Quiz: Blaming America for 9/11

Conservatives Show Hypocrisy in Criticizing U.S. Policies

Take Sally Steenland’s quiz and see if you can match the conservative with his or her quote blaming the United States for the 9/11 attacks.

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Conservatives like Glenn Beck admit U.S. policies may have played a role in our being attacked on 9/11 but then label others with similar views as anti-American. (AP/Richard Drew)
Conservatives like Glenn Beck admit U.S. policies may have played a role in our being attacked on 9/11 but then label others with similar views as anti-American. (AP/Richard Drew)

Opponents of the proposed Islamic center near ground zero claim that the man behind the center, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, is a terrorist sympathizer who blames America for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. They point to a “60 Minutes” interview in 2001 where Imam Feisal said that the United States was an “accessory to a lot of innocent lives dying in the world” and that while America did not deserve to be attacked, our policies were linked to the crime. Imam Feisal’s words outraged conservatives who say that anyone who criticizes America when it comes to 9/11 is a traitor.

Well, almost anyone.

It turns out that a number of prominent conservatives have also criticized America regarding the horrific terrorist attacks on 9/11. But somehow their critiques have escaped conservative rebuke, while critiques from others have been slammed.

Take the quiz below and see if you can match the quote with the speaker. The answers are at the bottom.


a. Rev. Jeremiah Wright

b. Dinesh D’Souza

c. Sen. Ron Paul (R-TX)


e. Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK)

f. Bill Maher

g. Glenn Beck

h. Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton

i. Susan Sontag

j. Jerry Falwell

k. Harry Belafonte

l. Jake Towne

m. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)

n. William Kristol


1. When people said they hate us, well did we deserve 9/11? No. But were we minding our business? No. Were we in bed with dictators and abandoned our values and principles? Yes. That causes problems.

2. Have you ever read about the reasons they attacked us? They attacked us because we have been over there. We have been bombing Iraq for 10 years. We have been in the Middle East…We need to look at what we do from the perspective of what if someone did it to us.

3. We are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back to our own front yard. America’s chickens are coming home to roost.

4. [Bin Laden attacked the United States because of a] decadent American culture that angers and repulses traditional societies.

5. We have been the cowards, lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away. Staying in the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, it’s not cowardly.

6. For decades in the greater Middle East, we had a strategy of relying on autocrats to provide order and stability. In the late 1970s that strategy began to unravel. The ensuing ferment in the Muslim world produced increasing instability. The autocrats clamped down with ever greater repression, while also surreptitiously aiding Islamic radicalism abroad in the hopes that they would not become its victims. It was a toxic and explosive mixture.

7. We face a rising tide of radicalization and rage in the Muslim world—a trend to which our own actions have contributed.

8. The frequently warned-of 9/11 attacks handed a lackluster presidency irresistible political power to increase inequality, repression, corporate domination, and imperial warfare (and even boost its electoral clout).

9. They’re not attacking us because we’re free or we wear blue jeans or we listen to rock music. They’re attacking us because we’ve been over there. We’ve had troops in Saudi Arabia for many years before that. We were engaged with Iraq, we’ve had an embargo, we’ve been bombing their airspace literally for about 20 years now.

10. One of the reasons I believe the spiritual door was opened for an attack against the United States of America is that the policy of our government has been to ask the Israelis, and demand it with pressure, not to retaliate in a significant way against the terrorist strikes that have been launched against them.

11. Where is the acknowledgment that this was not a “cowardly” attack on “civilization” or “liberty” or “humanity” or “the free world” but an attack on the world’s self-proclaimed superpower, undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions?

12. We had made too many accommodations with dictators; we had turned a blind eye to Saudi Arabia’s export of Wahabbi Islam…too many of these dictators were in bed with terrorists; too many…were exporting terror and extremism as a way of keeping themselves safe at home. The reaction was, in many cases, leading to greater anti-Americanism, greater extremism, and greater terrorism…

13. We move about the world arrogantly, calling wars when we want, overthrowing governments when we want. There is a price to be paid for it—look at 9/11.

14. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way—all of them who have tried to secularize America – I point the finger in their face and say “you helped this happen.”


1 – g

2 – c

3 – a

4 – b

5 – f

6 – m

7 – h

8 – d

9 – l

10 – e

11 – i

12 – n

13 – k

14 – j

Sally Steenland is Director of the Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative and Elelni Towns is a Special Assistant at American Progress.

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.


Sally Steenland

Former Director, Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative

Eleni Towns

Policy Analyst

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