I’m still pissed. In fact, I’m angrier now than I was then. I’m steamed because of all the maudlin fluff in the media. I’m steamed because so many self-proclaimed leaders are ignoring the basic problem that was revealed so abruptly to so many on September 11, 2001. I’m steamed because the “all cultures are better than mine” and “all non-Europeans must be right” crowd have blocked their ears and tried to stuff cotton wool in ours, while chanting “they don’t mean it, they don’t mean it” when ISIS, the Iranian government, Al Qaeda, Jemaat Islamia, Boko Haram, Al Shabab, and who ever else is waving guns and knives in broad daylight shouting “Convert or Die! I will kill you!”
There was a time when we, meaning the west in general and humans in particular, took our enemies seriously. We took them at their word if they said “We are going to conquer and enslave you,” or “We want to kill you all.” And responded appropriately. Now? The Better Sort shake their heads and solemnly intone that such statements are only for local consumption, or are formulas and not really serious, or that the people saying such things don’t really understand their own belief system. Because if the Better Sort were those people, they wouldn’t believe that sort of thing. Which also makes me start looking for my red pen of doom, because if one of my students wrote an essay to that effect, I’d fail them unless they had so many sources that their paper was more annotation than text.
Fifteen years ago I was shocked, and angry and then really angry. Now that I’ve been studying Islam and Wahhabism and Shi’ism and Salafism for fourteen years, I’m really angry. Robert Spencer is right. There are moderate Muslims. I know several. They fume and rage at terrorist incidents just as much as Christians and Jews and Atheists and pagans of my knowledge do. But they are few, and they generally avoid their local mosques and Muslim gatherings.
Because Islam is not moderate. Islam, being locked into the 7th-12th centuries due to basic fundamental beliefs built into the faith, cannot be moderate, not in its current form. Someone, a lot of someones will have to stand up and say, “You know, perhaps the Koran is not entirely the pure word of G-d. Perhaps the Prophet, being human (although a superior human), misunderstood, or mis-remembered, or his followers did not correctly transcribe his words. How can we interpret and understand the Koran for the world as it is today, in light of what we now know?” In short, they would have to have a reworking of their understanding of faith much as large swaths of Judaism and Christianity have done. And that cannot happen so long as the vast majority of Muslims believe that the Koran is the pure, correct, unalterable word of the Most High, locked forever and no longer open to inquiry or reinterpretation.
I look back on the past 15 years and am reminded of Churchill’s description of the early 1930s as the Years of the Locusts. Joel 2: 25 “And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you.” (King James Version) The past 15 years have been devoured by foolishness, by quiet words of false-belief, by those who do not want to believe that the crocodile will eat them first.
I mourn for those who died on September 11. I honor those who worked so hard to save others, to protect others, who risked everything and sometimes paid everything. I snarl at those who would take an act of war and turn it into a paean to victimhood and an occasion to deplore the West. I weep for the Christians, Jews, and others abandoned to the “mercy” of ISIS and its ilk because the Better Sort refuse to admit that Islam is the core of the problem. Not global north versus global south, not brown versus pallor, but Salafism and theocratic Shi’ism versus everyone else.
Fifteen years later, I’m still angry. But I’m no longer ignorant.