About three weeks ago, a woman pushed a man who was wearing a Hindu turban, onto the tracks of a New York subway and in front of an approaching train, to his death. Upon her arrest, she said she did it because she hates Muslims, not knowing, of course, that Hindus are not Muslim. Such attacks against Muslims (and those thought to be Muslim) and disrespectful actions, such as burning of the Koran or worse, mistreatment of Muslim prisoners of war by US soldiers, took off, in earnest, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and reflect the incredible level of ignorance that exists in the US.
This ignorance is not accidental - it is, in my view, man-made and serves a purpose. The corporate media, in its tireless effort to condition the public’s mind and prepare them for endless wars, most of which happen to be against Muslim nations in recent years, as well as to garner support for their unconditional and unwavering support for the Zionist state as it continues its ethnic cleansing and massacres against Palestinians, have created this ignorance.
The US military also makes use of the prejudice and hatred against Muslims to condition the soldiers to kill more easily and without hesitation. This is nothing new. When the US invaded the Philippines in 1898, the locals couldn't understand why the American soldiers fought with such hatred which was evident not just from being there and killing defending soldiers, but from occasional killing rampage that targeted defenseless women and children. Similar bursts of hateful and violent rage also led to massacres in Viet Nam, Korea and more recently, of course, in Iraq - such as the Haditha massacre, among many - not to mention the infamous and disgraceful treatment of POW’s in Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison. A colonialist/imperialist system needs a colonialist/imperialist mindset and what the system needs to achieve its goals, it creates, including hatred, racism and dehumanizing of the "enemy".
It is this ignorance and being cut off from the outside world that left most Americans with shock, disbelief and confusion when the 9/11 attacks occurred, which they viewed as unprovoked and without cause. Why would anyone hate the US which was only doing good around the world and helping everyone? There was nothing to hate about them, so maybe they hated their "freedom"! Yes, it did have something to do with "freedom"; they hated how it was taking their freedom away!
The wars, attacks and injustices against Muslim nations, that were, at least in part, facilitated by ignorance, also created a misunderstanding among the Muslim nations. The impression many people living in Muslim and especially Arab countries have of the US is that it hates Muslims and wants to wipe them out. To them, the wars and bombing attacks the US resorts to against Muslim nations is due to that intent to kill Muslims. Aside from the historical precedent of the Crusaders, there are no such religious based violence or massacres by the West or Christian nations in general to validate this thinking. However, given the Belligerence and violence unleashed upon many Muslim nations by the US in the last 60 or so years, including recent drone attacks in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, as well as their part in committing genocide against Palestinians, the sentiment is quite understandable.
The terrorist attacks of 9/11, which created the perfect excuse for US policy makers to unleash their vast killing machinery upon the populations of several Muslim nations, more freely and more extensively, though previously - and long before 2001 - envisioned and even planned, acted as a catalyst in fanning the flames of such suspicion. Those attacks that brought the violence home to Americans, heightened the already existing suspicion of Muslims among most Americans and deepened the level of ignorance which was used by the Empire to justify even more wars, and the cycle continued.
What's needed is the understanding by both sides as to the true cause and culprit for all the aggression and the ensuing mutual hatred and suspicion. The real culprit, of course, is imperialism, which relentlessly pursues profits for multinational corporations by taking natural resources and exploiting cheap labor, and to ensure their availability, resorts to diplomatic pressures, arm twisting, blackmailing, assassinations, coups, and if all else fails, turns to bombing and even brings the Marines, Apache helicopters and fighter jets.
The military aggression, invasions and wars are not directed at any particular people; nor are they driven by religion or even racism, per se, though these, especially racism, are used to instill hatred in their soldiers. Latin America has seen more than its own share of imperial aggression and killings, not to mention Southeast Asia and even the former Yugoslavia.
Part of the reason for the false viewpoint among Muslim populations - that the US hates them and therefore specifically targets and kills Muslims - is the successful elimination of much of the left of these nations, who tend to be secular, by the intelligence apparatus of the US-armed and supported "friendly" dictatorships with the expert help of the CIA, due to the fact that these groups invariably fought for secular and nationalist governments that would, if successful, be independent of imperialism, which immediately raised red flag in the watchful eyes of the CIA who operate in large numbers in all these countries.
The reason the US fought so hard to counter the left was simply the fact that the left was, by definition, anti-imperialist and pro-labor, with direct and immediate consequences for US corporations operating in these countries who depend on cheap labor without benefits or safety laws and cheap resources without much taxes and tariffs. If for the left the issue was ideological: one of class orientation, a matter of national pride and independence and defense of labor and national resources, for the religious sectors, it was religious identity, pride and independence. While the issue was not put in the context of class or even national independence for the religious, at the core however, the opposition of these sectors had much in common with the issues raised by the left, since they too aspired for independence and freedom from imperialist domination, on all levels.
It was such intersection of the longing for national independence, dignity and social justice on the one hand, and religiously painted independence and freedom, on the other, that brought the late Khomeini to power during the Iranian revolution of 1979, which established the Islamic Republic. But, again, the hostility of the US and its allies are not based on the religion of the Iranian regime, though that may be an issue for much of the US public, but mainly because that particular regime takes anti-imperialist positions in the region, sides with Palestinians and, in general, does not go along with the long-term strategic plans of imperialism, as do the other states in the region, such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and the rest of their Gulf puppets. The Syrian government, too, is in the crosshairs of the US and its allies for similar reasons, which they are trying to topple and replace it with a puppet.
What they want is total domination of the region to control not only oil and allow its unrestricted, cheap and profitable flow, but also the markets and cheap labor, as well as politics and political orientation of the region in their competition with China and Russia which in their minds will eventually lead to armed conflict. That's why they put military bases everywhere they can, including areas surrounding Russia and China.
The outlook is frightening and gets scarier by the day, as they leave no stone unturned in pursuit of rising profits and wealth. This pursuit is programmed into their modus operandi and into their minds such that they will not stop at anything - sort of like the Terminator - and will continue to go to endless wars and will continue to push the World towards wars and disaster.
What is needed is to break the cycle of ignorance and create a massive popular resistance by the people living within imperialist countries, as well as peoples of the developing nations, to not only rise up against their dictatorships, as they did in Tunisia and Egypt and elsewhere, but also against imperialism. The revolution in Egypt was significant in that it took an important nation out of the direct and immediate control of US imperialism and politicized and empowered the people to continue the revolution, but it will fail to achieve its true independence and freedom unless it also takes steps to free itself economically, as well as politically and militarily from imperial domination and fights against ignorance of all types including chauvinism against women.