Mr. Walker's essay belongs to that large and growing genre of fiction, the political fairytale. The aim of such works is not to put its readers to sleep, but to soothe them into acquiescence. This it does in two ways. First, it tells people what they want to hear--the threat of radical Islam is overstated by irresponsible purveyors of hysteria. Second, it flatters their moral vanity: you, Dear Reader, are a good liberal and know that there is no political problem that cannot be solved by good will and a willingness to negotiate and see the other chap's point of view.
Trying to understand the "other" is always fraught with difficulty, since we only have "ourselves" with which to accomplish this task. Some degree of narcissism is invariably embedded into any attempt at understanding, but will it leave space for anything else?
Many of the anti-American, anti-West folks only provide a facade of understanding the "other". The end product of these "understandings" contains a tired refrain. At base, the "other" is actually noble and wondrous and a victim (and nothing else), while America and Western institutions and intellectual traditions and practices are polluted (and nothing else). The "crimes" of the west have no statute of limitations, and the sins of the elder accrue to the latter generations.
The "other" of today is to be understood using Western modes of thinking, but is not responsible in the Western sense of the word. The Westerner of yesterday is to be understood using today's modes of thought, isn't alive to be responsible, so the Westerner of today must be held responsible. In other words the "other" is primarily thought of as an adolescent using adolscent modes of thought.
Yes, the adolescent has something to say, but the punchline is usually "...and you're a hypocrite, so I should be able to do whatever I want". Being willing to see the other chap's point of view is a great tradition, but it is not the only tradition and is incomplete in trying to fully comprehend the "other". When a victim must always be viewed as nothing but "innocent", one actually demeans the "other". The "other" is deprived, in that way of thinking, of the dignity of choice and is prevented from being exposed to another Western tradition, letting the chips fall where they may.
"Why do they hate us?" is a question that undergoes a subtle transformation in the minds of many anti-American, anti-West folks. It becomes: well nobody could really hate me, because I'm wonderful, so they must really hate you (Bushmacchimphitler & Halliburton & anyone else I don't agree with and didn't vote for. Since anyone who disagrees with me must hate me, I am within my rights to hate them...and that means you). Since I hate you and the Islamists hate you, they must be onto something, so I'll give them some more time to calm down a bit, so they don't accidentally hurt me. Accidentally, because they aren't responsible for this, you know.