Eight Years After 9/11: Are We Getting Complacent?

We can all remember the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Almost all of us can remember the second anniversary. The third, a lot less; the fourth, even less. Eventually, something happened: we forgot about 9/11.

I began working at Hollywood Video, a movie rental store, in 2004 and saw this process happen. On September 11 of each year, I’d walk in and almost no one would mention the significance of the date, and the number of those that did steadily declined to zero by 2008, my final year there. Customers frequently asked the date, as they always did, not even realizing that it was September 11, but they always managed to remember the release date of the movie they were waiting for. And, I must add, this was in New Jersey, only a short train ride from New York City.

This complacency can be seen in public opinion polls, the media, and even the government’s reaction to incidents that would have sparked fear nationwide and saturated media coverage in the years immediately following 9/11.

Take some of the incidents where radical Islam showed its head this year alone, such as in the case of Rifqa Bary, a 17-year-old girl who converted to Christianity from Islam. When her father found out, she claims, he threatened to kill her, causing her to flee to Florida. Her attorney says she had been abused at home. We now know her father’s mosque, the Noor Islamic Cultural Center of Colombus, had Salah Sultan, a radical preacher of anti-Semitism known for preaching about the future destruction of the U.S. and with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, as a “resident scholar.” Bary’s attorney, John Stemberger, pointed to many other ties the mosque has with terrorism in his 35-page court filing.

Although the case has received a fair level of media attention (but far from the amount it deserves), very few reports have mentioned the extremist ties that give credibility to Bary’s fears. Instead, MSNBC ran an AP article titled “Parents Say Local Runaway Was Brainwashed.”

The Orlando Sentinel ran a piece on August 30 that opened with “Mohamed Bary is a doting Muslim father, intent on giving his daughter the best education he can. But he says he made a terrible mistake last October: He bought her a laptop computer.” A little further down it has a subheading of “Friends back family,” which says that “people who know the Barys say Rifqa’s allegations are crazy. … Mohamed Bary, 47, is a kind, gentle man who loves his daughter.” Not a mention is made of Stemberger’s court filing or the ties of the family’s mosque.