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article imageOp-Ed: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev 'boat note': America reaps what it sows

By Brett Wilkins     May 16, 2013 in Politics
Boston - Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev reportedly left a note claiming responsibility for the deadly terror attack in the boat he was hiding in as police closed in on him last month.
According to CBS News, the note, which was scrawled on a wall with a marker, is "part manifesto, part suicide note and part justification for the killing and maiming of innocent civilians." The teen allegedly wrote that his actions were motivated by US foreign policy and that the Boston victims were "collateral damage," just like American leaders claim that the tens of thousands of innocent Muslims killed during the War on Terror are also unavoidable collateral damage.
"When you attack one Muslim, you attack all Muslims," Tsarnaev allegedly wrote.
Nothing justifies the horrific slaughter and maiming of innocent civilians. But this applies to the United States as much as it does to those who would do us harm. This is a notion that too many Americans cannot seem to grasp. More than 100,000 innocent Iraqis perished during the eight-year US-led invasion and occupation of that nation. More than 15,000 innocent Afghans have been killed since the US launched its anti-terror offensive there in the wake of the September 11, 2001 tragedy. Drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia have killed hundreds more innocent men, women and children. America's apologists attempt to justify this slaughter by arguing that US forces do not deliberately target civilans like terrorists do. Do you think that matters to the dead victims or to their millions of grieving friends and relatives?
In addition to all these deaths, the War on Terror has maimed hundreds of thousands of innocents, left countless wives widowed and children orphaned, and displaced millions. It has ruined Iraq's economy and poisoned many of its children as well as its environment.
In addition to killing innocent civilians by bombs and bullets, American forces and contractors in the War on Terror have committed widespread documented atrocities that have fueled anti-American sentiment throughout the Muslim world. Among these: intentional murder of innocent civilians, murder of detainees in US custody, torture, rape of civilians, rape of male and female detainees, intentional false imprisonment of innocent civilians and of innocent men and boys at Guantánamo Bay, sex trafficking of Afghan boys, corpse desecration and destruction and desecration of Korans. This list is by no means exhaustive.
Additionally, US support for Israel's brutal and illegal occupation of Palestine-- which many critics consider a campaign of colonization, ethnic cleansing and apartheid-- infuriates the Muslim world. So does Washington's continuing history of backing dictators who have brutally repressed hundreds of millions of people throughout the Muslim world, from Morocco in the west clear across to Indonesia in the east.
In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush famously asserted that terrorists "hate us for our freedoms," a claim repeated ad nauseum by countless Americans of all political stripes who would prefer not to acknowledge the truth of why highly-educated men with loving families would sacrifice their lives for a chance to take ours.
US leaders have known precisely why "they hate us" since as far back as 1958, when the National Security Council reported to President Dwight D. Eisenhower that "in the eyes of the majority of Arabs, the United States... is seeking to protect its interest in Near East oil by supporting the status quo and opposing political or economic progress."
For self-serving reasons, Washington has time and again chosen tyranny over liberty in the Muslim world. The princes of Arabia, after all, keep the oil flowing. The torturers of Bahrain and Jordan provide valuable 'stability.' But what Americans often forget is that there are people who live in those countries who suffer terribly under US-backed regimes. These people look to America and our freedoms with envy, not hatred. But they seethe at how Washington enables their own repressive governments to deny them those very same liberties in order to preserve authoritarian rulers who serve US interests.
"They" hate the glaring hypocrisies and double standards that abound in Washington's treatment of the Muslim world: Iraq is viciously attacked for invading Kuwait while Israel gets carte blanche to destroy homes and lives in the Palestinian territories it invaded; Sudan is made into a pariah for its treatment of its Christian minority while Russian atrocities against Muslims in Tsarnaev's native Chechnya are ignored.
Of course, to acknowledge or even debate the real reasons why terrorists target Americans is highly taboo in our society. We ignore the clearly-stated motives given by terrorists from Osama bin Laden to Umar Farouq Abdulmutallab to Nidal Hasan to Tsarnaev and others and instead blame Muslims' rage against the United States on inherent cultural or religious flaws-- even on sexual frustration, anything to avoid assuming responsibility for our own country's significant role in breeding anti-American hatred and vengeance.
Until we have the collective courage to confront America's ugly and ongoing history of killing, maiming, exploiting and oppressing Muslims (along with much of the rest of the global South), we should expect more Dzhokhar Tsarnaevs and more-- and bloodier-- Bostons.
We reap what we sow.
Brett Wilkins is the editor of Moral Low Ground.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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