Until 19 Arab hijackers killed thousands of Americans a year ago, I thought the world was a pretty safe place. I favored a smaller military, an open and free society and a rigorous support of the Bill of Rights, one that would guarantee privileges to all who lived in this country -- yes, even the aliens among us who struggled so hard to get here.
I believed that if we could get Arabs and Israelis together in a room, we could solve that crisis, just as the Northern Irish crisis was defanged through negotiation and patience. I even thought we would see peace, a world dominated by a Pax Americana, in which economic growth would lead to a safer, stronger community that would be safe for my children and their children and their children's children. I love you, you love me, we are a happy family, this land is your land, this land is my land; you get the picture.
I now regard our great bulwark of laws that protect individual rights against the right of a potential intrusive government as a plaything of our enemies. I regard the defenders of the Middle Eastern status quo, where the hijackers got their sponsorship as appeasers, as the kind that Winston Churchill faced in Neville Chamberlain and his appeasement policy. I regard the dissent from the war effort against the nations that hide and nurture Al Qaeda terrorists as a flirtation with treason. And I think the way to remember the dead is not so much to view them as the casualties of a horrid moment but as a precursor to what will happen to you and me if we act as if this were a matter of law enforcement for a free society.
Stop the mourning, and start the bombing, if you want it in the plain Wall Street way we are taught to express ourselves. If we act like this is business as usual, just another enemy like the Soviets during the Cold War, or yes, even the Nazis of World War II, we will be playing into precisely the hopes of the terrorists: that we approach their unconventional American genocide with a conventional, and ultimately, Vietnam-like, war effort, one that ends with us exhausted and them triumphant.
Bruce, like Mr. Cramer, like many others of us, have had reality smack us between the eyes. It struck hard enough to make us realize that idealism is not enough, caring is not enough, good intentions are not enough, intelligence is not enough... The fact remains: Evil exists and no amount of education or 'enlightenment' will make it go away.
Like Many, I was once a 'lefty'. Maturity, experience and tragedy combined to change that. Reality struck the first time 30 years ago on September 5, 1972 when the Olympic games were hijacked by evil, but the blow was indirect. It struck again on November 4, 1979 when the American Embassy in Tehran was taken and even though I was a young Naval Officer, I held to my idealistic views.[I did not vote for Ronald Reagan.] But on October 23, 1983 reality struck the blow that changed my perspective.
On that day 241 US Servicemen, including dozens I knew, were killed by a suicide bomber. They were killed in a place I had been sitting just a couple of weeks earlier. They were Peace Keepers, not combatants, part of the Multi-National Peacekeeping Force, and they were senselessly murdered. The murderers were the same people who had dealt both the first and the last blow of reality to my liberal ideals.
I know it’s a good thing that there are so many liberals who still hold fast to their idealism. For that shows me that there are still many who have not had life changing confrontations with evil. I wish I was still a part of that group. Our Republic and its democratic values allow idealism flourish, and I’m proud to be one who has served and fought to protect it. The Idealism – Realism dichotomy makes our society strong. But, it’s certainly frustrating when so many intelligent people are blind to the realities of the world.
As Mr. Cramer writes:
And then, on Sept. 11, a quarter of a mile away from where I was sitting, something occurred that was so horrific, so despicable, so evil and so darned foreshadowing of the future, that I realize in retrospect that I was a dreamer, an appeaser and, alas, a fool. In my lifetime we, as a people, have had enemies who wanted to win us over to their ways, enemies who wished we would change our culture and enemies who would fight our soldiers if we fought theirs.
It’s almost sad that another idealist was lost. But as long as we maintain our underlying idealism as we confront the reality we face, we’ll be fine. The events of September 11, 2001 have changed our world. Our success will be measured by the manner we deal with its message and with its consequences. In Mr. Cramer’s words:
In years to come, there will be people who stayed pacifist or ignorant or oblivious to what has happened, and they will be looked upon in later history as cowards or dreamers or fools. And then there will be the people who saw Sept. 11 for what it was, a declaration of war against us, and acted accordingly. I want nothing more than to be in the latter camp, if only because yesterday was and always will be Sept. 11 until our enemies are vanquished.