In around 10 days we will have the tenth anniversary of one of the worst peacetime massacres in recent history. In theory the West should have learned a few lessons since 9/11. But sadly, we seem more adroit at not learning the lessons of history.
Consider the goings on in New York for example. While former Mayor Giuliani showed some determination and guts here, the current mayor, Michael Bloomberg seems to be totally out at sea. Indeed, he seems to want to invite more such attacks by his refusal to face reality.
Last week he gave a speech at the Annual Ramadan Iftar Dinner. He first assured his Muslim listeners that it was entirely appropriate for them to build a mosque near Ground Zero. Then he spoke of “the false impressions that some Americans have about Muslims”. Hey, Islam is OK – it was just those bad Al-Qaeda guys we should be worried about.
Yeah right, as if Al-Qaeda has absolutely nothing to do with Islam. Forget all about the tonnes of Koranic passages, hadith, and examples and teachings of Muhammad as to what Islam thinks of the infidels. Indeed, he went on to foolishly speak of “the actions of a few who twisted a great religion”.
Twisted? Or faithfully carried out its clear teaching, it spirit, its values, and beliefs? The question is not whether there are moderate Muslims. Yes there are. But the real question is, is Islam moderate? As I have argued elsewhere, a good case can be made that it is not.
Perhaps most bizarre were his closing remarks in which he quoted an imam saying that Muslims are basically just as much Christians and Jews as anyone else! Really! He closed by saying, “In that spirit, let me declare that we in New York are Jews and Christians and Muslims, and we always have been.” And we are supposed to buy that historical revisionism and interfaith nonsense? That is how we are supposed to approach the tenth anniversary of this act of barbarism?
But it gets worse. The good Muslim-loving Mayor has insisted that prayer will not be allowed at the upcoming ceremony. Many Christians want to come there and pray and seek God’s presence, but they will not be allowed. In response Robert Knight spoke about “Observing 9/11 Without God”:
“Maybe Mr. Bloomberg is only selectively theophobic, and would consider allowing some Muslim prayers, or perhaps an atheistic chant. To be fair, it must be noted that he has not had a problem with the display of the World Trade Center Cross, a 20-foot edifice composed of steel beams found that way in the Ground Zero rubble.
“But his tone deaf moral equivalence when it comes to Ground Zero sensibilities is still stunning. Faced with opposition to the proposed mosque, he said, ‘I think it’s fair to say if somebody was going to try, on that piece of property, to build a church or a synagogue, nobody would be yelling and screaming.’ No, because it wasn’t Christians or Jews who hijacked the jetliners and rammed them into the Trade Centers, killing nearly 3,000 people. That’s kind of an important detail.”
After noting numerous examples of this kind of activist secularism around the country, he concludes this way: “From coast to coast, the liberal hostility to Bible-based faith knows no bounds. Maybe it’s time for the psychiatric profession to add ‘theophobia’ to the manual of mental disorders. It does seem to interfere with normal, rational thinking.”
One terrorism expert who does try to offer some historical and strategic reflection on the past decade is Clifford May. He writes, “Almost a decade after 9/11, we should better understand the varieties of Islamist experience. Nearly ten years after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, many politicians, diplomats, journalists, and academics remain reluctant even to name America’s enemies.”
He continues, “To take but one example: John Brennan, head of the White House homeland-security office, has argued that America is only ‘at war with al Qaeda’ and its closest affiliates. I understand the impulse to frame the conflict as narrowly as possible. Brennan and others do not want to reinforce al-Qaeda’s message that Muslims from Afghanistan to Iraq to Israel to Paris to Detroit must choose between the umma, the global Islamic community (‘Islamic nation’ is an equally accurate translation), and the West — to fight for one and against the other.
“But can we not say — truthfully and without playing into al-Qaeda’s hands — that there are regimes and groups within the Muslim world that are implacably hostile to the West? Can we not say that they subscribe to a belief system called jihadism? The late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus defined jihadism as a religiously inspired ideology built on the teaching ‘that it is the moral obligation of all Muslims to employ whatever means necessary in order to compel the world’s submission to Islam.’
“I would contend that there is a distinction, subtle but significant, between jihadism and Islamism. Jihadists see warfare as the divinely ordained path to Islamic supremacy. Islamists may prefer to utilize other means. Some may even think terrorism ill-advised because attacks like those carried out in New York and Washington — and London, Bali, Madrid, and Ft. Hood — have awakened many in the West — but by no means all — to the seriousness of the threat we face.
“Among the jihadis and Islamists there is variety and diversity. If you want a glimpse of it, let me suggest the just-completed World Almanac of Islamism. Produced by the American Foreign Policy Council, and edited by AFPC’s Ilan Berman, it contains contributions from more than 50 experts (including two from my organization, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies).”
He goes on to note the various jihadist and Islamist groups around the world, and then concludes: “The almanac reports on the United States, too. ‘The American public appears to remain largely unaware of and/or uninterested in Islamist groups in the U.S. unless they can somehow be linked to al-Qaeda and/or terrorist attacks in the West,’ it concludes. ‘Nor are civil society, media institutions, and the public at large generally informed about Islamist groups in the U.S. and Islamism generally, beyond the occasional terrorist plots that are routinely disrupted every year.’
“As noted above, that’s also true at the highest levels of government, academia, and the media. John Brennan would be well-advised to spend a weekend with the World Almanac of Islamism. I think he’d find it a useful resource from which he might learn that al-Qaeda is only one of the groups that ought to concern him, his boss and the intelligence community.”
By the sound of it, people like Mayor Bloomberg and plenty of other American leaders, including the nation’s president, could benefit greatly by consulting this volume, and others like it. The ignorance of so many of our leaders concerning the war we are in, and the nature of the enemy, is really quite abysmal. The only question is, is this wilful, deliberate ignorance?
Oh, and by the way, even though we have another week to go, we have accurate figures on what militant Islam has been up to since 9/11. As of September 1, 2011, there were 17, 682 Islamic terrorist attacks since that fateful day. From August 20-26 alone there were 49 attacks, resulting in 189 deaths and 392 critical injuries. I wonder if there will be enough dark-eyed virgins to go around in Paradise.