If you knew of a person who bullied others day in and day out, would you not understand it when one or more of the bullied became upset?
Most of us don't like being pushed around. We want to make our own choices freely, not be forced into them against our will. Being forced to do something you don't want to do and often don't need to do is a very uncomfortable position to be in. If the bully refuses to leave you alone, it is quite natural to become resentful and angry. If you have the opportunity, it is not above most of us to want to avenge the abuse.
While most Americans can identify with the emotions of being bullied -- if presented in a hypothetical situation -- why is it that they can't or won't apply this sort of identification to Muslims? The answer, of course, has everything to do with American Exceptionalism.
Despite the fact that our nation has spent the last 11+ years bullying Muslims in several nations, the vast majority of Americans express dismay that some of them might be a tad bit resentful and angry. It would be like saying, "I don't understand why they are so mad at us. All we've done is kill tens of thousands of them. So, where on earth could this seething rage come from?"
As David Sirota wrote a few days ago,
With America having killed thousands of civilians in its wars, we should be appalled by acts of terrorism — but we shouldn’t be surprised by them.
And yet, that is precisely the sentiment most Americans express. They are surprised. They are shocked. They are horrified. In many cases, they are utterly dumbfounded.
If the shoe was on the other foot, then most Americans would understand. If another nation routinely bombed American cities and the countryside, do you think Americans would have the least bit of difficulty in understanding how such actions breed hate and contempt?