What does one do when some of one’s beliefs happen to coincide with those of a person one considers to be the embodiment of evil? There is a dissenting faction in America that has long believed that U.S. support of the Israeli occupation of Palestine has deep moral problems. There are those of us who have long been troubled that U.S. sanctions on Iraq are responsible for the death of 5,000 innocent souls PER MONTH for the past 11 years. We have believed these U.S. involvements to be problematic long before we ever heard the name “bin Laden.”
So now bin Laden has made his speech, citing the hypocrisy of America, the hypocrisy which allows us to view some innocent lives as expendable and others as precious. How can an informed person read his words and not acknowledge that he is at least partially correct? Acknowledging that he is right on some points does not require one to agree with his methods. Let’s just leave that out of it and stick to the facts.
It’s like thinking Heidegger is a great philosopher while leaving his Nazism aside. Except that it’s current and real. At this point in the game, and for a long time to come, it will be impossible for America to acknowledge any wrong-doing in the world theater, because we have dug in our heels, and entrenched our righteousness, no matter how wrong some of our foreign policies may be. This is an extremely difficult time for the voice of dissent in America, at a time when to say anything against America is considered tantamount to a lack of patriotism. The fact that some of bin Laden’s points are correct will be utterly squelched in the media is frightening me. American Journalists are already being fired for saying “unpatriotic” things. We are in grave danger, and not just from Al Qaeda. We are in danger of undermining our own principles of free speech and self-criticism.
I predict that, over time, this issue will create deep rifts in the American political landscape.
Update: I’ve been asked what I meant about journalists being fired recently for speaking their minds. This article at the Washington Post describes the situation pretty well.