[COMMENT: Our side, as in most issues, is incapable of mounting an effective response to the Islamic jihad and other nonsense. We are incapable, as yet, of an intelligent theological response, which is the main issue. We are incapable even of an intelligent and graceful cultural response, so we look, continually, like fools to the rest of the world.
The primary issues are always the theological issues: What is Truth? Upon what do we depend -- ultimately? Will I be a person of integrity, taking responsibility for my own behavior and attitudes? Will I pursue my reason for existence? (or even find it?) Will I be a lover of souls?
Those are the great theological questions. They are universal and generic questions. Everyone must answer them -- for good or for ill. Our answers to them determine our God and our theology. And we in the West are incapable of giving the Biblical answers. When we learn how (as one day we will), the tide will turn. We will be severely persecuted, and we will begin to win. E. Fox]
Ralph R. Reiland
Monday, April 12, 2004
There's another photo, taken on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, showing a dozen or so people looking out the windows of the World Trade Center, maybe 80 floors up, many with their shirts off because of the heat. It's the final picture of those people. The building collapsed several minutes later, sounding, said one eyewitness, like the sound of a handful of spaghetti when you take it out of the box and break it in two, only a million times louder.
There was grinning on that day too. "In East Jerusalem, people distributed sweets wrapped in the colors of the Palestinian tricolor and sounded car horns," reported The Guardian on Sept. 12. "Palestinian gunmen at refugee camps in Lebanon fired into the air in celebration. In the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank, a gunman, firing celebratory rifle rounds, said: 'This is God's revenge for America's support of Israel.' In Iraq, state television played a patriotic song that began, 'Down with America,' as it showed the World Trade towers collapsing."
Elizabetta Burba, an Italian journalist, was in Beirut on Sept. 11 when the two planes smashed into the twin towers. "I was at the National Museum, enjoying the wonders of the ancient Phoenicians with my husband. The tour of past splendor only magnified the shock I received later when I heard the news and saw the reactions all around me. Walking downtown, I realized that the offspring of this great civilization were celebrating a terrorist outrage. And I am not talking about destitute people. Those who were cheering belonged to the elite of the Paris of the Middle East -- professionals wearing double-breasted suits, charming blond ladies, pretty teenagers in tailored jeans."
It didn't matter, it seems, that nine years earlier the United States had sent the Marines to Somalia as part of a U.N. hunger-relief effort, and that it ended with a Black Hawk down, with 18 Army Rangers being killed, with the body of a dead American soldier being dragged by a cheering mob through the dusty streets of Mogadishu. It didn't matter in the boutiques of Beirut that no nation had done more to rescue Muslims than the United States, not just in Somalia but in Kuwait, Kosovo, Bosnia and Afghanistan, or that America had given billions in aid to Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinians.
Burba describes the rest of her day in Beirut: "Trying to find our bearings, my husband and I went into an American-style cafe in the Hamra district, near Rue Verdun, rated as one of the most expensive shopping streets in the world. Here the cognitive dissonance was immediate and direct. The cafe's sophisticated clientele was celebrating, laughing, cheering and making jokes as waiters served hamburgers and Diet Pepsi. Nobody looked shocked or moved. They were excited, very excited. An hour later, at a little market near the U.S. Embassy on the outskirts of Beirut, a thrilled shop assistant showed us, using his hands, how the planes crashed into the twin towers. He, too, was laughing."
There are those, too, who laugh as they watch last filmed moments of Daniel Pearl's life as he was tortured and beheaded. The graphic and grisly film is now part of a recruitment tape for Islamic terrorists. The video begins with Pearl's forced confession, "I am American. I am Jewish." It ends with Pearl's captors barbarically cutting his throat and severing his head from his body. The final frame shows the hand of one of the captors holding up Pearl's severed head by the hair -- for recruitment, to inspire more barbarism.
The goal is all this, "God willing," as they say? To instill hatred, to set the stage for genocidal murder on a world scale, for the global hegemony of Islamic theocracies, a new Dark Age -- simply stated, to set the stage for the death of the West.
Ralph R. Reiland, the B. Kenneth Simon professor of free enterprise at Robert Morris University, is a local restaurateur. E-mail him at email@example.com.
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