On 9/11, the outrage and fear we felt was matched with an equally intense determination to do something. Some signed up for the military, others did acts of charity, and others contributed to the sense of unity and patriotism we all enjoyed basking in but have since long lost.
Yet we still haven’t been given such instructions. We were just told to go shopping, an essential act to get the economy going again after the attacks, but one that left us feeling unfulfilled and unrecognized as the valuable assets in the war on terror that we are. As we pass the eighth anniversary of 9/11, let’s go beyond remembering the emotion of that horrible day. Let’s take action.
The first action to take is to watch The Third Jihad, which is, in my opinion, the best documentary produced about the jihadist threat. It is not just a wake-up call meant to frighten us, but is filled with facts covering the many different angles of the radical Islamic threat facing us. Purchasing a copy of this DVD for those that view warnings about these threats as alarmism and setting up screenings at college campuses and anywhere possible is a simple task that no one should shy away from.
Every American should make it their duty to place their investments in terror-free mutual funds, ensuring that you’re not financing companies that do business in Iran, Syria, Sudan, or North Korea. Most activism centers on long-term education and lobbying, but this is one unique case where individual American citizens can make a dent that these financially strapped governments will immediately feel. The instability in Iran speaks to how these governments are losing their footing before our eyes. The removal of your investment could be the final straw that breaks their backs.
Citizens should also make it their duty to talk to their local officials about making sure that state pension funds are divested from Iran and other sponsors of terrorism. The rest of the country needs to follow in the footsteps of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. There has been overwhelmingly positive reception to this idea from all quarters and it is a relatively easy fight for an activist to take up.
Going to the website for the Terror-Free Oil Initiative is another concrete step. The site has a list of oil companies that do not import their supply from the Gulf and a list of companies that do, allowing you as a consumer to better choose whom to give your dollars to. This is the same group that opened up the first “terror-free” gas station in Omaha in 2007. This won’t make the price of oil any lower due to such high demand and countries supporting extremism by selling oil will probably find other customers, but you can sleep better at night knowing your trip to the gas pump didn’t directly fill their coffers. It’s a step in the right direction and it needs to become a nationwide movement.
A small donation to organizations doing important work in fighting radical Islam is in order, or at least an offer to volunteer some time. The Investigative Project on Terrorism has done priceless work in exposing radical Islamic groups here at home and is a valuable source for those in government and the private sector alike.
Although it might offend some, I must suggest supporting moderate Muslim organizations like the American Islamic Congress and the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, which M. Zuhdi Jasser, the courageous Muslim featured in The Third Jihad, is president of. In my own speaking engagements, I have found most Muslims eager to learn more about groups such as his, previously aware only of high-profile groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Criticism of groups like CAIR must be matched with support for groups like AIFD that wish to compete with them.
Groups like the American Congress for Truth, which has an impressive organization for activism, and the Christian Action Network, which produced the Homegrown Jihad documentary and is working on another one about the rise of radical Islam in Europe (full disclosure: I am a national security researcher for them), deserve to be supported if you feel they are contributing to your safety.
Most of the groups I mentioned above are often viewed as being aligned with the right wing. Liberals uncomfortable with supporting them can support groups like Freedom House or any group aggressively fighting for democratic reform and human rights in the Islamic world. The struggle against gender apartheid and other forms of oppression by tyrannical governments, especially those in the Middle East, is a decisive factor in the war against radical Islam. Liberals on campus should make a concerted effort to have speakers that can discuss the persecution of homosexuals, women, religious minorities (including Muslims), and political dissidents by these regimes and extremists. And of course, Americans of all beliefs need to support organizations helping our soldiers in every way possible.
The key is to act, network, and organize. We do it every time when we meet someone somewhere and locate them on Facebook. We do it when we email and call our friends and colleagues to organize parties or events. With just a tiny fraction of the effort we put forth for our own entertainment and socializing, we can each honor all of those victimized by radical Islam by helping to defeat it.
When you think of 9/11, don’t just feel. Don’t just sympathize. Act.