The President’s speech on September 11 was not exactly the definition of inspiration. Unless, of course, the point was to inspire a national bout of head-scratching. Granted, the Prez is in love with community service, but it’s hard to imagine why he felt that the eighth anniversary of the most deadly terrorist attack in history was the time to trot out his message – that if we all volunteered more, all our problems would be solved – once again.
Now I enjoy volunteering my time and talents to the community as much as anybody, but I don’t think that al Qaeda is going to call off the dogs because they suddenly realize that we’re nice guys willing to put in time at the homeless shelter. But that’s probably just me.
More telling, perhaps, was an AP story entitled “Obama faces first 9/11 as President”. It was a legit story of course, and you can read the whole thing online if you are so inclined (although I would not recommend it – colorless, dull and pointless writing for the most part). However, I did find this description of (then Illinois State Senator) Obama’s immediate reaction to 9/11 interesting:
“Within days, he’d issued a statement about what the nation should do next,” the story said. “Beyond the immediate needs to improve security and dismantle “organizations of destruction,” Obama wrote, lay the more difficult job of “understanding the sources of such madness.” He wrote of “a fundamental absence of empathy on the part of the attackers,” of “embittered children” around the world, of the seeds of discontent sown in poverty, ignorance and despair.”
Now I do not believe that the President sympathizes with the fanatics per se. But, I think that he sincerely believes that we should “understand the sources of such madness” and that the United States can end the madness by ridding the world of poverty, ignorance and despair. And I think he’s wrong, not in substance, but in focus, for – knowing the character of this President – it is not hard to discern what he meant by those words.
For most of us, it is important to understand the source of murderous, evil madness in order to eradicate it. “Know thy enemy” is a mantra of any successful commander in time of war and this shadowy war is no exception. But, for a man like Obama, convinced as he is that every conflict can be soothed with the balm of peaceful platitudes, there is something else here. He would deny it, and his supporters will curse me for saying it, but we know that this is true: the President would like nothing more than to find a point of compromise with these murdering thugs. Given the choice, without the restraining influence of the character of the American people – whom he neither understands nor cares to understand – is there any doubt that he would try to reach out a friendly hand to the terrorists, blissfully unaware that it would be quickly shorn at the wrist?
Thank God there is still enough backbone in this nation to recognize that there are some people so fundamentally evil, whose goals are so horribly twisted, that there can be no compromise, indeed that the very thought of compromise places you one short step from surrender.
Are these martial thoughts, as so many liberals would claim? Do we reject compromise and dialogue and “understanding” because we are intoxicated by the drums of battle and the “glory” of war? That is a foolish, insulting proposition. Despite what Patton said, I do not believe that Americans love war. Americans can’t wait to get a war over with and, if one should last much longer than Gulf War I, the agitation to get the hell out of wherever we are grows exponentially as it lingers on.
So no, these are not martial thoughts. They are prideful thoughts to be sure, but there are still many of us who do not count taking pride in our nation, our freedom and our way of life a sin. They are also grim thoughts, for we are aware that continuing this conflict – standing up for liberty – makes each of us a target, even in this blessed land, where the oceans no longer provide an adequate defense against the world’s evils. Most of all, I believe, we are driven by duty in these thoughts. Our ancestors fought and died to create this nation and to spread the light of liberty across the seas. We have a duty to their memory, a duty to our children, and a duty to all of those children living in poverty and despair who have never known the freedom to prosper. This is what drives us.
And what of those embittered children, living in poverty, ignorance and despair? Are we to accept the proposition that we are responsible for their plight? Are we believe that our freedom creates their chains, that our wealth causes their poverty, and that liberty is a sin, while living under the thumb of hateful zealots who wield their version of god as a cudgel to beat them into submission is the highest form of purity? This is madness!
Those children are embittered, and they live in poverty, ignorance and despair because their masters wish it so. They must have it so. It is quite difficult to convince a prosperous, intelligent man enjoying the fruits of liberty to strap a bomb on his back. But one living in squalor, without hope, without freedom? That is quite another matter. It’s far easier to convince someone that paradise awaits when they are living hell on earth.
I have not given up hoping for our President, though I often despair of him. Still, the character of this nation and its people have a way of rubbing off on even the meanest – or in this case, the most naïve – of leaders. I pray that it will be so and that the President will come to understand not just that we must continue the fight, but why we must fight.