We promised ourselves and each other we would never forget. Memorials to the heroic firefighters invariably echo that defiant pledge: Never Forget.
The events of 9/11 caused America to promise, “We will never forget.” This meant to never forget the 3,000 victims of mass murder. To never forget the heroic actions of emergency personnel and average citizens. To never forget how that day felt, to ensure a similar event would never happen again.
President George W. Bush set the tone for “remembering” on the evening of September 11 in a speech from the Oval Office: “This is a day when all Americans from every walk of life unite in our resolve for justice and peace. America has stood down enemies before, and we will do so this time.”
“None of us will ever forget this day, yet we go forward to defend freedom and all that is good and just in our world.”
And in the wake of a collective tragedy, Americans did unite.
Today, we see thousands of protestors out on our streets creating chaos about the immigration ban that POTUS is hoping to curb any further terrorist attacks such as 911, Orlando, Aurora, Boston, etc. I believe or rather hope to believe that most of these protestors are illegal themselves and others that cannot possibly comprehend the complex issue and enormity of handing terrorism a free pass into this country. They would not know what eminent attacks means unless a plane hit them in the face and as we know it, that is exactly what happened to us back on 9/11. However, our country at that time made a pledge; “never again” and “never forget”.
The pledge was the only way to make sense of the gruesome deaths of so many. The burning towers, people jumping and falling, the twin collapses and the clouds of smoke and steel and flesh and survivors covered in chalky, choking dust. Then came the fires and that awful smell that wouldn’t go away.
In unity, we made the vow even as we feared other attacks. We were wounded but determined to triumph because that’s what Americans always did.
We also pledged because, like earlier patriots, we were eyewitnesses to evil. We saw its soulless savagery and knew they would kill us all if they could.
Perhaps it was inevitable that such charged emotions would dull. The Long War has been a hard war, and it is difficult to sustain the commitment for 15 years.
But there is something else at work, too. The forgetting in some circles is intentional. As determined as many still are to Never Forget, others are determined to move on, to redefine, to downplay and now to encourage fate.
None is more consequential than Barack Obama, a dedicated re-interpreter of 9/11 and its aftermath. As his presidency entered the home stretch, we saw the full flowering of his wrongheaded determination.
His angry scolding of those who insist on using the term “radical Islam” for our enemies and his effort to minimize the role of Islamist ideology in the slaughter in Orlando are shocking — and yet entirely consistent with his worldview.
Estranged in important ways from both mainstream America after 9/11 and modern Islam, the president nonetheless sees himself as a bridge between the two. He gave himself that assignment in his 2009 Cairo speech, citing his father’s Islamic background in Kenya and his own boyhood in Indonesia.
“I consider it part of my responsibility as president of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear,” he declared. “But that same principle must apply to Muslim perceptions of America. Just as Muslims do not fit a crude stereotype, America is not the crude stereotype of a self-interested empire.”
That aim, surely born of good intentions, was a profound mistake that continues to wreak havoc. The president of the United States cannot be a broker between his countrymen and a foreign enemy that has declared war on us.
As commander in chief, his job is to lead this nation to victory. He hasn’t because he refuses to see it as a war.
As the late Fouad Ajami wrote, “Obama still sees himself as the American “redeemer,” a man who would fix the country by acknowledging its past errors and charting a different course for the future.
Much of that had to do with changing what Obama saw as America’s bigoted view of Islam, before and after 9/11. Indeed, the Cairo speech was titled “A New Beginning.”
It has worked about as well as his “reset” with Russia.
In fact, it has made everything worse. Just as Obama’s persistent attempts to ban certain guns have led to record gun sales, his effort to put a smiley face on Islam backfired. Too many Muslims in too many countries have responded to his retreat with more bloodthirsty violence.
From the spreading butchery of Islamic State to more frequent and lethal attacks at home including San Bernardino and Orlando, Obama’s presumptions increasingly look ridiculous. While it is obvious that some American prejudice exists, the fundamental problem is that nearly all the world’s terrorists are Muslims — a fact acknowledged by the president of Egypt, among many others.
But the president of the United States can’t bring himself to make the same admission because he doesn’t want it to be true.
And because Obama is a partisan warrior, Americans are polarized and now fight each other almost as furiously as they fight the terrorists. The result, again, is the opposite of what he intended — a rising fear of Muslim terrorists, including among a new generation of Americans.
For all the complications that Obama is adding to the mix, it is fundamentally a simple situation: We are at war.
By his definition, Nazi and Japanese soldiers also could be called deranged fanatics filled with hate, but neither FDR nor Harry Truman tried to advance a nuanced explanation for their motivations. They saw the enemy as an evil force that had to be defeated.
That’s war. And this is war, and even though Obama wants America to forget and the protestors seem to follow, I guarantee you, the terrorists have not forgotten us.
2,879 that died that day, the nearly 9,000 that were injured and the thousands that died of complications on 911 which comprised law enforcement, fire department, EMS and others even till today. This nation was built upon the understanding that we do not negotiate with Terrorists and we do NOT roll the dice on American lives.
About the author: Scott Bernstein is the CEO of Global Security International LLC headquartered in NYC. He has extensive experience as a Counter Terrorist Consultant, International Apprehension Operative, Human & Sex Trafficking Expert and a Military and Law Enforcement Trainer. He is available as a Consultant and as a Speaker. In addition to his LinkedIn profile, you can also interact with Scott on his LinkedIn group http://bit.ly/1LMp2hj.
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