CHRISTIAN WITNESS IN THE TERRITORY OF TERRORISM
(IN THE CONTEXT OF CULTURAL RELATIVISM)
Genesis 37ff., Joshua 2.1,6.1; Hebrews 11.30
The workings of large cultural movements are subtle, complex, and long-term. It takes a clarifying moment like the present one to expose their effects to the light of day, to reveal the territory that has been lost, and to bring home the effort that will be required before we can begin to think we might regain it. That lost territory is the territory of patriotism. --William J. Bennett
The events of September 11, 2001 were unforgettable but they also revealed the strong and indomitable spirit of America. After the dust settled we emerged united in the defense and belief in our country. It brought out the best in our national character not since the events of the Civil War (national division, and over 600 thousand dead), the sinking of The Titanic (the unsinkable Molly Brown), the shocking attack on Pearl Harbor (December 7, 1941, 7:40 a.m.) and the bombing of the government building in Oklahoma City. And now 8:48 and 9:03 a.m., September 11, 2001 when two jumbo jets crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and sometime after 10:00 another jet hit the west side of the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Never since Pearl Harbor has America pulled together with such unity and purpose, resolving to bear whatever burden may be necessary to win the war on terror.
But a small group of influential, intellectual writers, members of the media and academia, were not part of this unified response. Even amidst the turmoil, they still preached the same self-doubt about America and her constitutionally grounded traditions that have steadily undermined our national resolve in the past two decades. As days passed, this debilitating mind set (world view, Ephesians 6) became increasingly prevalent as influential figures rushed to point the finger at America (patriots or terrorists?).
What are the basic reasons for the obstacles facing Americans as we seek to reestablish civil pride and provide a roadmap to overcome these time specific challenges? (1) Is our root of American morale problem derived from “sheer uninformed ignorance? (2) In postmodern university departments of history (and all social sciences) our postmodern multicultural tolerance/diversity syndrome is the new gospel. How are we to understand these challenges to American principles and values, or what has it taken to protect and defend them over the last two centuries? In the context of hazy civic values and waning national pride, the stage has been set for a proliferation of anti-American cultural relativism and multicultural viewpoints, ones that foster reluctance to work toward the common good.
If we are to address the “crisis of nationalism,” we must relearn history. The history of our nation in the context of our global village can provide the bedrocks of true loyalty and civic pride. We will no longer shy away from our overtures of patriotic nationalism. Our national unity (our Restoration Heritage on “Unity” has availed very little) has progressively degenerated in the past four decades. In this cultural malaise the “peace party” movement seems to intensify. While this movement espouses “moral objection to war,” it is fueled by anti-American hostility! William Bennett, in his recent book, Why We Fight (Doubleday, 2002), notes, “Where armed conflict is concerned, the arguments of today’s peace party are basically rooted in the period of the Vietnam War and its aftermath.” It was then that the critique of the United States as an imperialist or colonialist power wreaking its evil will on the hopeless people of the third world became a kind of slogan on the political left. Paradoxically, pacifist thinking highlighted the fact that non-violent protest succeeds only in democratic societies. Winning the war against extremist Islamics by means of non-violence is both laughable and simply unrealistic.
The word “evil” and the controversy surrounding its usage probably stems from President George W. Bush’s use of the phrase “evil doers” to describe the September 11th assailants (terrorists, murderers, or patriots?), and ensuing criticism from the “tolerance police.” Bush’s line in the sand received quick response from our resident custodians of what is culturally permissible. (This is a battle for Western civilization in our multicultural diversity syndrome). This conflict must be viewed in the context of a pervasive moral and cultural relativism, preached today in most universities and media (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX and MTV (see my essays, The Gospel According to the New York Times, The Gospel According to Disney’s Magical Kingdom, The Gospel According to The Simpsons and The Gospel According to Peanuts).
An exploration of “Islamophobia” is a growing phenomenon that places blame on Americans and their failure to understand Islamic culture as the root problem. Bennett points to the startling and disturbing images of Muslims celebrating the September 11 attacks; he notes that many images of Muslims (Arab traditions) seek to reverse field and invoke a different culprit altogether since Osama bin Laden’s attack against the infidel West, especially Israel and the United States. There is an enormous cleavage behind “Islamaphobia.” Is it possible that both Muslims and Americans alike are responsible for their own actions?
Bennett brilliantly exposes the implications of the most common questions: (1) Were we justified in replying to force with force? (2) Is Western culture “better” than others? (3) Why do they hate us, and who exactly are “they”? (4) Were we dragged into this war by our “one sided” support of Israel? (See my essay, Paul’s Mission, the Magna Carta of Missions, Romans 9-11) (5) Is there something suspect, something jingoistic, about old-fashioned patriotism? God’s people must address these questions if His people desire to challenge our postmodern multicultural village there must be!
A Moment of Clarity
In Washington, D.C., on that bright Tuesday morning, when men whom none of us had ever heard of before hurled an airline into the Pentagon, we were jolted into a new and violent reality. Across America patriotic ardor burned bright. Suddenly flags were flying everywhere and everyone was singing The National Anthem and God Bless America. Charitable donations and volunteerism were only the outward, visible signs of an inward wave of sympathy and solace for those who had lost loved ones on 9.11.01. Righteous anger and resolve had joined in support of our leaders, our armed forces, and our country. For the first time in a long time while there was a shared sense that this was indeed our country and that it was a country worth fighting for, doubts and questions that had plagued Americans about their nation seemed to fade into insignificance. Good was distinguished from Evil, truth from falsehood. We were dedicated and unified. In short, a moment of moral clarity enabled us to rediscover ourselves and begin to gird for battle with a not yet fully defined foe (see esp. Ephesians 6.10-16, arm for spiritual battle, and my paper Power Encounters: Satan in Our Postmodern Scientific World.).
This concern for the moral disposition of the American people in the 1990s was encouraged by what we were witnessing after 9-11-01. Moments of moral clarity are rare. Has this moment passed eight months after the events? In the pages of newspapers, on T.V. talk shows, call-in radio, in internet chat rooms, in weekly opinion magazines, in the intellectual journals, in the USA and in Europe and around the world the questions are “What happened on 9.11, why did it happen and what should be done about it?”--was the stuff of endless discussions. One example, like those of young people in Washington Square Park, voiced attitudes and arguments. However persuaded that “justice” needed to be served, their response was nevertheless conditioned by the facts that they were more or less habitually skeptical if not disdainful of American purposes in the world and reflectively unprepared to rally to America’s side. Some were filled with love, some hate, and some were merely confused. “(1) Force will get us nowhere. It is reparation that we owe, not retribution. (2) I firmly believe the only punishment that works is love. (3) Where is the acknowledgement that this was not a “cowardly attack on civilization” or “liberty” or “humanity,” or “the free world” but an attack on the world’s self-proclaimed superpower, undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions? (4) How many Americans are aware of the ongoing American bombing of Iraq? (5) And if the word cowardly is to be used, it might be more aptly applied to those [Americans] who kill from beyond the range of retaliation, high in the sky, than those willing to die themselves in order to kill others. (6) We all know that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. (7) U.S. foreign policy is soaked in blood. (8) The world trade center disaster is a globalized version of the Columbine High School disaster. When you bully people long enough they are going to strike back. (9) How we dare prate about democracy is beyond me.” These are cherished attitudes of the New York City College students of “radical individualism”
These are not idle questions! But too many of us are intellectually unprepared to answer their questions. How could we ask such questions in the wake of the bloodiest and most devastating attack on American citizens since the Civil War! “Did we bring this on ourselves by the way we have behaved in the world?” Or, “If we go to war against them does that make us as bad as they are?” Or, “Shouldn’t we work on getting rid of the poverty and oppression that are the root causes of terrorism, instead of just adding to the killing?”
These questions rest primarily upon mass ignorance, worldview, history, truth and justice, and the difference between Good and Evil. Even though our post modern American culture has attempted to go beyond Good and Evil into the land of Situation/Life Boat Ethics in our multicultural pluralism of relativism, yet “they” continue to have a moral agenda with no basis of normative judgment for or against one side of the equation or the other. All that remains is Power Encounters. All, yes, but responses are flawed. A concerned citizen responded to a local newspaper--”The courage we needed was not the courage to avenge the world but the courage and honesty to search our souls and recognize our [own] wrongdoings.”
The media constantly responded--The reason why they hate us is because of something we had done to them. Awareness of extremist Muslims of the Osama bin Laden type is crucial for our understanding to merely take note of his expounding the theme at length on our home TV screens. Their vicious rage was not obscure. Neither, as they had made spectacularly clear by their self-immolating actions, was it to be appeased. Signs of “why do they hate us so much “can be credited to their unwillingness to credit the objective reality of our situation in our emotions and attitudes and that the solution therefore lay in an adjustment of those attitudes. One looks in vain to find “hate in American hearts” -- rather only a search for adequate models to constructively address the gravity of the crisis and to the heroic scale of commitment that was needed to face and overcome it. Ultimately this “war” is not a political but an amoral one.. The time has come to begin remembering and to rearm (New Year’s Day, 2002).
The Morality of Anger
The ruins of The World Trade Center were still smoking and soot lingered in the air as well as the odor of death. It was early October 2001 and an army of police, firefighters, rescue workers and volunteers of every stripe was hard at work cleaning, search, burying, sifting mortar and ministering to mortals. The land was full of grief and anger and opinions. Within days of the event the whole world waited to see how we would respond! Ordinary people everywhere shared our shock and astonishment and sympathized with our grief, understanding our anger. They were moved by our unity and solidarity; our responses were a test of our national character!
Our domestic “peace party” was rapidly mobilized. A Columbia University sophomore remarked to a reporter, “America, get a clue.” In an anti war rally in Washington, D.C. in late September, a mother from Maine said, “Killing people won’t prove anything. It’s just more of the same.” In a protest demonstration in early October in New York City, just blocks from the smoldering ruins of the World Trade Center, Ronald Daniels of The Center for Constitutional Rights asserted with apodictic confidence that “War cannot be the only answer” and pleaded for “an alternative policy.” In San Francisco, an advocate of Women’s Rights blamed the media for “whipping up to a great extent the call for vengeance or the call for war.” In Wisconsin, a protestor lamented “all the flags out supporting the slaughter.” The events of 9.11 did not precipitate the above responses, but rather a deeply held prejudice about the proper way to deal with conflict and aggression and an equally deep hostility/mistrust of the good faith of the American government.
Many voices from the Vietnam Veteran demonstrators spoke in the common voice. “We do not want to see more Americans die because of a militarist cowboy.” The cowboy he had in mind being not Osama bin Laden but the president of the United States. A professor at Brown University instructed his audience that if “what happened on 9.11 was terrorism, what America had done during the Gulf War was also terrorism.” Outcries such as “shut down the American war machine” and four thousand people marched in Athens, Greece in opposition to an “imperialist war” started by “American murderers of peoples.” As the Afghanistan Campaign became visibly successful, fewer and fewer students and professors openly discussed the “morality” of military action. After the fall of the Taliban the possibility of a global war against terrorism was far from over. India and Pakistan were at each other’s throats. The international conflicts engaging Saddam Hussein and the Israel-Palestinian conflict placed Yasir Arafat on the list of terror suspects. Counter commitment to non-violent participation by the “Peace Party” mobilized itself in the face of the monstrous aggression on American soil attempting to reshape American morale
In this moral malaise we hear the drum beat of “Pacifism,” which might be a genuine predisposition against violence in human affairs. The “tradition” is reinforced by postmodern psychological theories about the role of aggression. Much of the post 9.11 hostility stems from a deep-seated hatred from the United Stated as the leading world power. Much of the left’s hostility to aggression is too often a cover up for “anti Americanism.” As biblically grounded Christians we must understand the radical narrative displacement in Western civilization. Without understanding the major scientific/technological developments that precipitated our present multi cultural diversity/tolerance syndrome, little constructive encounter would be possible. At the heart of postmodern multiculturalism is the repudiation of “True Truth” and all possibilities of Meta Narrative. All that remains is Tribalistic Power Encounters.
The road to Western Secularism begins with the Renaissance, which rested on a recovery of classical Greek philosophy as the only ground of cultural renewal. The emergence of Humanism became a major competitor to a Christian World View. In this cultural milieu came the Break up of Christendom (e.g. Aquinas engages Muslim Aristotelianism) with the Protestant Reformation turning from management of society to inward personal renewal . This phenomenon precipitated fragmented Europe, i.e., Nationalism. Thus enters cultural/linguistic diversity. Some results were Wars, State Churches, and World Wars as concerns for the problem of evil intensifies (cf. Freud’s trinity--Copernicus, Darwin and Freud--on the road to Existentialism, Phenomenology, Psychoanalysis. Human alienation is not caused by sin against a Holy God but rather psycho analysis (a subconscious turn to irrational Romanticism and Existentialism toward “feeling, imagination, intuition, i.e., subjectivism (see my papers “Social Construction of All Reality, The Lord of All Millenniums, Lost Transcendence in s Post Modern Culture, Whatever Happened to True Truth? And Progress of Science and the Foundations of Mathematics”).
These enormous cultural upheavals found their culmination in The Enlightenment (i.e., 17th century was interested in True Truth, 18th century in Nature, 19th century in History, 20th century in Language and the 21st century in Multiculturalism/Pluralism/Diversity and tolerance) From Darwin forward there was clearly development in the Maze of Pragmatism. The 19th century unfolded classical Liberalism and Pragmatism. Some of the components were pluralistic empiricism, temporalism (e.g. Historicism all consciousness is historically contingent from Hegel to Darwin and Dewey, et.al.) And Cultural/Conceptual Relativism (i.e. Sociology of Knowledge Thesis--Probabalism, Fallibalism contra absolute truth and certitude). Four cultural factors become increasingly visible: (1) Education, (2) Work, (3) Nature of Religion (exclusive claims of Christianity) and (4) Man is a total product of nature. The four tenants of Classical Liberalism 19th century) are: (1) The Ultimate Reality of Nature; (2) The Complete Animality of Man, (3) The Perfectibility of Man and (4) The Inevitability of Progress.
In the context of radical scientific/technological development in Europe, the American Revolution, the French Revolution and the Russian Revolution were some cultural results. Urbanization ultimately dislocated the family structure and produced sensory overload stress (tension between positivism and historicism), e.g. Ten factors of scientific development: (1) Conservation of Energy, (2) Kinetic Theory of Gases, (3) Second Law of Thermodynamics, (4) Evolution of the Earth’s Crust and the fossils found therein, (5) Stages of Embryological Development, (6) the Principles of Domestic Breeding, (7) Quetelet, Comte and Buckles’ Sociological Generalizations, (8) Tylor’s Laws of Development of Primitive Societies, (9) Maine’s Theory of the Passage from Status to Contract, and (10) The Malthusian Law of Population Growth (which Darwin said suggested to him the idea of the struggle for survival).
The morality of anger is continually attacked at Columbia University and Mount Rainier Elementary School, which strongly emphasizes pacifism. While Israel has always been a minority with few resources for armed conflict, Islam has always had enormous financial resources to attain weapons from Russia and China. The “no fighting” emphasis in many New York schools searches in vain for peaceful procedures. Their dreamy message after 9.11 01 was to prevent the next generation to attain a preemptive judgment against the United States government, specifically President Bush. Islam is a religion connected with power and conquest from the beginning. Pacifism is quite alien to it (see esp. The Voice of the Martyrs, “Uncontested Tolerance is Deadly” (see my bibliography). Unfortunately, voices from all of America, both Catholics and Protestants , assert in their publications that “Christ was an absolute pacifist.” What are we to make of Jesus’ words, “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” (from Exodus and Christ’s Gethsemane mandate, “Put back your sword. . .for all who live by the sword will perish by the sword.” These texts have resonated down through centuries with a clarion purity.
The New Testament does not present a positive view of violence, but from the fourth century, Augustine’s “just war” theory has dominated the discussion. Augustine wrote in Contra Faustus, “a great deal depends on the causes for which men undertake wars, and on what authority they have for doing so.” Aquinas named three main criteria for determining if one could initiate war. (Medieval scholastics jus and bellum as distinct from jus in bello, the proper conduct of war). Aquinas mentioned that all just wars sought “peace.” There is such a thing as “unjust peace.”
All we have to do is remember Hitler and World War II, and the witness of Bonhoeffer and Reinhold Niebuhr encourages us still to remember what truly matters. Postmodern psychology has generated a powerful influence in our secular culture that violence is always wrong and that every difference can be negotiated through dialogue. This mind set has penetrated industry by training specialists in conflict resolution and anger management. A generation of American diplomats and negotiators has been instructed in the art of “getting to yes.”
What is wrong with that? Nothing, as long as the parties to a dispute are playing by the same procedural rules, as long as the matters under dispute are truly negotiable and as long as each side can be trusted to abide by the settlement. In war, anger management is at best irrelevant. “Don’t hit” is easy advice; “Don’t hit back” is more fraught with complexity. In the proposal of Danny Clover is realistic--”Our best cause of preventing devastating attacks is to act decisively and cooperatively as part of a community of nations within the framework of international law.” Would this proposal have the slightest chance for positive results of the rights of Osama bin Laden or extended by others to further potential malefactors like Sadam Hussein? These men do not belong in hell but in The Hague. Can matters of fundamental rights be placed in the hands of international lawyers at The Hague? If local law cannot prevail, why would we think that international law could prevail. This smacks of totalitarian domination. The individual is totally irrelevant (non-existent in our neobiological revolution and reduction of the mind to the brain to a low grade computer, i.e., the person is destroyed). If there is no Meta Narrative in the Post Modern citadel, then why or how should we believe that there is in the United Nations (The Hague) some magistral and transcendent standard of arbitration.
To reduce this mass atrocity of a “crime” against “international law” was to trivialize it beyond recognition! Why does it appear at this juncture in history? Why has the critique of violence taken such hold among us and why does it exercise such influence? There is a widespread myth that our nation is full of violence. Most Americans are at least prone to peacefulness and adverse to conflict. Our democratic society is guided by the spirit of accommodation and compromise, superintended by guaranties of due process and judicial review.
Some genuine pacifists and conscientious objectors have a foundational dilemma with these positions in that they appeal to a “higher morality” of non-violence. We are often accused of extended lust for vengeance and recalling our supposedly dark record of our past, sowing doubts about our intentions, impugning our right to defend ourselves.
Too often the “peace party” cloak their arguments in moral objections to war are really expressing their hostility to America. Hatred is the more accurate word. The arguments of our post modern “peace party” are basically rooted in the period of The Counter Culture of the Vietnam War and its aftermath. The message then was a critique of America as “imperialists” and colonialists’ power, wreaking its evil will on the hapless peoples of the Third World. These charges found expression in certain of the Democratic Party and in a more diluted form in the Carter and Clinton administration, and are with us still today.
An academic at the University of Carolina, immediately after the attack, remarked that were he the president of the USA, his first act would be not to avenge the infamy but to apologize to the “widows and orphans, the tortured and impoverished, and all the millions of the victims of American imperialism.” From a professor at Rutgers, whatever the “proximate cause” of 9.11.01, its ultimate cause is the fascism of the U.S. foreign policy over the past decades.
Allied to the political critique of America that developed in the 1960s and 1970s (counter culture higher greats--Marcuse, Toffler, Reich and Ferguson) was a cultural and psychological critique. Not just imperial ambitions but a sort of deranged Wild West machismo was said to be drawing our activities abroad, impelling us to drop bombs on innocent people and/or force (e.g. Attack on Capitalistic Democracy) upon them our uniquely rapacious model of economic activity. In this post modern context conflict is always a product of misunderstanding and that violence is
In the decades since Vietnam and especially since our defeat there, our culture has undergone a process that has often been called “debelliciation.” Military virtues have been devalued and shunned and along with them the very idea that war solves anything or is justified. Generations of school children have been taught that conflict is something to be avoided. Parents and teachers (via multi cultural pluralism, the National Association of Education, Tolerance and Diversity) have been cautioned by psychologists and feminists alike that male aggression is a malignant force that needs to be repressed or medicated lest it burst out, as it is always on the verge of doing in murderous behavior. The 1999 shooting spree by two teenagers at Columbine High School in Colorado is taken to be all too horribly typical; in the meantime, the Boy Scouts of America, an irreplaceable institution that has always known how to channel the healthy impulses of male aggression, and in spite of male idealism, is derided as irrelevant, “patriarchal” and “bigoted.” Their new mantra is “We learned that you should always find a peaceful way to solve your problems because you should never be violent.” In our post modern world there is “no” evidence that the lion has never laid down by the lamb. As we have stated before, the real conflict is our World View. In our naturalistic/evolutionary dominated culture, “nature is always red in tooth and claw.” How all of a sudden are human products of genetics and environment to transcend the deterministic factors in their received culture?. Materialist evolution is not the foundation for deriving any “moral ought” for our post modern cultural and epistemological relativism!
If education tells students “you should always find a peaceful way to solve your problems,” the entire history of conflict (Revolutions, World Wars I and II, Vietnam, Korea, etc.) And every conflict in history was acting immorally. That way lies a generation prepared only for “accommodation, appeasement and surrender.” Since we are “programmed” to not respond to aggression and evil, we are prepared to return to the classical words of John Stuart Mill:
War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of a moral and patristic feeling, which thinks that nothing is worth war, is much worse. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight--nothing he cares about more than his own safety--is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.
Our Left Wing pacifists emphatically declare that nothing of ours is worth fighting for. Much of what is passing for pacifism, wrote Michael Kelly, “is not pacifism at all but only the latest manifestation of a well known pre-existing condition.” That condition, that plague, is anti Americanism.
In our post modern, multi cultural world there is no evil. Nietzsche’s influence has now been openly received in the American academy and media. Therefore “Evil” is in the eyes of the
beholder. Therefore Bush’s phrase, “The Evil Ones” against the 9.11.01's “mass murderers” slamming into the World Trade Center and The Pentagon and hijacked the flight that was brought down in Pennsylvania by its heroic passengers, our post modern lexicon objects such phrases and replaces them with patriots. Only American are “evil doers.” In efforts to locate the perpetrators of these despicable acts, the President said we were embarking on “an effort to stamp out evil where we find it.”
Not since Ronald Reagan renounced the Soviet Union as an “Evil Empire” has there been more left wing voices denouncing his despicable choice of words. Both of these men revived the words good and evil. Our culture has been on a trek to go beyond Good and Evil since Nietzsche. Both outbreaks brought outrage from the sophisticated. This “apocalyptic rhetoric” brought the outrage from a renowned professor of history. This outrage was scarcely less frightening than the acts of the terrorists themselves. Another outrage charged that the word evil tells us nothing about the word, and certainly nothing rational. Even the word terrorist, according to the head of Reuters, a world wide news agency, lacked objective meaning: “We all know that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.”
Any lexical analysis will note a clear distinction between terrorist and a freedom fighter, and it had to do with the morality of means: a freedom fighter does not massacre innocent civilians in pursuit of his ends. As for the grotesque idea that bin Laden was fighting for “freedom” try telling that to the people of Afghanistan, groaning under the heel of his friends, the Taliban.
There is a technical name for the view that what is true for me is not necessarily true for you--and that name is cultural and epistemological relativism (cf. Wittgenstein’s “Language Game” in no manner transcends this impasse). This “entail” that no one has any basis for judging other people and other cultures, and certainly no basis for declaring some better or truer than others, let alone “good or evil.” Clearly “this” position precludes negative evaluations of Eurocentricism and more specifically American Capitalistic democracy. If there is no “True Truth” then there is no basis for critique of any alternative belief system. All belief and behavior systems have equal standing in the universe of discourse!
Children in all cultures have been raised to revere the institutions and values, to identify with its customs and tradition. This emphasis was extended to homes and schools, while our post modern multiculturalism raise the children in Pavlov and Skinner’s laboratory, which produced acceptable belief and behavior modifications. Within this maze, no culture is superior to another culture; therefore, only “power encounters” remain. Only intellectually alienated circles have brought Science and Technology to the fore. There is no question that Science in any defensible meaning had its origin in the Christian West. This is at the heart of our post modern conflict. Any Eurocentric evolution is prejudiced and narrow minded! Much critique of Western culture is based in the charge of “thinness” of materialism and boosterism.
Western civilization has passed through a number of narrative displacements, e.g., (1) Classical European civilizations, (2) Revolution mandates, (3) Utopians, (4) a number of marginal groups who have pierced the veneer of civilization and rediscovered the primitive, unspoiled by the hypocrisies of polite society or civilized primitive or natural cultural conflict, (5) Crassness of commercial consumerism arrangements and (6) Multiculturalism which “affirms that America represents only one of the many--equal cultures and in principle deserves no automatic preference, and there is no such thing as a better or worse society, that cultural values different from our own need to be understood and accepted in sympathetic tolerance, and that we ourselves have at least as much to answer for as to be proud of.”
Under the aegis of nonjudgmentalism, some Americans have ended up tolerating, protecting, or apologizing for evil--like those rap songs of those movies or those barbarous sexual customs. But even that is not the whole of it. Subtly or crudely nonjudgmentalism often serves as a mask for what can only be called judgmentalism of another and worse kind. Often the refusal to distinguish good from evil is often joined with the doctrine that comes socially named as Eurocentricism, is evil or at the very least, that it is to be presumed evil until proved otherwise (cf. Just the reversal of our Constitution, the Bill of Rights, etc.). Too often the journalist/reporters and anchor men do editorialize in support of left wing causes, thus taking refuge in the cloak of impartiality. Many, both Protestants and Roman Catholics were worried “that as the President casts the fight against global terrorism to feel not only morally alive, but morally superior.” Prime Minister Silvio Berlusemi of Italy broke with the non-judgmentalists as he answered in late September that the democratic West was not just as good as but actually “superior” to the civilization of Islam. This outbreak was too much for the political correct to bear. The Washington Post quoted Belgian foreign minister, et.al. As he declared the outbreak as “absurd, scandalous, outrageous, and disgusting.” (See esp. Mortimer B. Zuckerman, editor and chief, “A Surfeit of Cyncism,” (US.News and World Report, August 13, 2001, p. 56)
Another left wing outbreak appeared as an op.ed. Piece in The New York Times from Stanley Fish, a highly regarded teacher of English Literature, dean of the college of liberal arts and sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago and major spokesman for postmodernism philosophy that has penetrated into media and Outcome Based Education (Multi cultural Pluralism). Fish tells us that we “are unsophisticated. We were being especially unsophisticated, he said, in clinging to our “mantra” that the mass murderers of 9.11.01 were evil men. Instead, they needed to be seen as individuals “with a full roster of grievances, goals, and strategies,” bearers of a rationality that just happened to differ from ours and that we happened to reject.” Fish’s postmodernism declares that “there can be no independent standard (Meta Narrative, paradigm, world view) for determining which of many rival interpretations of an event is the true one.” Therefore, we should abandon any “hope of justifying our response to the attacks in universal terms that would be pervasive to everyone, including our enemies.” (For critique of postmodern epistemology see my essay, “Whatever Happened to True Truth?” “Search for True Truth in Cyberspace” and “Terrorism of Truth: Truth and Theory in Post Modern Epistemology.”
Fish’s relativism was exactly the relativism that Plato rejected. How on earth can Fish claim that relativism is merely another name for “serious thought.” Fish’s article rejects “false universals”--abstract ideas like justice and truth. Then how would one prove that Stanley Fish wrote the article in The New York Times? If there is no independent standard, how do we know anything? If there is no independent standard, how do we know anything at all about reality? How do we know that Stanley Fish and not Toby Whale is the dean of the college of liberal arts and sciences at the U of I at Chicago?
On Fish’s foundationless position, what is the difference between Charles Manson who murdered actress Sharon Tate and others one horrid evening in 1969? Manson remarked, “I feel no man can represent another man . . . because each man is different and has his own world, his own kingdom, his own reality. It is impossible to communicate our reality through another, and into another reality.” Do we then have no independent and objective standard for determining why Stanley Fish should be allowed to teach at a prestigious institution of “higher learning” while Charles Manson should languish in prison just because he followed a doctrine he shares with Dr. Fish to its logical conclusion--the conclusion that since everything is relative everything can be justified and all is permitted? Perhaps Fish’s motivation is expressed: A “growing number of commentators had started to suggest after 9.11.01 that the ideas forced upon us by postmodern intellectuals have weakened the country’s resolve.”
National unity, moral purpose, enlightened patriotism--these are indeed threats to the “hegemon” of Fish’s way of viewing the world. No wonder that Fish was alarmed! Certainly on Fish’s presuppositions there could be no response to the 9.11.01 tragedy. “Any” response is ill founded! Idle pacifism could get us all killed. Then there would be no left wing voices remaining. Relativism’s seductive quality is losing ground in American after 9.11. All cultural relativists and diversity mongers reject the term “superior” as scandalous. The non-judgmentalists are not going away in the areas of media and education. The educational scene is visible in many of our institutions of higher learning which are so permeated with the relativism ethos that they have finally begun to make themselves into something of a laughing stock. Even the endlessly indulgent New Yorkers could not forbear using the word psycho babble in reporting on some of the more ludicrous courses inaugurated after September 11 at the University of California at Los Angeles; these courses ranged from “exploration of America’s own record of imperialistic adventurism” to examination of the motivations, complex behavior and world view of radical women, to sharing the instructor’s own “sense of crisis about my teaching missions” in the wake of the attacks. At a moment when a serious respect to the dissent opinions of mankind should have offered courses in Islam or in the history of The Crusades or in the theory of a just war, one of the country’s great universities was lending itself as usual to the politics of the self and to the sort of Anti Americanism that is the inevitable consequences of relativist thinking. Many students have issued the outcry that they have been “had” by the relativist agenda.
After a visit to Yale in late October, the commentator David Brooks had this to report:
I had to summarize the frustration that some of the students expressed, I would say this--on campus they find themselves wrapped in a haze of relativism. There were words and jargon and ideas everywhere, but nothing solid that would enable a person to climb from one idea to the next. These students were trying to form judgements, yet were blocked by the accumulated habits of nonjudgementalism.
From Yale to the University of California students search for a truly sophisticated morality. At Yale itself, in a faculty forum on war, one eminent professor of history led the assembled students in an exercise of which both Stanley Fish and Robert Fisk would have heartily approved trying to imagine how resentful they would feel if they were in the position of the people “represented” by the al Quada terrorists. From William College to the University of Wisconsin the cultural ethos of relativists left became visible in response to 9.11.
Prominent educators rushed forward after the terrorist attack to spout relativist claptrap, e.g. National Association of School Psychologists advised parents and teachers to refrain from suggesting that “any group is responsible,” to lecture teachers about the risks of American “militarism,” or to remind us all in the words of Bob Chase, the head of NEA, of our “often shameful history of vilifying our own citizens,” and “cultivating prejudice and hatred on our own soil.” A deputy school chancellor in New York City said, “Those people who said we don’t need multiculturalism . . . a pox on them. I think they’ve learned their lesson after 9.11. We have to do more to teach habits of tolerance, knowledge and awareness of other cultures.” This represents a long time investment on the part of educators, but also media. Remember “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.” It took generations to generate our present relativistic multiculturalist agenda and it will take at least another generation to produce healthier growth.
We must never forget the crowds of Muslims around the world joyously celebrating the fall of the twin towers and the extinction of American lives and humiliation of the “Great Satan” while other Muslim voices mobilized to express the sympathy for the victims. The futile search for the unknown responsible party in this horrendous event is emphatically named Islamophobia!
Among the many vanguard institutions of this ideological movement from Osama bin Laden’s worldwide al Quada network to Humas and Hezballah and Islamic Jihad in the Middle East and North Africa, to the Islamic insurgencies in Indonesia and the Philippines, to their brethren in Central Asia and Pakistan, to the regimes holding actual power in Iran, the Sudan (until recently), Afghanistan--there is no question that Islam is at war with the West and specifically with the United States. The Islamic government of Iran alone has poured forth a decade long torrent of vituperation against the United States and implicated, according to our State Department, in the deaths of Americans at the U.S. Air Force barracks in Saudi Arabia that was bombed in 1996; and as of the end of 2001 was sheltering seven of the twenty-two suspects on the FBI most wanted list issued after 9.11 for acts of terrorism directed against Americans. As for Osama bin Laden, in a 1996 religious edict he specified “no more important duty” for Muslims than removing American soldiers from the “holy places” of his native Saudi Arabia. Two years later, he called on “every Muslim who believes in God and hopes for reward to obey God and kill the Americans.” Three years after that, having first made good on his threat in the most horrific way imaginable, he besought his god to bless the terrorists who had massacred thousands of innocent Americans and “a lot them a supreme place in heaven.” The attacks of 9.11 he concluded, had “divided the world into two camps, the camp of the faithful and the camp of infidels; may God shield us from them. . . God is the greatest and glory be to Islam.” To the radical Islamic there is definitely a war between Islam and the infidels, and it is a war mandated by religions. To restrict the list of hostilities to American targets alone, we must never forget the earlier bombing of the AC in 1993, or the bombing of the U.S. barracks in Saudi Arabia in 1996, or the suicide assaults on two American embassies in Africa in 1998 and the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000. The earliest of these operations, as the Arabic scholar Martin Kramer wrote to no avail in 1993, should have brought home the folly of the then fashionable distinction between “moderate” and “extreme” Muslim militants, and the absolute need to “err on the side of caution” in protecting the safety of our citizens.
Islamic radicals have targeted others besides Americans. There are violent Islamic groups in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Somalia, Entrea, Djibowie, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bosnia, Croatia, Albania, Algeria, Tunisia, Lebanon, the Philippines, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Chechnya, Uzbekistan and Kasmir. Wherever Islamics operate their goal is to expel from Muslim areas not only Westerners and non Muslims but also “deviate” Muslim leaders who do not subscribe to Islamic beliefs; still Westerners are the main target.
We never forget that openly Islamic terrorists are not the only terrorists we face. States like Syria and Iraq that support, harbor, and train terrorists are secular regimes; or that Yasir Arafat, an arch terrorist himself and the godfather of modern terrorism, is no Islamist, although he employs the rhetoric of violent jihad whenever it is practically useful to meet his ends. This man is a minor Hitler and Stalin combined. We can never forget that the word Islam means “peace.” In fact, it means submission to the will of Allah. There are two realms in post modern Islam, “realm of Islam” and the “realm of the sword,” that is, the realm not yet conquered. Death awaits the convert from Islam to infidel religion (see esp. Chawkat Morecarry, The Prophet and The Messiah: An Arab Christian’s Perspective on Islam and Christianity (InterVarsity Press, 2001, pb) Some Islam scholars today have elevated suicide bombers to the rank of martyrs in a holy war. Force is justified in defending and spreading the faith There is surely a difference between religious imperialism and intolerance and flying planes into the World Trade Center.
It is not true that Islamic extremism has been rejected by the overwhelming majority of Muslims, let alone by the overwhelming majority of Moslem clerics around the world. It is not even accurate to say that there has been unequivocal rejection by the majority of Muslim leaders, clerical or secular, here in the United States.
For three and one-half years, Mohammed Al-Gameia served as the chief imam of the Islamic Cultural Center in New York, a Sunni mosque on Manhattan’s upper East Side that is attended ca. 200 people daily and 3000 people each Friday, among them many members of the United Nations diplomatic community. Soon after 9.11 the imam departed mysteriously for Egypt where he gave an interview to a website affiliated with the prestigious al-Aghor University. There he blamed the terrorist attack on “the Jews,” who, he said, wanted to “impose their hegemony and colonialism on the world” and were “the only ones capable of planning such acts, although the imam continued, the Zionist media “tried to cover it up. We know that Jews disseminate corruption in the land,” and “murdered the prophet; do you think they will stop spilling our blood?
Later Rachel Donato of the weekly magazine Forward interviewed the successor at the mosque, a former translator at the United Nations named Omar Saleem Abin-Namous. He stated that Osama bin Laden might be the authorization for the attack but there is no evidence to prove it. What? He even claimed that the suicide bombers were “martyrs fighting for a rightful cause.” (Cf. Muslim organizations American Muslim Council (AMC) and Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), and The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). These groups have a double agenda--they often have a habit of decrying supposed anti Muslim bias in American prosecutors of earlier terror suspects. Yet publicly, many of the officials of these groups do not support Islamic extremism (see esp. The summary of details in Daniel Pipe’s report has documented this deeply alarming phenomenon in detail. He declares that “the major Muslim organizations in the USA are in the hands of the extremists.” This shared militant outlook is hostile to the prevailing order.)
The principle of a Muslim school just outside Washington, D.C., the Community School of Potomac, Maryland, published a guide sheet in which he claimed that there was “as much evidence pointing away from the terrorists as circumstantial evidence pointing toward them. An eighth grade student reported to the Washington Post that if forced to choose between his country and religion, “I’d stay with being a Muslim. Being an American means nothing to me.” There is little wonder in this report; the Principle added, “Whatever is said about bin Laden I want it said about Israeli prime minister Sharon!”
These witnesses could be multiplied but whoever enters the global debate--tolerance of radical movements around the world speak in the name of the “disenfranchised” and who locate the source of every human problem in the evil wrought by corporate America or the Pentagon.
When William Bennett commented on the eighth grade teenager from an affluent American suburb in a TV program, he was castigated as being “intolerant.”
Since 9.11 our government seeks to ensure security of all our citizens, including immigrants without visas, scrutiny of young men from the Middle East, “profiling” and screenings and detention of suspects for questioning (e.g.. Canada has over 250,000 immigrants, many from the Middle East without papers who receive government checks and attain jobs). In the past decade, Muslim Americans have won court case after court case and media also seems more lenient in that they receive extraordinary sympathy. This can occur only in America. In Muslim countries around the world they receive no such sympathy. Where else are there economic opportunities so promising and freedom so plentiful?
The Case of Israel: (See my paper, Paul’s Mission Mandate (Romans 9-11)
The public schools in Saudi Arabia are indoctrinating children with anti Christian, anti Jewish and anti Western hatred. On September 11, fifteen of the nineteen suicide hijackers were themselves Saudi nationals. Osama bin Laden was the moneyed scion of a prominent Saudi family. Ever since the 9.11 terrorist events, many have been puzzled by our longstanding support of Israel. Many call for us to remove the “root cause” of Muslim rages. The three themes of anti Christian, anti Jewish and anti Western are being intensified in the curricular structures of minds in schools, both in the middle East and in America. An Arab rejoicing at our misfortune, before it was yanked off the air, will never be forgotten. Are we helping Yasir Arafat create a Palestinian state? He is the one leader who has the distinction of being simultaneously a terrorist himself, an instigator of terrorism and a supporter and harborer of terrorists. Can we possibly sort this mess out? Does hatred of “Little Satan” fuel hatred of America, the “Great Satan”
As a prime example, let us take a brief look at bin Laden’s list of “grievances,” like a comparable list drawn up by Adolf Hitler during his own rise to power, an ever expanding one, and we should not have been surprised to see entries on it like Palestinian deaths in the infanticide that began in the fall of 2000, or the dispute over the territories occupied by Israel after the Six Day War of 1967. This was a later addition to bin Laden’s agenda which was aimed at toppling the insufficiently radical Saudi monarchy and other deficient Muslim regimes, gaining access to nuclear weapons and prosecuting a worldwide war against the “Infidel” and decadent West.
Eastern conflicts centered in Egypt’s Hioni Mubarak (attempted assassination of Mabarak in 1995). A columnist in a government sponsored Egyptian daily warned shortly after 9.11 that the “Statue of Liberty” in New York harbor must be destroyed. . . the age of the American collapse has begun.” This issue of terrorism is very complex; more complex than those posited by Left and Right Wings as convenient solutions to the challenge before us. It personally believes that Norman Padhoretz in his “Wall Street Journal” article is the most plausible understanding: “The hatred of Israel is in large part a surrogate for anti Americanism” and that “if Israel had never come into existence, or if it were magically to disappear, the U.S. would still stand as an embodiment of everything that most of these Arabs consider evil.”
I see little possibility of resolving the conflict between Israel and Palestine. No human coalition can resolve the radical divergence between these two groups. Their divergent purposes hold little promise of permanent peaceful resolution. The existence of the Palestinian State is the crux of the matter. The contrasting ambitions should be very clear. We must remember the talks convened by President Clinton and Israel’s prime minister Ehud Barak had handed the terrorist leader virtually everything he had ever demanded. Arafat turned it down, forgoing the opportunity to build his state in favor of launching an attack that made the streets of Israel run red with the gore of innocents. (The data is available by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMR). There is no reasonable judgment other than the goal of Muslim terrorists--the final dissolution of the Jewish State and the establishment in its place of an Arab Palestine “from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea” in exactly those words spoken by Faisal al Hussein before his death in 2001.
In all appearances it seems that the famous three no’s--no peace, no recognition, no negotiation--prevails in the twenty-first century. What positive response is possible to this apparently “uncompromising hatred” of both Israel and the United States? This whole context seems to be one of our most pressing challenges in the 21st century. The ugly head of anti Semitism has appeared repeatedly from the Holocaust to our Post Holocaust periods and remains one of our oldest diseases of Western civilization. The Arab/Israeli context rages in the furnace of fierce confrontation, especially exposed on 9.11.01
No matter what political efforts are made to negotiate the fires of confrontation, a textbook for Syrian tenth graders emphatically declares-- “The logic of justice obligates the applicants of the single verdict on the Jews from which there is no escape--namely that their criminal intentions be turned against them and they be exterminated.”
The prime voice of anti Semitic propaganda has been, of course, Yasir Arafat’s Palestinian authority. In blatant violation of commitments undertaken at Oslo, Palestinian schools and camps, radio and television, newspapers and every organ of official opinion have spread virulent hatred of Jews and exhortations to murder and annihilate them.
This fanatical irrationalism has called for massive murder of all Infidels, especially Israel and the United States. Hatred is openly embraced in the most advanced circles of society. Less than a week before 9.11 an event held in Durban, South Africa, was the United Nation sponsored World Conference against racism, racial discrimination, Xenophobia and related intolerance. Because American leaders withdrew from the meeting, there was enormous outcry of acrimony against the USA.
In our post modern culture of appeasement, excusing Arab terror because it is allegedly in response to Israel’s occupation, forcing Israel to make concessions to Arab terrorists--are the bitter fruits of moral obfuscation, of ethnic and religious prejudice and blindness. Surely President Bush’s declaration to Congress and the American people as a result of 9.11, “any nation that continues to support terrorism will be regarded by the USA as a hostile regime.” His statement is impeccable, and should never be compromised.
LOVE OF COUNTRY: WHAT IS PATRIOTISM?
One of the results of the Reformation and the Enlightenment in Europe was nationalism. Nationalism is both unifying and divisive! The language of patriotism is not well received in our post modern culture. Does Patriotism actually despise people of foreign birth? Is it true that the American flag is so contaminated by “the men now waving it is the name of jingoism and censorship.” Is it a symbol of war and warmongers? “When I look at the flag, I see it illuminated by the rockets’ red glare.” Who are the Americans?
A female professor at the University of British Columbia knew. She proclaimed at a feminist conference on October 1, 2001, “the American nation that Bush is invoking is a people which is bloodthirsty, vengeful and calling for blood.” Is America’s response to the trauma of 9.11 vengeful and bloodthirsty? No! Suddenly we had heroes again--policemen, firefighters, rescue workers, soldiers and civilian passengers who leaped from their seats to do battle with evil personified. Suddenly, our flag was unashamedly placed on public display. Not since World War II has this phenomena been extensively visible. There were men and women of all color and tradition helping one another. This was a sight to behold! “We are Americans.” But this was precisely the origin of the counter movement of America bashing, both at home and abroad. All the while the multinationals seek to take over the world!
Post Modern voices were at epidemic stage. A professor of history at New York University responded to the murders of 9.11 by calling for a civil war, class war, whatever to put an end not to those who would incinerate innocents by means of hijacked civilian aircraft, but “to U.S. policies that endanger us all.” The director of the Children and Family Justice Center reminded us that terrorism takes many forms, including “U.S. interventions abroad.” The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church pointed elliptically to “the death of 6000 children in the course of a morning,” a death caused not by terrorists but by the “crush of poverty” to which our affluence stands “in stark contrast” thus equating deliberate murder with an economic condition to which we may or may not have indirectly contributed (e.g.. all failures are victims in our victimizing culture).
The impulse to blame America is not limited to the Left. Several evangelicals (e.g. Marvin Olasky, Charles Daniels) charge that America’s earlier bombings of Iraq and Afghanistan and of course our support of Israel as causes of 9.11.01 The Right Wing “blamers” carry little culture weight. On the Left by contrast, are such people from mainstream respectability--professors, editorial writers, columnists, artists, performers, religious spokesmen. Few people would concur with the literary critic, Frederick Jameson’s extreme formulations--”The seeds of 9.11.01 is the wholesale massacres. . .systematically encouraged and directed by the United States against leftist and left wing causes around the globe. Many have accepted the underlying notion of America’s guilt.
The counter culture of the 1960's generated fierce outbreak of the “responsibility of intellectuals” to use a phrase made famous by Noam Chomsky, a left wing guru. Resulting from Chomsky’s influence, in certain quarters, America itself was spelled with a “K” (Amerika) to suggest an identification with Nazi Germany. The radicalism of the New Left has obvious roots in the 1930s, the heyday of Communist and Left Wing activism in the United States. The period after the Civil War (cf. Historian Shelby Forbe) Americans ceased to speak of the United States in the plural (are) and began to speak of it in the singular (the U.S. is). The reason for this was that no other event in our history had brought home to every American the cost of irreconcilable division. From then on we would speak and think of ourselves as one. In those very post civil war years, we also began to manifest ourselves with force and articulation.
Literature has also been a vehicle for both Left and Right critiques of American culture. In this well prepared soil America was being prepared for the “adversary culture” of the 1960s, a culture persuaded that American culture was unredeemable and likened the country to Nazi Germany. This long journey has precipitated the post modern critique of capitalistic democracy in America as its fake facade, that was the work of the communist and left wing radicals in the 1930s. This critique was full blossomed during the “cold war” by the New Lefts’ no less thorough going assault on our racist politics at home and our supposedly regressive and imperialistic practices abroad!
If we heard somewhat less about these attitudes in the Reagan-Bush and then of Clinton eras, the mind set remained very much alive. In the ensuing decades our literature and the arts became saturated in a nihilism that expressed itself in empty gestures of revolt or in celebrations of violence and sexual degradation. As for “One nation under. . .indivisible,” racial and ethnic tensions were sharpened rather than improved in the eighties and nineties by our official commitments to “multiculturalism” and “diversity.” In government, education, industry and every aspect of public life, an ethos of wounded resentment was fostered among minorities and majorities alike. Academia has not abandoned their reflexive suspicion of American aims in the world and their no less reflexive sympathy for Liberationists if not openly, anti American causes.
During the 2000 election, Gertrude Himmelfarb clearly expressed our post modern plight when she said, “we are one nation but two cultures.” The Bush-Gore conflict expressed that America was almost “two nations of different faiths.” The political analyst Michael Barone expressed our potential separation at the time. “One is observant, tradition-minded, and moralistic. The other is unobservant, liberation minded, and relativistic.” The ensuing fight for the presidency found its final word in the courts and confirmed Barone’s analysis. The events from the election to 9.11 expressed the division and unity. The radical tension in academia from the Vietnam War election to 9.11 is visible in scrutinizing the community voice from Williams to Harvard, et.al.
The hostility to American involvement in southeast Asia to 9.11 is apparent in the conflict over ROTC and homosexuals in the military (e.g.. Harvard’s disapproving stance of the government’s stance) Harvard accepts money from the wealthy and powerful bin Laden family of Saudi Arabia for programs in Islamic law, art and architecture. This infamous family stood behind the attack on American soil). In our divergent multiculturalism there is enormous impact from “debilitative reluctance” to work for the common good and defend our country when defense is needed. With the enormous immigration and second generation immigrants, we too often hear that the schools, the experience and values are not ours. How can we expect this group to respond in our hours of emergency. They have not heard the message of devotion and love of country and in the certitude that the United States is one nation indivisible, under God. We have failed to teach our children the values of Truth, Freedom, and Constitutional Justice! Many Christian families, camps, Sunday Schools and Churches as a whole have failed to instruct children in the biblical model and to have education that equips “all” in the cultural dynamics which are shaped by media and educational models. None of these issues can be constructively addressable without a total paradigmatic revolution in “Christian Education!” We must not fail to positively utilize the grand opportunity in the 21st century. We must understand the times and know what we must do!
WHY DO WE FIGHT?
Osama bin Laden in 1998 said, “By God’s leave we call on every Muslim who believes in God and hopes for reward to obey God’s command to kill the Americans and plunder their possessions, wherever he finds them and whenever he can.” Also, “To kill Americans and their allies, both civil and military, is an individual duty of every Muslim who is able.” Again, after the attack on 9.11 said “God has blessed a group of vanguard Muslims, the forefront of Islam, to destroy America. May God bless them and allow them a supreme place in heaven.”
In the ruins of Kabul, in late December an enterprising Wall Street Journal reporter came into the possession of abandoned al Quada computers. On the hard drives were found memoranda detailing plans for manufacturing and assembling the materials for large scale biological and chemical warfare against the West, “so much cheaper and easier than getting hold of nuclear weapons and every bit as effective.”
Why So Much Innocent Suffering? (E.g.. The Cross) America’s cultural elite has preached the gospel of the failure of American affluence. The film, “American Beauty” was precisely a cultural critique of our consumer culture, which aspires to produce a positive self-image through the attainment of “things.” Oh yes, “American Beauty” is a lie!
When Kabul was liberated, the public scaffolds were torn down. Prior to this event there was a ban on Western music, musical instruments, and tape cassettes in the bazaars. No obscene, lascivious, violent, ugly or western music--the music of the “infidels.” The women had to be covered from head to foot, the men wore long beards, theaters were closed and anyone caught playing chess or attending sports clubs were imprisoned and adulterers were publicly executed. The control of music was perceptive since it is the language of the soul of all persons in all cultures. This is just one more reason, Why We Fight.
For example, Peter Abelard, a Medieval philosopher, developed a Yes and No method of logic (sic et non). This method was proceeded by a dialectical reasoning, an open-ended search for truth. Is Western thought merely the products of dead, white European males? The charge is as absurd as it is spurious. To ascertain the value of Capitalism, we consult Adam Smith on the one hand and Karl Marx on the other. To weigh the value of the religious life, we go back to Aquinas and Voltaire. On the utilitary of warfare, we read Homer and Erasmus. For wisdom on the ends of politics we study Aristotle and Machiavelli. We do not, like the relativists, suppose that there is no such thing as truth; we do posit contentions in getting to it (see my essays, Terrorism of Truth: Truth/Theory in Postmodern Epistemology; Search for True Truth in Cyberspace; The Lord of All Millenniums; Kuhn’s Theory of Paradigm in the Context of Popper, Polanya and Feyerabend Debate; Prolegomena to Theories of Scientific Revolutions with attention to Kant, Lakatos, Carnap, Popper and Kuhn and bibliography on Relativism).
Our cultural bubble exploded at 8:48 and 9:03 a.m. on September 11, 2001. Soon the conflict brought the collapse of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and the defeat and scattering of al Quada forces from that contingency. Our freedoms, despite dire and even frantic warnings to the contrary, were secure. Today we have confidence in our political and military leadership. But there is an enormous campaign to quit while we are ahead--the more arduous campaign is still awaiting us.
We must never forget the words of William Bennett:
Hopefully the battles will wind down and the patriot graves are not multiplied. The military battle is one thing. The battle of public opinion over our airwaves and in our newspapers and journals, our schools and churches, in our families, in our hearts, is another. We have to understand that not only our strength of arms but our character is being tested, and so is our mettle, our staying power. The temptation will be great to call it a day while we are still in night--disregarding what lies in wait for us if we should falter, belittling how very much depends on us, demeaning the incomparable blessing that will be ours, and our posterity’s, if we prevail. --William Bennett, Why We Fight (NY: Doubleday Publishing, 2002, p. 170)
James D. Strauss
Lincoln Christian Seminary
Lincoln, IL 62656