Editorial: Consider different perspectives



Editorial Board

Iowa State University has been in several national headlines recently. An international studies professor assigned an essay to students that asked them to think about the events of 9/11 from the perspective of the terrorists who perpetrated the attacks.

This exercise, viewing the attack on America from a non-Western, terrorist’s perspective is indeed a good assignment. One of the first questions after the attack was why? Former President George W. Bush’s address to the nation after the attack had an answer. He reiterated what Americans had been saying: “Why do they hate us?”

It is important to note that the “they” Bush talked about were terrorists, though many people simply, and wrongly, lumped together all Muslims. But the question remains: Why did this horrible attack on America happen? To answer this painful and complicated question we have to do exactly what the Iowa State professor assigned: We have to think about the events on 9/11 from the perspective of the terrorists who carried out the attack. We have to look into the history of al-Qaeda and their ideology. We must listen to their grievances and complaints to understand why they decided so many American civilian lives could be lost.

It can be painful and upsetting to research and write about ideas and concepts that you wholly disagree with. But it is a very valuable tool to consider events from differing perspectives. In fact, it is crucial for American security to find out why these events happened. If we are ever to stop terrorists, we must think about why they choose their actions and what led them to the point of attack. When we don’t think about the attacks from their perspective, we are eliminating a vital piece of evidence that helps provide a broader picture of what happened.

Police officers use this tactic in regular investigations as well. They ask criminals why they committed a crime to better understand the events leading up to it. They try to think like the criminal to find out if there is a way to intervene in the lives of like-minded people and stop a similar crime from happening.

We inherently have a bias when considering world events. Those of us who grew up in a western nation view and treat the world differently than someone who grew up surrounded by different culture, people and practices. It is not wrong for us to have this bias; however, we have to be aware of it and how it may impact our view on the world and its events.

We stand with professor James Strohman, and Iowa State University, as we seek to create a well-rounded student body that considers multiple perspectives and encourages students to tackle complex issues.