Are We Up For This War?
I can�t write about handicapping this week. Please skip this article if you�re looking for handicapping stuff � I promise I�ll start in again next week.
I need to talk a little bit about America. I�m not sure if we still have the gonads for what looms ahead of us. Are we up for this war?
There is hope. The courage, humanity and common sense of everyday Americans is very reassuring. First, let�s remember the Americans of Flight 93 who brought it down in southern Pennsylvania instead of letting it continue into the Capitol Building or the White House. Here is a partial list of their crew and passengers:
When this is over, we need to erect a monument at the crash site to these people and make the names of heroes like Todd Beamer, Mark Bingham, Thomas Burnett, Jeremy Glick and the others as well known as Paul Revere and Nathan Hale.
There is hope. The firemen and police of New York City were absolutely awe-inspiring. They were doing their jobs, trying to save innocent lives, and they died by the hundreds. There were heroes among the victims in the World Trade Center too, such as the guy who wouldn�t leave his paraplegic friend. I hope we�ve heard the last of phrases like "sports heroes" and "musical idols." We need to point out these people to our children and say, "These were true heroes." There�s no comparison.
There is hope. President Bush has been amazing. He�s done absolutely everything right. At the first news of attack, he prudently and correctly went to a secure position in the Midwest to protect the executive branch of government. He then came to Washington despite the urgent appeal of the Secret Service that he remain where he was. He correctly described this as an act of war rather than the work of a small band of crazies. He refused to accept their cloak of piety, and accurately described them as evil, yet he distinguished between their perversion of Islam and the true religion. His trip to New York and his words at the memorial service in Washington were reassuring. His admonition that we respect the rights of Arab-Americans was an illustration of our determination to uphold our values despite vicious attacks from members of one ethnic and religious group. And his clear and unswerving intention to destroy the terrorist networks and the governments that support them rather than make a public relations camera opportunity/retaliation was right on target. The reason he�s been able to do everything right? Because he didn�t wait for polls or spin doctors to tell him what to do. It obviously came straight from his gut and heart and character. I�ve never voted for a Republican presidential candidate, but I�d like to mail in my vote for 2004 right now.
There�s no longer any reason to be nostalgic over World War II. We have our own version in front of us. We face an enemy as evil as the Nazis. The fanatic Islamists murdered more than three times the number of people who were killed at Pearl Harbor, innocent men, women and children. By their own words, they want to kill as many Americans as possible, wherever we may be.
Again the question: are we up for this war? There are those who can�t even deal with the word "evil." Let�s go through this. The Nazis were evil, right? What defines them as evil? It was their actions � evil is as evil does. Their aggressive subjugation of neighboring countries and their murder of entire groups of people was evil. They acted in these ways because of their beliefs and values. Their value system told them that Jews and others were inhuman and inferior, that the Third Reich was destined to rule the world, that they must not question authority, etc. The Nazis� horrendous acts of evil are inexplicable unless you understand their values. No group of people is genetically evil. It is their culture and belief system that allows or encourages them to become evil.
In this light, the enemy we are now facing is frightening. Their values are downright scary. The New York Times reported that a poll of Middle Easterners showed that most of them actually applauded the carnage in New York and Washington. Do you begin to understand their values? Do you think it is possible that most of America would ever applaud the murder of six thousand plus innocent Middle Eastern civilians? Fanatic Islam is not confined to a few thousand radicals. A substantial minority of Islamic culture is one of hate, prejudice and intolerance. This is no exaggeration. They are taught from a young age through their media and their culture to hate America, Israel and the rest of the western world. They are taught that they are victims of American imperialism. The terrorist pawns themselves are encouraged to acts of murder/suicide by promises of painless death followed by an eternity with 72 virgins at their command. Don�t laugh. This is literally true.
What are the common American values? I�d say we value life, freedom, democracy, religious tolerance, civil rights for all citizens, due process of law by a jury of our peers, sexual equality, freedom of speech. Fanatic Islam and the governments that support it are opposed to all these values. The political left in our country is unwilling to grant moral superiority to one culture over another. To them, all societies are morally equivalent. Bull@#^%! We are a morally superior society because of our adherence to superior values. We are granted this position of moral superiority only as long as we adhere to our values.
It has been precisely when America has moved away from our core values that we have screwed up. For instance, our realpolitik foreign policy has time-after-time favored "stable" governments over democratic ones. We thought helping Iraq, a dictatorship, would stabilize the region against Iran � we ended up with Saddam Hussein. We thought aiding Afghanistan, an authoritarian regime, against the Soviets would help in the cold war � we got the Taliban. We apparently think that supporting the Saudi and Egyptian governments will help stabilize the area, and those countries now harbor populations with some of the most virulent anti-American feeling. We have followed a policy of encouraging stability over democracy, and are now reaping the harvest. We abandoned our core value of democracy in our foreign policy, and to that extent share blame in the growth of fanatic Islam.
Are we up for this war? The decadence of our media and academic elite is already creating fracture lines in our unity. When I listen to the network news programs, National Public Radio, or read the editorial pages of our major newspapers, I have doubt. The idea of moral equivalency, the culture of victimhood, the androgynization of our society, the arrogance and narcissism of the baby-boomer generation, the hatred of our Judeo-Christian cultural roots by some Americans, the attitude of apology for our very culture and existence is almost physically nauseating at a time like this. But then I look at the reaction of average Americans, and the picture changes: courage, empathy, tolerance, resolve and common sense reigns.
Are we up for this war? In one sense, it doesn�t matter. The war has come to us. If we can�t fight now, we don�t deserve the great country handed to us by our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. If we don�t appreciate America, we�ll lose it. The real question is, will we fight back or change the channel until the next, bigger slaughter, and the next? Is this the beginning of the end of America?
I think we�ll fight back. If you think all fighting is wrong, if you�re feeling compassionate toward the fanatic Islamists, I suggest you start taking this more personally. Think of the woman falling hundreds of stories, clawing at the air. Think of the businessman falling so peacefully it seemed as though he was just looking up at the clear fall sky, his tie billowing after him. Think of the man hanging onto the outside of the World Trade Center as fire consumed his office. Think of the two-year-old child sitting between her parents on one of the hijacked planes. Think of the stewardess whose throat was slit. Think of the firemen who headed straight up into the inferno and never came down again. Think of the scores of men and women in the Pentagon who were instantly incinerated without a moment�s notice. Think of the passengers of Flight 93 who took their fate into their own hands. Think of the next attack. Think of your family.NC
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