(This is basically a rerun of my post from this day in 2006. Some new links added this year are at the bottom of the post.)
I am increasingly worried about our prospects for success in the battle against those who would destroy our civilization. America and the other democracies possess great military, economic, and intellectual strengths–but severe internal divisions threaten our ability to use these resources effectively.
Within days of the collapse of the Towers, it started. “Progressive” demonstrators brought out the stilt-walkers, the Uncle Sam constumes, and the giant puppets of George Bush. They carried signs accusing America of planning “genocide” against the people of Afghanistan.
Professors and journalists preached about the sins of Western civilization, asserting that we had brought it all on ourselves. A well-known writer wrote of her unease when her daughter chose to buy and display an American flag. Some universities banned the display of American flags in dormitories, claiming that such display was “provocative.”
Opinions such as these have metastacized to the point at which they are no longer irrelevant to mainstream politics. Former DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe, along with other leading Democrats, attended a special screening of Michael Moore’s movie Farenheit 9/11. Moore is well-known for his outrageous statements about the country in which he lives–things he is credibly reported to have said include: “(Americans) are possibly the dumbest people on the planet . . . in thrall to conniving, thieving smug [pieces of the human anatomy],” (in an interview with the British newspaper The Mirror) and “That’s why we’re smiling all the time. You can see us coming down the street. You know, `Hey! Hi! How’s it going?’ We’ve got that big [expletive] grin on our face all the time because our brains aren’t loaded down” (to a crowd in Munich) and “You’re stuck with being connected to this country of mine, which is known for bringing sadness and misery to places around the globe.” (to a crowd in Cambridge, England.) And about the terrorists who are killing Americans and Iraqis on a daily basis in Iraq, Moore had this to say: “The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not `insurgents’ or `terrorists’ or `The Enemy.’ They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow — and they will win.”
This is the individual who shared Jimmy Carter’s box at the Democratic National Convention, and who continues to be very popular in “progressive” circles.
Imagine if a former President, in the midst of World War II, had embraced a man who spoke to foreign audiences about the stupidity of the American people and referred to our German and Japanese enemies as “heroes.” Imagine also that such attitudes had been openly embraced by a large part of the Republican Party leadership and by many well-known writers and entertainers. Could Franklin Roosevelt have led the nation to victory under such circumstances?
And continuously, there has been the steady drip-drip-drip of moral equivalence. In September 2003, Howard Dean, now Democratic National Committee Chairman, stated that the US should not “take sides” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Actually, the refusal to draw a bright line against Palestinian terrorism is a major factor that enabled 9/11 and other terrorist atrocities.
Susan Turnbull, Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee, referred to the killing of terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as murder. Follow this link and you can hear it for yourself. Yes, she corrected herself and changed it to the “bombing” of Zarqawi. However: As far as I can tell, Turnbull is a native speaker of the English language. And I don’t think any native English speaker would use the term “murdered” unless they disapproved of what had been done. Certainly, few Americans during WWII would have referred to the “murder” of Admiral Yamamoto (whose plane was shot down after his movement plans became known via communications intercepts) or the “murder” of German war criminals who were executed after the war.
Many individuals, particularly among religious leaders, show a stunning naivete. Annika quotes from a homily at a church in her neighborhood: “What if, instead of bombing Afghanistan, we had dropped food, medicine and education?”
How could anyone with an IQ above refrigerator temperature say such a thing? Even if education could somehow be “dropped,” isn’t this priest aware that the Taliban specifically denied education to women, and greatly limited the kinds of education that were available to men? Does he think the Taliban’s executions at the soccer stadium, or its destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas, were motivated by a desire for food and medicine?
People who say such things are so caught up in the catch-phrases they have been taught that they are completely unable to understand the real motivations of the enemy.
Bryan Preston: Rather than accept the reality of an enemy that cannot and therefore will not negotiate away what he believes to be the will of God, and rather than accept that this enemy will understand nothing outside total victory or total defeat, and rather than understand that this enemy’s goals include enslaving the entire world in a global caliphate, and rather than accept that this reality necessitates the use of all tools including military might to defend ourselves, millions have embraced an alternate reality. The reality of the enemy outside the West and its motivations being too terrifying and too far beyond their own control, millions now imagine that the enemy in this war is within. The enemy, to them, isn’t the turbaned man behind the plot to hijack multiple airplanes and crash them into multiple buildings in America. The real enemy, to these millions, is the man in the Oval Office, and the man or men behind him.
Five years on, the illness of replacing an implacable, indeed alien enemy with one from our own civilizational family has spread and metastasized through the majority of one of our two political parties, and may yet claim a majority of the country itself. History has a way of fading out as the day’s current noise rises in volume, and to them 9-11 is either history or a historic lie. The loudest voice, though not always or even often right, is often the one that gets the last word. And the 9-11 deniers and their allies across the left are nothing if not loud.
Five years on, it’s hard to take a positive look at the war because we are failing to comprehend it. The mass denial of reality is taking half our arsenal of unity and morale away from us. Those of us who see the threat for what it is still say that we will prevail because we are right and because we are America, but that’s just letting the others off the hook. If we’re going to prevail anyway, why should they snap out of their fog? And why should we demand that they do? The truth is, we need the denial to end and we need our countrymen to understand and help, but since we’re powerless to cure it with reason we shrug or laugh at it. But it’s eating away at our ability to defend ourselves.
It has to be said: The mass denial of reality is taking half our arsenal of unity and morale away from us. We are not dealing here merely with normal differences about policy that can be debated by rational individuals. We are have in our midst a significant number of individuals who are filled with rage toward their own country, who are highly susceptible to bizarre conspiracy theories, who lack any form of historical perspective, who are increasingly eager to engage in scapegoating.
Last year, I visited an old industrial facility that has been restored to operating condition. One of the machines there, dating from around 1900, was called an attrition mill. It contains two steel discs, which rotate at high speed in opposite directions, crushing the kernels of grain between them.
I fear that our civilization is caught in a gigantic attrition mill, with one disc being the terrorist enemy, and the other being the reality-deniers within our own societies.
Links worth following:
A post byJane Galt, written six months after 9/11, when she was volunteering at the World Trade Center site.
Finally, Reflecting Light has some eloquent words.
UPDATE: Lead and Gold has links, excerpts, and reflections, all of which are well worth reading.
Neptunus Lex was operations officer on an aircraft carrier when the news came in. Read the comments, too.
Here is some very depressing survey data about international beliefs regarding 9/11. In Italy, for example, 15% of the people surveyed believed that the U.S. government was behind the attacks. In Egypt, 12% said that the attacks were orchestrated by the U.S. government, while 43% blamed Israel.