Jewish World Review Sept. 11, 2002 / 5 Tishrei, 5763
At the same time, without intending in any way to minimize the evil or the suffering, and with no intention whatsoever to celebrate its occurrence, it is clear that 9-11 did far more good than harm. America has become a better place because of that attack.
First and perhaps foremost, the 9-11 attack provided many Americans with a moral and political clarity that they did not have prior to the attack. Most Americans are far clearer about good and evil in the world than they were before 9-11. With the end of the Cold War, many Americans had been lulled into believing that international evil had ended. The existence of totalitarian or authoritarian Islamist theocracies in Sudan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Libya; of international terror movements such as Hamas, Hezbollah and al Qaeda; the development within Islam of a theology of suicide terror; the violent attempts to impose Islamist rule in Nigeria, the Philippines and elsewhere; and the amassing of horrific weapons of mass destruction in Iraq -- few, if any, of these evils registered in most Americans' consciousness before 9-11. Now they do. Thanks to 9-11, the seemingly unstoppable totalitarian Islamic movement has been identified and confronted.
Second, prior to 9-11, most Americans regarded Islamic terror against Israel as a misfortune for Israelis. They now regard it as a threat to humanity. The many Palestinians who celebrated the 9-11 attack on America were not only morally wrong, they were wrong in terms of their own self-interest. Outside of our universities, the majority of Americans do not perceive a moral difference between Islamic terrorists murdering innocent Israelis and their murdering innocent Americans.
Third, many Americans were beginning to regard military strength as an anachronism at best, and as an impediment to world peace at worst. Not now. As of 9-11, most of us now regard the American military as the greatest force for good on earth.
Fourth, those of us who warned about the moral decay in our universities were not heard. Since 9-11, many more Americans have become aware of the moral confusion that permeates our universities. When a Colorado College invites Yasser Arafat's former spokeswoman to be the keynote speaker at the college's commemoration of the first anniversary of 9-11; when there is an anti-Semitic riot at San Francisco State University; when students and faculty at colleges like Scripps College oppose erecting a flagpole to fly the American flag; and when the University of California, Berkeley discourages any signs of patriotism lest they offend some students, people now notice and are appalled.
Fifth, the Islamic attackers succeeded in uniting American Jews and Christians more than ever. The misplaced suspicions of Christian conservatives among many American Jews, the great majority of whom are liberal, have begun to be replaced by trust. Most American Jews now realize that their best and most loyal friends are conservatives, especially Christian conservatives.
Sixth, the moral dividing line that separates the left from the rest of America has become far clearer to most Americans. The left is largely composed of people who, faced with the greatest test of moral acuity in our time -- the ability to identify the morally right party in the Arab-Israeli and Islamist-American wars -- failed. Just as they failed to identify right and wrong in the Cold War.
Seventh, the Islamic attackers brought out what many of us feared had died -- an enormous patriotism among most Americans. An 18-year-old called my show and told me that she had never seen Americans express patriotism until 9-11. Neither had I. And I am 54.
And finally, more Americans are prepared to go it alone. The mantra of the liberal editorial pages that our behavior must be governed by United Nations resolutions, not by what we deem moral, is convincing to fewer Americans.
Again, none of this consoles the grief of those whose loved ones were murdered on 9-11-01. But if these developments continue, it may surely be said for a generation to come that they did not die in vain.
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