11 September 2011

Some Pols Made Bad 9/11 Connections

Today America marks the ten year anniversary of the horrible suicide terrorist attacks which employed commercial airplanes as missiles killing 2,977 innocent civilians at the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Virginia and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.  At the major commemoration in New York at the National 9/11 Memorial at the former World Trade Center site, current New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (D, R, I- NYC), made two unfathomable decisions.  Mayor Bloomburg banned clergy from the dias for the commemoration. Bloomberg also prohibited contingents of Firefighters to participate at the WTC memorial.

Mayor Bloomberg defended his decision to prohibit pastors from ministering to the still grieving survivors, widows and orphans. Bloomberg pontificated:

It’s a civil ceremony. There are plenty of opportunities for people to have their religious ceremonies...Some people don’t want to go to a religious ceremony with another religion. And the number of different religions in this city are really quite amazing.

Bloomberg blustered that the terrorists wanted to take away freedom of religion and that he did not want government to force particular religious views down peoples’ throats. This was a rhetorical shift from prior justifications from Gracie Mansion which claimed that it was too complicated and controversial to choose which clergy should participate.

Bloomberg’s befuddling decision shows the insidious stamp of political correctness.  Since someone “might” be offended by clergymens’ comments, there should be no participation by pastors around this secular sacred space.  Bloomberg’s stance is in complete contrast to his support for the 9/11 mosque project for a minority which requires special consideration.  But regarding this year’s 9/11 memorial, Bloomberg’s staunch secularism transforms the Freedom of Religion enshrined in the First Amendment of our Constitution into a public Freedom from Religion. This is such a betrayal of the aftermath of 9/11 when Americans of all religious persuasion packed the pews of places of worship to put philosophical and spiritual context on these acts of evil.

Of course, Bloomberg’s anti-clerical bull did not totally excise all references to scripture from the ceremonies.  But having President Obama and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R-NYC) quoting from scripture (Psalm 46 and Ecclesiastes respectively) just did not seem quite right.

Bloomberg also banned rescue workers from sending contingents of comrades to honor the 343 NYFD and the 60 Policemen who gave their lives to try to save others at the World Trade Center on 9-11-01.  Mayor Bloomberg claimed that there would not be enough room for the fireman at the 18 acre site. Bloomberg wanted to ensure that there was enough room for victim’s families for the 9/11 Commemoration. As Michael Burke, whose brother NYFD Capt. Billy Burke, died in the WTC North Tower trying to save a paraplegic victim, poignantly put it:

The firemen, being who they are, would never complain or bring attention to themselves. I, however, am not a fireman. Just the son of one and the brother of another. To deny the firefighters and our first responders—these most humble and dedicated servants of New York—the opportunity to honor, at Ground Zero on 9/11, their lost brothers and sisters is atrocious.

It is thin gruel to the rescue workers that Mayor Bloomberg’s Big Apple would work to have other events to commemorate them on different days. .  There was an official city commemoration on 9/08.  The NYFD held a service uptown on 9/11 and had over 5,000 participants.

Former Mayor Giuliani’s reflections on the terrorist attack observed:

Sept. 11, 2001, stands as the defining event of the 21st century. For me, 9/11 remains puzzling. It was the worst day of my life and the best day. It was the worst day because of the incomprehensible death, destruction and evil. Very soon after the attacks, we began to understand the threat posed by Islamic extremist terrorism.
Sept. 11 was also the best day because it put on display the very finest human instincts — compassion, courage, kindness, selflessness. First responders rushed into what they knew was a life-threatening emergency. Neighbors helped neighbors, and aid poured from good people all over the country and the world.

The Firefighters, Paramedics, NYPD and Port Authority Police who perished in the Twin Towers collapse epitomized the compassion, courage kindness and selflessness to which America’s Mayor alluded.  Not including these heroes is like not including spiritual leaders who helped us live through this tragedy.  Check Mayor Bloomberg.

President Obama made a couple of miscues in preparation for the tenth anniversary of 9/11.  First, the Obama Administration circulated talking points to their minions about 9/11 which wanted to give  a positive, forward looking narrative that minimized mentioning al-Qaeda so as to minimize the terrorist group.  In a piece just published by French newspaper Le Figero, President Obama asserted that al-Qaeda is nearing total defeat having failed to destroy America’s unique leadership role in the world. Well, the terrorist concerns this weekend over a dirty bomb and the truck bomb in Afghanistan that killed two and injured 77 US servicemen puts a lie to that legerdemain.

Pro arguendo, even if al-Qaeda per se is on the ropes, cells of franchise groups of al-Qaeda, or al-Qaeda 2.0 still pose a serious threat to the homeland. We do not live in a Hogwort’s world which invoking a name could conjure up Voldemort. Besides, it is intellectually dishonest.  To quell the possibility of anti-Islamic animus, President George W. Bush called our military engagements “The War on Terror”, as if America was pitted against an asymmetric warfare tactic. Our enemy are fanatical salafists who are hijacking a so called “Religion of Peace” to become a “Religion of Pieces” to further a worldwide Caliphate.  By using PC euphemisms and mealy mouthed misdirection allowed for a lack of resolve for “The Long War” against us and allowed the 43rd President to be maligned for his efforts to preserve and protect our Republic.

From the start of his Administration, President Obama has sought to subvert the 9/11 Day of Remembrance as a “National Day of Service”.  Fortunately, this recasting of 9/11 has gained as little traction as President George W. Bush’s effort to refer to 9/11 as national Patriots’  Day.
President Obama volunteering at DC Central Kitchen for 2011 National Day of Service

Donald Rumsfeld at Pentagon 09-11-01
While encouraging Americans to serve others is admirable, as is honoring patriots, these qualities should  should not replace remembering the evil that was perpetrated on 9-11-01.  Some religious traditions, such as Catholicism, can find goodness stemming from suffering.  In the case of 9/11, we saw great heroism by the First Responders at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.  This includes sacrifices by leadership.  Fire Chief Peter Ganci, a trusted advisor to Mayor Giuliani, died in the collapse of the WTC North Tower.  After evacuating the Pentagon after Flight 77 struck the building, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld went back in to assist rescue workers. The passengers of Flight 93 which crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania sacrificed their lives to prevent a likely attack on the U.S. Capitol. These heroics are instances service and sacrifice which needs to be honored by America’s collective remembering, not by watering it down into a mealy, meaningless “Day of Service”.

Glenn Beck harkens for us to return to being 9/12 Americans, were there was national unity and genuine concern for our neighbors. He is launching GBTV on 9/12 to speak the truth like a purifying blaze and is simultaneously launching community bolstering charities.  Whilet may be facile for politicians to temporally attach such community spirit to 9/11 but we should not crowd out the ultimate sacrifice of both the victims and the heroes of 9/11

In academia, Administrators at Marietta College in Ohio nixed a student led initiative to commemorate 9/11 by placing 2,977 American flags on a campus display, unless flags of other nations were also included.  Sarah Snow, the College Junior who was seeking to organize the memorial reacting to the jaw dropping administrative edict:

Why should we place the extra flags anyways? It was an attack on AMERICANS, AMERICAN ideals, AMERICAN capitalism, defense, and freedom. The World Trade Center wasn’t hit because a Chinese accountant was working that morning; it was hit because American capitalists were there.

This political correctness was prospective and hypersensitive since no international students objected to simply displaying the stars and stripes.  The Free Speech of the First Amendment at Marietta College goes the way of Freedom of Religion at the World Trade Center Memorial.

In the decade since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, America has gone from collectively wondering “Why do they hate us?” to a politically led “What are we commemorating aside from our loss of loved ones?”  To add injury to this insult, it was rare to see the much filmed impacts of the airplanes on the World Trade Center so as not to traumatize viewers.  Unfortunately, this allows us to forget the horror that we should never forget.  As George Santayana wrote: “Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it”.  May this 10 year anniversary of 9/11 remind us of our past and inspire us to be unified as Americans, know what we should honor and why we fight “The Long War”.

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