Op-Ed: The April 14 World, The Day Before the Marathon
Daniel GreenfieldThe writer is a popular New York City based freelance commentator and a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He blogs at sultanknish.blogspot.com
The day before the Marathon Massacre, the New York Times had scored plaudits for running an op-ed by one of Osama bin Laden's bodyguards complaining about his hard life in Guantanamo Bay.
On April 14th, the paper of broken record paid 150 bucks to an Al Qaeda member for the opportunity to complain about being force fed during his hunger strike. On April 15th the bombs went off.
The attacks of September 11 introduced a dividing line between awareness and disregard. There was the world of September 10 and the world of September 11. In one world the planes passing in the sky were a minor reminder of our technological prowess. In the other, we were at war.
There was no such clear dividing line when September 11 faded from memory and we returned to a September 10 world. Nor is there an exact date for when we will return to an April 14 world in which it is okay to pay a terrorist in exchange for his propaganda. But if the media has its way, that day can't come soon enough.
A day after the bombings, the New York Times wrote that a decade without terror had come to an end. But the terror had never stopped or paused. The FBI and local law enforcement had gone on breaking up numerous terror plots to the skepticism and ridicule of the media which accused them of violating Muslim civil rights and manufacturing threats.
Some of those plots seemed laughable. A man setting up a car bomb near a Broadway theater where crowds waiting to see The Lion King musical, kids in tow, were lining up. A plot to detonate bombs in the Grand Central and the Times Square subway stations. Underwear bombers. Shoe bombers.
It became fashionable to laugh at them. Silly crazies trying to kill people in ridiculous ways. Almost as silly as trying to hijack planes while armed only with box cutters and then ramming those planes into buildings.
Liberal urbanites stopped breathing sighs of relief every time a terror plot was broken up and turned on law enforcement. There were suspicions that these were just setups. Representatives of Muslim groups complained that law enforcement was taking confused kids and tricking them into terrorist plots that they never could have carried out on their own.
But there was only one way to find out.
Last year the Associated Press won a Pulitzer for its attack on the NYPD's mosque surveillance program. But that was the April 14 mindset. Now after April 15, the police are once again heroes and any editorials from imprisoned terrorists complaining about the lack of new Harry Potter novels at Gitmo have temporarily been placed on hold.
But the police know better than anyone that it will not take very long for them to go from the heroes to the villains. The period of consciousness after April 15 will be much shorter than after September 11.
The long spring in which Americans didn't have to turn on the news and see bloody body parts everywhere was made possible by the dedicated work of the very people the media spent a decade undermining. The media was undermining them on April 14, but two days later it was acknowledging that the temporary peace brought about by the work of the very people they despised had made their temporary ignorance of terror possible.
We don't know who perpetrated the Marathon Massacre, but many of the Muslim terrorist plots broken up by the authorities would have been as deadly. And there will be others like them in the future. The one thing we can be certain of is that terrorism as a tactic is here to stay.
While law enforcement pores over the wreckage, the media is examining the political fallout. It is waiting for the time when it will once again be safe to pay terrorists for their propaganda. If the bomber turns out to be anything other than a Muslim terrorist, then they can get into their limos and drive back to that Sunday, April 14, when it was safe to be pro-terrorist. If he turns out to be in any way associated with the right, then they can celebrate hitting propaganda pay dirt. But even if he's only another Unabomber or even another Bill Ayers, the false spring of April 14 will still beckon.
Three days later, in the pages of the New York Times, columnist Thomas Friedman used Israel as an inspirational example of getting back to business as usual while leaving no reminders that an act of terror took place. Friedman wasn't the only one to use Israel as an example, but it's a very bad example. Israel's peace process locked it into a cycle of terrorism. The threat of violence is constant and no one dwells on it.
A decade after the Hamas bombing that Friedman mentioned in his piece and after Hamas had shelled Jerusalem and Tel Aviv last year, Obama was able to pressure Israel into cutting a deal with Turkey that will help Hamas. That is the sort of terrible mistake that gets made when you don't dwell on terror, but pick up the pieces and move on as quickly as you can.
Refusing to dwell on terror doesn't defeat the terrorists. It makes it easier to make bad decisions in the moment. It locks you into an April 14 mentality where you strive to put April 15 out of your mind as fast as possible. To honestly move past April 15, September 11 and all the other dates like it, you must learn how to stop them from happening again; rather than forgetting that they ever happened.
The New York Times may choose to ignore terror, except when it's negatively reporting on police surveillance of mosques or drone strikes on terrorists, but the United States cannot afford the same privilege. Terrorism is not random violence. It is not an angry teenager shooting up a school or two gang members trading shots in the inner city. Terrorism is not organic. It is an organized movement funded with foreign money. Its goal is to terrorize Americans to influence its domestic and foreign policies in ways favorable to their cause.
Even when the attacker is a lone wolf, he isn't truly alone. He is operating within the framework of an ideology which prepares him, trains him and tells him what to do even if he makes no face to face contacts or ever travels out of the country to attend a terrorist training camp. And that ideology is maintained and funded by powerful men and governments in the Middle East and Pakistan.
What Friedman really wants is to return to April 14 as soon as possible. And he's not alone. Few people really want to live with terror. Even the liberal desire for a more conventional "white dude" bomber is perfectly understandable because that bomber, even if he is another Bill Ayers, is part of a more conventional and controllable world.
A homegrown monster, an Eric Rudolph, Bill Ayers, Timothy McVeigh or Ted Kaczynski, would be understandable. Even Charles Manson makes more sense to most liberals than Mohammed Atta. Manson may be insane, but his insanity is a familiar thing. It is an American insanity.
Mohammed Atta was not insane. Neither was Osama bin Laden. Neither is Nidal Hasan, Najibullah Zazi, Faisal Shahzad or the legion of less familiar names who plotted to carry out their own terrorist atrocities.
They are not insane. They are not criminals. They cannot be talked about in terms of class, race, gender or any of the other familiar lenses that the optometrists of the left put in the glasses with which they insist we see the world. They are at war with us.
And war changes everything. War ushers in a September 11 world. An April 15 world.
Terror has two impacts. There is the physical impact and the mental one. The mental one is more devastating than the physical one. Only so many people die in a terrorist attack. Even a nuclear bomb detonated in a city will only kill so many people. But even on the battlefield, the purpose of an attack is just as often to break morale, as it is to kill all the fighters on the field. The battlefield is an alien place where people die horribly for no reason. It is natural to want to leave it behind for a saner world.
April 14 is that sane world. The one where terrorism really isn't that serious, but a terrorist hunger strike is. It's a world where terrorists are goofy men with bombs in their underwear or their shoes, where global warming is the biggest threat to the human race and we all need to think more about our white privilege.
It's the world that the New York Times understands.
The media narrative is built on preserving that world. It is an innately reactionary narrative in which there is room for smiling women talking about how much fun abortion is, but no room for the bloody operating tables of a Dr. Gosnell. It is a place in which our biggest priorities have to be tackling all sorts of inequities, not dealing with the finer points of Islamic theology.
The media narrative is built on preserving that world. September 11 dealt a blow to that world, but the wound has scabbed over and the old comfortable liberal verities have come back. Now the media has its fingers crossed hoping that another "white dude" will be led out and that he will have a motive dealing with abortion or race that fits comfortably into their worldview of good lefties and evil righties.
What they fear is another Islamic terrorist, another promising twenty-something from Pakistan or the Middle East, with a middle class background and a graduate degree, reciting Koranic verses.
They don't understand him, but they fear him. Not for his ability to kill them, but his ability to destroy the world that they have built up. A world where left is right and right is wrong and diversity solves everything and the only thing we have to fear is being frightened of people who are different than us.
They fear that the long utopian dream that they fell into after the memories of September 11 faded has come to an end with another blast and another shout of Allah Akbar.