On April 30, 2011, while on a visit to New York City, my father and I made a point of going to Ground Zero. It was a Saturday afternoon that was supposed to be warm but the wind was heavy and my sweater wasn't equal to the task. The chilliness was accompanied by a feeling of emptiness. Although progress was being made on 1 World Trade Center there was still a large gaping hole where the WTC once stood. It is well worth remembering that the Empire State Building was built in a little over a year ahead of schedule and under budget in the midst of The Great Depression. Sadly, the rebuilding of the WTC has become an unfortunate testament to our "can't do" bureaucratic spirit which has the effect of making us look weak and small to our allies and enemies alike. Nor does it honor those who perished that Tuesday morning.
The crowd at Ground Zero was scattered and sparse. Certainly nothing like it was when I was there in June 2003 with my parents and my older brother Ezra. But with the passage of time comes the inevitable fade of memory. The events simply aren't as immediate and people move on to other things. Fewer come by to take note of what happened.
Yet 36 hours after my father and I had been there, Ground Zero was once again teeming with people. This time it was full of elation and euphoria when it was learned that Osama bin Laden had been killed by a team of Navy SEALS. Unfortunately, this collective catharsis was quickly chastised by the chattering classes who said we shouldn't be celebrating the death of another human being like we had just won the Super Bowl.
Well, by that logic, the famous kiss between the sailor and the nurse in Times Square on V-J Day would be considered an inappropriate public display of affection. After all, there would not have been a victory over Japan if American forces hadn't dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Yet people back then had the common sense to understand that the sailor and the nurse were spontaneously celebrating the end of the war rather than celebrating the deaths of Japanese civilians. Of course back then patriotism wasn't something to feel ashamed about.
The people at Ground Zero were celebrating justice having been served. This so-called human being the chattering classes wanted us to shed tears over had written, "We -- with God's help -- call on every Muslim who believes in God and wishes to be rewarded to comply with God's order to kill the Americans (italics mine) and plunder their money wherever and whenever they find it." These same chattering classes have no objection to giving bin Laden a Sharia compliant burial at sea. But raise a cross in honor of the lives he took and you get a lawsuit. Nor do these chattering classes have a problem with building a mosque at Ground Zero but won't say a word about rebuilding St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, which was destroyed when the South Tower collapsed.
Of course, the tone of this discourse is set by our Chatterer-in-Chief. Sure, President Obama gave the order to kill bin Laden. But we cannot confront Islamic fundamentalist terrorism if we are unable to speak of either Islamic fundamentalism or terrorism. To call the events of September 11, 2001 "a man caused disaster" and the 19 hijackers "violent extremists" doesn't begin to describe what happened that day much less why it happened. America might not be at war with Islam but a critical mass of Muslims is most surely at war with America and will not cease to be at war with America simply because bin Laden is dead. For all of President Obama's efforts to embark upon a "new beginning" with the Muslim world, it turns out that Muslims hold him in greater contempt than George W. Bush. It doesn't matter if the President of the United States watches NASCAR or reads Niebuhr. Both are infidels just the same.
This means we can expect more attacks from Islamic fundamentalists -- albeit perhaps not on the scale of what occurred on September 11, 2001. But then again how many lives would have been lost on a busy Saturday night if that Times Square t-shirt vendor hadn't seen something and said something? So what does it say about us that a gunman carrying business cards with the phrase "Soldier of Allah" can shout "Allahu Akbar!!!" as he kills thirteen of his fellow servicemen and his religious motives merit no mention in the official report? What does it say about us as a people when two middle-aged liberal women are applauded for walking off their own show when a man of conservative inclinations says that "Muslims killed us on 9/11"? It says that we are easily spooked and those who are easily spooked are not inclined to stand up for themselves.
No sooner than Trey Parker and Matt Stone had their lives threatened by a fringe Muslim group in Brooklyn over a two part episode of South Park featuring the Prophet Muhammad, Comedy Central pulled the plug. Yet when Parker and Stone wrote The Book of Mormon, producers fell all over themselves to mount the musical and it became the toast of Broadway, winning nine Tony Awards. There were no Mormons with machine guns to worry about. It's easy to satirize a religion whose followers turn the other cheek.
It doesn't do us much good to remember those who died on September 11, 2001 unless we remember who was responsible for carrying out these acts of evil and the religious ideology which drove them to do it.
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