Saturday, September 9, 2006

How does one measure “progress” in a type of war we have never fought before, a war with no rules or boundaries, a war driven exclusively by religious zealotry and twisted doctrine?

Is it accurate to say we are safer now because we have not been attacked in five years? Perhaps, but it’s not like the terrorists haven’t been trying. The enemy is in no hurry, and we are. The enemy believes we embrace life, while he embraces death. It cannot be said we are progressing quickly enough toward greater security and victory when too many Americans falsely believe what we do to our enemies directly affects what our enemies are plotting to again do to us.

We are moving closer to understanding our current reality than in the immediate aftermath of September 11, 2001, when too many of our leaders denied this war’s religious nature, but there is still a long way to go. Even President Bush, who famously visited a Washington, D.C., mosque shortly after September 11 to demonstrate his belief that Islam is a “religion of peace” has changed his tune and has labeled the enemy “Islamofascists.”

Political correctness dies hard in the West as evidenced by the recent embarrassment of Britain’s Sussex police, who sent officers for “diversity training” to an Islamic school they subsequently raided as part of a crackdown on those who recruit and train jihadist warriors. Don’t the cops have it backward? Shouldn’t the people in that school be subjected to diversity training and taught the concepts of pluralism, tolerance and religious freedom? Who is attempting to blow up more airplanes? Who has sworn to murder all “infidels”? It isn’t British police officers.

Then there’s the story of a hospital in northwest England that has introduced a new hospital gown for female Muslim patients that resembles a burka. They’re calling it an “interfaith” gown. An editorial in the Daily Express said, “If people want to live in Britain, then they must accept British standards and the British way of life…. The standard hospital gown is surely good enough for everyone.” How refreshing.

Not to be outdone, the United States has admitted former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami for a two-week visit to this country. Mr. Khatami even spoke at the National Cathedral in Washington, ostensibly a Christian facility. This brought protests from Americans taken hostage in 1979 and held for 444 days at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, at the direction of one of Mr. Khatami’s predecessors, the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Kevin Hermening, then a Marine guard at the embassy, told The Washington Post that allowing Mr. Khatami to tour America like some rock star indicates U.S. officials have “completely lost their minds” in dealing with Iran. “Every time we agree to ‘talks’ it is seen as another indication of weakness and capitulation,” he said. Mr. Hermening sees things more clearly than some American religious leaders and many at the U.S. State Department.

If we are to effectively wage this war, we have to change our way of thinking. We have thought in the past that people are basically good and any bad behavior of theirs was the result of our failure to give them what they want. We must also eradicate terrorist breeding grounds in the United States and Britain, closing facilities that preach and teach hate and sedition. This approach doesn’t go down well among the handwringers and those who wish to see “two sides” to every issue. There is no other side to — and no excuse for — mass murder.

“Remember the Alamo,” “Remember the Maine” and “Remember Pearl Harbor” were rallying cries from past wars. Why do Americans need to be reminded to remember? We had better not forget September 11 and the signal it sent.

The enemy won’t forget. For him, September 11 was a continuation in a long war against America. He thinks he can wait us out. He thinks we’re weak and will wilt before his demands in order to save our lives. He is betting everything he is right. Is he? Ask me on the 10th anniversary of September 11.

Cal Thomas is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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