Today will bring back many memories of an ordinary Tuesday morning in September nine years ago when an extremely well planned and executed act of war changed the course of world history – all in the space of 102 minutes. We saw the very best of America on a day that saw the first attack on the continental United States since the British invasion during the War of 1812.

Like most Americans I watched those events unfold on television. I was a geographic continent and a cultural world away from New York, Arlington, and Shanksville in my Los Angeles living room. I knew little and cared less about the fanatical ideology worshipped by the nineteen hijackers and those who cheered the destruction of Americans. I did understand that I was witnessing the Pearl Harbor of my generation.

Everyone has their most poignant memory of that day. One of the most difficult things I had to do on September 11, 2001 was explain to my then five-year-old son about the fact that there are evil people in the world. You see, I do a lot of professional travel. My son, even then, understood that his Dad spent a lot of time on planes. He had never before seen a plane crash and was understandably concerned when he saw a plane do something other than land safely on a runway.

Late that afternoon he asked me what made those planes crash. I explained, as abstractly as I could, that some “bad men” had taken over the controls and had crashed those planes into the big buildings. Sometimes five-year-olds are wise far beyond their years. My son then furrowed his brow and looked at me with wide little boy eyes filled with worry. “Daddy,” he said, “are their bad men on your planes?”

Along with the death and destruction experienced by all on that Tuesday, millions of American children had to learn about “bad men” far earlier than they should have.

Over the past nine years there has been an increased effort to be sensitive to and accommodate the needs (and demands) of those who subscribe to that same radical ideology which fueled the 9/11 terrorists. Lately, it seems as though every action or policy of even the most insignificant crackpot is weighed in the balance to see whether or not it will inflame the passions of radical Islamists. I see this obsession with offense-avoidance and sometimes wonder how much time those same radical Islamists spend wondering if their actions will inflame the pent up rage of radical Americans.

It should be obvious by now that no amount of appeasement or accommodation will assuage the deep seated hatred felt by radical Islamists for any and all things (and people) American. Despite the misguided assertions of our dangerously naïve president, this is a war between two diametrically opposed ideologies. Some of this war is being fought on far off battlefields whose names most Americans cannot pronounce. The other part of this war is being fought here at home where traditional America is under assault by those who would use the quintessential American values of religious liberty and tolerance as transformational weapons. In this war there will be winners, and there will be losers. And yes, America, it is a big deal.

I am reminded of the wise words of warning of Abraham Lincoln as he addressed the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois in January of 1838:

At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a Trial of a thousand years.

At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.

In the midst of national chaos on 9/11, some two dozen Americans saw the threat posed by radical Islamic terrorists to the nation as a whole as their airliner was hijacked over Ohio and turned eastward, presumably heading toward a target in Washington, DC. Those brave men and women on United Flight 93 did not worry about who their actions would offend or how they would be perceived. They took a vote and followed the finest tradition of the American citizen-soldier. They bravely drew a line in southern Pennsylvania and said “this attack ends here”.

To again paraphrase Lincoln, it from those honored dead and all those who have heeded the call of their nation that we should take an increased devotion to that cause for which many of them have given the last full measure of devotion.

I, for one, am very tired of being told my nation must fundamentally alter itself in order to appease a small group of radical ideologues whose attitude dial is permanently set on “blinding rage”. Feisal Abdul Rauf’s declaration that “anger will explode in the Muslim world” if a mosque isn’t built overlooking Ground Zero is thinly veiled threat of violence to those who legitimately oppose such a building at that location.

America has a long history of standing up to those who would use death and destruction to further their ideological goals and objectives. If Imam Feisal has a legitimate reason to build a mosque at Ground Zero, he should make that clear. Threatening death and destruction as a consequence might work where he comes from, but it doesn’t go over well here.

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