For years, each year, as September 11th approached, thoughts and pen fell to the realities of that day: the attack, the courage of Police, Firefighters and those at work in the towers; the horror, the hopelessness surrounding the choice to be consumed by fire or jump, a choice only as to the means to a certain fate. I recalled the politics of the day and how little support we enjoyed internationally beyond easy rhetoric.
As the second plane crashed into the World Trade Center, standing alone in a hotel room in Dallas, an unthinking utterance escaped me; “this changes everything”! Deep analysis was not required; it was clear what had happened despite initial confusion.
A year passed. During that year each morning began with a rush to the TV fearful that another horror had occurred overnight. I, as did many, were glued to media reporting in search of insight and answers. Confusion was not met with clarity. On the first anniversary of 9/11 in light of a number of failed attacks, instincts prevailed, and frustration mounted in the evolving belief that the story had not, would not or could not be told by the traditional media.
Desperate to achieve some level of understanding; a self directed commitment. Sports magazines, science fiction, mystery novels and political thrillers would be put aside; no more time wasted in pursuit of entertainment or escape, it was time for serious engagement; a journey in pursuit of understanding and insight. There was no perception of what that promise might entail; the journey continues these eight years later; no end in sight!
Standing on the shoulders of Bodansky, Wright, Emerson, Lewis, Manji, Bar, Corbin, McCarthy, Rosseti, Fromkin, Milelli, Franz, Collins, Spencer, Ye’or, Kepel, Timmerman, Karsh and more; primary sources, historians, translations, opinion writers, journalists; each providing a puzzle piece and each pointing to yet another source, another piece of the picture, another stop along the way. The journey continues motivated by the horror of that day; the learning curve has been engaged, undeterred by accusations of paranoia, Islamophobia, racism, prejudice and xenophobia.
Will there be another 9/11? The probability declines in direct relationship to the degree of legal, political and cultural progress Islamists believe they have achieved in convincing us that they are not a threat. The threat is based, at its most fundamental level, on American tolerance and Constitutional protections. The threat rests on the belief that we can be defeated from within based on our own values and systems. The threat has a plan. The threat is patient, politically astute in most cases and exceptionally clever. The path, for now, is a seemingly never ending series of small steps, minor points of erosion, reliance on the application of mindless political correctness and demands based on our own inherent sense of tolerance.
This threat is unique in our history, utilizing the framework of American religious tolerance as the critical expedient. While religious tolerance certainly exists within portions of Islam, it does not exist in the Islamist worldview; it is critically important to separate the two intellectually. The threat does not come from some generic version of Islam. There is no generic Islam as there is no generic Christianity. The threat comes from an interpretation of Islam that dominates the conversation within Islam. The loudest voices are the Islamist voices and the majority of Muslims are, sympathetic or intimidated by the Islamist message. The intellectual infrastructure of Islam exists predominantly in support of the Islamist view, of this there can be little doubt.
Overwhelming evidence exists that Islamists are manipulating a state of affairs where the absence of active participation in terror equals, somehow, “moderation”. This is not the case and is a fiction applied by useful idiots! You cannot devolve a culture such as ours with violence; you can however do so by way of courts, laws, legislators, the manipulation of inherent freedoms and unjustified guilt.
Nine years removed from September 11 the verdict is still in doubt. Charges of discrimination against Muslims are met with nodding heads in the media, evidence not required. The constant attacks and the proposition that “freedoms” are being denied to Muslims are accepted despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The application of American standards of freedoms and rights are demanded by those who espouse a belief system that is in diametric opposition to democratic systems and values. The “moderate” label is applied to individuals such as Imam Rauf who promises “explosive reactions” if the insult of the Ground Zero Mosque does not proceed uninhibited; sensitivities disregarded as prejudice and intolerance. These charges are standard rhetorical fare for cultural and legal Islamists and, for the moment, taken seriously.
The final verdict will be based on our own self perception. Do we value our culture and the history that exists in support of it? Does anything trump religious tolerance for a religious interpretation that is based on intolerance? Do we view ourselves as the problem? Will we fight the war of ideas? Will we excuse violence and intimidation because it occurs in the context of religious beliefs? Will we engage in tolerance right up to the point where tolerance overwhelms us? Will we accept that those involved in cultural, legal, social and political Jihad are simply “moderates” based on no more than their politically correct rhetoric wholly disconnected from the belief system they espouse? Will we come to understand that the Islamist message is customized for each audience intended to frame the context of continued erosion of traditional values? Will we cave into charges of prejudice and intolerance that bear no resemblance to reality? Will we hold our beloved “moderates” to account for the differences between what is said to the media and what is said in Mosques and foreign lands?
Can we face the reality that September 11th was just one of many tactics aimed at us, all with the same goals?
We will be forced, at some point in time, to face these questions. Delay complicates eventual confrontation. How we face these questions will either honor the victims of September 11 or cast them aside as meaningless cannon fodder. The verdict remains unresolved! It remains unresolved at our peril.