Now That the Smoke Has Cleared
On December 8, 1941, then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed a stricken nation:
Yesterday, December 7, 1941—a date that will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan. The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.
According to the USS Arizona Memorial, when the smoke cleared at Pearl Harbor, American casualties numbered 2,388, including 48 civilians. Another 1,178 were injured.
Fast forward to September 11, 2001. In the wake of the catastrophic attacks on New York City and Washington, DC, then-President George W. Bush addressed the nation:
Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts. The victims were in airplanes, or in their offices; secretaries, businessmen and women, military and federal workers; moms and dads, friends and neighbors. Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of terror….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.1
Nineteen Arab hijackers succeeded in killing more than 2,980 people, including nationals from more than 70 countries. “The death toll surpassed that at Pearl Harbor in December 1941,” concluded The 9/11 Commission Report.2
As smoke billowed from the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in Manhattan, the Pentagon in Washington, and a cratered field in Pennsylvania, our president promised, “We will never forget.” But now, nine years after that terrible day of infamy, we have either forgotten or are a nation in denial.
Self-Flagellation, Risking Freedom
Neither Americans nor most of the people abroad were to blame for the violent attempt to destroy our nation in 1941 and 2001. President Bush put his finger on the reason some hate us: “America was targeted for attack because we’re the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world.”3
As a result, we find ourselves attacked on two fronts: within and without. Over the past two years our national leaders have gone on a campaign of self-flagellation, blaming America for a grab bag of offenses. They have been recompensed by our enemies’ scorn and an accelerated determination to ramp up the terror war against what our foes perceive to be a weak and cowardly nation. Groveling before the Muslim world to curry favor was a severe miscalculation that has imperiled the safety of our allies—mainly, of course, Israel.
Furthermore, excising all references to our being at war with Islamist terrorists has blurred our situation. It is an ill-advised attempt to induce the benign perception of “business as usual.” In fact, competent interpreters wonder if our government is deliberately trying to neutralize our abilities (and those of our friends) both to define the dimensions of the jihadist threat and defend against it.
A prime example is the UN drive, supported by the current U.S. administration, to determine if Israel has nuclear capability and, if it does, to force Israel to open its facilities to UN inspectors and disarm. The less-than-clear-thinking devotees of a nuclear-free Middle East curiously ignore the world’s foremost terrorist state—Iran—and its push to obtain weapons of mass destruction as quickly as possible.
Imperiled Personal Freedom
No one can seriously question the full-scale campaign to pull America into the sphere of socialist nations. The federal government’s wholesale takeover of huge chunks of the nation’s economic, manufacturing, health, and assorted other sectors has demonstrated that it ignores the people’s will and thinks it can do better than private business by calling the shots for all of us.
Now the administration even wants the power to pull the plug on the Internet—when it deems it “an emergency.” The Internet is the bastion of freedom of expression, along with conservative radio where news analyses and opinions are often less than palatable to left-wing politicians who would be delighted to have the power to flip the switch on the opposition.
In the name of political correctness, government already is trampling freedom of expression and has virtually shut down any acknowledgment of God in the public arena. It is also imperiling the rights of pastors to allude to biblical prohibitions against homosexuality and same-sex marriage.
And when it comes to Jesus, His name cannot even be mentioned—not in any public forum, including high school and college graduations.
Symptomatic of the suppression of America’s historic Judeo-Christian foundations was President Barack Obama’s scrapping of this year’s White House service for the National Day of Prayer and a Wisconsin judge’s ruling that the event is unconstitutional. Her decision is being appealed. But the pretext is clear: Christianity “offends” people of other persuasions (mainly Muslims) and those with no faith at all. The service’s cancellation was consistent with Obama’s assertion America is “no longer a Christian nation.”
Lenin’s Useful Idiots
Former President Jimmy Carter was fond of referring to the American condition as a state of malaise, meaning uneasiness or discomfort. Perhaps. But in the current state of affairs, the words willful ignorance or indifference may be closer to the mark.
The Russian apostle of Communism, Vladimir Lenin, had a term for people who allowed themselves to be used: useful idiots. Lenin and his Communist thugs actually held them in contempt. Bruce Thornton, a classics professor at California State University in Fresno, wrote,
Lenin called them “useful idiots,” those people living in liberal democracies who by giving moral and material support to a totalitarian ideology in effect were braiding the rope that would hang them. Why people who enjoyed freedom and prosperity worked passionately to destroy both is a fascinating question, one still with us today. Now the useful idiots can be found in the chorus of appeasement, reflexive anti-Americanism, and sentimental idealism trying to inhibit the necessary responses to another freedom-hating ideology, radical Islam.4
People who have imbibed the undefined “hope” and “change” opiate fall into this unenviable category.
Though not committed to the liberal, reflexive anti-American or anti-Israel fraternity, near kin to the “useful idiots” are, regrettably, those who are indifferent to the near apocalypse that is occurring. Coining appropriate terminology for their condition is difficult because one may use several suitable appellations, not the least of which is incessantly self–absorbed.
I recently drove past a church with a sign out front declaring, “It’s all about people.” I wondered how the pastor and his flock translated that. Most likely it applied to the little klatch of individuals they surrounded themselves with. But for true Christians, it isn’t all about people, unless you’re seeing them through God’s eyes. It is, first and foremost, all about God and His passion for all people.
In American society, so blessed with affluence, the problem can be attached to a detachment from reality. At least for the time being, we inhabit an isolated island of peace and prosperity. That is not the case in so many places on this earth.
As I was preparing to write this article, I read of a terrible incident, one you will not hear about on the nightly news or read about in the newspapers. No political leaders will note it; and, sadly, few churches will discuss it. The victims will remain faceless, rarely touching our lives and even less our hearts.
The report, titled “Beyond Anything I Have Ever Seen,” came from The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM), one of the few organizations on the front lines serving the persecuted church. VOMedical director “Dr. Kim” described a horrifying massacre of more than 500 Nigerian Christians in March. More than 80 percent of those slaughtered were women and children. Their killers were radical Muslims. Said Dr. Kim:
In more than three years of providing medical service for persecuted Christians for VOM, this is the first time that the word “carnage” comes to mind. This is beyond anything I have seen in my 33 years of medicine, including doing autopsies and working in emergency rooms. We found out that in one village we visited there were only 20 or 30 survivors in the entire village.
If this were a one-time tragedy, it might find its way into some publication as a single-paragraph blurb. But as VOM, Compass News Direct, The Friends of Israel, and others consistently report, such genocide occurs almost daily in the world where Christians are considered legitimate targets for murder and persecution. And that’s because no forces in the West are aligned to protect them and make their oppressors pay for their crimes. So our innocent brothers and sisters become victims.
Which brings to mind Professor Thornton’s observation that those who enjoy freedom but tolerate or cooperate with totalitarianism are “braiding the rope that [will] hang them.”
A Cloud on Our Future: Failure to Remember
During World War II we sang a song reminding us to “remember Pearl Harbor as we did the Alamo” in San Antonio, Texas, where many brave Americans died fighting the Mexicans in 1836. Perhaps in this day of pseudo sophistication and incoherent lyrical concoctions, people shrug off such sentiments as “uncool” schmaltz from the rubes of another day.
However, the “rubes” made the points—two of them: (1) know your history and (2) never forget.
Of late, revisionists have been exposing us to the so-called foibles of our Founding Fathers and the flaws in our Constitution that they claim must be corrected by applying a new standard of social justice. Loosely translated, that means leveling the playing field for all segments of society: redistribution. One proponent said there would be no justice in America until every American had everything every other American had.
Our founders paid an exorbitant personal price for our freedoms, laws, and way of life. We must never forget the thousands of men and women who sacrificed their lives to secure ours.
There is a sense in which the smoke that billowed from the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and that field in Pennsylvania should always linger in our minds and in those of our descendants for generations to come. To forget is fatal. To trivialize September 11, 2001, as the radical act of a few deranged men is contemptible. To rationalize terrorist behavior by blaming America or former President Bush is criminal.
Can the situation be remedied? Yes. And it’s up to you and me to do so. In America the ballot box is the key to the future. We can’t afford to fail.
- “Statement by the President in His Address to the Nation,” The White House, September 11, 2001<georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/ 2001/09/20010911-16.html>.
- The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States <c-span.org/pdf/911finalreportexecsum.pdf>.
- “Statement by the President in His Address to the Nation.”
- Bruce S. Thornton, “The Chorus of Useful Idiots,” FrontPageMagazine.com, November 1, 2002 <184.108.40.206/readArticle.aspx?ARTID=21386>.