Sobrans -- The Real News of the Month

Bad Explanations

March 21, 2002

When someone hates you so badly that he’s willing to kill himself in order to hurt you, it may be a good idea to ask yourself why. You may just decide that he is “evil,” but that’s a moral judgment. It doesn’t explain his specific reason for targeting you, and it won’t help you anticipate his next attack.

We often hear it said, for example, that Arab hostility to Israel stems from “anti-Semitism,” meaning a general, unprovoked hatred of Jews. Of course the word implies that most Jews are Semites and Arabs aren’t, which is the reverse of the truth; but let that pass. The important fact is that Arab hatred of Jews has greatly increased since the founding of Israel.

This hatred didn’t used to be pronounced; many Jews lived peacefully in the Arab world, including Palestine. But that changed when Jews claimed a right not only to inhabit Palestine, but to rule it.

Imagine that what is now Israel were taken over by heavily armed, well-funded, fanatical Methodists. Let’s say they claimed it as their homeland by divine right and renamed it Wesleyland. Then they expelled the current occupants and seized their homes. Then they announced that Methodists from all over the world were welcome to immigrate, with full and immediate citizenship and privileges denied to the few remaining non-Methodists. Then organized Methodists in the United States managed to get Wesleyland large subsidies paid for by the American taxpayer.

Suddenly there would be a new and fervent hostility to Methodists in the region and beyond. There might be violent reprisals against Methodists not only in Wesleyland but in other countries too. Diaspora Methodists, who had always been ignored by their neighbors, would find themselves regarded with keen attention, some of it hostile, wary, and suspicious, by people who now wondered where their loyalties lay.

In short, millions who previously had hardly known what a Methodist was would soon become strongly anti-Methodist.

In that case it would be silly to look for the roots of anti-Methodism in old antagonisms between, say, Methodists and Anglicans. The source of the trouble would be immediate and obvious. It would have nothing to do with the ancient persecutions of Methodists in England, or with some supposedly perennial anti-Methodism in Western or Islamic culture. [Breaker quote: Ancient history and modern hatreds]It would have everything to do with the imposing presence and activities of Methodists in the Middle East right now. And this would be true even if the Methodist claim to Wesleyland were absolutely justified.

We likewise hear it said that Islamic anti-Americanism, as expressed in recent terrorist acts, can be traced to a hatred of the West dating back to the Crusades. But this is an even worse explanation than blaming hatred of Israel on an a priori hatred of Jews.

It’s true that Muslims have always taken a dim view of infidels, and they have long memories. But the Crusades were a long time ago, long before the creation of the United States, and the old grudges have been in abeyance for centuries. No Islamic terrorists disturbed this country in the days of Millard Fillmore. What has activated Muslim hostility to America just now?

Gee, that’s a tough one. Could it be that the Muslims feel as if America has been crowding them a bit lately? Could it even be that they have a point?

Of course any such suggestion is “anti-American,” if you hold that America is always in the right no matter what the U.S. Government does. Never mind U.S. support for Israel, the U.S. military presence in the Muslim world, the many thousands of civilian deaths the United States has inflicted in Iraq, the capricious double standards by which the United States judges Muslim countries, and so forth.

Most of these things have been ignored in the American news media, which is why the 9/11 attacks came as a surprise to most Americans. You can read about them in the specialized press and in foreign newspapers; but in this country, facts that induce conscientious introspection are generally considered unfit for patriotic consumption.

It’s both a mark of maturity and a matter of prudence to be able to look at yourself with a certain degree of objectivity. No wonder much of the world regards the United States and Israel as a pair of bullying countries that refuse to grow up.

Joseph Sobran

Copyright © 2002 by the Griffin Internet Syndicate,
a division of Griffin Communications
This column may not be reprinted in print or
Internet publications without express permission
of Griffin Internet Syndicate

small Griffin logo
Send this article to a friend.

Recipient’s e-mail address:
(You may have multiple e-mail addresses; separate them by spaces.)

Your e-mail address

Enter a subject for your e-mail:

Mailarticle © 2001 by Gavin Spomer
Archive Table of Contents

Current Column

Return to the SOBRANS home page.

FGF E-Package columns by Joe Sobran, Sam Francis, Paul Gottfried, and others are available in a special e-mail subscription provided by the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation. Click here for more information.

Search This Site

Search the Web     Search SOBRANS

What’s New?

Articles and Columns by Joe Sobran
 FGF E-Package “Reactionary Utopian” Columns 
  Wanderer column (“Washington Watch”) 
 Essays and Articles | Biography of Joe Sobran | Sobran’s Cynosure 
 The Shakespeare Library | The Hive | Back Issues of SOBRANS 
 WebLinks | Scheduled Appearances | Books by Joe 
 Subscribe to Joe Sobran’s Columns 

Other FGF E-Package Columns and Articles
 Sam Francis Classics | Paul Gottfried, “The Ornery Observer” 
 Mark Wegierski, “View from the North” 
 Chilton Williamson Jr., “At a Distance” 
 Kevin Lamb, “Lamb amongst Wolves” 
 Subscribe to the FGF E-Package 

Products and Gift Ideas | Notes from the Webmaster
  Contact Us | Back to the home page 


SOBRANS and Joe Sobran’s columns are available by subscription. Details are available on-line; or call 800-513-5053; or write Fran Griffin.

Copyright © 2002 by The Vere Company