Experts: Several sources of hatred toward Americans

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) – Hatred by some toward America is fueled by several factors, including its global economic dominance, experts on the Middle East said.

As the nation seeks to recover from terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, many are asking why people hate this country so much they would sacrifice their lives to harm it.

One factor is America’s long-standing support for Israel and its perceived disdain for the plight of the Palestinians, said Thomas Gouttierre, dean of international studies at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and an expert on terrorism.

“This is a very, very emotional issue,” Gouttierre said.

Muslims watch the United States’ military and monetary support for Israel while that country takes land and homes from Palestinians and its Muslim neighbors. Now, Muslims are seeing bombs and munitions purchased from the United States being used to kill Palestinians.

Many see such actions as demonstrating American hatred for Islam, said James LeSueur, a historian at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln who specializes in Islam and North Africa.

There also is resentment about U.S. dominance of the global economy, Gouttierre and LeSueur said.
“The Disneyfication of the world has led a lot of people to believe they have been marginalized,” LeSueur said.

Around the world, people see Exxon Corp., McDonald’s, Hollywood movies and other American icons threatening their traditional culture, foods, language and dress. The threat is especially troubling for fundamentalist Muslims, including Osama bin Laden, who is a prime suspect in the terrorist attacks.

“They believe America’s pop culture corrupts their youth,” Gouttierre said.

Some Muslims have found reason for anger in America’s embargo against Iraq, LeSueur said.
The embargo began a decade ago, after Iraq invaded Kuwait. While fundamentalist Muslims don’t see eye-to-eye with the largely secular government of Saddam Hussein, they blame the U.S. embargo for the shortages of food and medicine among the citizens of Iraq.

“The hardships that Iraq continues to endure fuel this kind of (anger),” LeSueur said.

U.S. support for the monarchy in Saudi Arabia adds to the anger of Muslims such as bin Laden. Some see the royal family as oppressive, managing to stay in power only because of U.S. troops. Fundamentalists view them as hypocritical profligates who hold to strict religious rules at home but party shamelessly in other countries.

For extreme fundamentalists, as well, the presence of U.S. troops in the land of Mecca and Medina, two of Islam’s holiest sites, is a desecration, Gouttierre said.

“All of this stuff is kind of fitting together in kind of intricate ways,” LeSueur said.

The bottom line, Gouttierre said, is this: While anger against the United States may be widespread, only a few Muslims believe desperate measures are warranted.

“What we have here are extreme elements of the Islamic world,” Gouttierre said. “It’s not Islam that has declared this.”