September 11th

September 22, 2011

What can I say that hasn’t been said?

Ten years ago this month, some Muslims hijacked planes and crashed them into both towers of the World Trade Center and into the Pentagon.  Passengers in a fourth hijacked plane learned what was going on from friends, by cell phone, and fought back, losing their lives but saving untold others when the fourth plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania.  

I remember reading an account in Time of a recording from one of the flights, in which the hijackers were heard to say “God is great” before they did what they did.  Even in that awful context, and even as irreligious as I was at the time, I was able to recognize the germ of something good in their habitual invocation.  (The following year, by God’s grace, I converted to a very different religion from theirs, and learned not only to praise Him as great but also to serve Him, and my fellow man, in love.)

September 11th changed a lot.  Among other things, liberals from Ron Silver to my fellow blogger Susan Shannon became staunch conservatives.

I recommend Mark Steyn’s observations in America Alone (pages 183-186) about September 11th, big government, and free citizens.

Other than that, here are some readings I recommend if you have time:

Mark Steyn reflects on how a self-hating Western culture reflects on such attacks, and on civilizational decline: “A great power can survive a lot of things, but not ‘a mediocrity of spirit’.”  (The latter link will expire, but is an excerpt from his latest book; you’ll have it with you always if you buy After America.)

As Robert Costa reports, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld remembers working in the Pentagon when the plane struck, and offers some thoughts on what has happened since.  “‘What we are really engaged in here is a battle that is not going to be won with bullets, but with ideas over time,’ he says. ‘We have to do a much better job of competing in the marketplace of ideas . . . .’”  Army Captain Pete Hegseth, who was in college when the attack struck, eloquently discusses what has happened and where we go from here:

We mustn’t be afraid to champion the American experiment in our schools, churches, businesses, and communities.

. . .

History isn’t over, and despite efforts to overcome the human condition . . . America’s military still carries the burden of liberty amidst a fallen world — we remain the last, best hope. If not me today, and my son tomorrow, then who?

Accomplished prosecutor Andrew McCarthy explains how political correctness makes it more difficult to gather intelligence on Islamists and prevent terrorism.  He calls our attention to a study suggesting that an astonishing 80% of mosques in America promote violent jihad.  (More than half of the mosques studied disseminate “severe” pro-violence literature, while “30 percent had only texts that were moderately supportive of violence”.  Oh,  OK.)

Charles Krauthammer repudiates the “conventional wisdom” that “We overreacted to 9/11”.  Among other things, he reminds us that our invasion of Afghanistan was universally supported at the time, even by Democrats, and observes,

The total costs of “the two wars” is $1.3 trillion. That’s less than one eleventh of the national debt, less than one year of Obama deficit spending. During the golden Eisenhower 1950s of robust economic growth averaging 5 percent annually, defense spending was 11 percent of GDP and 60 percent of the federal budget. Today, defense spending is 5 percent of GDP and 20 percent of the budget. So much for imperial overstretch.

Yes, we are approaching bankruptcy. But this has as much to do with the War on Terror as do sunspots. Looming insolvency comes not from our shrinking defense budget but from the explosion of entitlements. They devour nearly half the federal budget.

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6 Responses to “September 11th”

  1. Snoodickle Says:

    Shouldn’t this post have been made like 10 days ago?

  2. Tevyeh Says:

    “…an astonishing 80% of mosques in America promote violent jihad.”

    This conclusion is extremely problematic, from a methodological standpoint. I only gave the underlying study a cursory review, but my understanding (please correct me if I’m wrong!) is that for purposes of the study a mosque was “dinged” for promoting—or even possessing in its library—classical Islamic literature that included any advocacy of violent jihad. A few arguments against this approach:

    1) Possession alone of literature does not amount to an endorsement of all its content. Otherwise, a study of my personal library would reveal that I’m an extremely dangerous (and astoundingly conflicted) individual.

    2) Even endorsement of a work or body of literature cannot fairly be understood to mean that the endorser agrees with or advocates the work in its entirety. One can, for example, refer approvingly of a quotation by Martin Luther without agreeing with his conclusion that Jews should be stripped of their property and reduced to agricultural slave labor.

    3) The works of classical Islamic scholars need to be understood within their historical context(s). Without getting into detail, I can think of a number of contexts in which “violent jihad” is morally justifiable, if you start from the premise that “freedom of religion” is a natural human right. I’m no historian, but I suspect that such contexts may be relevant to an analysis of some classical islamic writings.

    I don’t mean to minimize the global threat posed by Islamic terrorists and their sympathizers. However, to obsure the scope and nature of the problem with problematic statistics based on flawed studies is potentially every bit as harmful to the prospects of an appropriate response as is the culture of political correctness.


  3. Scroll further down and you’ll see that 100% of mosques that contained “severe” literature, and 97% of mosques that contained “moderate” literature, “were led by imams who recommended that worshipers study texts that promote violence.” So it sounds to me a lot more like having pamphlets in the front entryway and encouraging every visitor to take some than like having some old books gathering dust among many others in a library in the back of the building.

    “The severe material . . . largely consists of relatively recent texts . . . primarily, if not exclusively, aimed at using Islam to advance a violent political agenda.” (So, this would be like providing a book by Martin Luther in which most or all of the content concerned dispossessing Jews?) On the other end of the timeline, “Works by several respected jurists and scholars from the four major Sunni schools of jurisprudence, dating from the eighth to fourteenth centuries, are all in agreement that violent jihad against non-Muslims is a religious obligation.”

    Nor does its presence in classical Muslim works make it a relic of some medieval past. While Umdat as-Salik (Reliance of the Traveler) may have been compiled in the fourteenth century, al-Azhar University, perhaps the preeminent center of Sunni learning in the world, stated in its 1991 certification of the English translation that the book “conforms to the practice and faith of the orthodox Sunni community.” While addressing a host of theological matters and detailed instructions as to how Muslims should order their daily routine to demonstrate piety and commitment to Islam, this certified, authoritative text spends eleven pages expounding on the applicability of jihad as violence directed against non-Muslims, stating for example:

    The caliph … makes war upon Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians … provided he has first invited them to enter Islam in faith and practice, and if they will not, then invited them to enter the social order of Islam by paying the non-Muslim poll tax.

    The caliph fights all other peoples until they become Muslim … because they are not a people with a book, nor honored as such, and are not permitted to settle with paying the poll tax.

    (footnotes omitted)

    Those sound like pretty broad, generally applicable claims (and, to the extent that they suggest a larger political or historical context, they seem to imply one in which Islam is already dominant and ruling over others, not one in which a put-upon Muslim minority has to fight for its “freedom of religion”). I think they would have to be put back in an awful lot of “context” before they would sound anything other than, well, awful.

    Perhaps further studies with more careful methodologies should indeed be conducted, but this already sounds like enough that I’ll stand by my “astonishing”.

  4. Snoodickle Says:

    Although I am no fan of Islam, or any religion for that matter, if Islam is as dangerous as you claim it is, how come there hasn’t been a terrorist attack in this country since 2001? Explain that please.


    • You tell me. Maybe it has something to do with all the policies—the Patriot Act, Bush’s wars, Guantanamo Bay—that liberals considered not just bad policy but legally and morally beyond the pale, until the current president arrived and decided to continue them.


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