By Bruce Bawer:
9/11 was a moment of utter moral clarity that has been succeeded by twelve years of moral chaos. Twelve years of duplicity, flim-flam, double-dealing, humbug. Twelve years of timorousness, incompetence, impotence.
Thousands of lives have been sacrificed in vain; inconceivable amounts of money have gone to waste. America’s financial security and its international standing have been imperiled. And all for one simple reason: because, from the very beginning, the powers that be, in both political parties, chose to lie about the nature of the enemy we were up against.
In the years before World War II began, Winston Churchill spoke up again and again in the House of Commons about the danger that the Nazis represented. His colleagues responded to his eloquent, passionate warnings with ridicule. He was considered a bore, a nag. Some of his fellow Tories viewed his preoccupation with Hitler as an embarrassment. But he didn’t waver. He knew whereof he spoke, he saw what was coming, and he did what he saw as his duty.
On September 11, 2001, only a couple of hours after the planes struck the World Trade Center, President Bush went on TV and promised the nation that we’d get the “folks” who did this. “Folks”? Would Churchill ever have called the Nazis “folks”? The tone was wrong, right from the start. Tone matters.
In the same TV address, Bush asked everyone to join him in a moment of silence. But it was not a time to bow one’s head in silence. It was a time to be enraged, to speak the facts firmly and clearly, and to plan appropriate retributive action. It was time for a moment of truth.
But nobody wanted to speak the truth.
Three days later, Bush was at the National Cathedral for an “interfaith service of prayer and remembrance” that had been jointly planned by the Cathedral and the White House. An account of the service at the Cathedral’s website recalls that the participants “spoke English, Hebrew, and Arabic” and “stood side by side—Jew, Muslim, Christian.” At the service, the Dean of the Cathedral offered up a prayer to “God of Abraham and Mohammed and Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ.” Muzammil H. Siddiqi of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) said a prayer. “Today,” pronounced Bush, in his comments at the service, “we feel what Franklin Roosevelt called the warm courage of national unity. This is a unity of every faith, and every background.”
And there, in that service, just a few days after 9/11, you can see it all – the seeds of everything that has been so terribly, tragically wrong about the last twelve years. I remember watching Siddiqi pray on TV that day and thinking: “OK, who is this guy?” The Investigative Project on Terrorism has sinceanswered that question at length. Siddiqi’s group, the ISNA, is tied to the Muslim Brotherhood, and his mosque hosted a lecture by Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, the man behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. In a 2000 speech, Siddiqi said that “America has to learn that because if you remain on the side of injustice, the wrath of God will come.” In 1996, he told followers that “Allah’s rules have to be established in all lands, and all our efforts should lead to that direction.” He’s also praised jihad as “the path” to “honor” and expressed support for the death penalty for gays in Muslim countries.
And yet there he was, in that pulpit, at that service. His presence there was an obscenity; to invite his participation was an act of either utter ignorance or sheer dhimmitude. But it was only the first of many such acts. It was the template for the post-9/11 era, the new American order, during which we were told by everyone, from our president on down, that the 9/11 terrorists had hijacked not only airplanes but their religion as well, which, of course, was a religion of peace. That, we were told, was what Islam means: peace. Those of us who knew better and who dared to say so were vilified as bigots, even as the likes of Saddaqi were celebrated as noble bridge builders.
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