The ninth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 was, as it should always be, a highly political day. Because the terrorists' act and motivation were political, so must be our response. But our leaders -- Obama and Bush before him -- have chosen not to speak candidly about the nexus among terrorism, politics, and Islam.
Our Malaisean president's statement at the Pentagon on 9-11 is redundant proof. Speaking of terrorists, Obama said, "They may seek to spark conflict between different faiths, but as Americans, we are not -- and never will be -- at war with Islam." Barry added, "It was not a religion that attacked us that September day; it was al Qaeda -- a sorry band of men which perverts religion. Just as we condemn intolerance and extremism abroad, so will we stay true to our traditions at home as a diverse and tolerant nation."
What Obama and Bush have refused to understand is that terrorism is a political act. It can be an act of war between Westphalian states, as when Iran, Syria and others sponsor terrorism, or it can be a smaller but nevertheless political act of a single person. And because it is a political act, and because those who sponsor it do so in pursuit of their political goals, it is essential that we treat it as such.
The hijackers who crashed four airliners into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field on 9-11 committed a political act of suicide driven by a religion that intentionally combines politics with religion.
Islam is not only a religion, but an integrated system of beliefs that requires the imposition of a particular theocracy. And Islam is based on intolerance. The Koran is replete with statements such as, "O believers, take not for your intimates outside yourselves; such men spare nothing to ruin you; they yearn for you to suffer." It is a religiously required paranoia that creates an unyielding intolerance of those who are not adherents to Islam.
When Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey reacted to the Fort Hood massacre by saying, "What happened at Fort Hood was a tragedy, but I believe it would be an even greater tragedy if our diversity becomes a casualty here," he betrayed the soldiers under his command, and surrendered to Islam's most potent weapon against the West: our fear of intolerance within ourselves.
Feisal Rauf, the imam of the proposed Ground Zero mosque, plays on that fear relentlessly, and our president and the liberal media have so thoroughly surrendered to his agitprop that they repeat it consistently as disinformation. (A former communist intelligence chief explained this crucial distinction: when someone spouts propaganda, it is less effective than when the propagandist persuades the adversary to repeat it as though it were his own thought. The latter is disinformation.) The New York Times, ever eager to publish disinformation, wrote in July of Rauf's new mosque, "The Cordoba House was supposed to be a monument to religious tolerance, an homage to the city in Spain where Muslims, Jews, and Christians lived together centuries ago in the midst of religious foment."
Cordoba, the capital of Islamic Spain, was nothing of the sort. According to Philip Hitti's indispensable History of the Arabs (1937), the conquest of Spain began in July 710 and was completed only after warring Arabs settled their differences and established Spain as part of the Umayyad caliphate. All across Spain, Hitti writes, "From the beginning the policy followed by the Arab conquerors in the treatment of their subjects in Spain was not fundamentally different from that pursued in other conquered lands." Christians and Jews were required to pay a poll tax relieved only by their conversion to Islam. Territories acquired by conquest -- from the church and fleeing nobles -- were confiscated, landowners made into sharecroppers. Under these oppressions many Christians and Jews converted to Islam, some secretly worshipping their own faiths, fearful of the penalty of death for Islamic apostates. That was the reality of idyllic, tolerant Cordoba.
Ever-tolerant Rauf insists that the chosen site for the Ground Zero mosque must not be changed. His motivation is political and so is the weapon he chooses to achieve his goal. He preys on our fear of intolerance. Last week, he told CNN, "If we move from that location, the story will be the radicals have taken over the discourse. The headlines in the Muslim world will be that Islam is under attack." On Sunday he told Christiane Amanpour that if we make the wrong move it will expand and strengthen the radicals and that his proposed mosque is intended to build inter-faith understanding. Nonsense. If it were, it would be not a mosque but a non-denominational chapel.
It is always thus: those who use political actions to oppose Islamic political aggression are threatened with the reaction that liberals fear so much. But Rauf -- and the useful idiots who agree, such as Mayor Bloomberg and President Obama -- have a political goal that is as bad, or worse, than the construction of "Cordoba House": they want to make any protest against Islamic political action illegitimate. It is a tactic in political warfare that aims to limit free speech and end debate by rendering opposing positions beyond the pale.
Former British PM Tony Blair gets it right. In the postscript to his memoir, Blair writes that the terrorist threat has to be fought politically, its ideology attacked and defeated: "[The threat] doesn't begin on the battlefield, it begins in the school. It starts not with talk of military weapons but with talk of religion. You have to take on the clerics who foment extremism, not just the people who engage actively in terrorism…The ideology is not born of a desire for military domination; it is born of a world view based on belief in God's will. Not only its narrative but also its ideology has to be systematically dismantled, just as it has been systematically constructed." Just so.
A week after 9-11, President Bush said, "…the face of terror is not the true faith of Islam." Perhaps. But the face of Islam is a political face, and by fearing to oppose even the most aggressive Islamic political action -- on the battlefield or in New York City's mosque controversy -- we surrender our political rights.
Obama's 9-11 statement reveals his belief that -- like George Casey -- he believes that tolerance and diversity are more important than defending the nation. George Bush didn't have the courage to fight the ideological war and Obama is pre-emptively surrendering.
9-11 isn't a day to worship the gods of tolerance and diversity. It's a day of remembrance, resolve and rededication to defeat the enemy decisively wherever he appears with every weapon at our disposal.