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Jewish World Review April 5, 2002 / 24 Nisan, 5762

Dennis Prager

Dennis Prager
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It's the values, stupid -- There is one overwhelming reason some Americans -- particularly academics and news people -- cannot understand why much of the Islamic Middle East, and especially the Arab world, hates America. They refuse to acknowledge the painful truth that, at least in our time, our two civilizations have rather different values.

The notion that cultures have different values and that sometimes one civilization's values may actually be superior is anathema to many of the best educated Americans. They believe in multiculturalism, moral relativism, not passing moral judgments, and other ideas whose goals are to render all cultures morally equivalent.

Thus, if significant parts of the Islamic world hate us, this hatred must be explained as American support for non-democratic regimes in the Arab world, American support for Israel, American wealth, and the spread of American popular culture (some of which is, indeed, degrading). But to those who believe no culture's values are superior to any other's, this hatred of America and the attacks on it must never be explained as reflecting poorly on the culture that spawned the terrorists.

Take for example, the reaction of James Zogby of the Arab-American Institute to the recent USA Today/Gallup Poll among Americans and among residents of Islamic countries. The poll revealed, among other things, that: 90 percent of Americans "believe that groups of Arabs carried out the attacks against the USA on Sept.11," while large to overwhelming majorities of residents of Islamic countries do not believe that it was Arabs who attacked America on 9-11.

Mr. Zogby said that such differing beliefs are a result of "gaps in perception and gaps in compassion." He explains "gaps in compassion" as meaning, "We feel our pain and don't feel theirs. They feel their pain and don't feel ours."

But it is the "gaps in perceptions" notion that is most telling. For that is how almost all news media report the widespread denial in the Islamic and Arab worlds that 9-11 terrorists were Arabs. Indeed the headline in USA Today was "Differences in Perceptions Fuel Mistrust; Americans, Muslim world see eye to eye on few issues."

"Differences in perceptions"? This reduction of truth to a matter of perception is Orwellian. Whether one believes that Arabs attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, has nothing whatsoever to do with "perceptions." It has to do only with one's commitment to truth. Acknowledging that groups of Arabs attacked the United States on that day is no more subject to "perceptions" than acknowledging that groups of Japanese attacked the United States on Dec. 7, 1941.

But to recognize that much of the Islamic world believes a huge lie runs against the intellectual elite's beliefs in the moral parity of civilizations and in not passing judgments, especially if the judgment is in favor of Western civilization.

Yet, that is the issue here -- almost the whole issue. Much of the Islamic and Arab world tells itself and believes a lot of lies.

That is why so many Egyptians deny the just-released National Transportation Safety Board report with its overwhelming evidence that EgyptAir pilot Gameel El-Batouti deliberately killed himself and the 216 others aboard EgyptAir 990 on Oct. 31, 1999.

That is why a Saudi newspaper recently published articles "reporting" in detail how Jews kill non-Jewish youths and drain their blood for use in Jewish holiday pastries.

The Arab/Islamic world's media lie about Jews, Israel and America daily. And the great majority of their listeners, viewers and readers believe those lies.

This poll has nothing to do with "perceptions." It has to do with the single most important source of liberty and morality -- truth -- and about the single greatest source of evil -- lies.

When hundreds of millions of people deny objective truth, the battle is far greater than merely political. It is truly civilizational.

Of course, none of this is in any way a form of racial or ethnic bigotry -- any more than saying that Nazi Germany was a culture with worse values was not a bigoted statement against Germans. But the fact that many distinguished newspapers and "experts" deny this values-gap and dismiss it as being merely an issue of differing perceptions only adds to the enormity of the battle our civilization has to wage.

JWR contributor Dennis Prager hosts a national daily radio show based in Los Angeles. He is a director of Empower America and the author of "Happiness is a Serious Problem". Click here to visit his website and here to comment on this column.


01/31/02: Smoke and lose your son

10/30/01: Why Arab/Muslim anti-Semites are worse than the Nazis

© 2002, Creators Syndicate