When Bill O'Reilly told the ladies of The View last Thursday morning that he opposed the construction of the Ground Zero Mosque because "Muslims killed us on 9/11" they reacted as if he had committed an act of blasphemy.
Now anyone with a scintilla of common sense knows that O'Reilly didn't claim every Muslim on the planet was responsible for the September 11 attacks. But alas common sense and liberalism seldom meet. Indeed, when most liberals see common sense coming towards them they cross the street to avoid it. How else to explain the sight of Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg walking off the set of their own show?
Given the rancor that had ensued, it was only natural that much of that evening's edition of The O'Reilly Factor was devoted to what had occurred a few hours earlier. Fortunately, there was none of the hysterical histrionics that were on display on The View.
One of O'Reilly's guests that evening was Alicia Menendez, a senior advisor at the New Democratic Network (NDN), a liberal think tank. Menendez, who is also the daughter of New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, was considerably more mature when conversing with O'Reilly than either Behar or Goldberg. Yet despite Menendez's even tempered disposition I found this particular observation to be rather question begging:
I feel like you and I could get into the semantics of this when really this is a much bigger question. You and I both know it's a much bigger question about how we talk about September 11th. How much politics we want involved in September 11th? I don't want any. I think this is supposed to be a day of remembrance and resolve for America and should have nothing to do with politics.
September 11, of course, must be a day of remembrance for those who were killed in the World Trade Center, in the Pentagon and those who were aboard American Airlines Flight 11, United Airlines Flight 175, American Airlines Flight 77 and United Airlines Flight 93. Yet how can September 11 be a day of remembrance if we are unwilling to remember who was responsible for killing nearly 3,000 people? How can September 11th be a day of resolve if we are unwilling to come to the resolution that nearly 3,000 people were killed in the name of Islamic fundamentalism? How can September 11 be either a day of remembrance or resolve if we are unable to recall the words of Osama bin Laden in his 1998 fatwa ordering Muslims to murder Americans and our allies?
The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies -- civilians and military -- is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy mosque [Mecca] from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim.
All of which brings me back to Menendez. After stating that September 11 should be "a day of remembrance and resolve for America," she went on to observe:
Furthermore, it concerns me when religion is used as a wedge issue between people and that's why we need to be careful here because when religion is used to drive people apart; that's an abuse of religion.
Once again this begs more questions. Are we using religion as a "wedge" if we ask ourselves if nearly 3,000 people would still be alive if bin Laden did not tell his Muslim brethren it was their duty to kill Americans? Is it an "abuse of religion" if we accurately document the statements and actions of Muslim clerics and their followers who want to visit grievous harm upon America? Are we to throw away our tradition of free speech and freedom of thought because a small minority of Muslims might not like what they hear? If reasonable American liberals like Menendez object to this line of inquiry, then how can we properly remember September 11, 2001, much less resolve that it never happen again?
Well, at least Menendez did not accuse O'Reilly of bigotry. The same could not be said of Joy Behar. In Behar's eyes, it is O'Reilly, not Osama, who is engaging in "hate speech." Well, I suppose it could be worse. At least O'Reilly isn't in the shoes of Geert Wilders and Behar isn't a member of the Dutch judiciary bent on putting him in jail for making "illegal observations." But when one considers the Obama Administration's support of the efforts of the Organization of the Islamic Conference to make criticism of Islam a violation of international law at the UN, one then must wonder if in a few short years O'Reilly's observations, however accurate, could become illegal.
No wonder then that Nidal Malik Hasan could walk into a room on an American military base shouting "Allahu Akbar" while carrying a business card which read "Soldier of Allah" before proceeding to kill a dozen U.S. soldiers and a civilian in cold blood. After all, when the Pentagon released its report on the terrorist attack at Fort Hood last January there was no mention made of either Hasan or how his religion motivated his actions. If our own military cannot bring itself to publicly state that a Muslim soldier killed his fellow soldiers in the name of Islam should it really come as any surprise that Behar and Goldberg would have such a visceral reaction when O'Reilly said "Muslims killed us on 9/11"?
Remembering September 11, 2001 is not only about those who perished. It is also about why they perished. And how can we remember why they perished if we stand up and walk out of the room?
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