Thoughts on the Tenth Anniversary of 9/11
As should be evident to anyone who is not in denial and is willing to credit the evidence mounting by the day, the West is now under siege. Paradoxically, it appears to be increasingly at the mercy not only of radical Islam, but of its own anomie and its blatant philistinism. Indeed the former preys relentlessly upon the latter as it does upon the ineluctable corollary of cultural weakness, the presumably tolerant and progressive ethos of so-called “liberal” thinking. “Something stirs in the East, a sleepless malice” says one of the characters in The Lord of the Rings. What stirs in the West, however, is a growing tendency to fall asleep, a kind of spiritual encephalitis generating an epidemic of lethargy before reality and accompanied by various spastic maneuvers intended to disguise the truth.
Reasonable people can have little sympathy with the feverish pack of journalists, academics, and intellectuals who believe that 9/11 was payback for America’s supposed colonial iniquities and who argue that the reaction of the Islamic world is understandable. Their number is legion but a few instances of such chicanery will serve to fill out the picture.
On September 16, just five days after the carnage visited upon an unprepared America, Edward Said published a Comment in The Observer in which, while professing concern for the dead and injured, he went on to deprecate an American “superpower almost constantly at war…all over the Islamic world,” its “ignorance of Islam that takes new forms every day,” and “the influence of oil, defence and Zionist lobbies.” Advising his readers to avoid fictive constructions that only complicate the issue — this from Said! — he placed 9/11 in the context of “the Iraqi people’s suffering under US-imposed sanctions” and, of course, the “Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories,” concluding that the “roots of terror” lay in “injustice.” No one seemed to notice that this was the rhetoric of the ideological scavenger, picking over the carcasses to feed his hatred and fatten his agenda.
Similarly, in an article titled “The Spirit of Terrorism” for Le Monde of November 2, 2001, the cynosure of the postmodern Left, French philosopher Jean Baudrillard, wrote of the “prodigious jubilation of seeing this global superpower destroyed”; he went on to explain that “this is the one which, in its unbearable power, has fomented all this violence that is innate the world over.” His colleague Jacques Derrida, a fixture on the American university circuit, refers to the date 9/11 as a “telegram of metonymy” which merely “points out the unqualifiable by recognizing that we do not recognize or even cognize that we do not yet know how to qualify.” Or in plain language, we are too dumb not to deserve what we got coming.
As for the sheer madness of Noam Chomsky’s predictable ramblings faulting the U.S. for its ostensibly genocidal campaigns, these have already been deconstructed in many different places and can be shunted aside as nothing more than the intellectual refuse he unfailingly produces. Nevertheless, his absurd maunderings have been disproportionately influential.
These are only a mere handful of such righteous denunciations of the American hegemon and the ongoing whitewash of Islam as either a “religion of peace” or, conversely, as the faith of a much maligned and suffering people taking legitimate revenge on their tormentors. The beat continues even to this day, a decade later, as our “progressive” elites, typified by such pro-Islamic stalwarts as Jimmy Carter, John Esposito, Michael Moore, Faiz Shakir, and innumerable others, insist on laundering such radical organizations as the Muslim Brotherhood, re-interpreting jihad as an inner struggle waged in the soul of the believer, and deploring (a non-existent) “Islamophobia” for which they hold anybody and everybody responsible except the terrorists themselves.
Even the American president is complicit. The Obama administration’s attempt to elutriate the meaning of 9/11 by calling terrorist acts “man-caused disasters,” scrubbing allusions to Islamic terrorism in its official documents, and treating the observance of 9/11 not as a day of memory and reflection but as a “day of service” promoting Obama’s pet projects, as enumerated in his weekly address of August 27, namely, “clean energy, energy efficiency, health care,” etc., are, according to Matthew Vadum, author of Subversion Inc., part of an effort “to suck the meaning out of 9/11.” Obama’s purpose, says Vadum, is “to dumb down the nation and turn [a] solemn annual commemoration” into something that “glosses over both the horrors of that day and the evil intentions of the Islamofascist barbarians who made them happen.”
Another infamous case in point is the recent “Fear Inc.” report released by the Democratic Party’s shadowy Center for American Progress, the brainchild of George Soros and the Clintons. According to this tainted document, it is chiefly Jewish terrorism experts like Frank Gaffney and David Yerushalmi who are to blame for persuading Americans to adopt a negative view of Islam — assuming this is the case to begin with. The left insists, as David Horowitz and Robert Spencer write in their recent pamphlet Islamophobia: Thought Crime of the Totalitarian Future, “that the problem America and the world face is not Islamic jihad but ‘Islamophobia’.” Such reports are “highly distorted…cooking the data not to enlighten but to propagandize — and ignoring the reality of Islamic jihad activity altogether.” It is almost as if 9/11 were little more than an unfortunate accident or a dust mote on the radar screen. As Daniel Greenfield correctly argues, “the Center for American Progress and the Democratic Party do the work of the jihadists and have also become part of the problem.”
At the same time, these accessories to mayhem are busily warning the nation about right-wing Christian terrorists who apparently pose an imminent threat to the stability of the country and of the West in general. Thus, the killing spree of the Norwegian maniac Anton Breivik was shamefully exploited by the Islamic-appeasing left to prove that we had as much or more to fear from the Christian right than from the jihadists of the Muslim world. As historian Bruce Thornton points out, “The absurdity of these arguments is patent. First, the number of attacks attributable to self-professed Christian terrorists is miniscule compared to the toll of Islamic jihadists -- 17,489 since 9/11, as counted and documented by Religion of Peace. More important, though the former terrorists may call themselves Christian, only a tiny handful of Christians would accept that label, contrary to the wide acceptance and approval of jihadist terrorism that can be found throughout the Muslim world.”
Liberal rhetoric always seems to come up short of the facts in its effort to trivialize a tragedy and sugarcoat its perpetrators. This is the case not only for the academic, intellectual, and political class but for much of the literary guild as well. I think in particular of the poets collected in Sam Hamill’s turgid and melodramatic Poets Against the War volume, stuffed with poets of unmerited reputations. Thankfully there are better poets who still exist among us, such as Michael Lind who, though apparently a man of the left, in a poem called “Maragheh and Alamut” from Parallel Lives, cannot forget “smoldering south Manhattan” and “the burning columns”; and Billy Collins’ “The Names,” in my estimation the most moving memorial ever composed for those who died in the collapsing towers.
As Greenfield writes, 9/11 “was not a one-time event, but a pattern of violence.” In Islamic Imperialism: A History, Efraim Karsh shows quite conclusively that the terrorist strikes around the globe are only “the most recent manifestations of the millenarian jihad for a universal Islamic empire” and that its “vision [is] by no means confined to an extremist fringe of Islam, as illustrated by the overwhelming support for the 9/11 attacks throughout the Arab and Islamic worlds.” Indeed, how can we plausibly speak of “fringe elements” when entire Muslim countries and pseudo-countries are or were terrorist-sponsoring entities — Taliban Afghanistan, Saddamite Iraq, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, the Palestinian Territories and now, once again, Somalia — or when the network of cells, madrassas, and mosques they subsidize has become a worldwide enterprise, infiltrating every major Western nation and largely unopposed by Muslim immigrant communities? It is not the fringe elements we must root out; it is the belief that only such fringe elements are the source of the trouble rather than the sacred texts, dogmas, traditions, communal incubations, and historical convictions that sustain the jihadi mentality.
The nature of “history” has changed since 9/11, but our liberal intellectuals have allowed themselves to be carried by the momentum of the past. In essence, our left-leaning oracles have been unable to extricate themselves from Vietnam, which has become their own conceptual quagmire. Although the global situation has changed dramatically since the 1960s and 1970s, they insist on seeing the American response — or at any rate, the pre-Obama response — to international terrorism under the sign of Vietnam, prescinding from what is no longer relevant to what is no longer the same. Their anti-war stance may — or may not — have been justified then; now it is at best irrelevant and at worst inexcusable. 9/11 was no Bay of Tonkin. For that matter, Guantánamo Bay is no Soviet gulag and Fallujah was no Stalingrad.
Nonetheless, representative blogmeisters like Markos Moulitsas of the Daily Kos and mainstream columnists like The Guardian’s Sidney Blumenthal seem to think, as they proceed to denature language and deform reality, that the tragedy of 9/11 was opportunistically seized upon by a supposed neocon administration, in Blumenthal’s words, to “restrict rights in the interest of concentrated unaccountable authority.” Similarly, for Moulitsas, 9/11 “was a political opportunity” that the Republicans and President Bush milked for their own cynical purposes. This, of course, is utter nonsense, but it is the kind of nonsense that is passionately endorsed by a large segment of North American and European society, attesting to the leverage wielded by an adulterous media and a failed political and intellectual class upon a susceptible public. The trend has become alarming. The synergy between the ecclesiarchs of the left and an intellectually passive but emotionally active laity has skewed the political equation to generate a corrupt result.
The distinction between the ducal class and those among an historically illiterate and politicized, left-leaning public has dissolved. Noam Chomsky and the late Edward Said have their millions of readers, their ideas popularized by journalists and Journolisters. Influential anti-American French intellectuals like Jean Baudrillard and Jacques Derrida, though they are no longer with us, live on in student minds and among the perusers of the feuilletons. Bloggers by the thousands circulate the fallacies of radical Islam’s collaborators and accomplices. People in the street, especially among the coastal belts and enclaves in the U.S. and among the European electorate, are convinced that America and Israel, not Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Hamas, and Hezbollah, are to blame for the world’s ills. The mayor of New York himself supports the Ground Zero mosque project and perhaps a plurality of voters across the state seconds the emotion. The young, the minority blocs, the special interest groups, the unions, the environmentalists, the feminists, and other assorted constituencies rally behind their anointed leaders and pursue a policy of misprision that targets the innocent and justifies the guilty.
For the academics, the intellectuals, the oligarchs, and the commissars have the neo-socialist, postmodern, university-indoctrinated, anti-American crowd with them. Together, they have put the democratic West at risk. If the rest of us do not awaken to the ideological subversion they practice and move to recognize and disarm it by whatever means at our disposal — dissemination of facts, articles and books, electoral clout, groundswell commitment to reform, citizen organizations — another 9/11, and possibly worse, is on the way. And there will be new anniversaries to solemnize.