It is hard to believe that it has been ten years since the events of September 11, 2001. A child born on that day would now be in the fourth grade.
In that time, the Taliban is no longer in control of Afghanistan, Saddam Hussein has been removed from power in Iraq, and at least two waves of democracy have crashed across the Arab and Muslim world. And Osama bin Laden, the central figure of al-Qaeda has met his richly deserved end at the hand of the Navy SEALS.
But at the same time, the Taliban is still wreaking havoc in Afghanistan. Pakistan still harbors the surviving leadership of al-Qaeda. At the same time that dictators from Hosni Mubarak to Muhammar Qaddafi have been deposed, the future of the region is still in doubt, and the forces of Islamist repression could still win out over the supporters of democracy. And Turkey, once a beacon of Muslim democracy is rapidly backsliding into political and religious repression.
We have had a decade of war, and the war still isn’t won. If anything, the greatest risk we face is fatigue. Our populace has lived with this war for years, and they are sick of the war footing. And the military has made more sacrifices than anyone else—the stress of long deployments and years of battle have strained our military nearly to the breaking point. And yet the threat requires constant vigilance and a willingness to seek out and destroy groups who would pull off the next 9/11.
At the same time, there has not been another 9/11. No terrorists have gotten their hands of chemical weapons, biological weapons, or nuclear materials. There have been attacks since 9/11, but they have not reached to the level set on that terrible day. But that does not mean that there could not be another attack looming on the horizon. We have to foil every terrorist attack attempt—the terrorists need only succeed once.
The Legacy of September 11, 2001
The terrible events of September 11, 2001 changed our world, and changed America. On that terrible morning we saw the very worst of humanity meet the very best. The animals that drove those planes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and Shanksville showed the world what they were. The first-responders and the brave men and women of Flight 93 showed what we are. They drove themselves without fear or hesitation straight into the jaws of death itself, and saved countless lives.
We should not forget either the barbarity of the terrorists who murdered indiscriminately that day or the heroism of those who saved indiscriminately that day. But the forces of political correctness want to bowdlerize September 11, 2001 into yet another day to celebrate “diversity” and “tolerance.”
This world would be better off with “diversity” not including al-Qaeda and their ilk. Tolerance of evil allows evil to flourish.
Let us remember September 11 not as we would want it to be, but as it was. Nineteen evil men committed an act of inhuman depravity. They were motivated by a twisted and evil sense of religious devotion. The leadership that sent them to their task was evil. Those who planned the atrocity were evil men.
As a society, we would like to think that the term “evil” doesn’t really apply. Political correctness says that there’s no real evil—that one person’s terrorist is another freedom fighter.
That ideology should have collapsed with the Twin Towers.
When we succumb to moral relativism, we forget the essential lesson of September 11, 2001: evil exists, and must be opposed. Mohammad Atta was not a downtrodden member of the Middle Eastern poor, he was a child of relative privilege with a Western education. Most of the 9/11 murderers had similar backgrounds. This was not about poverty, or U.S. policy, or any of the other things that are blamed for this atrocity. This was about evil, an act of sheer inhumanity.
It has been a long decade, a tiring decade, a decade of sacrifice and uncertainty. But ultimately this decade was a necessary one. This war has been long and difficult, but it has led to a world that is, on a whole, freer than the one that existed on September 10, 2001. The sacrifices that have been made across this decade have led to a blossoming of human freedom from Tunis to Baghdad and beyond.
Al-Qaeda wanted to change the world with their actions on September 11. They did, but not in the way they intended. It will be a long time before al-Qaeda and their ilk will be fully consigned to the ash heap of history, but they are well on their way.