Thursday, July 17, 2008


There is a certain sadness in remarks I have read recently. The following comes from an article in the New Yorker and centers on a statement made on September 19, 2001 (ca.) about the causes of the recent disaster.

“We must also engage, however, in the more difficult task of understanding the sources of such madness. The essence of this tragedy, it seems to me, derives from a fundamental absence of empathy on the part of the attackers: an inability to imagine, or connect with, the humanity and suffering of others.

Such a failure of empathy, such numbness to the pain of a child or the desperation of a parent, is not innate; nor, history tells us, is it unique to a particular culture, religion, or ethnicity. It may find expression in a particular brand of violence, and may be channeled by particular demagogues or fanatics.

Most often, though, it grows out of a climate of poverty and ignorance, helplessness and despair. We will have to make sure, despite our rage, that any U.S. military action takes into account the lives of innocent civilians abroad. We will have to be unwavering in opposing bigotry or discrimination directed against neighbors and friends of Middle Eastern descent.

Finally, we will have to devote far more attention to the monumental task of raising the hopes and prospects of embittered children across the globe—children not just in the Middle East, but also in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe and within our own shores.”

Either the speaker—or possibly I—totally misunderstand the events of 9/11. His first temptation is to assign a “lack of empathy” to the attackers. Obviously, people with empathy do not kill over 3000 people. Any group of ideologues who spend months planning and training for an elaborate plot to destroy a pair of our largest buildings occupied by innocent civilians is not simply lacking empathy. This social worker’s “catch all” phrase is hardly adequate to describe the perpetrators of the collapse of the World Trade Center.

He continues by pointing out that their actions are not exclusively the activity of either their culture or religion. Like it or not, these acts were perpetrated by avowed Muslim extremists bent on dealing America a death blow. We were in 2001, and continue today, to be faced with ongoing terrorism, worldwide, by like minded groups who have no “empathy.” If the object is to establish a moral equivalency, it fails. Does your local Baptist congregation have plans for world domination? How about the Buddhist temple you toured on your last vacation? Can anyone seriously believe that we are threatened by a bunch of nuns led by the Pope to take over the country? As Restorationists, we are far too concerned about the alphabet soup in Independence to entertain bellicose ideas of any sort.

Somehow, when a specific group comes forward and claims the credit for the heinous acts, may we not believe them? Islamic radicals have done just that. Their sympathizers’, world wide, were dancing in the streets with joyful assembly after the event occurred. Although we have found them normally untrustworthy, in this case I tend to believe them. In their rush to reap the harvest of 72 virgins, the perpetrators left behind a mountain of evidence which pointed to their religious affiliation.

Most people are not old enough to remember the reaction of the American people on the afternoon of December 7th, 1941. Those of us who do may share with you the immediate distaste we formed for the nation and its’ people which performed that horrible sneak attack. Our desire for relief from the pain of that assault on our national psyche was near universal and well understood by all of our citizens. To observe that the empire of Japan held no “empathy” for our citizens would have been met with the derision it deserves. I see little difference between the two circumstances.

The speaker then points out that such a lack of empathy is spawned by “a climate of poverty and ignorance, helplessness and despair.” If this is the case, let it be remembered that it is caused by people who suffer that poverty and ignorance through acts of their own government, policy and propaganda and not by the innocent victims of the World Trade Center. The United States is not the entity which preaches anti-American hate among the world’s Muslims. This line of thought is also echoed in the mosques by some prominent religious leaders with the alleged endorsement of the Koran. The actual ones in charge of planning and executing the acts of 9/11 have a reputation for extreme wealth, education and position in their native realms. This was not an uprising of poor people. The only thing which would keep the people of the Middle East downtrodden would be their leaders and not their gross national product. The entire thought is absolute hogwash.

This all accompanied to the end by an appeal that we must rise to the aid of “embittered children” around the world. I gather from this he thinks we were attacked by a phalanx of kids. Quite the contrary; we were attacked by ideological crazies, driven by their spiritual leaders, with the avowed purpose of leveling the “great Satan” to their own primitive level. In the entire piece there is no acknowledgement that we are facing a determined enemy with no concept of the value system which we treasure. Rather, it is couched in terms of guilt over the failures of others.

The piece was offered by an Illinois state senator in the aftermath of 9/11. He later (2004) rode his credentials as a “community organizer” into the United States Senate. Today he is easily recognized as the “messiah” who will bring peace to the Middle East, return our troops to the safety of their homeland and in his ambition, possibly become the new leader of the free world: Barack Hussein Obama.

The above is offered without apology.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

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