In the immediate aftermath of the 9⁄11 attacks, practically every American understood and agreed with a powerful two-word sentiment that summed up the nation’s attitude during those traumatic days: “never forget.” Nine years later, it’s clear that great swathes of the populace have indeed forgotten and the leftist media’s coverage of the anniversary this weekend was symptomatic of the Left’s selective memory when it comes to Islamic terrorism. Oh sure, they remembered the victims of al-Qaeda’s barbarous attacks who fell in New York, Washington and Shanksville, but that’s the easy part. There’s nothing controversial or dangerous about mourning the murdered. It’s quite another thing to point out that the murderous ideology that put thousands of Americans in their graves nine years ago is as potent, as dangerous and as evil a force today as it was on that fateful fall morning in 2001. Yet, from the mainstream media’s coverage through President Obama’s remarks, leftists used the 9th anniversary of the attacks as another excuse to try to conceal Islam’s sharp talons beneath cloaks of respectability and even impotence.
Speaking at the Pentagon on Saturday, the president called the Muslim fundamentalists who carried out the attacks nine years ago “a sorry band of men” who had perverted their religion. “We will not give in to their hatred,” Obama said. “As Americans, we will not or ever be at war with Islam.” He called for tolerance of Muslims, seemingly alluding in part to the controversies surrounding the proposed Ground Zero mosque and Florida pastor Terry Jones’ aborted plans to burn copies of the Qur’an. He said that only through tolerance can we keep alive the legacy of the men and women who fell on 9⁄11.
The speech thus essentially became another other opportunity for Obama to soothe Muslim leaders across the globe, although why any Muslim should need reassurances about this administration’s conciliatory attitude towards the “religion of peace” is anyone’s guess. Citizens of this county, on the other hand, could be forgiven for taking another sort of message away after listening to the president’s remarks. The Obama administration will bend itself into rhetorical knots in order to separate the violent actions of individual Muslims from the political/religious ideology that motivates them. Yet Americans are supposed to assume responsibility for the actions of any fellow citizen that might somehow offend Muslims. In other words, according to the leader of the free world, acts of terrorism committed in the name of Islam are mere anomalies that should in no way reflect upon Islam, but it’s our responsibility if hyper-sensitive Muslims are whipped into a frenzy by the mere prospect of an obscure preacher in Florida burning a few books.
But why worry about violent Islam at all any longer? Al-Qaeda and terrorist threats have been vastly overblown, right? That’s the remarkable view that Fareed Zakaria expressed in Newsweek in a bizarre September 4 column in which he asserted: “It’s clear we overreacted to 9⁄11.” Zakaria took his first steps into fantasyland with this lead paragraph:
“Nine years after 9⁄11, can anyone doubt that Al Qaeda is simply not that deadly a threat? Since that gruesome day in 2001, once governments everywhere began serious countermeasures, Osama bin Laden’s terror network has been unable to launch a single major attack on high-value targets in the United States and Europe. While it has inspired a few much smaller attacks by local jihadis, it has been unable to execute a single one itself. Today, Al Qaeda’s best hope is to find a troubled young man who has been radicalized over the Internet, and teach him to stuff his underwear with explosives.”
It’s apparent Mr. Zakaria doesn’t share the same understanding of the world “threat” with the rest of us. He theorizes that we shouldn’t worry about Islamic terrorists because they haven’t been as successful in racking up western body counts over the past few years, so why all the fuss? The idea that one of the big reasons we have been able to avoid another 9⁄11 is that America’s (whisper: George W. Bush’s) commitment to defending its borders have frustrated the fanatics doesn’t occur to Zakaria. Somehow, in his deluded world, the incompetence of the would-be Christmas day and Time Square bombers is proof that our enemies are no longer worth worrying about. Zakaria doesn’t seem at all concerned that we avoided mass murder by a hairs-breadth in each case and that such attacks clearly show that our enemies aren’t going away anytime soon.
This is what 9-11 has become to the Left: a day to try and reconcile with enemies who show no signs of caring to reconcile with us. It’s a perversion of a day during which we should remember not just those who lost their lives, but the reason those lives were snuffed out. If we are not, as President Obama declared, “at war with Islam” then we are surely at war with Islamic ideals and ambitions. We may debate how far-reaching those ideals and ambitions reach in the Muslim world and into the hearts of individual Muslims, but there should be no doubt that the violent Islamic ambitions contained in the Qur’an still resonate with enough Muslims so as to represent a grave threat to the western world.
Putting another twist on appeasement, the New York Times used the anniversary of the attacks to highlight the story of Mrs. Hadidjatou Karamoko Traoré, a Muslim who immigrated to the United States from the Ivory Coast. Her husband was killed in the attacks on the World Trade Center, one of approximately 60 Muslims who died during that attack, according to the Times. Her story, like that of all those who lost a loved one on 9⁄11 is heart-rendering of course, but the Times’ purpose was clearly not so much to profile Mrs. Traoré as it was to use her. “Mrs. Traoré is also frustrated and troubled, she said, that so many Americans find it impossible to separate the pious of her faith from its fanatics” the Times Sam Dolnick wrote. He goes on to quote the widow thus: “After 9⁄11, everything has changed,” she said. “At the beginning after 9⁄11, they were saying terrorists are all Islamic people. But terrorists and the religious people are different. God doesn’t say kill people.”
We should take Mrs. Traoré at her word and assume that she, like so many Muslims living peacefully in America, believe what she’s saying. But the Times, like President Obama, Newsweek and leftists everywhere need to consider that there is gulf between what a woman like this believes and what the Qur’an actually says. Jihadists don’t see themselves as fanatics, they believe themselves to be the pious, because they are adhering to the absolute, inviolate Will of Allah, as unerringly expressed in his book. And, quite clearly, Allah does indeed instruct the faithful to kill people in that book. That is indeed the root of the problem. It’s a problem we will never come to grips with until we all can face the fact the terrorists aren’t ignoring the teachings of their religion, they’re rather following them – to the letter.