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Posted in: Jihad & Terrorism

Published on Dec 02, 2009 by Phyllis Chesler

Written for Pajamas Media

The 9/11 of 1859: Is Al-Qaeda An Abolitionist Movement?


The daily propaganda which masquerades as news and as learned opinion has just gotten my goat.

Yesterday, the New York Times published an editorial condemning Switzerland as "intolerant" for having voted to ban minarets—minarets, not mosques.

God, I cannot recall an editorial in their pages condemning Arab and Muslim countries for not allowing any Christian churches, Jewish synagogues, or Hindu and Bahai temples to be built. Nor has the Paper of Record really focused on the real refugee story in the Middle East: that of Arab Jews who were forced to flee the Islamic world and came as refugees to Israel between 1948-1956 and constituted a "silent" exodus, one which is still ongoing. My friend Pierre Rehov directed and distributed the most haunting and powerful film with this exact title.

Further, in today's New York Times, a typically biased piece titled "Jewish Nationalists Clash with Palestinians" also appeared. Note: The headline does not say "Israeli citizens," nor does it describe the Palestinians as "nationalists" as well. But the main omission is this: The Times' Isabel Kershner fails to note that the confrontation turned ugly when Americans and Europeans (Swedes) physically assaulted Jewish "nationalists" with clubs and stones. What are they doing here? Where are they when Sderot is being shelled? And, by the way, the fact that the Israeli High Court, which has rendered many pro-Palestinian decisions, ruled that these particular Palestinian nationalist settlers were there illegally is not given the proper weight in this article.

The fact that Jordan is already a "Palestinian" state never seems to register in this newspaper. True, the Jordanians did not want the mainly Palestinian terrorists and massacred and expelled them in 1970; Israel alone is expected to live with them.

But the most troubling article today is one that the distinguished Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and author, Tony Hurwitz, wrote. Horwitz compares John Brown the "abolitionist" and "terrorist" to—you guessed it—Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the 9/11 hijackers. The title of his piece is "The 9/11 of 1859."

What are they drinking or smoking over there?

Most of the piece is devoted to a sympathetic portrayal of John Brown, a man whose cause was "just." Horwitz describes Brown as a "bearded fundamentalist." The drawing that accompanies the piece shows us someone who does, in some ways, resemble members of the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba, etc.

Only towards the end, after arousing much reader sympathy for John Brown and for the "justness" of his cause, does Horwitz admit that "Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is no John Brown. The 9/11 attack caused mass, indiscriminate slaughter, for inscrutable ends. Brown fed breakfast to his hostages; the hijackers slit throats with box cutters."

Nevertheless, Horwitz has already argued al-Qaeda's point for them, namely, that from their point of view their cause is "just," that infidels have been "occupying holy Muslim lands," that America's support for Israel is a high crime, etc.

Horwitz has omitted at least two important facts. First, only a few civilians were killed in the fight between Brown and United States forces at Harper's Ferry. On 9/11, nearly 3000 innocent civilians were slaughtered. The death and casualty count has continued to rise due to post-9/11 illnesses. Second, Islam and Muslims, beginning with Mohammed, have historically practiced slavery; some Muslims still do so to this very day. (Thanks to one of my readers for reminding me of this point).

Why has Horwitz written this article? Does he really need to publicize his upcoming book about Brown right now? Or is this a vehicle for his opposition to President Obama's decision to send more troops into Afghanistan? Horwitz does note that the war in Afghanistan has, indeed, "killed more than twice as many Americans as (were killed by the) hijacked planes."

There is more: A second piece appears on the same page as Horwitz's. Its title? "Freedom's Martyr"; its author, David S. Reynolds, argues that Obama should now pardon the deceased Brown.

Are we supposed to view KSM as a freedom fighter and as an "abolitionist terrorist"? Is Eric Holder already thinking that President Obama should pardon him?

The problem of "narratives" that Thomas Friedman so refreshingly wrote about on Sunday is all but forgotten. The belief that, as I've written, the jihadist is always the victim, that terrorist barbarism always has a just reason and once understood, negotiations may take place, etc.–was finally put to rest, at least once, in their pages. And by Friedman himself.

That was too good to last. Now, it's back to business as usual at the Gray Lady.


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