A Sept. 11 reminder

The killing of four American diplomats in Libya is a tragic loss for their families and their country. Amb. Chris Stevens was working hard to improve life in Libya, and the consequences of his murder will be profound.

Unfortunately, his death and similar attacks on our embassies in Tunisia, Sudan, Yemen and Egypt highlight the misguided attempts at over-tolerance. It’s fundamentalism in reverse; it doesn’t achieve true diversity but instead causes international havoc and chaos. Sadly, we are only repeating history instead of learning from it.

I remember September 11 every day but had to relive it during a recent return to New York. This year, of course, the anniversary of the attacks once again occurred on a beautiful Tuesday.. I was there 11 years ago working search and rescue at the place where my future Godparents had lost their beautiful daughter. Their grief is strikingly real and they know their lives will never be the same. However, they also have a great moral clarity because they understand the diverse nature of the world we live in. They know that the diversity of the world also includes pure, unadulterated, evil; evil that there is no negotiating with.

While America is not perfect, and never was even when fighting Nazism and Communism, the contrast between us and our enemies is profound. Their hatred of us is intense, and there is no negotiating with this evil.

During one of my tours in Afghanistan, an interpreter was very pro-American and was one of the few Afghans I knew that wasn’t an Islamic fundamentalist. He wore a laminated picture of Monica Lewinsky around his neck and was endlessly announcing crazy schemes to come to America, a country he’d grown to love.

I would ask him, “Do the Muslims go to the Heaven?” “Do the Christians go to the Heaven?” “Do the Jews go to the Heaven?” He answered yes to the first two but was absolutely emphatic that the answer was no for the third question. This was one of the few, non-devout, pro-Americans I found. Imagine where the majority of the population comes down. You get the idea. I saw this example many times in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Political correctness has caused us to go beyond loving thy neighbor, as well as embracing tolerance with respectful disagreement. Correctness has created a fundamentalism in reverse that is dangerous, self-defeating, and intellectually dishonest. We are amazingly tolerant in the U.S. and have shown extreme and, at times, frustrating restraint. American Christians did not riot when an “artist,” supported by taxpayer dollars, defaced the image of the Virgin Mary with, feces and hung it in the Brooklyn Museum. Jews in Europe are increasingly subject to anti-Semitism. But they don’t riot, either. Yet, when someone makes a cartoon about Mohammad or intellectually dares to criticize any aspect of Islam, in the same way Christianity or Judaism have been criticized repeatedly, rioting and killing of Americans follows. It’s especially sad since Americans have done more to help Muslims than their own leaders.

Our current Secretary of State is an example of this fearful and ultimately self-defeating accommodation. Hillary Clinton rightfully denounces works that could insult Islam. But she didn’t embrace the same standard in 2000 when running for the U.S. Senate from New York. Back then she couldn’t bring herself to criticize, during the Brooklyn exhibit. Even in Clinton’s flawed thinking, a speck of truth is gleamed; she can get away with not criticizing religious intolerance against Christians, as Christians will not riot in the face of intolerance against them. Yet, Clinton will criticize those who would possibly insult Islam. Her inconsistency in regard to religious tolerance raises the question: Is she simply being lackadaisical, or does she fear the radical Islamist uprising?

The book, WHILE EUROPE SLEPT, written by a gay American journalist, illustrates the very real fear of radical Islam. The journalist left America because of supposed intolerance and went to Amsterdam to live out his life in peace and freedom. Soon, though, Bruce Bawer had to flee Amsterdam because of the larger threat. There are a growing number of radical Islamists in Europe who want to kill homosexuals. The difference between this journalist and Mrs. Clinton is that he is honest with himself and she is not. Mrs. Clinton condemns bigotry but fails to see the source of the hatred.

America has flaws, but it is fundamentally better. Here, you can criticize your country and spit on its flag legally. Millions risk life and limb to come here in the hope of making a better life. The newly found “citizens” of President Obama’s amnesty program would be hard pressed to say America is evil.

In the 1930’s America was at a similar crossroads. Some people were questioning the wisdom of having fought in World War I, considering it a waste of resources and a war for the rich. Adolf Hitler used this second-guessing, and the Treaty of Versailles to fuel his rise to power in Germany. This would never have happened had the Allies of World War I had the intellectual honesty and moral fortitiude to demand unconditional surrender and occupation of Germany, as they did during and after the Second World War. Only with force was evil destroyed, one war too late.

Evil will always be evil. The real evil is those that want to use their religion as justification for unprovoked mass murder, as seen on beautiful September 11 mornings.

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