9/11 and Its Surreal Cast of Characters

by Derrick G. Jeter

Things have taken a turn for the surreal. The patients are in control of the insane asylum.
On this, the ninth anniversary of the terrorist attack on America we—all Americans, regardless of creed or color—should unite in national remembrance of those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. We should unite in our resolve to maintain our liberty. And the vast majority of us are united in remembrance and resolve, some of us are not. Like flies swirling around a cesspool, our national conversation swirls around two men whose ideologies emanate the foul odor of the odious. One claims to be an enlightened Islamic Imam. The other claims to be a Christian sent on a mission from God. Both are ignorant and foolish. And both are dangerous, which is the only reason worth giving either of them a single thought beyond what you’d give a cesspool fly—especially on a day like today.
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf calls himself a moderate Muslim. The United States Department of State has sent Rauf around the globe as a spokesman for America in the Islamic world. Perhaps Rauf is a moderate, but recent comments made on the Ground Zero mosque are troubling in the extreme. On Larry King Live, Rauf claimed he didn’t anticipate the backlash of the planned Cordoba House, which sits just blocks from the World Trade Center site and is scheduled to open on September 11, 2011. If he had anticipated the negative reaction of so many Americans, he said, he would have never moved ahead with that particular piece of real estate. But he was quick to add, relocating the mosque now would be seen by Muslims around the globe as persecution of Islam, inciting outrage and possible violence by Muslim extremists. In fact, he said, moving the mosque would serve as a successful recruiting tool for al Qaida. His clear conclusion: leave the mosque where it is or suffer the consequences— the memories of those whose lives were undone on that sunny Tuesday morning be damned, to say nothing of the feelings of the 9/11 families or the majority of Americans.
Imam Rauf has deftly tried to claim the moral and patriotic high ground with such an argument. But we must not let ourselves fall for such spurious claims. Rauf has played the terrorists’ trump card with his “If I’d known Americans would be upset I wouldn’t have, but since I know terrorists will be upset I can’t” argument. What do terrorists wish to achieve by their terror? The obvious answer is death for all who do not believe their lie. But terrorists cannot realistically achieve that goal, so they seek to terrorize their enemies. In other words, they demand our capitulation under the threatening thunderstorm of violence.
Let it rain, then. Rauf’s “enlightened” approach to American–Islamic relations is darkness, leaving the United States with no choice but to submit to the dim vision of Islam or run the risk of further violence. I say, run the risk. If the unthinking, illogical, and irrational evil of extremists cannot come to their senses then let them do their worst. I, for one, would rather die a free man upon his feet than live like a dog cowering in a corner, kneeling to an ideology that knows nothing of divine grace or human goodness, but espouses only hatred and death.
Now, concerning Pastor Terry Jones, who planned on holding a Koran burning rally today, perhaps the best thing that can be said about him is this: he’s a nut!
The book of Proverbs observes that “A stone is heavy and the sand weighty, / But the provocation of a fool is heavier than both of them” (27:3). Jones’s provocation has burdened the highest members of the United States government. Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made it clear that burning Korans would gravely endanger our service men and women around the world. Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of State, concurred with Admiral Mullen’s assessment, calling the whole disgusting episode “disgraceful.” Even President Obama has been dragged into the cesspool, stating that if pastor Jones goes ahead with the Koran burning it would “inflame passions” and cause “profound damage” to America.
If Jones and his handful of followers burn one Koran they should be shunned by all civilized people—Christian and non-Christian alike—as the pariahs they are. Fortunately, the burning never too place. Now, let them sink back into the abyss of obscurity where they can practice their wacky brand of Christianity and leave the rest of us alone to pursue more worthy goals—like defeating terrorism.
I was in Boston on September 11, 2001, and drove home in a rented car. You can read about my experience here, but suffice to say that day was surreal. But compared to the bizarre cast of characters that have cropped up since that day, 9/11 now appears almost ordinary . . . if still not the greatest single-day tragedy that has befallen our beloved country.