The five-year anniversary of Sept. 11 feels like intermission. We are well into what will prove to be a very long war, and already it feels like we have lost focus. Conspiracy theories run rampant: some 36 percent of the American public finds it plausible that the US government was somehow complicit in the 9/11 attacks. The level of denial required to believe this is astonishing; you have to ignore the obvious fanatics chanting "death to America" and issuing fatwas declaring war on the west for over a decade and instead assume that the Bush administration, the managenent of the World Trade Center, the airlines, the military and the media were all in on a murderous plot and coverup involving minimally hundreds of people if not thousands. (Bonus points for implicating Israel.)
The big story over the weekend was the attempt by the Clintonistas to censor and/or kill off altogether ABC's docudrama "The Path to 9/11", apparently because it showed them to be as clueless about Al Qaeda as the Bush admininstration on Sept. 10. Because of all the furor, I actually bothered to watch it (I hadn't dragged myself to either "Flight 93" or "World Trade Center"). It was better than I thought, particularly the scenes set in Afghanistan. Although we were constantly reminded that it was a dramatization, etc. etc., it was a much-needed tonic to the usual hand-wringing introspection.
Having not posted all day, I was startled to see my traffic spike, almost all of it pointing to a 9/11 essay I wrote two years ago, entitled "9/11 then and now". How it is that this has particular essay has become a magnet for so many people I don't know, but it's still just as relevant today as it was in 2004, so I'll quote it here:
Three years later, on the anniversary of 9/11, nothing fundamental has changed. The ideology of militant Islam that wrought destruction on New York and Washington three years before has not abated. We have scored some major victories in the opening phase of the war: routed the Taliban, killed or captured two-thirds of al-Qaeda's leaders and destroyed their training camps. But we are fighting a worldwide ideological movement, not a single group, and the religious fanaticism that drove the 9/11 hijackers flourishes around the world and rises, hydra-like to attack mercilessly in country after country: Indonesia, Turkey, Spain, Israel, Iraq, Russia. It kidnaps and beheads hostages, murders children, blows up innocents whether they are dancing in discos or at worship in synagogues. Its targets are everywhere - Jews, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, and of course Muslims who do not subscribe to its radical and violent interpretation of their faith and are therefore considered enemies.
Unless we understand this, we won't win this war. We can be critical of our own society, we can flagellate ourselves over decades of shortsighted policies in the Middle East, we can try to be more sensitive and understanding of other cultures, we can try to imagine "why they hate us". But in the final analysis, the people we're up against are fanatical theocrats who want us dead. Period. They're not nice people and as much as we think conflict shoud be solved by talking it over, they really have nothing to talk to us about. We're just supposed to eiether die or accept our destiny as second-class dhimmi subjects of the global Caliphate to come. Not really that hard to get it, yet it seems that the entire world and a good chunk of the US desperately does not want to deal with that unpleasant fact.
The Times of London recently ran a piece entitled, "Can the West defeat the Islamist threat? Here are ten reasons why not". And sadly, they were right on. In particular:
Moreover, to Islam’s further advantage, it has led most of today’s “progressives” to say little, or even to keep silent, about what would once have been regarded as the reactionary aspects of Islam: its oppressive hostility to dissent, its maltreatment of women, its supremacist hatred of selected out-groups such as Jews and gays, and its readiness to incite and to use extremes of violence against them. Mein Kampf circulates in Arab countries under the title Jihadi.
This is by far the most depressing aspect of the current political scene: the people who should have been most opposed to Islamic radicalism instead are wearing keffiyahs and marching in the streets proclaiming "we are Hezbollah". Cue Mark Steyn:
In theory, if you’d wanted to construct an enemy least likely to appeal to the progressive Left, wife-beating gay-bashing theocrats would surely be it. But Islamism turned out to be the ne plus ultra of multiculti diversity-celebration — for what more demonstrates the boundlessness of one’s “tolerance” than by tolerating the intolerant. The Europeans’ fetishization of the Palestinians — whereby the more depraved the suicide bombers are the more brutalized they must have been by the Israelis — has, in effect, been globalized.
But instead of the artful Steyn addressing the nation, we get George W. Bush, who understands the threat posed by radical Islam but is only capable of repeating the same formulaic phrases in speech after speech: "America is safer than it was, but not yet safe...We are fighting them over there so we won't have to fight them here..." If only he could be articulate as Steyn, or Christopher Hitchens. But then, we have the example of Tony Blair, certainly several rhetorical grades above Bush, and very articulate on the nature of the challenges we face -- yet still being pushed off the political stage in his own party.
In the final analysis, too many are unwilling or unable to contemplate what it would mean if the ideology espoused by the Taliban/al-Qaeda/Hezbollah /Hamas/Iran/Muslim Brotherhood were to sweep the globe and supplant our liberal Western civilization with its separation religion and state and its guarantees of personal freedoms. Five years after 9/11, my darkest fear is that we will know all only too soon.