December 7, 1941, the day that will live in infamy! The day the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service launched a devastating attack on Pearl Harbor. More than 2000 American soldiers were killed and another 1000 were wounded. 300 airplanes were destroyed and around 20 ships, including 8 battleships. It sucked America into WWII leading to the loss of 1,076,245 American lives in a conflict that is estimated to have taken the lives of 60 million people total.
“Infamy” means that the deed will be well-known as a bad deed. To live in infamy then connotes it will always be remembered as such. Certainly each year we have our memorial services on Pearl Harbor day, flags are flown, the dead remembered. I suspect a bit of the infamy has worn off though. After all that was 75 years ago. Most of us weren’t alive then and many who were alive were youngsters. A man of 85 would only have been 10. Few are left alive that remember first hand, fewer that actually took up arms in that conflict. If the estimated 600,000+ still alive they commonly don’t like to talk about it, let alone remember it. Honor it, yes, remember it, not so much.
For most of us, the attack on Pearl Harbor is something we have read about, perhaps watched a Hollywood movie about, and maybe seen a documentary of, or talked to some veterans about. I wager that’s about it. Unless your grandfather died in Pearl Harbor I suspect you don’t have a strong emotional connection to the event and if no one reminded you come December 7th that it was the anniversary date of the attack I feel safe in guessing you wouldn’t think about it and the date would pass by.
I propose that this is a good thing, not a bad thing. Though cries of “Infamy” make for good and lasting rhetoric to lift a president’s stature, they invoke an emotion that cannot last. An emotion that, in my opinion, should not last.
I have long said that I think the terrorists won.
Before we get there though, let’s explore terrorism itself. To be sure the dictionary definition of terrorism does not match with what we are experiencing.
“Terrorism means: the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.”
I argue that the aims are not political, they are religious. I’m not talking about why individuals become terrorists, but rather what the professed goal of acts of terrorism are. The reason individuals join are actually quite diverse. For some it may be political. For example they may protest American intervention in their country. For others it may be psychological. Those people may be seeking a means to feel powerful in a world in which they feel powerless. They can easily find America as a target for that. If you are the little guy, it’s always the big guy holding you down. For some it’s money. The families of suicide bombers are notoriously well taken care of. People do a great many illogical and unselfish acts in regards to their family. Then there are those who start out joining terrorist groups for religious reasons believing it to be the right path to their god.
All that said, I argue that the end goals of the terrorist acts we see across the world is to spread what these groups see as the Islamic way of life. For them the Islamic religion and the Islamic way of life are inseparable. This is not unusual for religions of course. In American we are commonly faced with people who have a certain set of religious beliefs but for whom everyday life is not directed by those beliefs. Why this is can be a discussion for another day. Many religions do, however, share this trait with Islam. Probably the first that springs to mind is the Amish. For them their way of life is intimately connected with their religion. Hindu are the same. So are Mormons. But in regards to those three groups they are not spreading their way of life through violence. In fact all three groups are quite opposed to violence and try to publish peace whenever possible.
What makes Islam Different When it Comes to Violence?
The short answer is: who cares? What I mean to indicate is that I don’t think we are going to understand our way to peace or discover through understanding some way to end the violence.
That said, I consider that there is one reason we should care why. That is to learn, once and for all, that nothing we do at all, ever, will convince them to stop.
I’ve studied Islam, read the Koran, spent several months working closely with Saudi Arabians, and still am not prepared to paint all of Islam with a broad brush. It’s a religion of a billion people. That’s a huge number and the vast majority of them just live their lives day to day like everyone else does. Certainly there seems be a built-in attitude toward Jews but there is not a built-in attitude toward strapping a bomb to themselves. Even the Hijab is not something all Muslim women wear. The kind of militant oppression we see isn’t Islam, it’s Sharia and that’s not a part of all Muslim’s lives. It is much like the law faced by Jesus during his day by the Pharisees. A group within a religion builds their own set of rules and forcefully makes everyone else live by them.
Those rules, however, do not represent the religion itself.
When you are certain that all people on the earth should act a certain way and those people refuse to do it you have four choices as I see it.
- Persuade them.
- Ignore them.
- Force them.
- Kill them.
Oddly enough the terrorists have actually chosen #1 above. The hell I say? Yes, I mean it. Though I admit the word here is used in a rather mobster kind of way.
There are many ways to persuade people. Terrorism is all about persuading people to behave a certain way through fear. The logical argument becomes “If we follow Islam the terrorists won’t bomb us anymore.” Maybe they won’t but they will stone you if you are gay, make you cover yourself if you are a woman, and kill you if you are a Jew.
I had an experience with one of the Saudis I mentioned earlier. Fahd was his name. We were discussing this very subject. He told me that Christians would be “allowed to convert”. I asked him “what about Jews?” He put his two palms together and made the motion one makes to indicate being all done with something. The indication was clear, the Jews would not be allowed to convert but would just be killed.
Human beings are by nature imperfect. Sharia does not allow imperfection to exist without punishment. Sometimes, as in the case of an apostate, homosexuality, etc. the punishment is death.
Quite simply the terrorists seek absolute power over the behavior of others. Terror is how they plan on doing that.
I think we Should “Forget” September 11th
I put forget in quotes because I don’t mean to indicate totally and completely forget. I suggest it is time to Pearl Harbor it.
After the attacks of September 11th Americans waved flags, sang country songs about boots and asses, watched as bombs fell on the enemy camps, and exchanged our freedoms – one by one – for “security”.
While people are busy now arguing if Islam is the reason for terrorism rather than just a faction of it being the cause we live in a world where the terror has set in and we have been persuaded to change our way of life. I admit it’s an exaggeration to say they have won. In the regard that the ultimate goal is to subjugate the world to Sharia they have a long way to go, especially in America. Yet it is undeniable that they have had victories. Think of how the hijab is now embraced as a symbol of feminism. Think how anyone who says anything negative about Islam is branded as “Islamophobic”. They have succeeded, through fear, in insulating themselves from criticism. That means they can behave however they like and people are not telling them it’s wrong. Even if they think it is wrong, they are cowed into defending it.
We were a nation in grief that has yet to complete the grieving process. Remembering means not forgetting and not forgetting means not moving on. I think we need to move on. I know, easier said than done.
It’s very hard to say we should ignore them, forget about what has happened, and not let it cause us to be afraid.
Did we forget Pearl Harbor because we bombed the crap out of Japan, made peace with them, then befriended them or was it just because we did not let Pearl Harbor define us? I suppose when I ask myself that the answer is really the former. We won. Someday I think we will forget September 11th and the terrorists but not until we win. Not until we beat them. Not until we get our former lives back and the freedom that we lost. Then we will forget. Not the bad kind of forgetting, the good kind, the forgetfulness that leads to rest.
To get there we have to win. The big question isn’t about if Islam is a religion of peace or not. The big question is, how do you win against terrorists once and for all?