The New York Times, in its own special way, took the opportunity this weekend to lecture Americans on how they should remember the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. Its lead editorial on September 11 had the following headline: “The Right Way to Remember.” In the editorial the newspaper rebukes those who “wallow in the intolerance and fear that have mushroomed across the nation.” They suggest that such fears are “fed by the kind of bigotry exhibited by the would-be book burner in Florida, and, sadly, nurtured by people in positions in real power, including prominent members of the Republican Party.”
To support this deeply offensive claim, they cite House Minority Leader John Boehner’s comments last week that just because Minister Terry Jones has the right to burn the Koran, doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do.
Mr. Boehner drew a parallel between burning Islam’s holy book as an expression of outrage, and building a mosque near Ground Zero, describing both as wrong-headed acts. The Times takes issue with this; they say that in New York “a group of Muslims is trying to build something” while Mr. Jones is trying to “tear down more than two centuries of religious tolerance.”
To those on the left, demonizing those (especially Republicans) who oppose the controversial mosque makes perfect sense. To everybody else, it is grossly offensive, and also ignorant.
Americans are a proud people, and we don’t like being told that we are misbehaving. Especially about issues like religious tolerance, where we rightly congratulate ourselves on our tradition of welcoming strangers to our shores and respecting the traditions – religious and otherwise, with which they disembark.
As to our relations with Muslims, here and abroad, I would argue that Americans have shown enormous restraint. Over the past twenty-five years, we have been subject to countless attacks on our citizens and our military both here and overseas. Starting with the kidnapping of U.S. embassy workers in Tehran in 1979, and including attacks on U.S. citizens and soldiers in Beirut, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, on the Achille Lauro cruise ship, in Athens, West Berlin, on the doomed 747 over Lockerbie, the World Trade Center in 1993, the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the USS Cole, and finally on 9/11, Americans have been wantonly killed and maimed by extremist Muslims.
Since 9/11, Al Qaeda has attacked our consulate in Karachi, our civilians in Saudi Arabia, our hotels in Jordan, and our embassy in Yemen. In addition, Al Qaeda has, of course, murdered hundreds of GIs in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Closer to home, we have endured would-be shoe bombers, underwear bombers, and more tragically the crazed Ft. Hood murderer. We came close to another disaster in Times Square. Only our homeland security and NYC police have a handle on how many other assaults on American civilians have been prevented.
So, it is remarkable to me that Americans have continued to distinguish between extremist Muslims and those who live peacefully among us. Especially since, as was outlined in a recent report from the 9/11 Commission, it is clear that we are increasingly threatened by those living next door. Last year there were “10 U.S.-linked jihadi attacks…involving individuals traveling outside the country to receive terrorist training” while “at least 43 American citizens or legal residents aligned with militant groups were charged or convicted in terrorism cases in the U.S. and elsewhere in 2009,” The Times reports.
We are not a nation of bigots and we are not filled with hate. We are, though, increasingly under attack.
Make no mistake, eventually Americans will strike back. We will also turn on those who belittle this threat or defend those who pose it.
Instead of hand-wringing about some backlash against this rising extremism, our leaders would do well to buttress our defenses and call for the help of those Muslims who cherish peace. That apparently does not include Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. If he were interested in fostering good relations between Muslims and those of other religions, he would move the site of his proposed community center. Period.
Fox News Opinion is on Twitter. Follow us @fxnopinion.