The web was jammed. I only got news by going to smaller news outlets which were posting wire photos and copy, like the Sacramento Bee. I was so stunned that it didn't occur to me to turn on the radio until after lunch. The horrible news came cascading down all day and night. I woke up the next morning, from a pretty pleasant dream, only to have the awful new reality come crashing in as I woke.
So here we are now, four years on. We've sent thousands of jihadis on to their 72 virgins, for which I am thankful to President Bush. Elemental justice demanded no less. We have also managed to take Afghanistan and Iraq, however precariously, away from the jihadis and turn them into assets in the War On Terror. There's doubtless more going on that we will never know until years later.
But things keep coming down to ultimate issues, first things, if you will. Bush will never do anything more right than he's done in refraining from labeling Islam as the enemy. He's managed to keep our Islamic partners on board for the WOT, despite the provocative bigthink put out by many commenters and some politicians. And you know what? I've spent most of the past four years loudly agreeing with them. It's a good thing I wasn't in charge, else we'd be at war with a full third of mankind by now.
Most Muslims are not out there slitting infidel throats for the same reason that most Christians are not out there giving their possessions away to the poor: they just aren't that carried away with the message of their respective religions. But the messages are still there, waiting to blossom in people's minds. The possibility that "Slay the disbelievers" may suddenly possess a devout Muslim cannot be spun away. As much as I pride myself on being able to get along with people of most backgrounds, and as much as racism repels me, I must admit that Kipling's "The Stranger Within My Gate" does carry some weight with me these days. Especially when I look at how the "soft" jihad is eating Britain alive from the inside out.
Enough time, events, and honest scrutiny have passed in the last half-decade that I think we can dispense with the "It has nothing to do with Islam" defence. Save for the precious few good and brave souls out there, the much-bruited "moderate Muslims" are openly conflicted about speaking against the bloody deeds of their more committed co-religionists. The rank-and-file at best seem content to go along with whichever side Allah is favoring with victory at any given moment, at worst to actively cheer for terrorism's victory. Clearly, Islamic terrorism has everything to with Islam. Draw the Venn diagrams yourself: Most Muslims are not terrorists, but most terrorists are Muslims. Leave it to First Things to come up with the most charitable, Christian way of stating the situation:
The words of General Sherman must be kept ever in mind: "It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, more vengeance, more desolation. War is hell." Just war teaching never countenances the cry for blood, vengeance, and desolation. That is the cry of our enemies who have forced this war upon us. Blood, vengeance, and desolation is their aim, as is now evident to all but the willfully blind. They are our enemies. They have repeatedly declared so in venomous words and murderous deeds. We must pray that one day they will not be our enemy. At present, and perhaps for a long time into the future, it is our moral duty to see to it that they are "found, stopped, and defeated." If we allow ourselves to be paralyzed by the uncertainties entailed in the conduct and outcome of war, we surrender to the certain triumph of great injustice.