Columnists’ hypocrisy destroys messages

IBy Brandon Thompson

in the weeks and months following the tragedy of Sept. 11, and now again in the wake of the anniversary of that date, perhaps thousands of pages of newsprint have been devoted to discussing the events that have touched all of us. Over the year, I have noticed an increasing tendency for editorials to focus on the wrongs done by the United States surrounding those events, rather than the wrongs done to the United States. The Daily printed one such editorial written by professor Caesar Farah (“Our responses to Sept. 11 could lead to danger or reconciliation,” Sept. 12), and it is in regard to this column that I am writing.

As I read the column, the first thing I was struck by was the benign characterization given to the attacks. The individuals who hijacked three airplanes and murdered thousands of people were classified as “Saudi Arabian youths from largely affluent middle class families,” a classification that seemed rather kind. Reading on, I found myself puzzled about Farah’s accusation that, in the aftermath of the attacks, President George W. Bush made no attempt to explain why such youths would have engaged in these sorts of activities. Of course, Farah did not call it terrorism. Instead, he questioned – with seeming sarcasm – why such affluent youths “should dare to violate American sanctity in such a manner.” The tone of these first paragraphs surprised me. After all, even though few columnists are willing to be so politically incorrect, the fact remains that 19 individuals from Arab nations carried out the planned execution of thousands of civilians.

As I read on, however, I realized that it was more than just the tone of the column that struck me. It was the hypocrisy I have seen in so many editorials like Farah’s. For example, if the United States harbored a man who was wanted by the Saudi government for blowing up a mosque in Riyadh, it seems highly unlikely that Farah would support the United States prosecuting him. But he seems to see no hypocrisy in suggesting that the United States should have allowed a court in a nation with which we have no diplomatic relations to try a man who is wanted in the United States for a crime committed against Americans on U.S. soil.

Perhaps even more hypocritical is the stance Farah takes with regard to the toppling of the Taliban. While preaching “tolerance and understanding” throughout his column, Farah offers no support for the removal of a ruling party that instituted arguably the least tolerant or understanding policies in recent memory. Rather than express relief that the United States assisted the people of Afghanistan in ridding themselves of this group, Farah makes the ridiculous assertion that U.S. action in Afghanistan was motivated by a desire of our “oil man” president to give ourselves an easier trade route through Central Asia. Not only is Farah’s take on the fall of the Taliban hypocritical, it is insulting to the people, both American and Afghan, who gave their lives to oust that repressive regime.

Most hypocritical of all, however, is Farah’s discussion of Christians. While Farah is no doubt one of the countless individuals who rightly denounce the labeling of all Muslims as fanatical terrorists, he nevertheless uses the words and actions of a tiny fraction of “Christians” to suggest that all Christians lack respect for Islam as a religion. Not only is this totally false, it simply breeds the sort of stereotyping that we should be avoiding.

Farah, and all of the columnists like you, I agree with and support what I believe to be your general message: Tolerance and understanding should be the order of the day. But when double standards are so apparent, that worthy message gets lost. And all that is left is the hypocrisy.