Top Menu Left

Top Menu Right

Subscriber-only Content

This audio content is accessible only to current Audio or Premium subscribers. For access, login, subscribe or upgrade your subscription.

Get Access...

Subscriber-only Content

This ebook content is accessible only to current Ebook or Premium subscribers. For access, login, subscribe or upgrade your subscription.

Get Access...

On the Anniversary of 9/11, Relativism and Religion Still Paralyze American Self-Defense

[Published on September 11, 2013; unfortunately still relevant.]

Twelve years have passed since September 11, 2001, when Islamic terrorists attacked the United States, murdered nearly three thousand Americans, and tore apart the lives of countless more. During these years, Islamic terrorists have continued plotting, attacking, and killing Americans, not only overseas, but also on American soil, with four “successes” among a total of sixty plots, and counting. The successes to date are, as the Heritage Foundation recounts:

(1) the intentional driving of an SUV into a crowd of students at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill in 2006; (2) the shooting at an army recruitment office in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 2009; (3) the shooting by U.S. Army Major Nidal Hasan at Fort Hood, also in 2009; and (4) the bombings in Boston.

What has the U.S government done to eliminate the fundamental cause of 9/11 and these ongoing assaults? Worse than nothing.

Having refused to identify as the fundamental enemy the main regimes that fuel such assaults—namely, those in Iran and Saudi Arabia—let alone eliminate them, our government has instead pursued tribes of cave dwellers in Afghanistan; ousted from Iraq the regime of Saddam Hussein, a major enemy of Iran; gone to war with Libya; spied on American citizens; molested children and grannies in airports; contemplated war with Syria; and engaged in various other activities wholly unrelated to eliminating the fundamental cause of the assaults on America.

What do we have to show for these “efforts”? We have 6,668 dead American soldiers (and counting)—plus more than 50,000 wounded soldiers, more than 16,000 of whom are severely wounded, and more than 1,600 of whom have lost one or more limbs—plus the unimaginable pain and suffering of all of their loved ones.

What we don’t have for these efforts is even a beginning to the end of the Islamic terrorist assaults on Americans.

America has not taken so much as a step in the direction of destroying the regimes in Iran and Saudi Arabia. The problem is not a lack of knowledge that these regimes are the fundamental cause of the assaults. The problem is that America knows that they are the cause, yet refuses to do anything about it.

Here’s just a little bit of what we know about Iran’s support for terrorism against America:

• Iran effectively declared war on the United States in 1979, when Iranian militants seized the American embassy in Tehran and held fifty-two hostages for 444 days, occasionally torturing some of them. From that act of war onward, the Iranian regime has ceaselessly chanted and pursued “Death to America!”—“Death to America!

• Iran funds and supports al Qaeda, the Islamic terrorist group that, among other things, murdered almost three thousand Americans on September 11, 2001. According to a 2011 report from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, “Iran is the leading state sponsor of terrorism in the world”; a “key [part of] Al-Qa’ida funding and support network”; and a “critical transit point” for the terrorist organization, “allowing it to funnel funds and operatives through its territory.” In sum, according to the report, Iran provides “unmatched support for terrorism.”

• Iran funds, supplies, and trains Hamas and Hezbollah, major Islamic terrorist groups that constantly attack America’s ally, Israel, and that have murdered many Americans (see below). According to the U.S. Department of State’s “Country Reports on Terrorism 2012,” Iran provides Hamas with “funding, weapons, and training” and provides Hezbollah with “training, weapons, and explosives, as well as political, diplomatic, monetary, and organizational aid.”

• Iran is responsible for the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which killed 224 people—including twelve Americans—and wounded thousands more. As the Washington Post reports:

Al-Qaeda carried out the attack, but the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia found that the bombings would not have been possible without “direct assistance” from Tehran. . . . “The government of Iran,” Judge John D. Bates wrote in his 45-page decision, “aided, abetted and conspired with Hezbollah, Osama Bin Laden, and al Qaeda to launch large-scale bombing attacks against the United States by utilizing the sophisticated delivery mechanism of powerful suicide truck bombs.”

Iran’s assistance was not peripheral to the plot, Bates found. “Al Qaeda desired to replicate Hezbollah’s 1983 Beirut Marine barracks suicide bombing, and Bin Laden sought Iranian expertise to teach al Qaeda operatives about how to blow up buildings,” Bates wrote. “Prior to their meetings with Iranian officials and agents Bin Laden and al Qaeda did not possess the technical expertise required to carry out the embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. The Iranian defendants, through Hezbollah, provided explosives training to Bin Laden and al Qaeda and rendered direct assistance to al Qaeda operatives. . . . [I]n a short time, al Qaeda acquired the capabilities to carry out the 1998 Embassy bombings, which killed hundreds and injured thousands by detonation of very large and sophisticated bombs.”

• Iran is responsible for the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, which killed nineteen U.S. Air Force airmen.

• Iran is responsible for the 1983 bombing of a U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, which killed 241 American soldiers and military personnel. “[T]he terrorist group Hezbollah carried out the attack at the direction of the Iranian government,” CNN reports. And, “in 2004, Iran erected a monument in Teheran to commemorate the 1983 bombings and its martyrs.”

• The Iranian regime appears to be producing nuclear weapons, and, whatever its progress, its intention to produce them is clear, and its willingness to use them cannot rationally be doubted.

And here are a few representative items regarding what America knows about Saudi Arabia’s support for terrorism against America:

• The Saudis have long funded al Qaeda; they continue funding the terrorist group today; they are al-Qaeda’s largest source of funds; and, according to a 2002 briefing delivered to the Pentagon’s Defense Advisory Board, they are “active at every level of the terror chain, from planners to financiers, from cadre to foot-soldier, from ideologist to cheerleader. . . . Saudi Arabia supports our enemies and attacks our allies . . . [and is] the kernel of evil, the prime mover, the most dangerous opponent” in the Middle East.

• Fifteen of the nineteen Islamic terrorists who hijacked U.S. passenger jets and slammed them into buildings full of Americans on 9/11 were citizens of Saudi Arabia.

• The Saudis build and fund mosques and schools in America and across the globe and supply them with terrorist-inspiring materials that specify, among other things, that infidels, Christians, Jews, and all those who “accept any religion other than Islam” have “denied the Koran” and thus “should be killed.”

(For a more extensive account of the evidence against the Iranian and Saudi regimes, see my essay “The Jihad against America and How to End It.” —CB)

Although the foregoing facts and many more concerning Iran and Saudi Arabia are widely known by U.S. government officials and American citizens, they are rarely if ever integrated into a case for ending these evil regimes. Rather, Americans, by and large, ignore this knowledge and abstain from demanding that our government eliminate these murderers. Why?

Only one thing can explain evasion of this magnitude: bad philosophy.

America is paralyzed by the dogmas of relativism and religion. Relativists (including many on the political left) are paralyzed by their acceptance of the absurd view that all cultures are morally equal. And religionists (including many who claim to be on the political right) are paralyzed by their acceptance of essentially the same philosophy as our enemy: the notion that there is a “God” whom we must obey and whose existence and laws are known by means of faith. Take them in turn.

Relativists can’t name the enemy because, hey, who are we to judge other cultures or to label things to or claim knowledge of the “Truth”? Who are we to claim that a culture of so-called moral rights and political freedom is better than a culture of sharia law and submission to Allah? To make such a claim is elitist and racist! So say the relativists.

We can, according to relativism, collectively agree on things, and we can loosely call such agreement the “truth”; but no one can know the real “Truth.” As the relativists’ favorite philosopher, Immanuel Kant, explained long ago, the real Truth is that the real Truth is unknowable. It is inaccessible to reason. The only “truth” we can know is the collectively subjective “truth”—that is, whatever the greater community collectively agrees on. And, on that score, the international community—the greatest community of all!—is against the idea that America has a “right” to attack the sovereign nations that allegedly “attacked” or sought to “harm” Americans.

For relativists, that is the end of the debate.

Religionists, for their part, can’t name the enemy either—at least not in terms of essentials—because the enemy is precisely people who regard faith as a means of knowledge and take religion seriously. What can Jews or Christians say to Muslims who have faith that their God commands them to kill infidels and who take their religion seriously? “Look, we know you have faith in Allah and that He commands you in your religious scripture to kill infidels and others who violate His law, but you can’t take religion so seriously. Our God says in our scripture that we must kill for Him too, but we ignore those parts. You have to judge what God says. You have to use some common sense. You can’t just have faith that He is always right.”

You see the problem.

If today’s Jews or Christians took their religions seriously, they too would murder for God. But Judaism and Christianity have been tempered by the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, rendering today’s Jews and Christians essentially unserious about their creeds. Although few Jews or Christians will openly admit that they do not take religion seriously, most of them, in fact, do not take it seriously. Rather, they cherry-pick from their scriptures, judging what they regard as palatable and not palatable, and they (largely) throw out the parts where God calls for murdering people or violating rights. Thank goodness.

Islam, unfortunately, has not been tempered. Many Muslims around the world aim seriously to “live” and die by Islamic law—and to force everyone else to do so too. This is the explicit goal of Muslims who take their religion seriously—because it is the central commandment of Islam: Muslims must submit to Allah, spread Islam, and, ultimately, make the whole world submit to Allah. “Islam” means “submission to Allah.” “Muslim” means “one who submits.” And “unbeliever” (a.k.a. “infidel” or “kafir”) means “one without faith” or “one who does not submit” and who therefore must be converted or killed.

This is the nature of the enemy that has declared war on us. This is what Muslims who take their religion seriously believe and do. And Americans, by and large, know it. Yet the relativists among us will not judge Islam as evil, and the religionists among us cannot judge it as evil—at least not in fundamental terms. Consequently, few Americans are willing and able to call (credibly) for the eradication of the Muslims and regimes that seriously embrace Islam and thus seek to convert or kill us.

Now, this is not to say that relativists and religionists won’t advocate or support war, even war against an Islamic state. They will advocate war—so long as the war is essentially self-sacrificial rather than self-interested.

One thing relativists and religionists agree on is that being moral consists in sacrificing for others. Relativists believe it because the community tells them to believe it, and religionists believe it because religious scripture tells them to believe it. “Self-sacrifice is a virtue”—“You are your brother’s keeper”—“You must help the poor, the downtrodden, the unfortunate, the oppressed, the suffering”—all of this is accepted as unquestionably true by both relativists and religionists. And to what kind of foreign policy do such ideas lead? Unsurprisingly, they lead to a foreign policy of self-sacrifice.

This is why, for instance, the Bush administration, with the blessing of the American people, deployed American soldiers to bring “freedom” and “democracy” to Iraqis, which was not in America’s self-interest, yet refused to drop bombs on Tehran and Qom, which would have been in America’s self-interest. It’s also why the Obama administration, with the blessing of many Americans, sent troops into Libya to help the “oppressed” there, when America had no national interest in doing so—and why the Obama administration seeks to deploy the U.S. military to help the “oppressed” rebels in Syria, when America has no national interest in doing so—yet neither the Obama administration nor many Americans would dream of terminating the regime in Riyadh, which would be in America’s self-interest.

Granted, some relativists and religionists argue vaguely that we should at least have some interest in a war if we are going to enter it—but they don’t and can’t say unequivocally that we have no moral business sacrificing American wealth or soldiers to serve others. After all, what would the “international community” say? And what would Jesus do?

The net effect of the widespread acceptance of relativism and religion in America is that America (a) refuses to selfishly identify and eliminate our primary enemies—and (b) continues to engage in selfless wars that sacrifice American lives, limbs, and loved ones.

What to do? Revolt against relativism and religion.

It is time for Americans to demand of themselves and of their fellow Americans that they first-handedly face the facts before their eyes, reject the dogmas of relativism and religion, realize that our enemies in this war are our enemies because they take religion seriously, and demand that our government demonstrate to our enemies that America the Beautiful is greater than Allah the Nonexistent.

How can we demonstrate this? We can demonstrate it by ending the main regimes that take Islam seriously and thus continually threaten America: the regimes in Iran and Saudi Arabia. Fortunately, in this case, we can kill two regimes with one campaign.

First, we must declare war on Iran and take out the current regime. This does not require bombing everything or killing everyone in Iran. Far from it. Many Iranians are good people who want to be freed from the theocracy; thus, the war should be waged not on the general population, but specifically on the assets and people who directly support the existing regime. A proper campaign would target all known Iranian military assets, government buildings, mosques, madrassas (colleges in which students are trained to be jihadists), and the residences of the regime’s leaders, imams, clerics, and officials.

As always in war, there would be some innocent casualties, such as Iranian children and advocates of liberty. So it is important to bear in mind the principle that the deaths of all innocents in war are the moral responsibility (a) of those who initiated force and thus necessitated retaliatory measures—and (b) of those who evade the relevant facts, drop context, and attempt to muddy the waters on such issues, thus delaying justice and necessitating the deaths of even more innocents. Iran initiated force against America and has sustained the assault for decades; thus the deaths of any innocents resulting from our use of retaliatory force against the Iranian regime are solely on the hands of the regime and its apologists.

Once the Iranian regime is gone and the Iranian people are free to begin establishing a secular, rights-respecting republic, the U.S. government must turn to Saudi Arabia and inform the current regime there that it can either immediately step down and make way for a secular, rights-respecting republic—or opt for the Iranian alternative. They will step down.

Next, the U.S. government must announce to the world that, henceforth, this is how America will deal with any and all foreign threats to our citizens’ rights or national security. Having just earned credibility, our government will have credibility.

Of course, the Obama administration would not do any of this even if 100 percent of the American people including Congress demanded it. But that’s not the point. The point is that this is the right thing to do and that no administration is ever going to do the right thing unless Americans demand it and begin supporting politicians who will do it. And the only way a substantial number of Americans are going to demand what’s right and support politicians who will do what’s right is if a courageous minority of independent thinkers rise up, openly and articulately repudiate relativism and religion, embrace a philosophy of reason and self-interest, and actively encourage others to do the same. There is no other way.

Please be part of that minority.

Like this post? Join our mailing list to receive our weekly digest. And for in-depth commentary from an Objectivist perspective, subscribe to our quarterly journal, The Objective Standard.

Related:

Image: Wikimedia Commons

, , , , , ,


Comments submitted to TOS Blog are moderated and checked periodically. To be considered for posting, a comment must be civil, substantive, on topic, and no longer than 400 words. Ad hominem attacks, arguments from intimidation, misrepresentations, off-topic comments, and comments that ignore points made in the article will be deleted. Thank you for helping us to keep the discussion intellectually profitable.