Excerpt:

So much about the rottenness of a culture and a brand of politics can be told from the matter of whom people blame. Strong cultures which know themselves do not find it hard to discern the difference between a firefighter and a fire. Weak, confused and fearful cultures lack any such ability.

If someone carries out a terrorist attack, they worry: Is the attacker to blame or are the victims? When a country suffers an outrage, are the people who carried out that outrage to blame, or might it be the fault of the country which has been subjected to the assault?

After 9/11, there were infamous examples of people claiming that America had "brought it upon itself." The Cambridge classics professor, Mary Beard, writing in the London Review of Books, famously commented, "However tactfully you dress it up, the United States had it coming." People will remember the infamous Ward Churchill's claim that it was the people in the Twin Towers who were "little Eichmanns," not the people who flew the planes into those towers.


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