By REES LLOYD
On September 11, 2001, realty broke through the complacent, generous, tolerant American illusions about the nature of the world in which we and our children live, and the nature of those who would terrorize and kill us because we are free Americans.
The remembered, and recurring, images of the horror of 9-11 on its 10thanniversary, provoke again the questions:
What kind of people would believe they have the right to murder Americans because free Americans will not surrender to their beliefs? And: What kind of people would give their own lives to defend the freedom of others?
America, “land of the free and home of the brave,” was attacked on 9-11-2001 by Islamic jihadists from the lands of the unfree and the home of the cowardly. They would murder over 3,000 innocent, unarmed civilians, and over 400 heroic American firefighters and police trying to save those innocents. They would commit these murders by a sneak suicide attack, using jet passenger planes as bombs. They cried “Allahu Akbar” as they so cowardly murdered the innocent.
Also, pursuant to the instructions of their leader, Mohamad Atta, these dedicated Muslim mass murderers, 19 Islamic true-believers, most from Saudi Arabia, carefully washed themselves and dressed in freshly cleaned clothes on the day of their murderous mission. They did so, their leader reminded them, so that they would be properly attired, and not offend by body odor, when, immediately after committing their suicidal slaughter of innocent civilians, they would meet the 72 virgins in Paradise which the Quran promised them for killing “infidels” in the name of Islam.
As thousands of innocent Americans and others in America died horrible deaths at the Twin Towers in New York, at the Pentagon in Washington D.C., and in a field in Pennsylvania where the unarmed Americans of Flight 93 brought it down by overcoming their Muslim hi-jackers, thwarting thereby the terrorists’ intent to fly Flight 93 into the American Capitol, thousands, indeed millions of ordinary Muslims, living under Sharia Law in Islamic theocracies, danced in the streets, smiling, laughing, celebrating the cowardly slaughter of unarmed innocents by sneak attack in the name of Islam.
On that day that changed the world, I was up before six in Banning, CA, preparing my argument for a court appearance in Riverside later that morning. My wife was dressing to leave for work, an almost 100 mile drive each way. Our daughters, 4 and 16, were asleep. A typical day. Then came the news on the radio – a plane had hit one of the Twin Towers. A freak, terrible, accident., I thought. Then the following news – another plane had hit the second tower, which was in flames. This was not an accident—it was a sneak attack, worse then Pearl Harbor.
We clicked on the television and there were the unimaginable images: Fire; billowing smoke; firefighters and police rushing into the Towers as others rushed out; people trapped in the highest floors leaping to their certain deaths rather than die in flames; the first Tower collapsing, sending up a cloud of gray dust caused by the pulverized debris; thousands of people running away from the collapse, looking like terrified zombies as their faces and bodies were covered with that strange dust. In short: Horror.
The scene of the planes flying into the towers played over and over. Our first thought was of our daughters—what of them in this new world of unexpected war? How protect them? We didn’t want our four-year-old to see what we were seeing. We shielded her from it. Our 16-year-old could not be shielded. There was fear, and wonder, on her face, too. Two years later she would postpone college to enlist in the Coast Guard to help defend American freedom in war.
The word which arose over and over on 9-11 was “surreal.” What we were seeing and hearing couldn’t really be. But it was. And still is.
Other scenes were broadcast: The Pentagon was hit by a plane. Flight 93 disappeared, and then was brought down in a field in Pennsylvania. All passengers dead. The plane was apparently brought down when the unarmed passengers rushed and overwhelmed the armed Muslim hi-jackers. It was reported, at some point, that the passengers, knowing they were about to die, had used their cel phones to call loved ones to say goodbye. It was reported that one of them, Todd Beamer, after expressing to his wife his love for her, could be heard to say to the other passengers as they initiated their fightback against the Muslim terrorists: “Let’s Roll!”
Amidst all this death, there came other surreal scenes: Literally millions of people, everyday Muslims, not just an extremist fringe, in country after country, including Muslim immigrants in England and elsewhere, dancing in the streets. Joyfully. Ecstatically. Celebrating as a military victory a slaughter of civilians, unarmed innocents, not combatants.
After court, I went to American Legion Riverside Post 79, to be with Legion comrades. One of them was D-Day Purple Heart survivor, Robert J. “Uncle Bobby” Castillo, perhaps the most beloved Legionnaire in California at the time. Among other things, Uncle Bobby led more than 2,000 military funerals at Riverside National Cemetery as Captain of the Memorial Honor Detail named in his honor. After his death in 2008, his comrades established a plaque honoring him at Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial in San Diego.
“I never thought Pearl Harbor could happen a second time, but it did,” he told me on 9-11-2001. His attitude was solemn, serious, with an edge of sadness. He added with quiet determination: “We have to fight back again, or there won’t be an America anymore.”
President Bush, standing amid the rubble at Ground Zero in New York with a bullhorn in one hand and his other arm around the shoulder of the NYFD Chief who saw over 200 of his firefighters give their lives trying to save others, told Americans and the world that America would not surrender to terrorism. “We will not weaken. We will not falter. We will not fail,” he would later say addressing Congress. But President Bush also said the enemy was not Islam or Muslims, and that Islam was “a religion of peace and love.”
That “peace and love” description of Islam was oft repeated. So, like many Americans, I wanted to learn more about Islam, and bought a recommended English translation of the Quran . I read the Quran from cover to cover, from the first word to the last, looking for “peace and love.” Instead, I found command after command to make war not peace; to kill, murder, slaughter, not love; to chop off the heads of non-Muslims, ‘infidels,” because they have a different faith; to murder those who leave Islam for another faith, or no faith. I learned in my studies that Islam offers but three choices to non-Muslims: (1) Convert to Islam. (2) Submit to a degraded status and pay a special tribute tax. (3) Or die.
That is not a future that I want or to which I will surrender, for myself, my children, or my country.
Indeed, my daughters are still free Americans, and my great “hope” is that that will never “change,” and that America will never be “transformed” but will be restored to the underlying principles and values of the Founding Fathers generation of American men and women. That Founding Generation knew what is in truth politically, morally, and ethically correct is to stand and fight against tyranny. That remains true today whether tyranny advances openly as a totalitarian ideology, like the Nazi’s of Adolf Hitler or the communists of Lenin, Stalin, and Mao; or disguised dishonestly as a religion of peace and love to masque a totalitarian ideology at its core, like Islam.
On the eve of the tenth anniversary of the 9-11-2001 attack on America by Muslims, we Americans were warned of credible threats of another terrorist attack by Muslim jihadists. Special precautions were instituted. Our American freedom was and continues to be limited by those who boast they despise our freedom, who believe they have a right and duty to kill us in the name of their ideological religion, and that they will defeat us because “you Americans love life, and we love death.”
Thus, the two questions raised above can be easily and truthfully answered, based not on prejudice, i.e., pre-judgment, but on empirical evidence, on experience over ten years, and on common sense:
“What kind of people would believe they have the right to murder Americans because free Americans will not surrender to their beliefs? “ Truthfully stated without politically-correct excuses: Muslims.
“What kind of people would give their own lives to defend the freedom of others?” Truthfully stated , without apology to anyone: Americans.
In sum, Americans face the same Muslim terrorists in 2011 that Americans faced on 9-11-2001. But no matter what Muslim terrorists did on 9-11-2001, or do on 9-11-2011 or on any other day, we are Americans., and: “We will not weaken. We will not falter; We will not fail,” as pledged by former President George W. Bush in 2001.
Therefore, in 2011, the watchword should be, in the words of the ordinary American Todd Beamer who exhibited such extraordinary courage on Flight 93 along with his fellow passengers on 9-11-2001: “Let’s Roll!”
[Rees Lloyd, a longtime civil rights attorney and veterans activist, is a member of the Victoria Taft Blogforce.]
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