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By Paul Meekin
These men think they know what’s best for the world. With their permissive culture, big guns, warplanes and nuclear weapons, they believe themselves to be arbiter of justice, but they are not. The only arbiter of justice is God.
They came into our lands, provided us weapons and had us fight wars they wouldn’t engage in. They were happy to have us fight and die for them, but when the war was over, and our lands were soiled with blood and sulfur, America was nowhere to be seen. We suffered for them and they ignored us.
Now they will suffer. They seem themselves as invincible.
They are not. We will prove it. We will destroy their false idols – the tenants of their society – commerce, security, leadership. We will strike fear in their hearts and be rewarded with untold glory and pleasures by God for doing so. America will pay for what they’ve done to us. They will pay forever.
The above is an example of what you may well write if you’re a student at Iowa State University, as a recent International Studies course requested students review 9/11 from the perspective of Al Qaeda.
“Write a paper that gives a historical account of 9/11 from the perspective of the terrorist network. In other words, how might al Qaeda or a non-Western historian describe what happened,”
“Don’t worry about the fact that you don’t agree with the terrorists, the point of the exercise is to consider completely different perspectives.”
There’s some deliberate shock value here. Considering the perspectives of folks who disagree with, or want to kill us, isn’t something Americans routinely do. When one side of the isle says Black Lives Matter is a force for good, and the other says it’s a terrorist organization, we have an empathy problem.
And that’s basically what this assignment is asking of students; to empathize with those we are most afraid of. Those we most demonize. Those we fear will and want and shall kill us for our personhood – based on the foreign policy of a country we had no direct influence in. ISU students didn’t arm Afghan rebels to fight Russians. ISU students didn’t kill Iran’s leader for oil. ISU didn’t abandon those rebels after the dirty work was done.
To head off the controversy before it got started, an ISU spokesman released a statement: “…This is similar to the vital work being performed in our nation’s diplomatic and intelligence operations, such as the Central Intelligence Agency, or the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research.”
But ISU students are being asked to understand why the participants in these events may just want to kill Americans.
This is not a bad idea, and yes, this plays into the narrative that colleges are indoctrinating students into liberal ideologies and to empathize with global issues versus American ones. However, as stated by the college itself, being able to see even the most catastrophic and horrible crimes from the perspective of the perpetrator is a valuable skill – in law enforcement, and in life.
Take it this way – if you can understand what exactly a democrat is trying to do, you’ll be better prepared to challenge their ideology and plans or policies in a constructive way.
These sorts of thought experiments do exactly what college SHOULD do. Expand your mind and perspective – to consider all points of views – yes, including those of terrorists. There is value in understanding the means behind world-shaking events, even if those events are perpetrated by fundamentally evil men.
Countless words have been written about World War II from Hitler’s perspective. Getting into the mind – and soul, of a tiny little man who could do so much wrong is of great importance, as to understand how to combat it in the future and also what factors could mutate a person to such desperate and ugly means.
Insular culture is tribal culture. Tribal culture leads to resentment of those unlike us. Resentment leads to rage and rage leads to war and war leads to death. It should be the policy of most everyone to try and understand those around them – friends, parents, family, bosses – and yes, enemies.
To paraphrase: to demonize is human. To empathize…is worth 3 credits at Iowa State University.