The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Thursday July 7th

Column about Al-Qaeda oversimplified the issue


Wednesday’s column (“Historical context often missing,” Sept. 23) would greatly benefit from following its own advice.

The column attempted to encourage us to understand the true history of regions of interest such as the Middle East.

In the process it made just as many irresponsible generalizations that were as equally misleading as “they hate us for our freedom.”

The column suggested that Al-Qaeda and similar terrorist groups merely want the West out of the Middle East.

While this is a stated goal, Al-Qaeda is more concerned with exporting its hateful, chauvinistic brand of fundamentalism around the world and carrying out violent attacks in Russia, Africa and Southeast Asia.

Osama bin Laden and his counterparts have been linked to violence on almost every continent.

The column’s oversimplification seems to suggest that Al-Qaeda is nothing more than post-colonial reactionaries seeking self-determination from Western imperialists. To quote Mr. Fleming, “nothing could be further from the truth.”

Mr. Fleming’s observations about Iraq’s history do raise important concerns about the dangers of ignoring historical context.

But as students of history, politics and culture, we should not fall into the trap of simply shifting blame from one actor to another.

Keith Gordon
Political Science, International Studies

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