Nine years later, America remains divided
by Salim Mansur
The ninth anniversary of 9/11 this year coincides with the mounting controversy over the propriety of building the Ground Zero mosque in New York City.
As Americans pause to remember the nearly 3,000 of their fellow citizens killed by Islamist jihadists of al-Qaida, and reflect upon the state of their country and the world since that terror-filled September morning when Islamists brought their war against the West and Israel to America's heartland.
Since 9/11, America has fought two wars, in Afghanistan and Iraq, brought freedom from tyranny to some 50 million Muslims, hunted down al-Qaida's leadership — although Osama bin Laden remains in hiding or is long dead, and prevented another mass-murder scale Islamist attack.
But America, on this 9/11 anniversary, is a deeply divided country, its sense of unity following the shock from terrorist attacks eroded as contentious views over how to contain and defeat Islamists widened.
This division will play out in the mid-term Congressional elections in November as it did in 2006 and the presidential election of 2008.
The dismay of Americans over the hard reality of the clash of civilizations, that the late prof. Samuel Huntington of Harvard wrote about, could not be wished away by voting into office U.S. President Obama with his phony promises of hope and change.
The discontent with the war against Islamist terror — a war that former president George W. Bush indicated would be long and hard given the nature of the asymmetrical conflict — is now compounded by the reckless spending with steeply climbing deficit and debt brought about by the Democratic-controlled Congress, while the Obama White House is as clueless about the economy as was Jimmy Carter's administration floundering under double-digit inflation and unemployment in the 1970s.
Looking beyond America's shores there is a sense that the blood and treasure sacrificed in the war on terror could turn out to be like building sandcastles exposed to the tides.
Al-Qaida central might have been smashed, a tyranny in Iraq broken, an Afghanistan barely secured, but Islamists remain unvanquished.
Instead Islamists, like the ruinous tides, might well reclaim Afghanistan, sweep over much of Pakistan, acquire nuclear weapons in Iran and continue to widen their presence in the West as politicians bid to co-opt them through appeasement.
As Americans ponder over their domestic economy and politics, they cannot be faulted if they decide to retreat from the world that readily blames them when they do the heavy-lifting for global order.
The overwhelming American opposition to the building of the Ground Zero mosque is not what Time magazine recently described as Islamophobia.
If this were true, then Muslims with their nostalgia for the somewhat mythical al-Andalus (Spain ruled by Arabs) could not have realized so immensely economic success and freedom as they have in America.
Instead the opposition to the Ground Zero mosque is the first determined pushback by Americans fully awakening since 9/11 to Islamists and the hard reality of the clash of civilizations.
This opposition to the mosque is paradoxically good news. It tells other democracies they will have to find their own resources to contend with what 9/11 has meant if they do not want to lose the long war against Islamists.