Volume 96, Issue 14
Friday, September 20, 2002

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You shouldn't feel guilty

To the editor:

I have some concerns with the number of recent letters in which people have pinpointed western/North American greed as the "official" root cause of terrorism. Any social scientist will tell you that many types of behaviour (e.g. violence, criminal activity) often have complex, multiple causes.

Therefore, I believe it is fallacious to single out the discrepancy between the wealthy and the poor as the indisputable cause of terrorist acts such as Sept. 11 and the cause of hatred towards the western world. The case can be made that living in destitute conditions contributes to feelings of anger and hopelessness, which may in turn lead to violent behaviour.

However, the United States and their allies are not solely responsible for causing these conditions. There are some Third World countries being run by lunatics who commit atrocious human rights violations left, right and center, and then tell their citizens that it's America's fault.

A second possible cause of terrorism is that suicide bombers have been "brainwashed" by charismatic figures into believing utter nonsense (e.g. the more civilians you kill, the more virgins you'll receive in heaven). We've seen in North America how irrational people can act when they have been indoctrinated by a cult. Another possible cause is that the masterminds behind the terrorist attacks are psychopaths, not unlike Paul Bernardo or Jeffrey Dahmer.

Don't get me wrong, global inequality is a major issue that needs to be dealt with, but even if every single person in the world had an identical income, I guarantee there would still be plenty of lunatics who had an appetite for killing other people.

North American society is by no means a utopia, but at least we strive for gender and racial equality. Our universities have produced thousands of men and women who have come up with brilliant innovations that benefit humanity, and our citizens make generous donations to all kinds of charitable causes.

There are some greedy misers living among us, but the overwhelming majority of our citizens are generous, caring people who certainly don't deserve to be made to feel guilty about "causing" 9/11.

Graeme Haynes
MA psychology

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