup to Thomas Friedman’s incisive piece in the New York Times about what Maj. Hasan may have been thinking at Ft. Hood.
Friedman calls it ‘The Narrative.’
Yes, after two decades in which U.S. foreign policy has
been largely dedicated to rescuing Muslims or trying to help free them
from tyranny — in Bosnia, Darfur, Kuwait, Somalia, Lebanon, Kurdistan,
post-earthquake Pakistan, post-tsunami Indonesia, Iraq and Afghanistan
— a narrative that says America is dedicated to keeping Muslims down is
Although most of the Muslims being killed today are being killed by
jihadist suicide bombers in Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Indonesia,
you’d never know it from listening to their world. The dominant
narrative there is that 9/11 was a kind of fraud: America’s unprovoked
onslaught on Islam is the real story, and the Muslims are the real
victims — of U.S. perfidy.
This is critical to understand in full.
Have no doubt: we punched a fist into the Arab/Muslim
world after 9/11, partly to send a message of deterrence, but primarily
to destroy two tyrannical regimes — the Taliban and the Baathists — and
to work with Afghans and Iraqis to build a different kind of politics.
In the process, we did some stupid and bad things. But for every Abu
Ghraib, our soldiers and diplomats perpetrated a million acts of
kindness aimed at giving Arabs and Muslims a better chance to succeed
with modernity and to elect their own leaders.
The Narrative was concocted by jihadists to obscure that.
It’s working. As a Jordanian-born counterterrorism expert, who asked
to remain anonymous, said to me: “This narrative is now omnipresent in
Arab and Muslim communities in the region and in migrant communities
around the world. These communities are bombarded with this narrative
in huge doses and on a daily basis. [It says] the West, and right now
mostly the U.S. and Israel, is single-handedly and completely
responsible for all the grievances of the Arab and the Muslim worlds.
This is an exceptional op-ed. Read the whole piece. Friedman is a
longtime expert on the region with deep roots there and networks of
connections. He has stated the problem well and succinctly.
So, “What to do?” he asks.
And then he makes an excellent suggestion:
In his Cairo speech last June, President Obama
effectively built a connection with the Muslim mainstream. Maybe he
could spark the debate by asking that same audience this question:
“Whenever something like Fort Hood happens you say, ‘This is not
Islam.’ I believe that. But you keep telling us what Islam isn’t. You
need to tell us what it is and show us how its positive interpretations
are being promoted in your schools and mosques. If this is not Islam,
then why is it that a million Muslims will pour into the streets to
protest Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, but not one will take
to the streets to protest Muslim suicide bombers who blow up other
Muslims, real people, created in the image of God? You need to explain
that to us — and to yourselves.”