Conservative media invent controversy over Rauf's 9-11 comments

››› ››› MIKE BURNS

The conservative media have repeatedly attacked Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf for his remark that "the United States' policies were an accessory" to the 9-11 attacks. However, Rauf's comments are not outside the mainstream; indeed, the former chairman and vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission have stated that U.S. "actions have contributed" to "a rising tide of radicalization and rage in the Muslim world."

Conservative media attack Rauf over 9-11 comments

Beck attacks Rauf for saying he "wouldn't say" the U.S. "deserved what happened," but "the United States' policies were an accessory" to 9-11. During his attack on Rauf, Beck said:

He also said, quote, "I wouldn't say the United States deserved what happened on 9-11, but the United States' policies were an accessory to the crime that happened."

Hannity criticizes Rauf for his "troubling views on 9/11." On the August 11 edition of his television show, Hannity said of Rauf:

All right. Now even more troubling are his views on 9/11. Now, just 19 days after the attacks he was asked if the United States deserved what happened. Now, he said, quote, "I wouldn't say the United States deserved what happened. But the United States' policies were an accessory to the crime that happened." (accessed via Nexis)

NY Post attacks Rauf over "his onetime claim that US policies contributed to 9/11." From an August 10 New York Post editorial:

To be sure, Rauf and Khan have their backers. The State Department hails him as "a distinguished Muslim cleric." But are they truly America's best envoys to a region rife with Islamic extremism -- given, say, Rauf's refusal to label Hamas a terror group or his onetime claim that US policies contributed to 9/11?

But Rauf's comments are mainstream, as shown by op-ed by 9/11 Commission chair and vice chair

Former chairman and vice chairman of 9/11 Commission: "We face a rising tide of radicalization and rage in the Muslim world -- a trend to which our own actions have contributed." In a September 9, 2007, Washington Post op-ed headlined "Are we safer today?" Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton, former chairman and vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission respectively, wrote: "We face a rising tide of radicalization and rage in the Muslim world -- a trend to which our own actions have contributed. The enduring threat is not Osama bin Laden but young Muslims with no jobs and no hope, who are angry with their own governments and increasingly see the United States as an enemy of Islam."

Former vice chairman of the CIA's National Intelligence Council: U.S. policies and Muslim perceptions of them can lead to terrorism. In an August 24, 1998, Los Angeles Times column, Graham E. Fuller, former vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council at the CIA, wrote:

There is no monolithic Muslim bloc, but a few deeply held attitudes among the public are quite evident. Broadly speaking, most Muslims feel helpless, weak and resentful in the face of external power at work in their region: The Middle East -- the center of world civilization for several milleniums -- is now beset with masses of poor citizens (apart from the oil states), bad social services, poor education, absence of democracy, constant abuse of human rights, widespread corruption, police states, often brutal rulers, no voice over their own fates; they are victims of truly bad governance in most states of the region.

And what do they perceive? U.S. support for almost any ruler willing to protect U.S. interests -- routinely identified in Washington as oil and Israel. They see a Washington unwilling to act evenhandedly in the Arab-Israeli peace process and infinitely tolerant of a hard-line government in Israel that denies Palestinians land, dignity and statehood. They perceive double standards that allow Israel to violate U.N. resolutions, but not Iraq; that Israeli nukes are OK, but not nukes in Muslim hands. They see routine use of U.S. unilateral military power against Muslim targets that is unparalleled elsewhere in the world. They see themselves routinely humbled by use of overwhelming Israeli military power. They see U.S. military forces in the Gulf as being there to protect ruling families and not populations -- the essence of Osama bin Laden's charge.

[...]

These perceptions obviously do not fully reflect reality, and counterarguments can be made in many cases. But perceptions matter mightily since they form the increasingly poisonous psychological backdrop against which distraught and angry Muslims end up championing those who overcome their impotence, stand up to the West and assert Muslim dignity.

Beck made similar comments to Rauf. Although Beck attacked Rauf for his comments about 9-11, Beck himself said that while the U.S. did not "deserve 9-11," the U.S. was "in bed with dictators" and "that causes problems." Talking about "why do you think they hate us in the Middle East," Beck said:

When people said they hate us, well, did we deserve 9-11? No. But were we minding our business? No. Were we in bed with dictators and abandoned our values and principles? Yes. That causes problems.

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