9/11: Lessons Unlearned

by Robert Arvay

The difference between 9/11/2001 and December 7, 1941, is the difference between lessons learned and lessons not learned. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, America responded swiftly and decisively. Despite ferocious suicide attacks by the enemy, despite approximately a third of a million Americans killed by Japan and its German ally, and despite early defeats that left the outcome of the war in doubt for some, despite all that and more, America and its allies prevailed.

September 11, 2001, is a different story. On that day, comparisons to Pearl Harbor were spoken by many. The president proclaimed that the enemy would be hunted down and punished. But from that point on, the comparisons fell apart.

It was almost as if, in the aftermath of more than two thousand dead at Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt had attended kabuki, a form of theater identified with Japanese culture. Kabuki is a form of puppetry, its most notable characteristic being that the people who control the puppets are not hidden from the view of the audience, but merely camouflaged. Westerners ask, if the audience can plainly see the puppeteers, doesn’t that spoil the show? Ah, but the audience members deal effectively with that. They do so by simply ignoring the obvious, by studiously refusing to see the people who are moving, and speaking for, the puppets. In their minds, only the puppets are there, moving and speaking on their own.

Roosevelt did nothing to celebrate Japanese culture. He did not declare that Japanese culture is a culture of peace. He did not invite Japanese speakers to the national cathedral to give speeches. Bush did invite a Moslem imam to help eulogize the victims of 9/11. The speech given by the imam was memorable for its utter lack of anything memorable, except perhaps for the absence of anything resembling passionate sympathy for the victims. It was kabuki, nothing more, an effort to ignore the obvious.

Even as late as April 15, 2013, little if anything had been learned. Yet another terrorist attack by Islamic terrorists killed three Americans and maimed dozens more. The attack was utterly preventable. Once again, the obvious had been ignored.

Nidal Hasan, an Army major, was well known by his commanders to be associated with Islamic extremism. They ignored the obvious, and Hasan went on to murder thirteen Americans and wounded dozens more. Had 9/11 never happened?

On December 25, 2009, an Islamic extremist named Abdulmutallab, but now known as “the underwear bomber,” attempted to murder scores of people on an airline over Detroit. What followed was a comedy of errors that is breathtaking in the acts of stupidity by those who should have applied lessons learned to prevent further attacks. Instead, the focus was on reading the terrorist his rights, and emphasizing the importance of ignoring Abdulmutallab’s ties to his Islamist puppeteers.

Incident after incident, attack after attack, has been met by the United States government, by members of both major political parties, not with principled opposition to the greatest military threat this nation faces, but instead with political correctness. The emphasis is not on defending the nation, but only on getting reelected.

The lessons of 9/11 have not been learned. They are being earnestly ignored. The victims in the World Trade Center are largely forgotten, and worse than forgotten, posthumously silenced, so that the lesson they could teach us is shouted down by those who are overly concerned with the possibility that Islamists might be offended.

President Truman never shrank from offending the Japanese. He nuked them.

Ultimately, the United States will go to war with its extremist enemies. It is unavoidable. While we negotiate, while we dither, while we watch sitcoms even while we attend kabuki, the enemy wages a war of annihilation against us. Eventually, the United States will strike back, and millions will die.

But for what? Because the president of the United States made blustering threats? Because he forgot that there is a difference between real world policy and giving speeches in the teachers’ lounge? Because the Islamists have finally embarrassed even him, a man, who heretofore, has seemed incapable of feeling shame?

The difference between 12/7/41 and now is that, after Pearl Harbor, in less than four years, we won the war. Since then, we have learned nothing.

Robert Arvay is a Contributing Writer to The Bold Pursuit®

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