Barrett: We've learned too many of the wrong lessons about 9/11

Barrett: We've learned too many of the wrong lessons about 9/11

September 11th, 2011 by Steve Barrett in Opinion Columns

If sanity prevailed, the takeaway message from the hijackings that killed 3,000 of our countrymen 10 years ago today would have been simple: Radical Muslims aren't kidding. When they state with frosty certainty an intent to vaporize us, they mean it.

Actually, we should have figured that out from prior slaughters, including, but not limited to:

* The 2000 attack on the USS Cole in Yemen;

* The 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania;

* The 1996 fuel truck bombing at a U.S. facility in Saudi Arabia;

* The 1995 car bombing at another U.S. facility in Saudi Arabia;

* The 1993 car bombing at the World Trade Center.

We also might ponder the terrorist acts and plots since 9/11, including, but not limited to:

* The 2010 car bomb plot at a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in Oregon;

* The 2010 attempted car bombing in Times Square;

* The 2009 attempted Christmas Day bombing of Northwest Flight 253;

* The 2009 mass shooting at Fort Hood, Texas;

* The 2009 shootings at an Arkansas military recruitment center;

* The 2007 plot to attack Fort Dix, N.J.

But the evidence that we learned the obvious lessons of 9/11 and related carnage is scant. Iran sponsors terrorism like hardware stores sponsor bowling leagues, and the insanity of its rulers is exceeded only by their malevolence. Nothing is more vital to U.S. security than stopping Iran from building a nuclear bomb. Yet there is little alarm in the Obama administration, and not much more in the population as a whole, about Iran's sprint to join the nuclear club.

So if 9/11 didn't teach us about the need to protect ourselves from a nation that harbors the most enthusiastic terrorists on the planet, what exactly did it teach us?

Why, that we're seething with prejudice if we so much as breathe the word "Islam" without the "religion of peace" disclaimer.

For many, the main thing 9/11 revealed wasn't a threat to our existence -- illustrated by men, women and toddlers reduced to their DNA in nauseating cascades of steel and concrete. It was the unbounded horrors of U.S. bigotry. The overwhelmingly decent treatment of most U.S. Muslims in the past decade does not sway those who insist on viewing America as a fount of perpetual meanness.

The groundwork for that freakish inversion of priorities was laid even before 9/11.

Naturally, Hollywood did its part. Recall, if you can stand it, the film "The Sum of All Fears." This impossibly drab Ben Affleck vehicle was based on a novel that featured a plot to detonate a nuclear bomb, with Muslims as some of the terrorists. The film was completed prior to 9/11, yet even before the batter-dipped political correctness ushered in by the terrorist attacks, the filmmakers altered the villains from Muslims to neo-Nazis.

In a letter to one pressure group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the director vowed that he had "no intention of promoting negative images of Muslims or Arabs ... ." That may have been for the best: "Negative images of Muslims or Arabs" can buy a filmmaker a one-way ticket to the morgue. (See "van Gogh, Theo.")

But the truly turbocharged refusal to face the reality of unprovoked radical Muslim butchery kicked in after the attacks.

Who can forget Barack Obama's pastor ghoulishly declaring that 9/11 was but America's chickens "coming home to roost"?

Or the Reuters news agency official who told his staff, "We all know that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter and that Reuters upholds the principle that we do not use the word terrorist ... ." This preceded the "don't-call-gum-'chewy'" memo and was such Olympic-class hogwash that probably more people laughed at Reuters than condemned it.

What a blood-curdling epiphany it must have been, therefore, when the executive branch of the U.S. government adopted a similar stance. The Obama administration has tried to de-link terrorism not only from its primary modern source -- radical Islam -- but from, well, terrorism.

It erased references to "Islamic radicalism" from an official document about strategy in the war on terror. Come to think of it, the administration doesn't like the phrase "war on terror"; it prefers the term "overseas contingency operation." And terrorism itself, we are told, is a "man-caused disaster" -- making it tough to distinguish a suicide bombing from, say, a Sean Penn flick, or ObamaCare.

As today's anniversary approached, the administration issued guidelines telling federal agencies not to focus on the fact that the United States was the main target on 9/11. An official who helped devise the guidelines told The New York Times, "The important theme is to show the world how much we realize that 9/11 -- the attacks themselves and violent extremism writ large -- is not 'just about us.'"

Osama bin Laden's death is reason to "minimize references to Al Qaeda," the documents stated. Instead, agencies are to emphasize that "Al Qaeda and its adherents have become increasingly irrelevant."

Great. Would somebody tell that to al-Qaida, its adherents and Iran, all of whom still want us dead?