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Jewish World Review Sept. 11, 2002 / 5 Tishrei, 5763

Benjamin Shapiro

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Without religion, 9/11 is only the beginning | The Islamic terrorists who attacked us on Sept. 11 thought that America was a weak country, fat and complacent. Maybe they were right.

People say everything changed on Sept. 11. It isn't true. Things just came sharply into focus. For a brief moment, Americans came together against a common enemy. We weren't afraid to call evil by its name or to confront it. We united under G-d.

And then, we spent the past year trying to forget our righteous anger and return to our former complacency. When President Bush urged us to go on with our lives, he didn't mean for us to completely discard the moral clarity we had instinctually found on that terrible morning.

America has divided into two factions: those who fight evil and those who do not believe in evil. The dividing line is religion.

Those who believe in the G-d of Judaism and Christianity know the difference between good and evil because they know the value of human life. They know that an element of man is divine and that man has a purpose in the universe. They know that man has free will to choose between good and evil. And because they know the value of life, they know the evil of those who take it for non-defensive purposes.

They realize that terrorists who smashed airliners into buildings were not provoked by American foreign policy -- the terrorists were seeking death because they were part of a culture that loves death. Deeply religious people knew what America had to do in response: kill those responsible for the terrorism and those who supported them, and prevent the evil from growing.

The other faction does not believe in G-d, at least not actively. There is no good, and there is no evil, these people believe. If G-d has no purpose for man -- as they believe -- then life is meaningless, and the death of thousands of Americans has no more meaning than the death of a colony of ants.

They believe everything is a shade of gray. They think that the terrorists were provoked by American foreign policy in the Middle East. They think the proper response is appeasement of those who murder Americans. They sully America's moral status in the world by attempting to bribe those who hate us.

Right now, it seems those who do not believe in G-d are winning. Our culture celebrates vanity, stupidity and torpidity. Millions watch "The Osbournes" or "The Anna Nicole Smith Show," shows where pathetic wannabe/has-been celebrities mooch for the cameras. People get fat downing hamburgers day after day and then sue the hamburger companies for making them obese. Immediately after Sept. 11, you couldn't see a car without an American flag; then, Los Angeles Lakers flags went up alongside the banner; finally, the American flag was taken down while the Lakers flags flew proudly.

Even worse, Americans have been suckered by moral relativism -- the Political Correctness Police dominate our society. No one can mention that the terrorists of Sept. 11 were Muslim without automatically having to state that "not all Muslims are terrorists," for fear of being labeled racist. Schools around the country teach students about Islam, promoting it as a "religion of peace" without discussing its more violent adherents. The National Education Association preaches anti-Americanism, telling teachers to indoctrinate students with stories of American imperialism.

Jerry Falwell said after Sept. 11 that abortionists, feminists, the gays and lesbians who promote homosexuality as a natural lifestyle, the American Civil Liberties Union and all those who try to secularize America (in short, the PC crowd) bear some responsibility for Sept. 11.

While his statement may have been unpopular, it was true, at least in the larger sense. If we pillory those who defend traditional moral values, we seem weak. Why would any terrorist fear a country that treats the Boy Scouts like the KKK? If we treat the moral as trivial, if we make it seem as though our lives have no value, how can we expect others to respect the value of our lives?

In the cosmic sense, Falwell was correct. We have tossed G-d from the public schools. We have ignored his morality in favor of subjective man-made values. We cannot expect G-d to maintain his protection of us if we exile him.

America did not change for more than a few moments on Sept. 11, but our society must undergo serious and lasting change if we hope to live in freedom and prosperity. If those who fight against G-d continue to win, G-d will not defend us. And we will not have the moral courage to defend ourselves.

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© 2002, Creators Syndicate