“The Mouse that Roared” is an old black and white movie made in England in 1959. The late Peter Sellers played a number of roles in the film, which is a real classic.
It tells the story of an impoverished fictional country called the Duchy of Grand Fenwick, somewhere in Europe, ruled over by the Grand Duchess and with a prime minister, both played by Sellers.
The Grand Dukedom is broke and somebody proposes the country declare war on the United States because the US always lavishes vast amounts of money on its defeated enemies. The unforeseen problem is that the US doesn’t even notice the declaration of war!
The United States and its allies are in a similar position today – with no awareness of the fact that much of the world considers itself at war with us. We’re too busy having fun to take any notice!
North Korea is a classic example of a nation in a constant state of war, with the US and South Korea. Every time the power goes off in Pyongyang, people think it’s because of some dastardly act by Uncle Sam, who is trying to take over the world.
This misperception is not confined to the paranoid dictatorship of North Korea. When I was in Ghana shortly after 9/11 I saw pictures of Osama bin Laden for sale at the side of the road. I asked a former Muslim why and his response was that “people think that America is trying to take over the world and that Osama bin Laden will stop them!” Ghana is only 14% Muslim.
Across the Islamic world, people believe the “Christian” West is at war with Islam. Leaving aside the issue of whether the West is Christian or not, let’s take some time to see where this common misperception leaves us.
Because we refuse to recognize this fact, we agonize over how two young men who we so kindly took in, can possibly turn against us. How many hours of TV time have been devoted to discussion of why they turned against us? There’s a naïve incredulity on the part of television commentators who cannot come to terms with the fact that so many people hate us, particularly those who adhere to the tenets of Islam.
After all, America has been taking in immigrants for four centuries and no immigrants have turned against us before.
They overlook the fact that there were few Muslims in the US prior to changes in the immigration law in 1965. That’s one reason why this is a new phenomenon.
Well, not so new – 9/11 was also perpetrated by Muslim immigrants. And the Tsarnaevs are not the first second-generation terrorists – Nidal Malik Hasan was a second-generation Muslim immigrant from Jordan. He’s the man who killed thirteen at Fort Hood on November 5th, 2009. In July 2005 second generation British Muslims blew up trains and a bus in London. Like the nineteen terrorists on September 11th and Hasan, they came from affluent backgrounds. Poverty was not a factor.
And it’s not just Muslims. Seung-Hui Cho was an immigrant from South Korea. He killed 32 at Virginia Tech six years ago.
When the US allowed these people into the country and generously gave them the same opportunities as other Americans, why did they violently turn against their fellow Americans?
America is a free country. It’s also a very permissive country where anything goes when it comes to morality. For people brought up with a strict moral code (Muslims, for example), it must be very difficult to reconcile their religion with what they see around them. Is it any wonder that some turn to stricter interpretations of Islam out of contempt for the immorality and licentiousness they witness? They naturally feel contempt for the people around them who do not share their moral code. This explains some of the comments made by the older Tsarnaev brother on Twitter.
Cho, the South Korean immigrant, was different. He was not Muslim. He had previously been diagnosed with a severe anxiety disorder. Could this be related to his coming to America?
America is a very fast-paced, stressful nation. It’s not easy moving here from anywhere else. I know this from personal experience. We moved here in 1990 from Africa, from the slowest and most relaxed part of the world. We felt like we suddenly got on a treadmill that was out of control. Our children were starting their teenage years and seemed to be going everywhere for school activities and get-togethers with friends, giving the sense the family was falling apart. The Tsarnaev’s mother made a similar observation about life in the US.
My family adjusted. But, clearly, not all do. And, I would think, Muslims have a greater problem than others. After all, Islam means “submission” which is the exact opposite of freedom!
None of this excuses what any of these people did. The taking of innocent lives can never be justified.
But, it’s not surprising these two young men reacted the way they did. The real surprise is that more haven’t done so. Maybe they will in the years to come.