In September We Remember
by Stephen Schwartz
On September 11, all Americans and all lovers of democracy mourn the victims of the terror attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, preceded by the roster of our martyrs in the bombing of East African embassies and the U.S.S. Cole. The horrors suffered five years ago were then followed by injuries and murders in Israel, Bali, Istanbul, Casablanca, Iraq, Madrid, London, the Caucasus, and elsewhere.
We recognize and reemphasize that the War on Terror is not the private affair of the Americans, the Israelis, or the moderate Muslims who will provide many of its frontline combatants, but the progressive cause of all humanity.
We should ceaselessly recall and repeat the truth about the enemy: that religion and protest, and even anti-Americanism, are mere pretexts for Islamofascist genocide.
When al-Qaida joined the Taliban in usurping power in Afghanistan, the Saudi-backed Islamist radicals bragged that they had driven the Russians out of that tormented land. They lied. Russian imperialism was defeated in Afghanistan only because of U.S. aid to the mujahidin. America proved its friendship to oppressed Muslims.
Similarly, when Ramzi Yousef, the bombmaker responsible for the first World Trade Center assault in 1993, began the evil conspiracy that mutated into 9/11, the main place Muslims were victims of bloodshed was in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Ramzi Yousef and his cohort did nothing to help Bosnia-Herzegovina. Instead, the mass murderer came to the U.S. with the aim of committing horrific atrocities – at a moment when Americans, and notably American Jews, were in the forefront of solidarity with the Muslim Bosnians.
In September we remember that when the airliners crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, 15 of 19 hijackers were Saudi subjects. They were neither Palestinians nor Bosnians nor Chechens nor representatives of any other Muslim group that could be expected to nurse violent resentment. They were born and bred in the country that proclaimed itself our best friend in the Muslim world.
And we must insist on pointing out that unlike our democracy, the Saudi kingdom, which nursed the virus of Wahhabism, the state ideology that uses Islam as a cover for tyranny, never set up a 9/11 Commission, and has never arrested any of the known and identified financiers of al-Qaida that reside in the kingdom. We need the Saudis; but we cannot trust them until they account for the involvement of their subjects, many highly placed, in al-Qaida.
In assessing the results of the war on terror, we should avoid glib arguments and attempts to spin this fight for the survival of civilization into a mere political campaign. It is a war on terror, because while radical Sunnis kill Shias in Iraq, the radical Shias of Hezbollah rocketed the civilian population, including Jews, Muslims, Christians, and people of no religious identification, in northern Israel. Al-Qaida and Hezbollah have little in common theologically; the former do not even consider the latter to be Muslims. Only terror unites them, and only a united effort against terror will defeat them.
Regarding Hezbollah, we should call on American Shia leaders who support Hassan Nasrallah to repudiate his extremism and recognize that the way forward for Shia Muslims is that of democracy, not violent demagogy. At the same time, we must demand much more authentic support for the War on Terror from the government of Pakistan and the Pakistani Sunnis in the U.S. and Britain. And in Iraq, when Wahhabis kill Shias and slay U.S. and coalition personnel, we must not forget that Saudi financing, incitement, and recruitment are the foundation of al-Qaida in Iraq. The Saudis must further be compelled to cease their involvement terror across their northern border.
We should recognize, publicize, and otherwise enable the moderate clerics and other leaders who, although few in number in the American Muslim establishment, are numerous in the Muslim world, from Bosnia to Borneo and from Albania to Zanzibar. They hate Islamofascism no less than do we.
But we must also hold the line inside our country against accommodation with the radicals. Governments should stop meeting with and encouraging Muslim extremists, who are vulnerable because of their past rhetoric, from imagining that they can now get a pass from American officials and citizens by proclaiming a formal allegiance to our republic. Those who love America must actively support American ideals by rooting out the sympathizers and apologists for terror from the American Muslim community.
In September we must remember… this is who we are – a nation that always fought for freedom, that supported the foes of tyranny in our hemisphere, in Europe, and elsewhere throughout the 19th century; that defeated the original fascists in the second world war, and that undermined and decisively helped sweep away the monstrosity of Soviet Communism.
In September we should remember the eloquent words of Archibald Macleish, writing at the outset of World War II: "How shall freedom be defended? By arms when it is attacked by arms; by truth when it is attacked by lies; by democratic faith when it is attacked by authoritarian dogma. Always and in the final act, by determination and faith."
In September we remember.