We are inundated with the painful images of one year ago.
Every time I turn on the television, I see stories of survivors and heroes. These powerful stories move me. But they also make me ask, what is this all about?
In political science, a theory stemming from the Cold War has surfaced about the divisions between the West (that being Western culture stemming from Christian law, for example, the United States), and the Muslim East. The “bi-polar,” theory says that the world is moving toward another polarization of beliefs, as it had during the cold war. The division of political thought and organization of society, between a communist system and a capitalist system divided not only the two major superpowers, but also the world in the middle of the 20th century. In every international situation the countries lined up behind one of the superpowers.
These theorists say with the disintegration of one of the superpowers, the former USSR, the world is re-polarizing. In the past, the United States supported many of the radical Muslims, to gain allies against the Soviet sphere. Now that the threat of the Eastern curtain is gone, the United States chose to stop supporting the Muslim governments. With the loss of support in world politics, in many counties, extremists came to power. For example, the Taliban in Afghanistan. To many in the Middle East, it seemed that the West abandoned them to side with Israel. And to Muslims, support of Israel is an act against the Muslim culture.
Out of the creation of Israel came a division. This division is filled with Palestinian refugees all over the Middle East. These refugees live in poverty and squalor. In the countries, which they now reside, refuse to offer any type of assistance. In these camps comes a hate for the situation they are in. And like the countries that refuse them help, they blame the West for ignoring their pleas for help. Out of this hate, bi-polar theorists say that a new cold war is forming.
Like a bubbling pot of boiling water this hate creates radical fundamental Muslims. These men and women have joined in “jihad,” which means the “righteous struggle.” This is a struggle that the Muslim people see as saving themselves from the West, and protecting their own culture. This includes taking back their holy city, Jerusalem. This struggle has ended in extremist terrorism to gain control of the former Palestine, such as suicide bombings in Israel.
In the United States the radical Muslims have left an everlasting face of pain. Like the face that many saw in the clouds on Sept. 11, 2001, this is a story that none of us in the U.S. can forget. And the people of the Middle East, the refugees, the Muslims, the reformers (those who disagree with extreme Islam, like women’s advocacy groups) cannot forget the pain they feel for those who have died in their communities.
With the attacks on Sept. 11, we have been forced as a nation to look at the world around us. We are Americans, but we are also members of the world community. By ignoring the hate and the pain in the Middle East, we have let the water boil over the pan.