I purposely avoided the subject of September 11, but now I feel compelled to write something.
Mostly I want to honor the memory of those who died and to extend heartfelt condolences to the survivors. I knew none of the victims of those attacks, but I certainly felt shock and horror at what happened to them. The closest I got to the situation was that a young woman who had been in our youth group at church was working in Manhattan as a nurse. Her hospital took in those who were injured at the World Trade Center. I also have a friend who is a police chaplain in another state, but he went to New York City to provide counseling to rescue workers and their families.
Americans should feel nothing but sadness and disgust over what happened. I cannot tolerate anyone’s saying, “It was a terrible thing, but. . .” There are not buts. There simply aren’t. There is no justification for what happened. There is no excuse. And there is no way that a person with a conscience or any kind of moral compass can blame anyone except for the men who planned and the men who carried out those atrocities.
Whatever the United States has done wrong is what it is. I won’t claim that the United States is perfect. I won’t claim that there is no cause for anger from other countries and from individuals in other countries. I am sure that many people have legitimate gripes with the United States, and they should be heard. However, they should not, no matter what, make themselves heard in the way that those men did on September 11, 2001. In fact, the people that they represented lost all right to be heard when they attacked our country and murdered thousands of innocent American citizens and residents.
(Some of the people who are soft on the perpetrators of the September 11 attacks oppose the death penalty for even the most horrible of serial killers. They wouldn’t allow a monstrous killer to be put to death peacefully, but they think that the September 11 terrorists were somehow justified in what they did to unsuspecting, innocent people. Shame, shame, shame!)
I’m sorry for the controversies that have been linked to this nightmarish event. I do not want to say much about them. I think that they distract from what we need to focus on. Massive crimes took place on September 11, and we need to do everything we can to see that justice is done and that such crimes do not, as much as we have the power to prevent them, happen again. We, as a nation, have done a good job of it, so far–not a perfect job, but a good job.
I will make some general comments about Islam, since it is relevant to this date and to the attacks.
The religion of Islam is what it is. People are free to accept it or reject it. People have the right to freely discuss its good points and its bad points (although in some places that right is not recognized). It behooves everyone to learn about Islam, its beliefs, its history, and its relationship to the political landscape of the world. I won’t go so far as to call it a “religion of peace,” but I will say that it does not deserve general, categorical condemnation.
Muslim people are like everyone else. Some of them are decent people, and some of them are not. Some of them practice their faith more fervently than others, and there are several different sects and divisions among them. Some of them only want to live their lives in peace, while others have one kind of agenda or another.
Having said those things, and meaning them sincerely, I have a few other comments. Despite what a lot of people say, there does seem to be a problem with the religion of Islam itself and with the teachings of the Koran. I’m not getting that from any special knowledge that I have myself but from the radical imams themselves and from the terrorists themselves. I am not offering my own interpretations of Islam or of the Koran. I am only considering what I know from news reports about female genital mutilation, executions by stoning, lashings, and the general oppression of women and of homosexual people in Islamic states. To say that Muslims who believe in and practice such things are just a small minority is a bit disingenuous. They might not be in the majority, but we are talking about entire nations here. We are talking about people with vast influence, power, and wealth.
You can say, “Yes, but that it not true Islam.” I would ask you by what authority you make that assertion. If very devout Muslims are saying that it is exactly and precisely true Islam, who are you to say that it isn’t? I have heard a few Muslim people claim that it is not true Islam, but I really do not see them doing much officially to declare those people heretics or to unevically condemn them as bad Muslims or to prove to them from the Koran why they are wrong.
If it is true that terroristic and oppressive factions of Islam are a tiny fringe, then it should be very easy for the huge majority (in a religion that boasts over 1 billion people) to stop them–to stamp out the evil that is done in the name of their God. Is there any evidence that they are doing so? I have asked people to name names. I have asked people to cite sources that prove that any Muslim person or Muslim group is taking active steps to root out terrorism and violence in the Muslim world. So far, I have seen no such evidence.
I will grant that there are peace-loving, moderate Muslims. However, they seem pretty passive to me, or at least very ineffective. Otherwise, women around the world would not be forced to cover themselves completely, would not be lashed for being accidentally in the presence of a man, would not be forced as young girls to have their clitorises excised, would not be stoned to death for “adultery,” would not be forbidden to drive a car or attend a university. Otherwise, buildings would not be rammed by airplanes, subways would not be bombed, and ships would not be highjacked. In other words, the millions of moderate Muslims would use the strength of their vast numbers to put an end to these things.