NY Times columnist, Thomas L. Friedman is often– perhaps usually– too glib, but he also often captures a large kernel of truth. Both Lilly Rivlin and I found reason to notice his column of Nov. 29.
Lilly mentioned the problem of running against the strictures of political correctness in agreeing that Friedman has identified a genuine problem within the Arab and Muslim worlds. At the same time, however, Friedman tends to downplay the role of Abu Ghraib and other US (or Israeli) misdeeds in lending credence to this “Narrative.” Here is the core of his column:
What should we make of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who apparently killed 13 innocent people at Fort Hood?
Here’s my take: Major Hasan may have been mentally unbalanced …. But the more you read about his support for Muslim suicide bombers, about how he showed up at a public-health seminar with a PowerPoint presentation titled “Why the War on Terror Is a War on Islam,” and about his contacts with Anwar al-Awlaki, a Yemeni cleric famous for using the Web to support jihadist violence against America — the more it seems that Major Hasan was just another angry jihadist spurred to action by “The Narrative.”
What is scary is that even though he was born, raised and educated in America, The Narrative still got to him.
The Narrative is the cocktail of half-truths, propaganda and outright lies about America that have taken hold in the Arab-Muslim world since 9/11. Propagated by jihadist Web sites, mosque preachers, Arab intellectuals, satellite news stations and books — and tacitly endorsed by some Arab regimes — this narrative posits that America has declared war on Islam, as part of a grand “American-Crusader-Zionist conspiracy” to keep Muslims down.
Yes, after two decades in which U.S. foreign policy has been largely dedicated to rescuing Muslims or trying to help free them from tyranny— in Bosnia, Darfur, Kuwait, Somalia, Lebanon, Kurdistan, post-earthquake Pakistan, post-tsunami Indonesia, Iraq and Afghanistan — a narrative that says America is dedicated to keeping Muslims down is thriving.
Although most of the Muslims being killed today are being killed by jihadist suicide bombers in Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Indonesia, you’d never know it from listening to their world. The dominant narrative there is that 9/11 was a kind of fraud: America’s unprovoked onslaught on Islam is the real story, and the Muslims are the real victims — of U.S. perfidy.
…. As a Jordanian-born counterterrorism expert, who asked to remain anonymous, said to me: “This narrative is now omnipresent in Arab and Muslim communities in the region and in migrant communities around the world. These communities are bombarded with this narrative in huge doses and on a daily basis. [It says] the West, and right now mostly the U.S. and Israel, is single-handedly and completely responsible for all the grievances of the Arab and the Muslim worlds. Ironically, the vast majority of the media outlets targeting these communities are Arab-government owned — mostly from the Gulf.”
This narrative suits Arab governments. It allows them to deflect onto America all of their people’s grievances over why their countries are falling behind. … Click here for Friedman’s full column online.