Rights

By Phil Plait | September 11, 2005 9:42 pm

I’m not sure how the conversation started, actually. But over dinner, Mrs. Bad Astronomer, the Little Astronomer, and I started talking about the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

Now, LA is only 9, so some of the concepts are unclear to her. But she’s also a smart kid (with smart parents, I’ll add) so we were able to talk about things pretty well.

As it happens, she’s supposed to read for half an hour tonight for homework. But she can’t find her book, so Mrs. BA comes up with a solution: read the Constitution! So we fire up the PC, browse to the Bill Of Rights, and let her start to read.

She read each Amendment, and we explained them to her in turn. Why it’s important to have free speech, and the right to assemble. Why the government can’t put troops in your house against your will. Why you can bear arms. Why the government needs to go to extraordinary lengths to snoop around inside your house, your car, your body. And why we have the right not to incriminate ourselves.

And then it occurs to me: it’s September 11. Of all days to spontaneously talk about this! She’s old enough, I think. So we explain it to her. How people can do such terrible things, why they hate us so. And I told her: there are many reasons they hate us, but one of them is because of the Constitution. It says that the government and religion should not get entangled. It gives women the right to vote (and implicitly, to wear what they want, marry whom they choose, and to walk in front of or beside a man, instead of behind him). Because we are free to worship or not worship, to believe or not to believe as we see fit.

For that, they flew planes into buildings.

Of course, I’m oversimplifying. But Little Astronomer is 9. She’ll grow up, and she’ll learn about the subtleties of 9/11. The religious brainwashing, the various failures of the US Government to prevent what happened, the subsequent paranoia that in many ways, too many ways, still grips this country.

But she’ll grow up, and she’ll learn. She has the right to do both, and it’s for those rights– for her — that I swear she’ll get the chance.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Piece of mind

Comments (75)

Links to this Post

  1. Axiom | September 12, 2005
  1. Good on you, mate. If only we could have something similar to that as a standard in junior schools. I have always admired this key point in the States…to be able to worship…OR NOT etc. This seems to have been forgotten by your present government which is constantly calling for you Americans to pray for this and pray for that…
    Secularism obviously doesn’t win votes but tub-thumping fundamentalism does.
    We are beginning to see more of this in the UK and Germany too…a sure sign that we are in danger of returning to a medieval mentality.
    Great blog though!

  2. Nicely put. I feel the same for my daughter.

  3. John van Houten

    I am sorry Phil, I agree with most of the things you write on you blog, but this time I think you are wrong. When 9/11 happened I was shocked, outraged and angered as were millions of people around the world. But it is dangerous to let emotions like anger and outrage influence your analysis of the reasons the US was attacked, or for that matter the response to such an attack.

    Granted, the US Constitution is a great document with which to found a nation. But to say that anyone attacked the US because of those beliefs and the way people live in their own country is hard for me to swallow. Try to apply your scientific deductive reasoning to the argument for a moment and consider this. There are many countries in the world where democratic principals are practiced that have never been attacked by fundamentalist terrorists. Sweden, Switzerland, New Zealand to name but three. From personal experience, in practice, many of these democracies offer greater personal freedoms and individual rights than one finds in the US. Why aren’t these countries being attacked too?

  4. Marlayna

    I have to agree with John there. Plus, it’s wrong to present your opinions to her as if they were facts. It would be more appropriate to start “Many people think they attacked us because…”

  5. CJ

    Exactly John. I’m sitting here in New Zealand feeling a whole lot safer than you Americans right now. And we don’t even have nuclear weapons to protect ourselves! (We barely have an Air Force).

    The US was attacked because it is the largest and most overt face of Western hegemony. I feel sorry that innocent Americans have to bear the brunt of being the biggest and the most powerful. But, if your leaders showed some tolerance and compassion from time to time, it might go over a little easier. Then again, since when did anyone get to be the biggest and most powerful through tolerance and compassion? What a sad world we live in. :(

  6. Wellington

    In some state, I cant recall which, it is still illegal for women to drive a car unless a man walks infront of the car waving a red flag to alert pedestrians and other drivers of the hazard.

  7. Blake Stacey

    This reminds me of something I read in Carl Sagan’s **The Demon-Haunted World**. He describes an idea a teacher friend had for doing what they used to call “social studies” (I think they’ve got a snazzier name for it now, the way gym class became “physical education” and then “human biodynamics”). Since most of his middle-schoolers fell asleep when they read the Constitution, Sagan’s friend decided to throw a Constitutional Convention instead. He divided the class into small groups and assigned each group to a state, briefing them on what each region wants. The Southern delegates were told about the economic necessity of the slave trade, for example, while those representing Massachusetts were told that foreign trade by sea must be protected.

    The students then held a convention and worked out a new Constitution. **After** which, he let them read the original and compare it to their work.

    I don’t have the book in front of me, and for my life I can’t remember the guy’s name. But it does sound like a good idea. It harmonizes with something I read from Bertrand Russell, who wanted primary schools to immunize children against the way governments lie. Have them take a history lesson written by one side, say, and re-write it as newspaper articles from the other.

    Things to think about when the Little Astronomer turns 11 or 12!

  8. Women can marry whom they want, as long as they don’t want to marry another woman, at least in most states, can they? I’m not about to tell you what to tell your kid, but your statement about this is not completely true.

  9. Michelle Rochon

    America got attacked because it represents us all. It represents the ultimate freedom of the world we all strive for. (And I have to say that we french canadian hate americans not because we think George is a bad guy, but because we are jealous of you. Your president is only an excuse that came at a right time for us. Then we wrote in the newspaper, ON THE FRONT PAGE, that you americans had the 9/11 because you are evil. And I’m not joking. “Artisans de leur propre maleur” was the title I believe.)

    Why do I feel insulted when I see muslims (No offense to them of course. I had a good muslim friend at college. A woman, respected by her family who gave her the freedom she deserves in this country.) coming over here with their woman following behind? Wearing a long gown and veil when it’s a humid 90 summer day (We get a couple of those too!!) outside? It’s simple: Because I know our mothers fought for freedom equal to men and those ladies coming here with their minding of slaves. When in Rome, please?

  10. Dear knee-jerk critics,

    Please actually READ the post before you try to push your own agenda or intepretation onto a father’s discussion with his daughter:

    “Of course, I’m oversimplifying. But Little Astronomer is 9. She’ll grow up, and she’ll learn about the subtleties of 9/11.

    [... snip - It's in the post above ...]

    But she’ll grow up, and she’ll learn. She has the right to do both, and it’s for those rights– for her — that I swear she’ll get the chance.”

    If you don’t appreciate that (a) Phil tried to discuss extremely painful history and difficult abstract concepts in terms that a (very bright) 9-year old can comprehend and (b) tried to share this extremely personal episode with the rest of us, just say so.

    Personally, I think a “Good Daddy!” is in order.

  11. jw

    OBL stated his reasons for his terrorist actions clearly: he wants the US to remove American military bases and troops from Islamic countries. We certainly don’t have to give terrorists what they demand, but there’s no reason to replace their demands with invented nonsense like them hating the US constitution.

  12. I wouldn’t have put it quite the way Phil did either. And, as people in other countries never tire of reminding us (and as I think Phil was implying at the end), there’s a lot of hypocrisy in American affirmations of our country’s status as a beacon of freedom, especially these days.

    But the thing they don’t get is that it’s historically been an extremely useful hypocrisy. Whenever things have gotten better in this country, whenever people who were being oppressed got their load lightened a little, the people who urged it on us– the abolitionists, the reformers, the civil rights activists– always went back to those basic ideas and highlighted the hypocrisy. But instead of just concluding that it was all a worthless lie, they asked us if we couldn’t do better at living up to the high-sounding words, and bringing the lie closer to the truth.

    And that’s why I don’t dismiss things like Phil’s speech to his daughter. When she gets older and finds out the difference between the words and the reality, she’s going to want to make it better.

  13. Peptron

    to jw :
    Even if OBL said so, he proved quite often that even if America removes all their troops from Islamic countries, he won’t stop his terrorist actions. He repeatedly commanded attacks to places that had nothing to do with the US, and even commanded attacks against muslims that were not fanatical enough for him. He also repeatedly commanded attacks against people that seek democracy.

    It seems obvious to me that the things OBL request are just there to justify his acts and not to appear completely self-centered. He got many of the things that he wanted in the past, but he never changed his fanatical mindset. If all the US troops leave, he will find another reason.

  14. Peptron

    Michelle Rochon said:
    “America got attacked because it represents us all. It represents the ultimate freedom of the world we all strive for. (And I have to say that we french canadian hate americans not because we think George is a bad guy, but because we are jealous of you. Your president is only an excuse that came at a right time for us. Then we wrote in the newspaper, ON THE FRONT PAGE, that you americans had the 9/11 because you are evil. And I’m not joking. “Artisans de leur propre maleurâ€? was the title I believe.)”

    I must say that I disagree almost completely with you. I agree that America got attacked because it’s the western country that have the biggest symbolic value of all. When you think about the western world, the US is most of the time near the top of the list.
    You also said that “It represents the ultimate freedom of the world we all strive for.”. I think that while it was true in the past (not a very far past in fact), the US is slowly drifting in the mindset they were always known to be fighting against. Freedom in the US is now at an all time low compared to other western countries.
    I cannot disagree more with you when you say that “french canadians hate americans” (I’m a French Canadian too). Most French Canadians (as well as pretty much any non-american westerner) make the difference between an American and the American Government. Also, I think that the root of anti-americanism is not “envy” (I personally don’t know anyone that “envy” Americans). Anti-Americanism (at least in French Canada) comes from the way the American Government often seems to speak “for the world” when they in fact speak “for the US”, and say that so-and-so decision will make the world better, when in fact so-and-so decision will only affect the US and have no impact or a negative impact on the rest of the world.

    When you said “Then we wrote in the newspaper, ON THE FRONT PAGE, that you americans had the 9/11 because you are evil.”, I would like to know what newspaper you are talking about… because that’s essencially hateful propaganda, and there is no legal newspaper I know that would do that.
    I do remember seeing a “Artisans de leur propre malheurâ€? article when talking about the 9/11 though. But it never hinted that the US was evil at all. The article in fact explained why the 9/11 attacks were not a surprise and could have been avoided. The article was talking about how it was a bad choice to give too much trust in Osama Bin Laden and his group, and to give them support. The US (and at that moment Georges W Bush wasn’t president, so it’s not really his fault) didn’t see the danger to arm a person that was obviously a fanatical warmonger that would do anything to further his aims. The article explained that OBL was so unstable that with his new powers, he was just as likely to attack the US than he was to attack his actual “ennemies”. A few years later (Bush was then president), Ben Ladin actually said that he would attack the US, and that he would attack symbols. The Bush administration didn’t believe him. They didn’t believe that somebody they helped so much could turn on them like that. They didn’t seem to understand that OBL was fanatical beyond bounds, and that he really didn’t care much for individuals life.
    The article was basically saying “Play with fire and you get burned. If you see a fanatical warmonger, stay away from him. Don’t even think of giving him temporary help when he happens to have the same ennemies as you do. And if he start talking about attacking you, take him seriously.”

    Similar articles are now about hurricane Katrina, with the same “Play with fire and you get burned” tone. This is mainly about the fact that the walls that were holding the waters needed repairs, and the Bush administration didn’t see those repairs as important, despite the warning that a nearby level 3 hurricane would wipe New Orleans from the map because of that, and also that he waited way too long to send help, which unfortunately only helped increase the death count.

  15. Köpek

    Well said, Peptron.

    If you wonder where the so-called “Anti-Americanism” (I really hate that word when it is used to curb justified criticism) stems, you have to see how the United States portrays itself abroad. In many cases, mostly in the Middle East, US actively supports dictators (especially in Saudi Arabia, which _never_ has had free elections). OBL easily gets support from oppressed people of such countries. Of course his goal, fundamentalism, is even worser. Well, Saudi Arabia is already very, very conservative already, even more than Iran.

    Hypocricy is the word which first becomes to mind when listening American rhetoric.

    “It says that the government and religion should not get entangled.”

    I dearly hopes it remains so. However, I’m rather pessimistic.

  16. Diederick de Vries, you’re absolutely right. I wasn’t thinking along those lines when I wrote it, but you’re right.

    And as someone else pointed out above, I did say I was oversimplifying the reasons. The Consititution is one reason, but the main one is fanatical religion, which is another reason I fight such dogmatic thinking.

  17. Corey

    The other factor behind all of the anti-Americanism amongst the radical muslims like OBL is purely tactical. They are basically powerless in the present day, despite the oil wealth in their lands. Yet in the past, the great Caliphs ruled huge empires and were respected and feared around the world. The Caliphate was the pinnacle of learning; they studied astronomy and chemistry and created huge libraries. Now they are nothing. To become a great power again, to ressurect the fallen caliphate, will require the disruption of the current system. The english-speaking western world is the glue that binds together the current world order. The military bases, the democratic traditions, the equality of women, all these things are used to justify their attacks, but they are not the reasons for them. The reason they wish to destroy western hegemony is to replace it with a new middle-eastern hegemony. Religion, culture, etc. are handy tools to promote the agenda, nothing more.

  18. Marlayna

    … as is the case with all wars, ultimately.

  19. TriangleMan

    Why Osama orchestrated what he did has got to be pretty complex. Unfortuantely many people in the Western World create simplified reasons, possibly as a means of comfort. The ‘jealousy’ reason just doesn’t make sense to me, Osama’s family are extremely rich and connected and apparantly many of them live 5-star lifestyles in the US and Europe. It is hard for me to imagine that Osama was ‘jealous’ of the US when he had the means to live in an Upper West-side penthouse and live better than any of us could.

    Perhaps when I have more time I’ll look into what Osama has said, there might be some insight into his reasons once you get through all of the religious rhetoric. Unfortunately I’m concerned that doing so might make me a ‘suspicious person’.

    Anyway, I think what you did was quite commendable Phil. Discussing complicated political issues with children is something that I think everyone needs to do more of. Many young people these days just seem to be apathetic or ignorant about political issues and that saddens me.

  20. breeze

    Phil,

    I don’t have kids, but from having nieces and nephews, I know it’s not easy to talk about difficult things to young children. I commend you.

    On another note, I’d like to thank you for the song that I can’t get out of my head now. In the 70′s on Sat. mornings in the middle of cartoons, we watched Schoolhouse Rock. All I can think now,
    We, the people, in order (sing it with me!) to form a more perfect…..

    Okay, I feel better now.

  21. Good on you. Now if only Mr. Bush would read it…

  22. James

    I remember a BBC report which featured a montage of newly free Iraqi civilians, mugging furiously for the camera and declaiming how happy they were that democracy had come to Iraq…

    Then the reporter asked what they thought democracy was.

    They were all dumbfounded. None of them knew what democracy was, except that the invasion (which toppled the hated Saddam) was bringing ‘democracy and freedom’.

    For many people in the world, democracy means the CIA agents who supported any crazed warlord so long as he opposed communism, still do support military dictatorships to prevent them becoming Islamic republics.

    I could go on at length about the crazy patchwork of hatreds in the middle east that we Brits (and French)abandoned in the 40′s and that America waded into in the 60′s, but I won’t.

    Because I agree with Phil.

    Ha! Didn’t see THAT coming, didya?

    I agree because to kill a busload of people up close and personal takes fanatical certainty, religious certainty, and no one that religious belives in freedom, because GOD’S WILL IS SUPREME!!!!!!!

    These are the people who hate America and it’s freedom, the ones that come to you. Sure the Insurgents hate you for being in Iraq, and the Palestinian people hate you for your support of the Israeli military occupation of their homeland, but these guys are content to kill ground-pounders.

    you’ve got it just right Phil.

  23. Wikipedian

    Going back to the original post, my personal view on education is that it should be coherent, which pretty much precludes teachings of any alternative theories as equal to the established ones. If there’s no clear winner theory in a particular field, then just state it clearly, but do not teach both as true at the same time – what ID and creationists are pushing for. Schooling in my opinion should be very affirmative, so that students can go up to have firm beliefs (in whatever they might believe, which is upto the school and their parents). I find firm beliefs of primary importance for someone’s being a resourceful individual, while people of no firm beliefs usually end up (well, blame my overgeneralization but I find it true) not knowing what to do with their lives in one way or another. Of course, the Constitution does not prohibit individuals not knowing what to do with their lives, but that’s another story.

    The best thing is if the education system establishes firm RATIONAL beliefs, rather than irrational such as religious, deities and other fairy tales, but again it’s no prohibited either. But the government (not just of the US, but any country), as a higher power should side with things that contribute to the success and well-being of the people of the country – all the medical care, transportation, housing and so on, which is only achievable through applications of modern science. In the end, the most valuable entity in a country is its residents, and from purely economical point of view, even (hypothetically) if the government is not interested at all at the well being of its residents, it must very well care about income from taxes, so that weapons and international influence can be gained, which is only possible through educated and well organized workforce. But we all know that governments care about their people, right :)

  24. Another Phobos

    CJ -
    >But, if your leaders showed some tolerance and compassion from time to
    >time, it might go over a little easier.

    I agree that we (the U.S.) could use some better leaders, but let’s not forget that the US spends billions of dollars every year on foreign aid (and that’s just the government spending…then there’s commercial & private donations).

  25. Technopause

    John van Houten Says, “But to say that anyone attacked the US because of those beliefs and the way people live in their own country is hard for me to swallow.”

    And that is a big problem- the fact that many in the West cannot get a feel for the depths of fanaticism that exists within Islam. The best bead you can get on the subject is to read the writings of those who were raised under Islam, but managed to free themselves from the mind cancer that it is. There are groups in the West who support a secularized version of Islam who write extensively on how the violence and mass murder is wound deeply within the core of the religion. This is not me saying this. This is people who spent decades of their life within the faith.

    You can see in this thread all the attempts to rationalize the hatred. America did X. America didn’t do Y. Oh, America isn’t compassionate enough. There is no grasp at all of the rabid fanaticism that drives the twits of Allah.

    Baloney. Israel could never have been created, and America could still be isolationist, and we’d still eventually have a conflict with the expansionist ideologies of the theofascist thuggery of Islam. For Cliff’s sake, pick up a history book, people. It’s happened before, but in a time when a single man couldn’t hold a waepon that could destroy a city.

    This is a battle for Cilvilization, people. This is a fight against an ideology that destroys and riots and threatens mass murder when even rumors surface of someone defacing their precious book of fairy tales. These are people that cannot even handle the abstract thought of an infidel troding upon “Islamic” soil, and want all non-believers to get outta Dodgelamabad, but it’s prefectly OK for them to move to Europe or elsewhere and demand that their beliefs be imposed on others.

    Wake up. Clean the politically correct garbage out of your heads. Stop apologizing for madness. Realize that, sadly, rationality simply does not exist in some places, be they countries or minds.

  26. Bernard

    “In some state, I cant recall which, it is still illegal for women to drive a car unless a man walks infront of the car waving a red flag to alert pedestrians and other drivers of the hazard.”

    Looks like something my mom could have used. She’s the only person I know who managed to put her car on its top – in her own driveway. And a few years later she got my dad a broken ankle – except he was not in the car with her. He was in the kitchen! ;-)

  27. Irishman

    Reactionary Imams like Osama Bin Laden are playing on the anti-American sentiments of the populace. They follow the teachings of the Wahabi philosophy. I think it is fair to criticise the U.S. government for our many failures and hypocricies. That doesn’t mean the Islamic extremists are justified in their actions, it just means that those of us who care about right and wrong (like not torturing people) need to hold our own government accountable for performing or surruptitiously condoning those acts. People seem to think it’s one or the other – either you criticize the government and accept the terrorist actions as justified or reject the terrorists and support anything the government does. That’s a false dichotomy. It is ligitimate to point out why foreign countries don’t think highly of the US and Western culture, especially when the aspects emphasized are things we in this culture don’t approve.

    I remember being told when growing up that Saudi Arabia was a “moderate” Islamic country. By what standard? By the standard that the government isn’t calling for the anhilation of the infidels, and cooperates with the US? Because socially they are very conservative.

    Phil, good attempt to address the issue with your young-un. Perhaps it’s a bit misrepresentative and certainly over-simplified, but she is only 7. You are right, she can learn.

  28. yep, you are oversimplfying things, she is nine anyway. But continuing the spirit of oversimplification we may start listing variables that led to the events of 9/11, like:
    - there is a big difference between western principles and islamic principles. Read the five principles that support islam and you’ll know what I’m talking about. The BA argument goes along this line of thinking.
    - historical reasons, the islamic states want to recover the grandeur of old times when they controlled a vast empire from India to the iberian peninsula. It is written in the Quran. Their ultimate goal is to expand their territory. Do you know what Al’Qaeda means? it means “the base” of the organization for ” the World Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders”. Nope, nothing about US in their mission.
    - economic reasons, western civilization, especially US way of life is pretty dependant of oil, which, perhaps thanks to their prayers, is abundant in islamic countries. They know this and are using it as a powerful weapon even though now this oil is controlled by western friendly goverments.
    - the US is a symbol of western power, they know this. It is not a war against the US, is a war against western principles, read the Quran and verify what I say. It can be a war of terror, it can be a war of trade. But it is and will be a war for years to come. And those people living in not attacked countries and will tell them not to feel that safe. If western economic power falls, we all fall. But we need to continue defending principles like the one you find in the US constitution and the Bill of Rights. Those are universal and are the ultimate legacy of westeners to mankind. And I firmly believe they are good because they promote human rights, and science, progress and tolerance.

  29. Scho scho scho

    I thought she was nine…

  30. HvP

    9/11 happened not because Osama wanted it to happen but because several men felt that becoming heroes for their leader was more important than being civil, rational, merciful or ethical.

    The simple fact is that nothing of the kind would have happened if there were not people who are willing to commit such acts. And the reason that there were people willing to do such a thing is because some philosophies command ultimate obedience in every detail up to how you are going to die and who you are ordered to kill.

    Some philosophies require people to give up their ability to control their own life, and their own destiny. Furthermore the only things such a belief can offer people who relinquish control over their own life – is to give them the ability to control the lives of others. Or indeed, to extinguish those lives.

    Unfortunately, America has seen a recent surge in the belief that people should relinquish control of their own life for the ability to control the lives of others. A society which drifts from the foundations of civility, rationality, mercy and ethics is one which hangs in the balance. In my own very humble opinion.

    Perhaps, I say this with some bitterness. I have grown up all my life with the belief that my country is pledged to safeguard my liberties. Only to become an adult and find those liberties are the subject of possible revocation by an amendment to the very constitution which is supposed to liberate me. Our system is not perfect, but maligned as I may be, I still have courage in the fact that avenues of protest are available to me that simply do not exist in most other countries the world over.

    I’ve rambled too long already and gone off track. Suffice to say that the willingness to unquestioningly follow authority is the real enemy.

  31. sophia8

    Phil, I think you’ve fumbled the ball on this one. The 9/11 bombers were attacking freedom and democracy? Uh, take a look at their targets – the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and (possibly) the White House. You’d have to be pretty far out on the right wing to regard those as world-wide symbols of freedom and democracy.
    Now, let me advance another thought – one that you may well regard as heretical. What’s the difference between you helpingyour daughter study the American Constitution, and other parents helping their children study the Bible, the Quran, the Book of Mormon etc?
    “But – those other texts are religious!” will be your immediate reaction. Maybe, but on my side of the Atlantic, there doesn’t seem much difference between American reverence for the Constitution and the flag and religious peoples’ reverence for their particular Holy Texts and symbols.
    These Holy Texts – the Bible and all the rest of them – were originally rules for living in society; they were shaped by particular cultures and enviroments, but at heart they are no different in intent from the Consitution – or, for that matter the UN Charter of Human Rights.
    So, Phil, next time you sit down with your kid, explain the historical context that shaped the US Constitution. That done, tell her about the other ‘Constitutions’ that people and cultures have developed all through history – starting with the Laws of Hammurabi and the ancient Jewish rules, taking a look at the various codes of pre-Christian and Romanised Europe, the Native American legal codes, the various Enlightenment-Era legal codes and so on.
    Having done that, get on to the afrementioned UN Charter, then do a compare-and-contrast exercise with semi-jokey modern stuff like Niven’s Laws and Sheldon Kopp’s Eschatological Laundry list.
    Yes, it’s a heck of a big task. But have a go at it, and you might just produce an adult who is genuinely free-thinking, rather than just a good American.

  32. According to some interviews I heard, and the video made by one of the 7/7 London bombers, the reason for the attacks was Israel’s occupation. (Or even the existance of Israel). The US is seen as supporting Israel and therefore is a legitimate target. The UK is the poodle of the Great Satan and therefore is a legitimate target. The British people elected the current government and not a pro-islamic anti-Iraq-war, anti-Israel party, so British people are legitimate targets for holy Jihad.

    So those who carried out the atrocities on both side of the Pond have been brain-washed into believing. These Imans never go on missions themselves if you had noticed

    The proprietor of our local chippy is a devout muslim, and he was horrified at what was done in the name of Islam.

    In terms of the religion it self, I am not sure the “Christian” west can talk, what with the crusades, and the protestant versus catholic conflicts, especially in Northern Island.

    I just hope the Israeli pull out goes someway to removing any justification these preachers of hate have.

    BTW Phil, did you ever locate your daughter’s proper reading book?

  33. Berkeley

    On a slightly side matter: Ironically, GW Bush was elected (2000) saying he would now turn the focus on USA, and not pay so much concern on the rest of the world.

    Btw; why do USAians still want to carry guns around at all times? I thought the cowboy days were over, and there would be no need to have that as a right…

  34. 51 Cent

    Berkeley said, “why do USAians still want to carry guns around at all times?”

    Why do people insist that there is such a thing as a “USAian” and refuse to recognize us as one of the most diverse nations ever to exist?

    Berkeley said, “I thought the cowboy days were over, and there would be no need to have that as a right”

    I don’t generally like to flame, but are you six years old or something? Because that’s about the level of that comment. It’s ignorant more levels I care to list.

  35. Flex

    As someone else mentioned above, the choice of the targets is a real clue for the reasons for the attack.

    When I was serving in the USAF in Turkey in 1986 and 1987, it was revealing to me that the symbols of western capitalism and imperialism were specifically the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The White House was not seen as the symbol of either. Americans never seemed to feel that was about the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, but it was a common perception in Muslim countries.

    The hatred, at that time, was focused on the effect that capitalism, supported by western military might, was having on their traditional culture. These changes were frightening people. I don’t think that jealousy was as an important an emotion as fear. Fear of a loss of status, fear of a loss of their important symbols, and fear of the loss (or reduction) of their religious beliefs.

    Fear does several things to our psyche. As Frank Herbet has written, fear is the mind-killer. It limits our thinking capacity and prevents us from seeing other options.

    Fear leads us to conservativism. We remember when we had no fear and desire to recreate it. These times may never have existed, they may be fantasies. Religion reduces fear for we can give our trust in the final salvation to something outside of ourselves. As we trusted our fathers for salvation when we were three, we can trust in God for our salvation as adults.

    These aspects of our psyche are true for Islamic extreamists as well as for the born again Christians. In the Islamic extreamist view, western capitalism, supported by western militaries, is frightening. Western capitalism exists, and is tremendously succesful, without any referance to Islam. Western capitalism allows any behavior which could make a profit, including behaviors which are forbidden by their religion. The connection between western capitalism and judaism is also strongly promoted, true or not, that belief is still pervasive. As well as the idea that the western military exists to protect Isreal.

    With this in mind, the choice of targets makes sense. The World Trade Center, already the target of a previous attack because of it’s symbolism of western capitalism, and the Pentagon, the symbol of western military might.

    Finally, while I can to some degree understand their motivation and the symbolism of their attacks, I condemn without reservation the attacks themselves. The lesson that terrorists have not learned is that terrorist actions do not cause the change they want. The unibomber didn’t stop any research, the collapse of the World Trade Center didn’t cause people to restrict capitalism, the Tokyo gas attacks didn’t stop persecution of the cult. Terrorism as a threat is not effective.

    I’m reminded of the most powerful section of Dashiell Hammet’s _The_Maltese_Falcon_, it didn’t make to the movie. Spade is hired to track down a missing husband many years ago, failed, but ran into him years later. The husband left because a falling girder just missed him while he walked to work one day. The husband realized how fragile and precious life was, so he decided to experiance life more fully, knowing that his life may end at any moment by random chance. Then, after some time he dropped back into the same life he had before. With a different wife, job, etc., but really the same type of life. Once the girders stopped falling.

    Well, I’ve rambled a bit, cheers,

    -Flex

  36. James

    Actually I believe America is the ‘lesser Satan’, the Great Satan was the USSR, which had an athiest repressive religious policy.

    And what is-and-is-not a ligitimate target for these people is not a matter where logic plays any part. Remember Bali? The rational for that was that the Aussi’s sent troops to Indonesia. Those ‘troops’ were HM Ausralian Medical Corps.

    I’m of the opinion that London would have been bombed even if we were not in Iraq, but Iraq was the reason for the bombing. It certainly was the recorded motivation of the bombers themselves.

    It is really facinating to read the actual text of bomber claims, rather than the gist you get on the news. These people think that they are under attack, and that they are simply bringing the war to us.

    The Islamic states are not much more repressive than 1950′s Ireland (that is still somewhat repressive but it gives you a context) and the vast majority of the populace are uneducated, live in near poverty, and in a state of semi-warfare. I can’t think of a better place to recruit fanatics personaly.

  37. James

    Yep, I agree with flex about everything there, I was talking about post 9/11 attacks. (If we were not in Iraq, London would have been attacked for the financial district, almost certainly)

  38. Kevin

    “For that, they flew planes into buildings.”

    er no…a) one of the clearly stated reasons by these people was…revenge for the US Invasion of Lebanon in support of Christian militas under Ronald Raygun. We had an old battleship (missouri class) with old gunpowder and shot these hugh 8″ (or 12″) shells 10-12 miles inland where they mostly blew up sheep, hovels and dirt-poor farmers..in…you guessed it muslim areas.

    (then we started attacking with snipers, they attacked with a car bomb, Reagan cut and ran and later invaded Grenada to get that defeat taste out of his mouth)

    b) revenge for supporting Israel with weapons and cash as it accupies and kills its neighbors.

    c) to demonstrate an powerfull capabitlity to strike out at supporters of corrupt Saudi and Egyptian regimes.

    d) to lure the USA into direct conflict with an Islamic state as a means to promote a radical islamic agenda.

    They did’t attack “Freedom” or “Our way of life”. They attacked us because of policies and because we love to stick our nose into other peoples business. I think they were defending their own way of life.

    That said, I wish we had a better president so we would have had our revenge and captured and executed Osama and finished the job in Afganistan and never got into this stupid war in Iraq.

  39. Kevin

    Oh love your site by the way…I a very bad astronomer…but I just got a neato 8″ Meade S-C GPS/power drive that I’ve just dying to have some clear weather to check out….

  40. 51 Cent

    Kevin, I agree that a full invasion of Iraq was an error, but how would a different president have led to the capture of OBL? Please explain.

    And your whole post reeks of someone who reads too many manifestos. Come up for air one of these days. You are well mired in “useful idiot” mode. For those of you scoring at home, that was a Lenin quote.

    Lenin, not Lennon.

    And things like “Ronald Raygun” (or “Dubya” or “Bubba” [for Clinton]) are childish piffle, and diminish your overall argument. To the intelligent, they are basically signposts that translate to “It is safe to ignore this.”

  41. Chet

    Kevin, 9:03 version, and the others who have expressed similarly have got it right!
    The only international justifiable war that we fought in was WWII!
    As I was driving in to work, NPR had a short segment describing how Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and the Joint Chiefs of Staff have position papers stating that they will use tactical nuclear weapons as they see fit as a pre-emptive measure against “aggressors”.
    So, what kind of international response is that going to get? Another international arms race to protect themselves against an aggressor, terrorist super power nation?
    Why can’t our government promote solar system manned exploration and colonization and unification of nations instead of perpetual war for perpetual peace.
    Two great books to read “Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace” by Robert A. Divine and “Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace” by Gore Vidal. Gore Vidal is highly recommened.

  42. Chet

    Addedum:
    An international opinion poll had the USA as Favorable 55% and Unfavorable 35%, fifth. In Fourth was Russia with a Favorable 60% and Unfavorable 18%. Turkey was 6th, Pakistan 7th. Britain was #1 followed by Germany, then France…
    This chart was in the New York Times magazine Sept 11th in an article about the United Nations.

  43. Irishman

    Yes, nine, not seven.

    I went back and reread what the BA said. He was emphasizing the separation of church and state elements of the Constitution. This allows religious freedom, the freedom to worship as you see fit, or not worship if you prefer. This is an element of Western society that the Islamic fundamentalists don’t approve. They desire an Islamic state, where the code of their particular interpretation of their religious restrictions are law.

    In that they are not so different from our own stripe of religious fundamentalist. I’m speaking of the Pat Robertsons and Jerry Falwells. These two clowns (I still can’t see how anyone can take either one of them seriously, yet many apparently do) have said things every bit as inflammatory, hate-filled, and violence inspiring as Bin Laden. The only difference is they don’t actively campaign for people to perform violence – well, except for Robertson’s call for the assassination of the President of Venezuela. This would be funny, except for the very real political power being gathered into the radical christian extremists seeking to “return the US to Jesus” and institute their religious beliefs into law.

    Flex, Kevin, you’re both on the right track.

    sophia8 said:
    > What’s the difference between you helpingyour daughter study the American Constitution, and other parents helping their children study the Bible, the Quran, the Book of Mormon etc?
    > “But – those other texts are religious!â€? will be your immediate reaction. Maybe, but on my side of the Atlantic, there doesn’t seem much difference between American reverence for the Constitution and the flag and religious peoples’ reverence for their particular Holy Texts and symbols.
    > These Holy Texts – the Bible and all the rest of them – were originally rules for living in society; they were shaped by particular cultures and enviroments, but at heart they are no different in intent from the Consitution – or, for that matter the UN Charter of Human Rights.

    Except for the fact we don’t think the Constitution was “the divinely inspired word of God”. We recognize that it was crafted by humans and is not perfect and subject to change when required. At least many of us do.

  44. Sgt. 1st Class Coyle

    As one who fought in Gulf War One and spent most of my time in the Marines stationed in Saudi Arabia, my thoughts on the Middle East and radical Islam (since I’ve seen it up close) is rather extreme in their own rights. We’re hated because we are so successful, we’re hated because we’re free, we’re hated because we can live any life we choose. It goes against every principal that the Koran decrees. Women are inferior in Islam’s eyes, and since women in the West can be whomever they want, they hate us.

    Bravo on being a “Good Daddy” and I give a big “F.U.” to those who always go around thinking America is such a bad nation. Honestly, is anyone perfect?

  45. M Duke

    It just is so strange to think that Christianity and Islam, which I do believe both advocate peace and reason as a means of convincing, are what some people use to go to war or cause violence. Extremist is often something un-bad being streched to fit the bad. At least that is what I see.
    Also, an interesting note: I’ve actually found it easy to compare Christianity to democracy, at least in it’s orginization. God is the legilator, the Elders are the Judicial branch (they check and see if a congregation is on track with the Bible), and everyone else is the executive, as they apply the rules and spread the gospel. You can even “vote” for elders (or deacons) so long as they meet the criteria in the Bible. Just some fun thoughts.

  46. Scho scho scho

    I don’t understand what’s wrong with calling them USAians?

  47. aiabx

    Interesting comparison, M Duke. So what you’re saying is that if I don’t like God’s law, He can be voted out and we can elect a better god? I’ll take one who hasn’t tried to fool us with all those wacky fossils, and maybe has a few less abominations on his agenda. Or maybe one whose Designs are a bit more Intelligent.

    RAmen.
    -Andy B

  48. First of all, let me re-emphasize that you and Mrs. A are great parents. Being such an active participant in her schooling helps make her such the bright child you portray her as. It’s also wonderful that you tackled the Constitution and the Bill of Rights head on; this document needs to be understood by more Americans.

    As a number of people have pointed out, however, the notion that the terrorists attacked the US specifically because of the constitution is oversimplified, bordering on naïve. Perhaps that’s an easy explanation that you thought was appropriate for a nine-year-old, but ultimately it’s nothing more than shallow propaganda distributed by the US government to its citizens. Do you honestly think the terrorists read the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, decided they disagreed with it, then decided the best way to let Americans know would be to blow up some buildings?

    A number of people above have commented on why they believe the terrorists attacked; I believe that although some valid points have been made, the truth is still out there (so to speak). However, just the sheer number of opinions shows that the situation is not really understood. History will have to sort this out: we will then have the “official� version, for what it’s worth.

    As a good scientist, you know the right thing to do is collect all the evidence, make a hypothesis, and then test your hypothesis. If you encounter a contradiction, rework the hypothesis. I think you need to test some of your statements about the terrorists against the facts, which means spending some time in the lab (or, as my buddies in chemistry say, “there’s nothing like an hour in the library to do three days work in the lab�). The point is that you should definitely collect some more data.

    Again, your nine-year-old daughter may not be ready for the challenge of sorting all this out; many adults aren’t up to the task, but it might be better for her to hear that there are a few more sides and give her a chance to weigh the alternatives.

  49. Chet

    Irishman stated: “Except for the fact we don’t think the Constitution was “the divinely inspired word of Godâ€?. We recognize that it was crafted by humans and is not perfect and subject to change when required. At least many of us do.”
    Not quite true, Irishman.
    I had put a “Pledge to the US Constitution” on my office ‘s exit door with the applicable amendments and statutes and the Preamble “We the People do hereby ordain and establish.. Not God.”
    One of the national guardsmen I work for read this and complained to the commander (not to me) that he was offended by the “Not God”. Therefore, I was asked to remove it from my exit door.
    Yah, so some citizens go get upset when you tell them that the US Constitution is a secular document of, by, and for the people and not of “God”. They believe everything is inspired by some “God”.
    And, it could start getting dangerous for nonchristians when the economy starts to fail, natural disasters increase their impact just like Hurricane Katrina (ABC’s “Good Morning America”, Sep 4th, co-host Bill Weir even stated “there are no atheists in hurricane zones or foxholes”), and society appears to be going into anarchy–atheists, agnostics, prostitutes, gays, abortionists, woman liberationists, etc., will get “demonized” just like they all did after 9/11/01 with Robertson and Falwell announcing that “God removed his protection of the USA” because of “them”.

  50. Chet

    It is so unfortunate that Sgt. 1st Class Coyle does not quite understand that the military he represents attacked a defensless Iraq with overwhelming forces and that the Iraqi people had absolutely no defense against them.
    How many tens of thousands of Iraqi men, women and children did our military murder with bombs, cruise missiles, snipers, depleted uranium munitions, etc? How many hired private mercenary gangs are killing and torturing Iraqi citizens?
    They “hate” us because we are occupying their country militarily, we are “reconstructing” with NGOs and USA approved contractors reaping billions of dollars in profit that is not going to Iraqi contractors, teachers, professionals, etc. Because we are building permanent military bases in Iraq. Because we destroyed their infrastructure in the first Gulf War and have not repaired and reconstructed what our air forces had destroyed with bombs.
    And how would you feel, Sgt. 1st Class Coyle, if a foreign military occupier of your town or city did the same to you and your town/city? How about the UAVs with hellfire missiles patroling overhead assassinating people?
    And they know we are there to secure their oil for the USA.
    I am a retired military disabled veteran with overseas assignments and am well aware of why they “hate” us and will continue to do so unless the USA and its military become humanitarians rather than “destroyers”.

  51. P. Edward Murray

    Chet,

    Our nation was built on a framework specifically constructed to allow each individual to worship God in any way he or she sees fit ….or not to at all. Part of this was a knee-jerk reaction to King George being the head of the church of England and that is called seperation of church & state.

    We do live in a nation that is Christian though but that does not mean that all Christians are of the “Fundamentalist” varieity. For you only have to look at some of these
    “Fundamentalist” leaders like Pat Robertson & Jerry (Barney the Purple Dinosaur is Gay & so are other puppets) Falwell or Congressman Tom DeLay to realize that they are not living a “Christian” life.

    Having said that, I do not think that posting “Not Christian” is a very smart thing to do. Why be “outwardly” different?

    Just do your job to the best of your ability and I think you will find that no one is going to force you to “believe”.

  52. Trimmer

    Chet, you are disassociated from reality. Seek help.

    Paul said, “However, just the sheer number of opinions shows that the situation is not really understood.”

    Is there anyoneleft who can see this stuff for what it is?

    Paul, the number of opinions is the result of ideology. It’s the result of people who cannot think outside of a little tiny box that they have constructed for their minds. People like Chet. His last post is a textbook indicator of the rabid ideologue. There’s dozens of accusations blasted out in a shotgun approach. They do this because they know no one will ever bother to sit down and refute every point, so in their minds, in their little boxes, they “win” the argument by default.

    And if you are going to preach about scientific method, don’t start your post with a strawman argument. Just a suggestion.

  53. P. Edward Murray

    Phil,

    As far as I can see, you are doing the right thing.
    My hat’s off to you for even trying to raise a child these days. Although I am not a father I do have a wonderful nephew & niece.

    I think what is really important is to teach young people the ability to think clearly,rationally & logically because I truly believe many of the social arguements that we are having are due to the simple fact that many of us ignore simple logic.

  54. Sgt. 1st Class Coyle

    Chet, how many millions did Saddam Hussein rape, mutilate, and INTENTIONALLY murder? You really need to seek help. My cousin is over there right now with the 4th Marines and he is disgusted at the coverage the media gives to only the bad. He’s helped to construct schools, infrastructure, hospitals and everything else. I am ashamed that you are a disabled Veteran and hate your country so much. I am of the mindset if you don’t like it…LEAVE IT! We’re not keeping you, unlike the poor Iraqi’s who were tortured under a psychotic dictator’s thumb for near 30 years. Yes, there are other maniacal bastards all over the world, and they will be dealt with one at a time. Besides, we’ve had a right to whack Iraq for 14 years. Don’t belive me? Well, explain to me Einstien why Saddam continued to violate the peace treaty he signed after the first gulf war by having his anti-aircraft batteries fire on our aircraft day after day…thus each incident can be considered an act of war. Fact.

  55. Nobby

    In responce to the original posting, nice one BA. Best thing to do for a child is to give them a place where their mind can grow.
    About the rest, there are sections in the Koran that state that one should not kill women, children or the peoples of the book, which refers to Jews and Christians. It also states that if you kill one that did not deserve it (such as, in the eyes of Islamic law, a murderer) then it is a crime as great as if you had killed all humanity.
    Personally I think that philosophy reached it’s peak with the profound statement by which I attempt to live my life. From Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure: “Be excellent to each other.”

  56. Nigel Depledge

    Well, I go on holiday for a few days and you’ve all been having fun ranting without me!

    OK, BA, good post. And I agree with you in principle.

    There’s obviously been a lot of strong reactions for and against, but I don’t have time today to read all of them.

    Overall, my understanding of 9/11 (and, more recently, of 7/7, as they are starting to call the attacks in London) is that it was as much to do with western imperialist interference in the Middle East as anything else. Go back 100 years – the Ottoman Empire was top dog in that region. During the First World War, Britain supported the arabs in fighting the Turks, but only because it suited us. In effect, we used them for our own ends. After WWII, the state of Israel was created. Within 10 years, Israel was fighting one war after another, and neither Britain nor the US did anything to intervene (except to carry on selling tanks, guns and munitions). After the Shah of Iran was replaced by Ayatollah Khomeni (sp?), when the Iran-Iraq war started, both the US and Britain supported Iraq, despite the atrocities committed. But when Saddam turned around and invaded Kuwait (a rich, oil-producing country friendly to the US), we suddenly took a greater interest.

    It would be extrememly hypocritical for us to be surprised about the attacks.

    HvP – according to the latest research, there is nothing distinctive about a muslim suicide bomber. It is just a question of conditioning. Look at the conflict in Vietnam : US pilots were quite relaxed about dropping huge quantities of high explosive on rural communities, because they believed they were fighting for democracy.

    One last thought, which is something that Bill Bryson once wrote about the US’s attitude to the rest of the world. Any visitor to the US can watch their own country disappear – just by picking up a newspaper.

  57. Sgt. 1st Class Coyle

    What country in the world doesn’t do things for their own best interests? Ha, Western Imperialist Influence…as if living free in a capitalistic society is somehow bad? See, if this were a theocratic, hard line muslim state, websites like this WOULDN’T exist. I for one would gladly drop more bombs on someone that wants to take away that type of freedom to say what I want and do what I want. As I say, you don’t like it, go move to Iran and see how it is there. Take it from someone who actually has been to the Middle East, it is a cesspool.

  58. HvP

    Nigel,

    A U.S. bomber pilot and an Islamic suicide bomber do have at least one thing in common. They have both decided to take life based on the responsibility of someone else’s orders rather than on the deliberation of their own conscience.

    If there is one thing that would prevent me from ever joining the military it is the fact that I choose to always bear sole responsibility for any decision which might force me to take a human life. Never – NEVER – would I let another person make that decision for me.

    And that is the comparison I make. Indeed, many people on both sides do seem quite comfortable letting their commanders choose who they should kill. It’s all the same after all – they are all the enemy, right? Apparently in their minds simply holding an ideology that seems threatening is sufficient reason for condemning a person to death – never mind if those individuals haven’t actually committed any crime or anything.

  59. Chet

    WE SHOULD NOT BE PERSONALLY ATTACKING INDIVIDUALS when you don’t “KNOW” the person from just a few comments posted on different issues raised ON THIS BLOG!
    Therefore, I will not respond to some of the stupidity and moronic remarks attacking me personally for being whom I am. I am quite proud to be a USA citizen, a retired disabled veteran, an Atheist, and a self-motivated, critical thinking and self-educated realist.
    If you want to get “personal” then email me at ctgalactic@yahoo.com. I may not reply if your emails are moronic, vitrolic, unethical, unintelligent, stupid, or just spouting off propaganda.
    “Patriotic” means “one who loves and loyally or zealously supports one’s own country”. I do love our wonderful country but I do not support everything that it has done or may do, therefore, I can not ethically nor morally be a USA Patriot.
    Iraqi’s never attacked the continental USA, it was never a direct threat to the USA, did not have a military any way capable of attacking the USA much less defending itself against a SuperPower USA military. It was and still is defenseless against us. So, what do you call SuperPower Military Forces that attack a defenseless country?

  60. Kevin

    Sgt. 1st Class Coyle Says:
    “What country in the world doesn’t do things for their own best interests? ”

    Well yeah…and it would have been great if this administration had some other interests than the right-wing and the OIL Interests /Halliburtons of this insular leadership. The conception, execution and foundation of the American invasion of IRAQ was flawed and has failed. Many posts point to neo-con desires to destabilize the middle east and bring down all the Islamic regimes.

    Geez well in a perfect world everyone would be “free” and have everything they want. We started this on the cheap and on borrowed money and have nothing good to show for all those dead boys and girls and all that wasted cash sucked up by the war machine. Saddam would have been killed or died sooner our later. Why not invade all those lously countries that piss us off? Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, Yemen, Syria…heck invade Somalia again. Bush had a “grand scheme” promoted by lies and now iit all in ruin.

    BA – great to talk to your child in any event. And best to keep it simple, but the “American Way of Life” line is too close to propaganda to accept. Fall back on the “there are many reasons and not all of them clear” line.

  61. M Duke

    Politics and polititians are often stereotyped as being dishonest. That is very often true to a certain extent. A polititian has to make the public think his actions are good, whether or not they actually are good is not important (at least to the polititian promoting them, who probably thinks it is good or it will help themselves). Also, if you are going to attack someone, then you have to give a good reason for doing so. If we attacked some of the countries that hate us for no other reason than “they pis us off,” it would be an absolute outrage. So, when attacked Iraq, we did it with the reason that it harboured terrorists that hit us on 9/11. We have managed to make a democracy out of Iraq, and we wouldn’t expect the people to really get it, as they don’t have the wonderful system of info spread we have the USA.

    BTW, I don’t think God made unintelligent designs. Really, have we yet to compare our technology to that of nature? I mean, all the information to build your entire body can be found in just one of your cells. Which is probably why there is so much “junk” DNA, actually, most cells don’t need all of it. How much can we store on a pinhead? Of course, it would be totally awsome if future technology had computers that stored information on strands of DNA, just imagine the memory capacities. Awesome.
    Sorry, I ramble on, I spend to much time thinking.

  62. Chet

    Furthermore, Sgt. 1st Class Coyle and the others of like-minded thinking,
    I would think that if you were able to take an opinion poll of Iraqi citizens today, you would find it most likely that they would certainly have preferred Saddam over the following chaos and civil war that is a direct result of the USA intervening in Iraq!
    from MSNBC: Al-Qaida in Iraq declares all-out war following attacks that killed over 150, al-Zarqawi announces war intentions.
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9332851/
    Sept. 14, 2005
    BAGHDAD, Iraq – After a dozen explosions ripped through the Iraqi capital Wednesday, al-Qaida’s leader in Iraq purportedly declared all out war on Shiite Muslims, Iraqi troops and the country’s government in an audio tape released on Internet. The speaker on the released audio tape, introduced as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, also said his militant forces would attack any Iraqi it believes has cooperated with an ongoing U.S.-led offensive in the northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar. “If proven that any of (Iraq’s) national guards, police or army are agents of the Crusaders, they will be killed and his house will demolished or burnt — after evacuating all women and children — as a punishment,” the voice said in the new tape, which surfaced on an Internet site known for carrying extremist Islamist content. The speaker announced “all-out war against Shiites everywhere. Beware, there will be no mercy.” Much earlier Wednesday, gunmen wearing military uniforms surrounded a village north of Baghdad early Wednesday and executed 17 men, police said. Police Lt. Waleed al-Hayali from Taji, 12 miles north of Baghdad, said the gunmen detained the victims after searching the village. They were handcuffed, blindfolded and later shot at a site about 1 mile from the village. The dead included one policeman and others who worked as drivers and construction workers for the U.S. military, said al-Hayali. The gunmen looted the village before fleeing.
    Sunni militants have mounted a series of attacks on the Shiites in an apparent effort to provoke retaliation and a sectarian conflict.”

  63. gopher65

    1) Much of the Chaos happening in Iraq is a result of broken down infrastructure; this would have happened regardless of the US invasion of Iraq, but the invasion did speed it up a few years.

    2) Saying “Saddam killed his own people so it is OK for us to kill them too” is not good logic:P. Think a little bit before you post something like that next time. In certain ways the Iraqi people are (will be) better off than they were before, but in other ways things are much worse than before the invasion. Still, I am hopeful that things will get better rather than worse. Worse would NOT be a good thing.

    3) OBL is the figurehead for Al Qaeda. He doesn’t create military plans on his own, or even make significant decisions. He is basically a spiritual leader. His lieutenants are the ones who make the real decisions.

    4) I don’t believe people hate the US because it is power. I harbour a mild, generalized dislike of the US because they are bigger than Canada, and therefore they bully us around a good deal, but that is only natural. The real dislike of the US comes from certain actions taken by the various governments of the US. It isn’t possible to point to any one administration (although GWB is a good place to start;)) because everyone has different opinions on what is a positive or negative decision. Some people view the Iraq war as horrid, others think that the US is evil because abortion is legal. As others have stated, a good potion of the Islamic dislike for the US is a dislike for some western values and beliefs, and the US is the biggest target in the list (not freedom inparticlar, because everyone wants to be free to espouse the virtues of THEIR beliefs LOL).

    I find it most interesting that both sides of this culture war technically belong to religions that teach peace and self control above all else, yet both sides are screaming bloody murder at each other and threatening to attack with every weapon they can lay their hands on. It just shows how far religious people will go to force their own beliefs down the throats of others.

  64. Kevin

    err Duke…”So, when attacked Iraq, we did it with the reason that it harboured terrorists that hit us on 9/11. ”

    er..no…They arrived after we invaded. Our real reasons may have been:

    “The United States invaded Iraq for a number of reasons. For some members of the Bush administration, it was probably a way to reshape the politics of the Middle East; for others, it was an opportunity to enhance Israeli security. One of the least-discussed reasons was to assure order in the international petroleum market. Perhaps this objective is rarely mentioned because it’s obvious, or maybe because no discussion was necessary among decision-makers well versed in petroleum politics.

    But one should not believe that the United States would occupy a country with the world’s second largest reserves of petroleum without considering the effect of that act on the world’s most important commodity. On the other hand, one cannot believe that the United States would ever articulate its objectives in terms that most would regard as vulgar and commercial. We now know that the evidence of an “imminent” attack by Iraq was flimsy, and known to be so at the time by the intelligence community. The threat to the stability of the international petroleum market, however, was real.”

    You say: “BTW, I don’t think God made unintelligent designs” so that means…you do think the Flying Noodle Monster made intelligent designs? May his/her noodly appendage stroke you to bliss.

    To get back on thread, I only wish that the Constitution will keep us free. We are quickly giving our government uncontrolled police state powers. I am now subject to warrantless searches each time I go to work.
    so much for “Why the government needs to go to extraordinary lengths to snoop around inside your house, your car, your body” NYC Cops can search anyone trying to enter a public building or public transit means.

    We are filmed, observed and monitored with ez-pass and metro card and Patriot Act. The coercive power of the state is increasing rapidly. We are losing our freedoms at home and we have always been at war with OCEANIA.

  65. Irishman

    Scho scho scho Said:
    > I don’t understand what’s wrong with calling them USAians?

    The point being made was that there is not “a USAian”, but rather a diverse population with lots of differences in culture, ideas, and beliefs. Basically any attitude or belief of Americans in general may not apply in any specific individual case.

    Chet Said:
    >Irishman stated: “Except for the fact we don’t think the Constitution was “the divinely inspired word of God�. We recognize that it was crafted by humans and is not perfect and subject to change when required. At least many of us do.�
    Not quite true, Irishman.

    Well, I did apply a caveat at the end. Yes, some people do think the Constitution is the culmination of God’s plan.

    >I had put a “Pledge to the US Constitution� on my office ’s exit door with the applicable amendments and statutes and the Preamble “We the People do hereby ordain and establish.. Not God.�
    >One of the national guardsmen I work for read this and complained to the commander (not to me) that he was offended by the “Not God�. Therefore, I was asked to remove it from my exit door.

    I would have pointed to the nearest person displaying an “One Nation Under God” sticker or a prayer on the wall or whatever was convenient in a confrontational religious display and demanded it be removed, too. Fair is fair.

    > (ABC’s “Good Morning America�, Sep 4th, co-host Bill Weir even stated “there are no atheists in hurricane zones or foxholes�),

    Funny if said the other way how many christians would have decried how intolerant, insensitive, and bigoted the remark was, but think it only natural in the way it was said. If someon were to say, “Why bother praying, God wasn’t listening,” he’d get so slammed.

  66. Nigel Depledge

    Sgt 1st Class Coyle said: “See, if this were a theocratic, hard line muslim state, websites like this WOULDN’T exist”. Quite right. And one of the freedoms we enjoy is the freedom to criticise our elected representatives when they make a pig’s ear of running the country. Or choose to invade another country on a flimsy pretext. In the UK, Tony Blair publicly announced he had “seen evidence that Saddam was [stockpiling or making] WMDs”. I would have felt a lot happier if he had presented this evidence to parliament for debate and discussion, rather than saying, in effect : “because I know some stuff that I will keep secret from you, I want you to support my decision because I say it is the right choice”.

    HvP said “I choose to always bear sole responsibility for any decision which might force me to take a human life.” Good for you. All too often these days, people refuse to accept responsibility for the consequences of their actions.

    Chet, I’m inclined to agree with you to a certain extent. Islam is not a monolithic religion, but many subdivisions with a wide diversity of opinions. A little like Christianity in that respect. And look at what was done in Northern Ireland in the name of catholicism or protestantism in the 1970s and 1980s.

    Kevin, yes, I agree : one result of 9/11 is that the USA is not as free as one might wish. I think it is some time next year that a new requirement comes into effect : a visitor from the UK to the USA will need a visa unless they carry a passport that includes biometric information. Big Brother is watching you. Oh, yes, and, for different reasons, the police in the UK have the power to take a DNA sample from anyone who is arrested (whether they are charged or not, and whether they consent or not) and keep that information in a secret national database. Forever. Which is fine as long as everyone plays by the rules, but one thing I know about human nature is that people break rules.

    Truly was it said “the price of freedom is eternal vigilance”.

  67. MattJ

    Hey, Phil.

    You said: “And I told her: there are many reasons they hate us, but one of them is because of the Constitution.”

    Here are Bin Laden’s reasons why we are his enemyhttp://observer.guardian.co.uk/worldview/story/0,11581,845725,00.html

    There are many, but here is one:

    >(i) You are the nation who, rather than ruling by the Shariah
    >of Allah in its Constitution and Laws, choose to invent your
    >own laws as you will and desire. You separate religion from
    >your policies, contradicting the pure nature which affirms
    >Absolute Authority to the Lord and your Creator.

    You were DEAD RIGHT and don’t let anyone tell you differently.

  68. Kevin

    MattJ

    “You were DEAD RIGHT and don’t let anyone tell you differently”

    You must not have read the letter. The letter poses two questions.”(Q1) Why are we fighting and opposing you?” and “Q2)What are we calling you to, and what do we want from you? ”

    The answer to Q1 : Because you attacked us and continue to attack us. As part of the answer to Q2, 12 paragraphs down, talking about how we are the “worst” nation…is the line you quote. Pretty thin reed.

    Anyway, the only reason to care why OSBL attacked is to consider how to turn people away from these attacks in the future. He needs to be hunted down and killed, but WE REALLY CANT just go around and kill everyone because they feel oppressed and angry….and may become a terrorist.

    And we can’t do it because we are depressed and angry…and want to get our hands on oil.

    Irishman, Nigel you see that our goverments are out of control.

    > (ABC’s “Good Morning America�, Sep 4th, co-host Bill Weir even stated “there are no atheists in hurricane zones or foxholes�),

    geez…another idiot…I’m gonna send this over to Eschaton

  69. Actually, (in my opinion) since Al-Qaeda is against the absolutist Saudi government, and dislikes the United States for only one reason, not so much as the fact they dislike our constitution, but more of the fact they dislike the fact we fund an absolutist Wahhabist monarchy similar to the rule of King James in the early 1600′s. They aren’t really against democratic elements or a constitution, I don’t know whether they support it, but they dislike the Saudi monarchy because it’s entangled itself in religious affairs, suppressed the rights of women and numerous of other things that reformers want to change.

    Then, Osama decided to choose violence. In the end it’s all pretty oxymoronic, as it will be self-defeating, but the first thing to do is stop supporting totalitarian regimes like the monarchy in Saudi Arabia, which is undemocratic in itself, and the support of which continues to draw fire from many reformers.

  70. M Duke

    By what the response was to what I said, I don’t think I expressed my point well. It was just simply that, in politics, a leader must give a reason to attack, even if it is not true. Also, it doesn’t matter if it aplies to the Bush administration. It may more acuratly be shown with Octavian lying (as far as we know) to the Roman senate to justify his attack on Cleopatra. If he just attacked, the senate would probably not have been happy with him.

    I also must ask: just what is the flying spaggetti monster thing anyway?

  71. P. Edward Murray

    Bin Laden & Al Queda want one thing:

    To impose “Their” version of Islam on everyone that does not believe by returning to the 14th Century “Caliphate”, a return, in a sense to The Ottoman Empire.

  72. Sparky
  73. Irishman

    Eudaimon Said:
    >Actually, (in my opinion) since Al-Qaeda is against the absolutist Saudi government, and dislikes the United States for only one reason, not so much as the fact they dislike our constitution, but more of the fact they dislike the fact we fund an absolutist Wahhabist monarchy similar to the rule of King James in the early 1600’s. They aren’t really against democratic elements or a constitution, I don’t know whether they support it, but they dislike the Saudi monarchy because it’s entangled itself in religious affairs, suppressed the rights of women and numerous of other things that reformers want to change.

    Wait, a Wahhabist group dislikes the Saudi government for being Wahhabist? I’m confused. You are correct that many Saudi’s don’t like their government, and don’t like the U.S. for supporting the current Saudi government. I’m not so certain you are correct about the factors about that government that they don’t like, however.

    Extremists don’t like the U.S. for a number of reasons. We push our agenda on other countries, we use our military might to push them around. We support dictators and kings against the will of the people when it is advantageous to our country. Our government is secular, and specifically not Islamic. Our culture is very open and to their mindset decadent and sinful.

    >…the first thing to do is stop supporting totalitarian regimes like the monarchy in Saudi Arabia, which is undemocratic in itself, and the support of which continues to draw fire from many reformers.

    That is true, it is rather hypocritical of the U.S. to be celebrating bringing democracy to Iraq when we are a large part of maintaining the current Saudi monarchy. If spreading democracy is so important, why isn’t Bush leaning on the Saudi’s for democratic reforms?

  74. Three months after this post, I swore “… against all enemies, foreign and domestic …”. Re-reading this post makes me even happier that I made the choice that I did.

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