Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Winning Minds and Hearts

In the summer leading up to the 9/11 attacks, a threat was growing in the minds and hearts of Americans.  The constant pulse of threats from Al-Qaeda suggesting something dire was in the offing.  The World Trade Center was the first, logical target in everyone’s minds.

When Osama Bin Laden declared his War on America in the late 1990s, no one mistook his meaning.  He made himself quite clear.  During the first Gulf War, Saudi Arabia was next on Saddam Hussein’s itinerary, after Kuwait.  Osama Bin Laden offered his considerable Muslim forces to Saudi Arabia, but the Kingdom chose America’s help, instead.  Bin Laden was mortally offended.

According to Michael Scheuer’s new book, Osama Bin Laden,  Bin Laden had no military training, but joined up with the Afghan mujhadin to learn the craft.  He lent considerable money and construction supplies from his father’s company to build roads, tunnels, hospitals, and fortresses.  He was always a hands-on kind of guy, according to Scheuer, piloting construction equipment right along with his crews and fighting alongside the Afghans.

The Afghans weren’t happy with their Arab allies, who were only anxious to commit suicide missions and go straight to Allah instead of consolidating their forces and winning the war against the Soviet Union.  Eventually, the war ended when the Soviet Union ran out of money and support.  Thus, the victory for the Afghans was a default victory.  For Bin Laden, though, he gained much fame and honor for his courage in battle.  He’d made a name for himself.

His father, Muhammed, was a wealthy businessman who made his money in construction.  He was the primary contractor for the Saudi government and used his own money to build the gold dome on the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, believing that the appearance of the Mahdi would occur in his lifetime.

It did not.  But he passed his yearning for an umma – a worldwide caliphate – to his son, Osama.  Osama believed the West could be defeated by bleeding it dry economically through constant, on-going wars.  He wanted Western forces out of Saudi Arabia and the Middle East.  He resented their presence and all the problems Westerners brought with them – bare-headed women who drive, nightclubs, theaters, alcohol, and what he regarded as impiety.

Scheurer wrote his frankly cheerleading tome out of a sense that other writers have been unjust in their portrayal of Bin Laden.  Scheurer contends, for instance, the Ayman al-Zawahiri needed Bin Laden (and his money) more than Bin Laden needed him, and that Bin Laden didn’t share al-Zawahiri’s religious zealotry.  Moreover, he writes than Bin Laden was very well-versed in Islamic ideology and went right to the source – Mohammed, the Prophet – for his inspiration.  He didn’t need the inculcations of authors like Sayid Qutb, an Egyptian. 

Scheurer is also incensed at the way Western authorities have demeaned Bin Laden’s reputation, taking as their sources Bin Laden’s enemies and alienated relatives, like his daughter-in-law.  He does admit, though, that Osama was a puritanical Wahhabist who, like George Washington, enjoyed farming and gardening.  Bin Laden, he says, disliked living in cities where people were more likely to be corrupted.

Bin Laden, he goes on, wasn’t interested in any one particular Muslim groups plight, like the Palestinians, but the plight of all Muslims around the world, whose religion he believed, like others before him, was “under attack.”  Therein lies the problem.  The city of Jerusalem, for instance, existed long before the 7th Century A.D.  Once the Muslims claim a territory, they feel it’s theirs for all time, and any city they take from some enemy that that enemy reclaims, they believe is “stolen” from them.

Most Liberals have found it convenient to take up the anti-Western call of the muezzin.  Even some Republican candidates, like Ron Paul, have jumped onto the blame America bandwagon.  We had a lot of nerve trying to “impose” democracy upon the Muslim world, instead of, for instance, blasting it out of existence altogether, thereby eliminating the threat for once and for all, the way the radical Muslims would.  We believed, perhaps foolishly, in trying to change hearts and minds.

Any average American who remembers the summer of 2001 knows that’s a fantasy.  Even Scheurer, cheerleader though he is, contends as much.  He’s right; we’re not going to change their minds or their hearts.  Unfortunately, they’ve managed to change the hearts and minds of some of the very people who would lead our country out of freedom into eternal bondage.

The Muslims believe in a forced piety.  We believe in a voluntary piety.  Last night, Ron Paul stood up for that forced bondage, blaming America’s sins for the Muslim’s world’s faults.  Scheurer paints the now-dead Bin Laden as a beloved, generous, pious figure revered by the Muslim world.  Pres. Bush, a pious, devoted Christian was jeered on his inauguration day, defiled by every sort of adolescent insult his enemies could hurl at him, and banished from Ground Zero on the first anniversary of the attacks, while he was still president.

Most people would say going to war in the Middle East wasn’t so much wrong, but a waste of time, money, and lives on a single-minded, though not necessarily simple-minded people who prefer shacks and shackles to America’s freedom and what they consider the accompanying moral perils.

For all his piety, Bin Laden was not a believer in conversion.  Jihad meant only one thing to him – killing.  The Muslims, to the last are, if not outright violent, belligerent and arrogant, even when they’re peaceful.  If they can’t subdue us one way, through violence, they’ll do it legally, or economically or socially.  Clearly, they’ve seduced some of our most influential leaders into assigning all blame to America and foisting this propaganda off on a young, sheepish American public.  Obama’s administration has carefully removed all references to Islamic terrorism from the 9/11 narrative.  Textbooks teach students how prejudice and ignorance brought about the 9/11 attacks; that America called the horrific day of judgment upon herself.  The Media, up until 9/11 itself, was very careful not to show any of the footage from that day.

Fortunately, reality has a way of making itself known.  While some Americans instinctively want to fight back against Islamic incursion, it is the Muslims who hate and fear us more.  That is why they believe they must exterminate us (if we can’t be converted) as an infectious disease.

America’s “wars” in the Middle East were an attempt – albeit, a misguided one – to free the citizens from slavery both under tyrannical dictators and theocratic clerics.  It seems never have occurred to anyone that the Middle East – especially its men – don’t want to be free.  Both societies – Western and Muslim – regard one another as a threat.  In order to win, the Muslims need their American allies to disarm the West, both militarily and philosophically.

In order to preserve our freedom, America must muster up its courage to face down this threat.  We must elect leaders who believe in, not denounce, America.  We must teach our young that freedom is worth fighting for.  We must teach them that good is not something that can be forced down another person’s throat, chained to them like an anchor-weight, or beaten into them.  Good is something that must be invited into one’s heart freely, with no threats other than banishment from an eternal life of goodness.


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