Cliff May

If so, they would be expressing the prejudice most acceptable among certain fashionable elites. For example, Alice Walker has refused to permit a new translation of her novel, The Color Purple, into Hebrew. As Israeli author Daniel Gordis has pointed out, Hebrew “is the only language into which Walker has refused to permit translation.” She has no trouble with translations into Farsi, Dari, Pashto, or Arabic.

In Denver last week, there was the grand reopening of the Counterterrorism Education Learning Lab, a unique museum intended to help teach the public about terrorism of all kinds (not just the Islamic variety), why it’s a threat to all civilizations (not just the West), and how it can be defeated (determination and vigilance will be key). Before an audience of nearly a thousand, Denver Post publisher Dean Singleton moderated a discussion between former secretary of homeland security Michael Chertoff and me. Among the issues with which we attempted to grapple: The destructive potential of cyber-terrorism; the possibility that terrorists will use germs and viruses as weapons; the role of failed states and what it will mean if the rulers of Iran, who have been killing Americans for decades and threatening Israelis with genocide, are not prevented from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Planted throughout the audience were protesters from an organization that calls itself “We Are Change.” Every so often, a member would stand up and begin shouting. One yelled “Terrorism is not real!” Another proclaimed that “bees kill more people than terrorists!” Another angrily insisted that the FBI has no proof that Osama bin Laden was responsible for 9/11 — to which Chertoff replied that not only can we be certain that the al-Qaeda leader was behind the attacks, but also that there has been “a landing on the moon.” The protesters were escorted outside, where they joined demonstrators holding a banner that read, “9/11 was an inside job.”

There were not many of these demonstrators, and they do not represent most people in Denver, America, or the West. But, as noted above, anti-anti-terrorists are hardly a rare species. And aren’t the members of the IOC and GCTF closer in outlook to them than to people like Chertoff and me — people who believe that terrorists, their funders, and their supporters must be confronted and crushed, not appeased and accommodated?

A generation before the attacks of 9/11, in 1980, in a book titled The Recovery of Freedom, the great historian Paul Johnson lamented that we have “almost forgotten how to arm ourselves against barbarism. We can, in fact, do it in only one way: by stating that terrorism is always and in every circumstance wrong . . . that it must be resisted by every means at our disposal; and that those who practice it must not only be punished but repudiated by those who share their political aims.” I’ve always found that logic compelling. I would have thought that by now most people — certainly those in the U.S. State Department, and those dedicated to the Olympic ideal, and American novelists concerned with bigotry — would have grasped it. I was wrong.


Cliff May

Clifford D. May is the President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.