Glenn Greenwald: When killer is one of us, we find excuses
BY Glenn Greenwald, Chicago Sun-Times March 20, 2012 10:18PM
Here’s a summary of the Western media discussion of what motivated U.S. Staff Sgt. Robert Bales on March 11 to allegedly kill 16 Afghans, including nine children:
† He was drunk.
† He was experiencing financial stress.
† He was passed over for a promotion.
† He had a traumatic brain injury.
† He had marital problems.
† He suffered from the stresses of four tours of duty.
† He saw his buddy’s leg blown off the day before the massacre.
“A diverging portrait is emerging as records and interviews reveal a man appreciated by friends and family who won military commendations, yet one who faced professional disappointment, financial trouble and brushes with the law,” reports the Associated Press, summarizing it all. “The more complex picture included details on how Robert Bales was bypassed for promotion, struggled to pay for his house and eyed a way out of his job at a Washington state military base months before he was accused of the horrific nighttime slaughter.”
Here’s a summary of the Western media discussion of what motivates Muslims to kill Americans: They are primitive, fanatically religious, hateful Terrorists.
Even when Muslims who engage in such acts toward Americans clearly and repeatedly explain that they did it in response to American acts of domination, aggression, violence and civilian-killing in their countries, and even when the violence is confined to soldiers who are part of a foreign army that has invaded and occupied their country, the only cognizable motive is one of primitive, hateful evil. It is an act of Evil Terrorism, and that is all there is to say about it.
Note, too, that in the case of Bales (or any other cases of American violence against Muslims), people have little difficulty understanding the distinction between (a) discussing and trying to understand the underlying motives of the act (causation) and (b) defending the act (justification).
But that same distinction completely evaporates when it comes to Muslim violence against Americans. Those who attempt to understand or explain the act — they’re responding to American violence in their country; they’re traumatized and angry at the continuous deaths of Muslim children and innocent adults; they’ve calculated that striking at Americans is the only way to deter further U.S. aggression — are immediately accused of mitigating, justifying or even defending terrorism.
There is, quite obviously, a desperate need to believe that when an American engages in acts of violence of this type, there must be some underlying mental or emotional cause that makes it sensible, something other than an act of pure hatred or evil.
When a Muslim engages in acts of violence against Americans, there is an equally desperate need to believe the opposite: that this is yet another manifestation of inscrutable hatred and evil, and any discussion of any other causes must be prohibited and ignored.
Glenn Greenwald is a columnist and blogger for Salon, where this was posted.
Original post: When killer is one of us, we find excuses