The attempt to bring down an airliner approaching Detroit reminds us that 2009 saw a remarkable number of terror incidents in the United States. Most of them ended up as foiled plots. One, Fort Hood, was catastrophic. Had the bomb gone off on the airliner yesterday, as planned, it would have been the worst successful terror attack directed against Americans since 9-11.
And yet, terror attempts are now becoming so routine that Americans can actually get used to them, the way we adapted to crime waves in our cities during the last half century. Daniel Patrick Moynihan called it “defining deviancy down,” where we become accustomed to a more primitive way of life, and start accepting it as normal…the way things are. That would be a tragic mistake, and only leadership from the top can prevent us from slipping into that kind of complacency.
The purpose of terror, after all, is to terrorize, to produce effects in and on us, in the way we govern ourselves, in our power relationships with other countries. We sometimes make an assumption that countries under terror threat will “stand up” to the terrorists because their citizens will become defiant. The record shows that it’s sometimes yes, and sometimes no. Spain reacted to a railroad bombing by throwing out a superb, pro-American, anti-terror prime minister and replacing him with a leftist pantywaist. We have seen, to our horror, what has happened in Britain, where political correctness, not defiance, rules the day, and people with the most troubling of backgrounds are permitted to work at airports.
And in our own country? We have largely forgotten 9-11. We have elected as president the most left-leaning member of the U.S. Senate. Terror threats are often greeted, even by some in government, by comments that the threat is “exaggerated,” that terrorists are simply people who are “stressed,” and that we may have brought some acts on ourselves. These “militants,” we’re told by a certain element in our elite classes, have legitimate “grievances.” There are still Americans who believe, and they are aided by some in the media in this belief, that we’re on a national campaign against anyone Muslim, when in fact our post 9-11 approach to Islam has been startlingly enlightened.
And, of course, we’re told that if we only solved the Arab-Israeli conflict, all else will be healed, and even the oceans may recede. Well, we have a president who has made ending that dispute a priority of his administration, but terrorists have responded with more and more attempts to harm us.
We can only imagine what will happen when - not if, but when - terror groups acquire weapons of mass destruction and start using them. There will be a normal temptation to give them anything they want to avoid mass casualties. And their side might win, if not here, then possibly in other countries. If France has a choice between succumbing to Islam and losing Paris, what do you think the French would do? I don’t know, but I’m asking, and we should all be asking.
What can be done to imporove our performance in this long war? Aside from constant vigilance, and developing the best security measures possible, we must finally confront some truths about ourselves that are hindering the struggle against jihadism:
First, we must recognize that we have influences in our educational system and our media that make it harder, not easier, to sustain the battle. Our universities are heavily dominated by the political left. The leftists have grown in power since the convulsions of the sixties, and grew even more as universities became the safe haven for the country’s remaining Marxist groups. These are the people who educate journalists, other teachers, and government officials. How can a young person learn of an America worth defending when he or she is barraged by the works of Noam Chomsky and like minds, at the age of 18?
We certainly don’t favor censorship of any kind, but a pushback by those favoring more traditional approaches, and certainly greater balance in education, can have its effect. And parents understanding what is being taught to their children, especially in distorted “history” courses, can clearly have an effect on the high-school level, which has become the latest scene of the crime. The fascists of the twenties and thirties understood that their movements’ future lay in the minds of youth. The leftists understand that today. We must write more about them, expose what is happening, support media alternatives like Fox News and the Washington Examiner, and make clear that the left will have a consistent battle on its hands. Some organizations founded by responsible educators, like FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) have already made a difference in curbing some of the anti-freedom excesses in colleges.
Second, regime change in America has become an imperative. It has become urgent. Yes, I know, I know, people will say that Obama has actually acted responsibly in a number of security areas. And that is true. And his Nobel Prize speech was encouraging. But his instincts are still on the left, and, while his Cabinet officers are in the respectable zone, many of his middle-level officials, like the now departed Van Jones, are not. It is at the middle level, especially in the Justice Department, where policy is often most influenced. We need a political, constitutional change to replace the Obama appointees, like the ludicrous Rosa Brooks - a hard leftist in the Defense Department - with our kind of guys. Our future is too precarious to be left to the left.
And the president’s party in Congress is run by a left that can no longer be described simply as “liberal.” No. Hubert Humphrey was a liberal. Henry Jackson was a liberal. Joe Lieberman is a liberal. Evan Bayh is a liberal. But Barbara Lee and her friends in the California delegation are well to the left of liberalism, and we can no longer trust them to run committees and influence policy. They are the base of the president’s party, and they will inevitably influence him.
We have a long struggle ahead, symbolized by yesterday’s attempted takedown of a packed airliner, and by Fort Hood. We will need the best educators, an inspired young generation, and the right people making and carrying out policy in Washington. And, right now, we are falling short.
FROM URGENT AGENDA (WWW.URGENTAGENDA.COM)
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