It’s a somewhat different world than it was a year ago. I don’t yet know whether to judge it a much better one.
For all his faults, we now have a president in the U.S. who has had the audacity to candidly name the ideology we are up against — and what is remarkable to me is that doing so takes any audacity at all. Such is the deep denial we’ve slumped into these past 16 years, that anyone finds shocking what should be a foundational part of our shared understanding, whatever our differences may be regarding how best to face and defeat that threat. Had anyone suggested to me in the days following 9/11 that this level of denial would come to exist, or stranger still that it would come from forces within our own culture, I’d have been stunned by the insanity of the thought.
Whether our actions now and in the next few years will produce greater success as a result of leadership that will honestly name our enemy’s motivating ideology has yet to be seen. I have not been generally optimistic about our degree of cultural resolve, which I think is what we need most. The forces of civilizational decline are entrenched and persistent, and this might be but a temporary reversal of a much stronger tide. I still hold out some hope for a genuine and lasting turnaround. But I don’t know what it’s going to take to truly wake us up and get us on our feet and fighting for our future with the strong conviction that will be essential to victory. Europe has experienced numerous grisly Jihadist attacks in recent years, and hardly seems to have deviated from a course of submission, surrender, decline, and suicide. We are witnessing what happens when a culture that believes fanatically in itself comes into contact with a culture hobbled by self-doubt.
For our future to differ, our thoughts and actions must differ. If we can’t start by having the honest, fact-based conversation about radical Islamic violence that Sunni Muslim Raheel Raza calls for in this video, we will lack even the hope of turning things around. I look forward to the candor of our public discussion improving someday.
My Previous Years’ 9/11 Posts
2016: 9/11, Fifteen Years On
2014: 9/11, Thirteen Years On
2013: 9/11, Twelve Years On
2012: 9/11, Eleven Years On
2010: 9/11: Two Songs
2007: 9/11, Six Years On
2005: I Remember
2004: Remembering and Rebuilding (republished here September 12th, 2014)