This year I marked the anniversary of September 11 by driving through Massachusetts. It wasn’t exactly planned that way, just how things panned out. So, heading toward Boston, I tuned to Bay State radio colossus Howie Carr and heard him reading out portions from the official address to the September 11 commemoration ceremony by Deval Patrick, apparently Massachusetts’ governor. September 11, said Mr. Patrick, “was a mean and nasty and bitter attack on the United States.”
“Mean and nasty”? He sounds like an oversensitive waiter complaining that John Kerry sent back the aubergine coulis again. Evidently that passes for tough talk in Massachusetts these days — the shot heard around the world, and so forth. Mr. Patrick didn’t want to leave the crowd with all that macho cowboy rhetoric ringing in their ears, so he moved on to the nub of his speech: September 11 “was also a failure of human beings to understand each other, to learn to love each other.”
I was laughing so much I lost control of the wheel and the guy in the next lane had to swerve rather dramatically. He flipped me the Universal Symbol of Human Understanding. I certainly understood him, though I’m not sure I could learn to love him. Anyway I drove on to Boston and pondered the governor’s remarks. He had made them, after all, before an audience of September 11 families: Six years ago, two of the four planes took off from Logan Airport, and so citizens of Massachusetts ranked very high among the victims. Whether or not any family members present last Tuesday were offended by Gov. Patrick, no one cried “Shame” or walked out on the ceremony. Americans are generally respectful of their political eminences, no matter how little they deserve it.
We should beware of anyone who seeks to explain September 11 by using the words “each other”: They posit a grubby equivalence between the perpetrator and the victim — that the “failure to understand” derives from the culpability of both parties. The September 11 killers were treated very well in the United States: They were ushered into the country on the high-speed visa express program the State Department felt was appropriate for young Saudi males. They were treated cordially everywhere they went. The lapdancers at the clubs they frequented in the weeks before the Big Day gave them a good time — or good enough, considering what lousy tippers they were. September 11 didn’t happen because our love for Mohamed Atta was insufficient.
This isn’t a theoretical proposition. At some point in the future, some of us will find ourselves on a flight with a chap like Richard Reid, the thwarted shoebomber. On that day we had better hope the guy sitting next to him isn’t Gov. Patrick, who sees him bending down to light his sock and responds with a chorus of “All You Need Is Love,” but rather a fellow who “understands” enough to wallop the dickens out of him before he can strike the match. It was the failure of one group of humans to understand that the second group was determined to kill them that led the crew and passengers of those Boston flights to stick with obsolescent 1970s hijack procedures until it was too late.
Unfortunately the obsolescent 1970s multicultural love-groove inclinations of society at large are harder to dislodge. If you’ll forgive such judgmental categorizations, this isn’t about “them,” it’s about “us.” The long-term survival of any society depends on what proportion of its citizens thinks as Mr. Patrick does. Islamism is an opportunist enemy but you can’t blame them for seeing the opportunity: On that sense, they understand us far more clearly than Gov. Patrick understands them.
The other day, you may recall, some larky lads were arrested in Germany. Another terrorist plot. Would have killed more people than Madrid and London combined. But it was nipped in the bud, so it’s just another yawneroo: Nobody cares. Who were the terrorists? Mohammed? Muhammad? Mahmoud? No. Their names were “Fritz” and “Daniel.” “Fritz,” huh? That’s a pretty unusual way to spell Mohammed.
Indeed. Fritz Gelowicz is as German as lederhosen. He’s from Ulm, Albert Einstein’s birthplace, on the blue Danube, which, last time I was in Ulm, was actually a murky shade of green. And, in an excellent jest on Western illusions, Fritz was converted to Islam while attending the Multi-Kultur-Haus — the Multicultural House. It was, in fact, avowedly unicultural — an Islamic center run by a jihadist imam. At least three of its alumni — including another native German convert — have been killed fighting the Russians in Chechnya.
Fritz hoped to kill Americans. But that’s one of the benefits of a multicultural world: There are so many fascinating diverse cultures, and most look best reduced to rubble strewn with body parts. Fritz and a pal, Atilla Selek, had been arrested in 2004 with a car full of pro-Osama propaganda praising the September 11 attacks. That sounds like a pilot for a wacky jihadist sitcom: “Atilla And The Hun.”
Fritz Gelowicz. Richard Reid. The Australian factory worker Jack Roche. The Toronto jihadists plotting to behead the prime minister. The son of the British Conservative Party official with the splendidly Wodehousian double-barreled name. All over the world young men are raised in the “Multi-Kultur Haus” of the West who decide their highest ambition is to convert to Islam, become a jihadist and self-detonate.
Why do radical imams seek to convert young Canadian, British and even American men and women in their late teens and 20s? Because they understand that when you raise a generation in the great wobbling blancmange of Deval Patrick cultural relativism nothing is any better or any worse than anything else. If people are “mean and nasty” to us, it’s only because we didn’t sing enough Barney the Dinosaur songs at them. In such a world a certain percentage of the youth will have a great gaping hole where their sense of identity should be. And into that hole you can pour something fierce and primal and implacable.
A while back, I had the honor of a meeting with the president, in the course of which someone raised the unpopularity of the war. He shrugged it off, saying 25 percent of the population is always against the war — any war. In other words, there’s nothing worth fighting for. And I joked afterward that some of that 25 percent might change their mind if Canadian storm troopers swarmed across the 49th Parallel or Bahamian warships were firing off the coast of Florida. But maybe not.
Al Qaeda’s ad hoc air force left a huge crater of Massachusetts corpses in the middle of Manhattan, and Gov. Patrick goes looking for love in all the wrong places.
How many people in any society think like Deval Patrick? That’s the calculation to make if you want to figure out its long-term survival prospects.
Mark Steyn is the senior contributing editor for Hollinger Inc. Publications, senior North American columnist for Britain’s Telegraph Group, North American editor for the Spectator, and a nationally syndicated columnist.