Thursday, September 26, 2002


A common theme of anti-Americanism in Europe is that the United States must learn what has made Muslim extremists hate us -- implying that we are at least partially responsible for the terrorist acts of 9/11. Perhaps a better question is what has Europe done to cause young Arab men to hate the west?

The Chicago Tribune’s ombudsman, Don Wycliff, attended a Chicago Council on Foreign Relations lecture given by "Thomas Friedman, The New York Times' three-time Pulitzer Prize winning columnist and undisputed champion foreign policy analyst among American journalists." Wycliff reports that:

[Friedman] divides the hijackers into two groups, which he calls the Saudis and the Europeans.

The Saudis were the "muscle guys," the ones at the back of the hijacked planes whose role was to intimidate the passengers. These were recruited from among the legions of young, unemployed men in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Arab world, men Friedman calls "the sittin' around guys."

The Europeans were not ethnically European--all the hijackers were ethnically Arab--but they had lived in Europe and, owing to the social rejection they experienced there, had become radicalized. "All converted to radical Islam as a result of contact with the West," as a result of being "stiff-armed," Friedman said.

Thus ripened to radicalism, these men--and many others like them--were ready for plucking by bin Laden...

In other words, the radicalization came about through exposure to, and rejection by, European culture. Al Qaeda simply focused that radicalism against America, which is the dominant military and cultural power of the west.

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