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Why Do They Hate Us? (Part 2)The Answer From Somalia And The Sudan

One of the reasons that we so often use links from the Muslim, African and the Arab world is to ensure that our viewers receive a balance, or at least variety of views from sources closer to what is happening than the American media. It is unthinkable, unlike is the case with many conservatives and others, that we would ever accept a depiction of another civilization or country without bringing the very subject of the depiction to the witness stand, so to speak.

Instead of paraphrasing, mocking or severely editing the remarks of Saddam Hussein, Moammar Khaddafi, or Ussama Bin Laden, we will link or cut and paste those words, so that our viewers will have as complete a picture as is possible of reality. To run comments out of context, to quote 10 words out of a 10,000 word speech just in order to allow us to pursue a partisan or ideological position or interest is something that we never intend to do. It is a shame that the most ardent and vocal advocates for free markets, freedom of speech and liberal democracy have little tolerance for hearing the point of view of others from around the world, even when they are talking or writing about the subject whose words and opinions they are omitting, or even, censoring.

What we ask is, what are the intellectual elites, in this case, those primarily on the right, afraid of? Why did it take two full months before a major news media outlet brought up, with a degree of depth, the controversy over Pakistan's purchase of the F-16 jets? Why hasn't the American media ran or written about any of the several thousand words worth of writing that Saddam Hussein has addressed toward the American people? Several media outlets referred to Saddam Hussein's open letters to the American public, but as far as we know, we, at were the only website media outlet to run the comments, unedited.

Why, now, has the media opted to defer to the U.S. Government's request that any videotaped statements of Ossama Bin Laden not be shown? And why were two of Minister Farrakhan's hour-long plus talks, on September 16th and October 16th, both of which dealt directly on the relationship between the Islamic World and the West, not reported in the mainstream media, many of whom received invites to attend both events.

Whatever one thinks of him, we cannot think of a leader in the United States of America, the nation supposedly groping to understand Islam, who has better relationships and understanding of major segments of the people of the West, the Islamic World and Africa. Yet and still, the mainstream and conservative media would much rather delude themselves with the bantering of an inventory of commentators, authors and professors who do not truly understand Islam nor the everyday conditions of Africans, Muslims and Arabs, and how their lives have been negatively impacted by the policies of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the Federal Reserve, the World Trade Organization (WTO), Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the National Security Agency (NSA) and the United Nations (UN). Unlike what most conservatives would want most to believe, there are people who can explain these facts who do not don black masks, rampage or set fire to public property in order to make their case.

Minister Farrakhan is one such person who has and continues to publicly and privately explain, with great intelligence, the reasons for the dissatisfaction that many Muslims, Africans and Arabs feel toward the United States of America. In addition, Minister Farrakhan's understanding of the life of Muhammad of 1,400 years ago and both the Bible and Holy Qur'an is penetrating and astounding. The most emminent Rabbis, Priests, Pastors and Imams (including those the Minister has met with in Mecca) from around the world, have borne witness to this fact.

That a deep understanding of Muhammad, the Bible and Holy Qur'an is hardly ever part of the discussions in the media's efforts to understand what motivates the Islamic World is striking and, we think, very harmful. We will take a deeper look at this subject in the very near future. Some of these conservatives who style themselves as experts on explaining the mind of a Muslim have never even read the Holy Qur'an. That in and of itself, in our view, disqualifies them from contributing, in a positive and lasting way to these critical discussion(s). This is a serious subject.

Many conservatives in fact know better than they do but have a professional need to publicly recognize only certain types of worldviews and dissent. Various forms of thinking and analysis and even pertinent facts are quite often ignored because they violate the neat conservative and liberal dichotomy, out of which all political debates must be filtered if they are to gain access to those most prominent mainstream and conservative publications. If you are not a liberal or a conservative you must be ignored or classified as radical and mocked or distorted.

Unfortunately, for liberal and conservative establishmentarians, since September 11th, that neatly constructed dichotomy, which marginalizes the non-West, does not operate as usual nor does it satisfy the honest curiosity of the observer of world events. The problem coming from the political category previously deemed "other" is now too great to ignore. Think over that as you read an example of the facts that conservative and others ignore that contribute to why many people in Somalia and the Sudan may not be enamored with the United States. Honestly reflect over how little in America is being reported about these two countries, from those on the ground and why this is the case.

Somalia The country is simply devastated by the decision of the United States government to freeze the assets of the country's Al-Barakaat financial system, because of alleged links to the Al-Qaeda network. In addition to over $1 million of the financial system's assets being frozen, AT&T cut off phone service to Somalia through Al-Barakaat which also provides telecommunication and electrical power services to the struggling African nation. The shutdown of Al-Barakaat, the nation's largest company also results in the entire country being without Internet access. The impact of the action has been catastrophic because members of the Somali diaspora used Al-Barakaat to send as much as $700 million annually back home. The system was especially popular among the Somali immigrant community, which has large concentrations in the Minneapolis, Minnesota and Washington D.C. metropolitan areas. Already remittances back home have dropped by 50% and some believe that the loss of service through Al-Barakaat may result in a 70% drop in the amount of money that finds its way into Somalia from abroad. The damage could not come at a worse time in a country in the midst of a contentious political dispute and while the economy is ravaged by unemployment and hyperinflation. Over the weekend, the UN announced that it would be making a special appeal for increased aid to Somalia in the amount of close to $100 million. "Somalia's fragile economy is now in danger of collapse because of a sharp downturn in remittances, relentless inflation and the continued ban on livestock exports to its main markets in the Gulf States...Members of Somalia's diaspora are now sending much less money home to their relatives. Remittances which brought over 500 million U.S. Dollars a year into Somalia have now declined by up to 50%", a recent UN statement reads. Many Somalis feel that the U.S. action taken was excessive and question why detailed evidence of Al-Barakaat's work on behalf of Al-Qaeda was not provided. Still more, others feel that the United States, if its charges were true, could have taken a more measured response by simply indicting or pursuing the arrest of the specific individuals responsible for allegedly raising and laundering money on behalf of Al-Qaeda. Close to 1 million people in Somalia are in danger of starvation this year, that problem is now aggravated by the lack of access to capital and credit as a result of Al-Barakaat's shutdown. To compound matters reports have begun to filter out that Somalia may be next on the list of countries invaded by the United States, in the war on terrorism.

Sudan Although President Clinton argued otherwise, there was never any credible evidence offered to show that the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory which was bombed in Sudan in August of 1998 was being used to create weapons of mass destruction or connected to Ussama Bin Laden in any way. Angry Sudanese hurled rocks and epithets at the empty U.S. Embassy in Sudan in the days after 13 U.S. Cruise missiles hit the factory. And it is hardly any wonder. It is believed that as much as 50% of Sudan's pharmaceutical needs were satisfied by the factory, which produced antibiotics and drugs which fought malaria, diarrhea, and tuberculosis. No reactors were on site and there were no prime chemical manufacturing performed at the plant. The US government claimed that it had obtained soil samples one mile from the factory that it says proved that nerve gas was produced at the plant. But engineers who worked at the plant and elsewhere countered that it was impossible to get an effluent fallout a mile away from a plant that produces no effluents. Late scientists conclusively showed that the substance that was allegedly found ethyl methylphosphonothionate, EMPTA, is common to pesticides and herbicides. The U.S. case against Al-Shifa was so weak that German officials publicly doubted that the U.S. could prove its claims. The Sudanese government, immediately after the bombing, asked the UN to send a team to the Al-Shifa site and take samples and investigate the factory remains. The U.S. Government immediately rejected the offer and stifled any debate of the issue among the UN Security Council. In addition, the supposed link to Bin Laden was never proved and to this day there exist no evidence of any Al-Shifa partnership between Bin Laden and those which own and run the facility. The United States Office Of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) froze $24 million in the assets of Saudi businessman, Salah Idris, who financially backs the factory,which were in Bank of America accounts in England and in Jersey. It took 18 months before Mr. Idris' money was released. If he was guilty, why was his money released? He is currently suing the United States government for $50 million in damages and has yet to receive an apology or any admission of guilt or impropriety. Interestingly the bombing took place at the height of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, a fact that was not lost on conservatives who thought out loud that the strike was part of an effort by President Clinton to divert attention from his problems. We remember listening to Rush Limbaugh, the conservative commentator, who immediately after the news of the bombing was announced, suggested on the radio that President Clinton's motives for such action should be questioned. The Muslim world had the same reaction.

That the conservative community feels no need to address these blatant examples of U.S. misdeeds and excesses abroad - committed by both Republican and Democratic administrations - when it poses the somewhat rhetorical, "Why do they hate us?" question demonstrates the intellectual bankruptcy of quarters of that community. In a moral sense, it demonstrates the conservative tendency toward self-righteousness that is only matched in depth by the liberal penchant to patronize. The most well-known conservatives attempt to reduce the answer to their framed question in terms of class envy. If that isn't enough, the "explanation" evolves into one where the superiority of democracy over all other political models is trumpeted. But the Muslims on the ground are not engaged in an academic exercise when they point to what has happened in their countries. In a sense, the conservative elite, like the U.S. Government, takes advantage of the woeful ignorance of the American public in its knowledge of the Muslim and Arab world, and of Africa as well, and attempts to represent the "cause" of the disgruntled Muslim population by mocking the weakest or most extreme of that community's arguments against the West. Again, it is the classic strawman technique.

The constant harping on Ussama Bin Laden, or Saddam Hussein, or Moamar Khaddafi allows many conservatives to avoid having to engage how U.S. policies have affected the political, economic and cultural reality in the every day lives of the people of Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia and the Sudan. Even the question of "why do they hate us?" as opposed to the more tempered and accurate: "why do they dislike us?", "why do they distrust us?" or the ultimate - "have I done anything to offend them?", reveals disingenuous nature of the attitude that many thinkers in this country hold juxtaposed to the Muslim, Arab and African world when they style themselves as probing the sub-conscious of those not from the West. The same phenomenon is often at work when these opinion leaders try to explain the actions of China and even, to a degree, Russia and the disposition of these nations toward the United States of America. Until all of the facts are laid out, the only possible result of the production of caricatures and straw men to represent why many Muslims feel as they do toward the West is increased misunderstanding which will lead to violence. An accurate witness of reality will go further in producing peace than a million diplomats or a million bombs.

Cedric Muhammad

Wednesday, December 5, 2001

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