Clifford May writes in The National Review, Misunderstanding 9/11, 9/20/12


The reality may be less comforting. While there are many people — not least in what we have come to call the “Muslim World” — who are weary of despots, there are others who are not impressed when they see Americans and Europeans freely picking and choosing their beliefs like diners at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Totalitarianism provides an alternative. In the current century, totalitarianism’s most energetic expression is Islamism. Whereas Nazism and Fascism were predicated on the supremacy of particular races and nations, and Communism on the supremacy of a particular class, Islamism asserts the supremacy of a religion and those who embrace it.

Islamists find it useful, when recruiting and inciting rioters, to cite grievances. In the age of the Internet, such grievances are always close at hand. This time around, it was an obscure and amateurish online video made by a strange individual who happens to be an Egyptian Christian living in America (not an “Israeli-American” as first reported). But the notion, articulated by White House press secretary Jay Carney and many in the media, that the violence we’ve seen throughout much of the Middle East was “in reaction to a video” is based either on ignorance or delusion.

As Husain Haqqani, a scholar, former Pakistani ambassador to the U.S., and anti-Islamist Muslim, phrased it: “Protests orchestrated on the pretext of slights and offenses against Islam have been part of Islamist strategy for decades.” For Islamists, “every perceived affront to Islam is an opportunity to exploit a wedge issue for their own empowerment.” The Islamists themselves publicize such material “for radical effect . . . fanning the flames of Muslim victimhood.”

Note that the slaughter of more than 20,000 Syrians by the Assad regime has not produced similar protests on the Arab street; nor does the Taliban’s barbarism, including, for example, throwing acid in the faces of little girls daring to attend school; and al-Qaeda suicide bombers and Iranian-backed death squads in Iraq never produced such protests. On the contrary, in Muslim countries and much of the Western media as well, such carnage was — and still is — blamed on the U.S.

Even before I learned of the killing of the American ambassador in Benghazi and the storming of the U.S. embassy in Cairo, it seemed to me that our commemorations of the 9/11/01 attacks have become exercises in self-deception. Of course it is appropriate to remember victims and pay tribute to first-responders. But did you hear any government official or major media figure say what should by now be obvious: that on a September morning eleven years ago, America lost a battle in a global conflict that began much earlier and continues to this day? On television and in the editorial pages of newspapers there was almost no discussion of who our enemies are, what they believe, what goals they seek to achieve, and what strategies they are pursuing. There was no debate about the policies that can best defend “liberty and freedom.”


It was a mistake for Bush to think that Democracy without the underlying necessary values and institutions would neuter terrorism. It is even a more grievous error to believe that mere tolerance and apology will make us any safer.  This war is not over no matter how many troops we bring home.