I wish I could say this isn't true, but most Americans (and Europeans too) are oblivious as to why much of the rest of the world hates the West. In liberal academia, the culprits are usually Western imperialism and Western economic domination through international lending institutions (such as the World Bank and IMF) and international corporations. Even fewer Americans know that much of the Muslim world view 9/11 as retaliation for Western abuse of power, not as anarchic terror. The stated abuses are as follows:
1. The unbalanced support of the U.S. for Israel in oppressing the Palestinians
2. The U.S. sanctions and bombing campaing in Iraq in the decade of the 90's that killed hundreds and thousands of Muslims.
3. The U.S. support of corrupt and oppressive regimes throughout the Muslim world
4. The presence of U.S.troops in Muslim lands (which is viewed as a desecration of sacred soil)
These four points are exactly what Bin Laden used to justify 9/11, and they are still being used to recruit moderate Muslism to radical Islam today. Every American should at least know this, but very few do.
According to author Meic Pearse, the last four points mentioned are merely symtoms of what is really driving anti-Western sentiment around the world. In his book, Why the Rest Hates the West. Pearse argues that the real reasons why the rest of the world (especially the Islamic world) hate us are largely cultural. Values that we take for granted, such as freedom, human rights,individualism are viewed by others as a prescription for moral anarchy. Freedom means disrespect for authority, human rights means entitlement, individualism means breakdown of the family. Now that Western society is largely secular, most Westerners scorn traditional morality (especially in regard to sexual values and the integrity of the family) and are ever too willing to impose their "freedom" on others...whether they want it or not. For Pearse, the rest of the world views Westerners as morally contemptible barbarians with little respect for family, religion, and tradition. In other words, the real root of global rage lies in cultural imperialism. We believe our values are universal and can't understand why the rest of the world doesn't want our values.
There is much to this thesis, but it does underscore a point I made in my speech for the film "Holy Wars" and that is that there needs to be a serious attempt at dialogue between the twin civilizations of the West and Islam....our very survival depends on it.