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ISSUE 118 VOL 8 PUBLISHED 11/12/2004

Bin Ladens claims not unfounded

By Megan Sutherland
Staff Writer

Friday, November 12, 2004

As I write this article I can only hope that John Ashcroft doesn't show up at my door. This is not to say that Osama Bin Laden is a cuddly teddy bear.

Rather, I aim to point out that Bin Laden has motives for his actions. Motives which have been bypassed, simplified and just plain misconstrued by the current administration.

Further, just because Bin Laden attempts to highlight his objections through violent means does not mean his underlying cause is invalid or undeserving of consideration.

Bin Laden has been touted by President Bush as an "evil" fundamentalist who hates America because of its freedoms.

Thus, instead of participating in intelligent discourse, Bush chooses to dumb down ideological differences and reduces them to generalizations which arent necessarily true.

Before dismissing him as crazy or a radical, why not look for his logical motivation? He certainly went to great lengths to attack the United States and it seems important to me to understand why. In his new Osamagram, as his videos have been labeled, he certainly gives a reason.

Whether he is sincere is questionable, but it seems to me that something has to be driving this man to go to such drastic lengths to specifically target the United States. Could it be, oh, U.S. governmental policy?

In the tape Bin Laden jokingly denounces Bushs freedom rhetoric and challenges Bush to explain to us why we don't strike, for example, Sweden. Aside from his injections of humor, Bin Laden actually makes some rather intelligent points.

He says that thinking people, when disaster strikes, make it their priority to look for its causes, in order to prevent it happening again. But I am amazed at you.

Bin Laden continues: ... Bush is still engaged in distortion, deception and hiding from you the real causes. And thus, the reasons are still there for a repeat of what occurred.

I dont mean to imply that Bin Laden is justified in mass murder (because he is not), but he is absolutely right that America has avoided the hard questions, and unfortunately for us, it is the hard questions which allow people to learn from the past.

Bin Laden is not right in his tactics. However, simply because his actions are wrong, does not mean his underlying principles are necessarily wrong. Immoral tactics should not taint the underlying grievances of a cause.

Terrorism is only a label used to evoke feelings of righteousness amongst those who toss the term around.

The people who flew planes into the World Trade Center felt they were justified because they believed that the United States had encroached upon their homeland.

Similarly, one could use civilian casualties in Iraq or Afghanistan to label the United States as a state which sponsors terrorism. It is all a matter of perspective.

In his tape Bin Laden correctly identifies this hypocracy when he says that violent U.S. policies are always translated as freedom and democracy, while resistance [to these policies] is [called] terrorism and intolerance.

The fault within U.S. policy is that it very heavily sides with Israel, often overlooking Israels aggression towards other nations. This obviously ties in with the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East.

In the video Bin Laden cites the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon as the incident which first triggered his extreme animosity towards the United States. During this invasion, the United States was seen as silently backing the Israelis.

This was partially because of our status as the largest weapons supplier to Israel but also because we did very little to intervene in the conflict.

In many places, the invasion was written off as an act of liberation on Israels part. Further, although the Lebanese army was being trained by U.S. forces, the army which emerged was seen as pro-Christian and anti-Muslim, which was very unpopular. The United States meddling was viewed as uninspired, lenient towards Israel and ultimately doing more harm than good.

Such instances reinforce Arab grievances towards the United States attempts to police the world, overthrowing leaders and replacing them with rulers more likely to cooperate with U.S. goals.

The resentment is understandable, and while there is certainly a lot of rhetoric on each side of the debate, it is important to keep in mind that despite its unpopularity in the West, the Arab cause is not devoid of some legitimate complaints which we should seek to understand and rectify as best we can.

Staff writer Megan Sutherland is a junior from the Woodlands, Texas. She majors in English and history.

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