Ignorance of Middle East history threat to freedom | TheUnion.com

Ignorance of Middle East history threat to freedom

It seems to me that the majority of individuals who speak in support of a war with Iraq are not familiar with the history of the Middle East. Please, pick up a book and read about the history, culture, tradition, politics and religion, and the development of extremist movements in that part of the world. Today’s problems cannot be understood apart from the context of history.

Many here have argued that we should not pause and ask why 9/11 happened, and that seeking to understand the underlying factors leading up to this event is unpatriotic. Education is not unpatriotic. The search for knowledge and understanding is necessary in order to form intelligent opinions, make meaningful choices and informed decisions on issues that matter. Every choice has a consequence. It is therefore important to identify and consider all sides surrounding this complex situation before taking a hard line.

Anger and fear are natural emotions, and though one can acknowledge the presence of these feelings, it’s a good idea to try to not let emotional reactions cut you off from learning. Without knowledge you are likely to make a blind choice, possibly creating the very situation you most fear, rather than preventing it. Alternatively, if you feel hatred towards those who are planning attacks on the U.S., start learning as much as you can about “your enemy”. Why are these people so desperate? For example, if you don’t know why the Islamic extremist movements came into being, you cannot fully understand what an attack on Iraq means. Find objective information and opposite viewpoints, and compare it to the beliefs you already have.

This learning process is not a mind-grinder where you end up on the other side in the form of a “peace-lover”, or “communist.” You will still be you. Reality is made up of multiple layers that we cannot always afford to exempt ourselves from just because we don’t agree with or like them. The biggest threat against our security and freedom is our own ignorance.

(Book suggestion: “Islam, a Short History”, by Karen Armstrong.)

Mia Nash

Alta Sierra

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