It was a day like no other. A beautiful September morning transformed into horror and death, with nearly 3,000 innocents murdered for the crime of living and working in America.
We promised ourselves and each other we would never forget. Memorials to the heroic firefighters invariably echo that defiant pledge: Never Forget.
They lie. Not 15 years later, many Americans are forgetting. Even in New York, people who solemnly swore to remember forever turn their backs on the meaning of September 11th.
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.
None is more consequential than Barack Obama, a dedicated re-interpreter of 9/11 and its aftermath. As his presidency enters the home stretch, we see 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 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 has 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, the terrorists have not forgotten us.
How Obama’s Refusal To Say “Radical Islam” Prevents Dots from Being Connected
Here’s a painful truth: Nearly 15 years after 9/11, US counterterror efforts failed to thwart the Orlando attacker. As they failed to prevent San Bernardino, Calif., Garland, Texas. Boston. Fort Hood . . .
And yet, in every one of those cases, the feds had their chance. Is something hobbling federal counterterror efforts?
Years before Omar Mateen’s bloodbath at Pulse, the FBI had him on its watch list — twice. He also made two trips to Saudi Arabia. Yet officials couldn’t link him definitively to any plot to commit mayhem.
Add to this unconfirmed reports of more recent warnings to the FBI — from Disney World, after he and his wife seemed to be casing the site, and from the owner of a gun shop where the killer tried to buy level-3 body armor.
Were these dots that went unconnected?
Only the killer is to blame. But Orlando was hardly an isolated failure.
The bureau also had the Tsarnaev brothers on its radar screen before the Boston Marathon bombing. It probed Elton Simpson before he took part in the hit on the “Draw Mohammed” event in Garland.
Tashfeen Malik made it through a Homeland Security screening and later joined Syed Farook in the San Bernardino shooting. Agents cleared Maj. Nidal Hasan prior to his Fort Hood rampage.
FBI Director James Comey says trying to ferret out lone wolves is like “looking for needles in a national haystack.” His agency usually has 1,000 open cases of suspected domestic terrorists on its plate at a time.
And US counterterror efforts have thwarted scores of plots over the years.
But as National Review’s Jim Geraghty notes, the feds “have enormous resources devoted to counterterrorism,” well beyond the FBI — including thousands of agencies, private groups and military commands.
Yet they all operate under real constraints — including not just proper regard for civil liberties but also orders from a White House that obsessively fears seeming anti-Muslim.
Here’s one notable example: James Brennan, then deputy national security adviser for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, in late 2011 ordered a purge of all federal law-enforcement “training materials that contain cultural or religious content, including information related to Islam or Muslims.”
In other words, the FBI’s political overseers ordered it not to husband expertise on Islamist self-radicalization — and the bureau’s bureaucrats, from Comey on down, complied. The same idiocy rules the entire Obama effort at “countering violent extremism.”
Bad as it is that President Obama refuses to use the words “Islamist terror,” it’s far worse that he’s put blinders on everyone who’s supposed to be keeping America safe.
Obama Says Orlando Shooter Was ‘Homegrown’ Terrorist (JV Team — On The Run)
Terror in Orlando: Not Just Another ‘Mass Shooting’ — Ideology Matters (From the Jerusalem Post)
Tags: "lone-wolves", 9/11, America at war, Barack Obama, Boston Marathon bombing, Daesh, Islam, Islamic state, Islamist ideology, James Brennan, Jihad, Muslims, Obama, Obama effort at “countering violent extremism.”, Omar Mateen, Orlando shootings, pulse, radical Islam, Radical islamist terrorism, San Bernardino, terrorism, The Long War, Tsarnaev brothers