Saturday, September 11, 2004

September 11, 2004

Was looking at blogs and reading comments when I read the following comment. I was wanting some sort of appropriate 9-11 post; something that wasn't just blasting "the evil" or just supporting The War in Iraq; something in other words, that gave some perspective, and a glimpse into what it all means.

I think this comment does an admirable job:

Cigarette Smoking Man from the X-Files said...

I remember being at work, a consulting assignment for a major electronics retailer, and sharing a cubicle with a consultant from Egypt, of all places. At some point in the morning I noticed people sort of streaming down the hallways of the large open cubicle area, first in onesy-twosy, and then pretty much everybody, headed in the direction of the cafeteria, where there was a big-screen TV. My co-worker went to go check it out, and hadn't come back right away, so I went too, finally. I was probably one of the last on my floor at the company to see the images of the towers being hit on 9/11/2001.

Then about fifty cell phones rang in rapid succession, and I knew what it was. People in the National Guard being called up. One of the big-wigs at the company was making an announcement that employees with Guard or Reserve military obligations were free to go to their units for their emergency meetings and roll calls.

When the news anchormen describing the attack mentioned the terrorist hijacking situations, I could see my Egyptian co-workers countenance just SINK. It's like he instantly caught pneumonia or something, and he didn't look well. We walked back to his cubicle and he told me a little story.

When he was in Egypt he had a favorite uncle pass away, and he was really sad about that, so he started spending time at the mosque--reading the Qu'ran, reflecting on life, etc. At some point a "doctor" with eyeglasses came up to him and started helping him in his scriptural readings, and started to interpret the passages to him. Over time he seemed like a life mentor, sort of like a Muslim version of "Mr. Miyagi" in The Karate Kid. Yasser's life changed as a result of the man's teachings, and he started to grow his beard, and yell at his sisters whenever they dressed in a way that pushed the boundaries of Shariah laws.

As it happened, Yasser's father worked for Egypt's version of the FBI. This father pulled Yasser aside and asked him why it was he had been "acting wierd" lately? What gives? Yasser explained to his father the nature of his visits to the mosque, and then Dad asked the name of the man he had been meeting with, and he answered, he said "as your father I FORBID you to meet with this man ever again. He is TROUBLE, I tell you. BIG TROUBLE. Do you hear me?" In respect for his father, Yasser stopped visiting the man at the mosque. Over time, he stopped yelling at his sisters for inappropriate dress, and he shaved his beard. Back to "normal" for a young man his age in Al Kahireh (Cairo).

Well apparently the name of that man Yasser had been meeting at the mosque was one of the ones mentioned on the TV as a terrorist mastermind working under Osama bin Laden for these attacks. The unease he expressed was due to a sense of how close he had come to getting wrapped up in that whole "world". It piqued my curiosity. I asked him what it was about it that made it feel so right for him at the time? He explained.

Our conversations went on for days. Our fingers were whacking out program code, but our mouths and brains were engaged in going over what it was about radical Islam that had appealed to him so much when he was a young man in Cairo. I won't clog this post with all the points of what the attraction was, but I will say this: Yasser came from a very wealthy family, and his case handily dispells the myth that it's "economic desperation" that leads young men to that movement. If anything he would have been sacrificing his family's resources if he chose to follow that group and get disowned by them. My best attempt at summarizing the big appeal is that it was logical from the perspective of a belief in the Allah of the Qu'ran: you are either submitting to Allah, or you're not. If you're not, Allah has no use for you in this world. Yasser dispelled the myth that it's all about "hatred". "It's not for hatred of Americans or even hatred of Jews, but rather, but love of Allah." He explained the rewards in heaven that are said to await someone who becomes a martyr in Jihad. It was tempting to him, a RICH young man, because, as he said, "I had riches in this life, but what about the next? Maybe if I don't join up with that group I would be poor in heaven?"

A father's restraint had virtually knocked sense back into him and pulled him back from that precipice of zealotry. Ironically, honor of parents is ANOTHER core tenet of Islam, and when there was a conflict between the Jihad preachers and the Islamic value of honor for parents, he chose the latter. What I glean from this is that a lot of people are similarly met with choices regarding the Jihad warrior stance, and the peaceful stance, within Islam. It's not a choice we Americans can make for them, as certain Democrats very arrogantly claim we can do. We can provide assistance to mosques for the peaceful faction of Islam, and that would help, but ultimately the debating sides between "let's kill those who aren't like us" and "let's be peaceful and not let our worship of Allah become murderous of others", will have to settle between themselves what it is that Islam will ultimately BE in the world. If Jihad Islam wins, a war of total annihilation will be upon us, whether we choose to recognize it or not. Even if we don't fight them in that way, they will be fighting us in that way. If Peaceful Islam wins, we should see the results in the form of less and less support for al Qaeda. They won't necessarily gravitate toward western-style Democracy, but they'll also reject terrorism if their side wins.

A struggle for the Islamic soul is going on within Islam. There are people like Yasser's father; and there are people like Musab al Zarqawi. If the latter sort of people prevail, 9/11 will just be the first in a long string of increasingly devastating attacks, and the attackers won't care if entire Muslim nations get bombed to smithereens as retaliation for it--they'll accept the martyrdom and sacrifice as an honor (on behalf of those about to be sacrificed, that is).

There is a similar struggle for the American soul, on this side of the world's oceans. With copious arguments we've seen what that struggle is. On one side there is the very worst element of western society, demanding that America hamstring itself with international influences, strictures, and speed bumps on the way to effective defense. The reward they offer for this set of restrictions, is that France or Germany might send a battalion or two of blue-hatted metrosexuals to some Area of Operations to watch as our guys continue to fight. On the other end of the American struggle, we have reservation of the right to act with broad coalitions when they CAN be brought together, and without them when they CAN'T, and to keep the eyes firmly on the prize of victory. I think I'll go with the latter, myself.
1:04 AM

Thanks Cigsmokinman. fb

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