Commentary by Mumia Abu-Jamal: WHY?

The woman’s voice on the phone was as plaintive as a tear, as she implored the non-responsive talk show host to please tell her, “Why do they hate us so much? Why?”

Her voice, while not commonly projected in the current media, resonates in the consciousness of millions of Americans, who look at the carnage of the World Trade Center, shiver at the violent audacity of it, and wonder, “Why?”

This is a particularly American response, one made in a culture that has no yesterdays, and only a tomorrow of creature comforts, no-fat ice cream, and luxury cars.

History, to millions of Americans, is John Wayne, or the vaunted Founding Fathers, who have no blemishes or flaws. Much of the outer world are of no import, as they are subjects of the Empire, and thus expendable.

Their histories, deeply intertwined with the U.S., are of no serious consequence. Hence, the question, “Why?”

This almost willful ignorance of millions of Americans allows them to look at the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole, and the veering jet liners of 11 September, 2001, and ask, “Why?”.

If you, the reader, don’t want to hear an answer to this rhetorical question, feel free to turn the page, for the writer’s response will not please you.


The airplane bombing of the World Trade Center towers and of the Pentagon didn’t begin on Sept. 11, 2001. Nor are they, as some politicians glibly suggest, “A war against civilization.” But it ain’t the job of politicians to inform you.

It is the job of the media, but their central concern is to sell you, and therefore they don’t want to upset you. Their primary responsibility is not to their readers, but to the owners, or the stockholders. And it is the interests of the military-industrial-complex that millions remain uninformed and misinformed.

The suicide flights over New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania had their beginning in the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan, in the 10-year guerrilla war against the former Soviet Union. That war was supported and facilitated by the U.S. CIA, which pumped billions into the anti-Soviet insurgency.

The result? An Algerian sociologist told an American journalist in Algiers, “Your government participated in creating a monster.” The sociologist added, “Now it has turned against you and the world-16,000 Arabs were trained in Afghanistan, made into a veritable killing machine” (Los Angeles Times, Aug. 4, 1996).

A U.S. diplomat in Pakistan echoed these sentiments when he said, “This is an insane instance of the chickens coming home to roost. You can’t plug billions of dollars into an anti-Communist jihad, accept participation from all over the world and ignore the consequences. But we did. Our objectives weren’t peace and grooviness in Afghanistan. Our objective was killing Communists and getting the Russians out” (Los Angeles Times, Aug. 4, 1996, p. 2).

How did the Afghanis pay for the weapons in such a poor, war-ravaged country? How many know that Afghanistan is the world’s greatest producer of heroin? Short on hard dough, the Afghan mujahadin traded heroin for arms with their CIA suppliers, and the “Golden Crescent” heroin ring was born.

When the Soviets were whipped, and the war ended, the insurgents looked around and saw, not Soviet, but U.S. dominance in the region. They saw the U.S. military presence in the Islamic holy places in Saudi Arabia, its backing of anti-democratic client states, its ravaging of Iraq, and its one-sided support of Israel at the expense of the beleaguered Palestinians-and as they examine the U.S., they see the imperial similarities to the Soviets.

Afghanistan, one of the poorest, most rugged places on earth, has a population with a male life expectancy of 46 (45 for females!). It has a literacy rate of about 29 percent. It looks at the swollen opulence of the Americans, the global reach of the American empire, and bristles.

This nationalist, cultural, religious and class distance fuels a deep and abiding hatred of American dominance.

Humiliation, of which the Islamic world has had a great deal since the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1922 and the colonial era of the early-to-middle Twentieth Century, is a powerful force. It brought a humbled Germany to the brink of world conquest after World War I. It is not to be taken lightly.

Afghanistan may prove another turning point in world history, which is why we all should learn about it.


© Copyright 2001 MAJ


To communicate directly with Mumia, please write to him at:

Mumia Abu-Jamal, AM 8335, SCI-Greene,175 Progress Drive, Waynesburg, PA 15370.

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