IN HER ATTEMPT to make my graduate course on crime theory relevant to the September 11 horror, my professor discussed the different aspects of terrorism in the context of criminal justice. She included in her lecture a discussion of state-sponsored terrorism, which, according to her, the United States practiced in Nicaragua, Guatemala, and El Salvador.
Unfortunately, this sort of Americaphobic propaganda is a familiar refrain. The university I attend, Saint Joseph’s (SJU), in Philadelphia, is a Jesuit institution and a hotbed of liberation theology. Posters decrying the School of the Americas (S of A) are ubiquitous, and rallies calling for its demise are routine. The myth of the United States inducing an anomic atmosphere into the idyllic workers’ paradise of various Central American people’s democratic republics is standard fare at SJU.
Like the flagship Jesuit University, Georgetown, Saint Joe’s is fairly secularized. Indeed, of my five professors, two expressed their adamant atheism and antipathy towards religion. If this Americaphobia were just limited to a couple of academic Leninists, it would not be a concern. However, as recent news items confirm, Americaphobia is ingrained in our academic institutions.
The anecdotal evidence is abundant. One college student I know, majoring in Education at Temple University, recently told me that America was responsible for the terrorism of 9-11, because "We (the USA) taught them (the Afghans) how to hate." A middle-aged, professional woman I know announced that the USA was responsible for this terror because of our foreign policy in the Mideast and blamed President Bush. Ironically, the woman is Jewish.
Another woman I know, a devout Christian and a middle-aged professional, expressed her vehement dissatisfaction with President Bush and his policies of bringing the terrorists to justice. " He is just one of those urban cowboys, trying to be macho," she said. An editorial column in the Philadelphia Inquirer stated that the World Trade Center was the preeminent symbol of America’s greed, and justifiably resented and targeted by the terrorists. The writer was a professor at the Maryland Institute of Art.
Ignoring the incogitancy of these pronouncements, what is interesting is the commonality of the people who have these beliefs. They are all educated people – or in the case of the student – a future educator. Their philosophies are, at the core, bigoted, vacuous, and artless.
Let us examine America’s supposed state-sponsored terrorism. If you were to believe Professor Noam Chomsky and other Americaphobes, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and El Salvador were all developing democracies in the process of economic reform. American corporate interests were antithetical to this and we embarked on a foreign policy of intervention to reestablish fascist dictatorships friendly to big business.
Chomsky, for example, claims that most of the Contras’ military leadership were former Somozists – members of the Nicaraguan National Guard. However, Chomsky conveniently omits that many Sandinista military leaders were former National Guard members.
My criminology professor, I am sure, has not considered the murderous dictatorships of Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala that American intervention helped to eliminate. If she did, she might reconsider what the USA did in Central America.
The college student’s parroting of the fallacy, "America taught Afghans to hate," reveals an ignorance of history. American intervention there began when the Afghans were trying to replace a socialist puppet government in Kabul. The USA aided that effort. Afghans did not need America to tell them how to feel about the Soviets.
The professor whose editorial claimed the World Trade Center was justifiably destroyed should have considered how much comfort, and security he received because of the wealth generated by the World Trade Center and the innocent people who worked there. He did not consider that America has risked life and property to help others all over the world including those in the Muslim world. Such acts are not the acts of a greedy culture.
Americaphobes spout their polarizing palaver for many different reasons. Some do it because they want to demonstrate how enlightened they are. Some do it because of sanctimony. Some do it because they are ignorant. Some do it because they hate capitalism and democracy. Some do it because they are treasonous. Whatever the reason, the attitudes and behavior of Americaphobes are not the result of well-considered and objective deliberation or of compassion. They are the exact opposite of what they claim to be.
Trotsky, the founder of the Red Army, once said that terrorists could not function without sympathizers. From the pronouncements of many Americaphobes, it would seem that there is fertile ground in America for any terrorist organization.
Criticizing American policy is intrinsically American. Condemning America is quite another matter. Americaphobes seem to be adherents of Lenin’s philosophy of Vanguardism - which states that workers are not capable of acting in their own interests and need an educated elite to lead them in revolution.