It goes without saying that the Islamic terror attack on America
on September 11, 2001, was an act of pure evil; that for those who suffered
and died it was an unspeakable horror; that nothing will ever compensate
their loved ones for their loss; and that the date will forever live in
infamy in American memory.
At the same time, without intending in any way to minimize the
evil or the suffering, and with no intention whatsoever to celebrate its
occurrence, it is clear that 9-11 did far more good than harm. America has
become a better place because of that attack.
First and perhaps foremost, the 9-11 attack provided many
Americans with a moral and political clarity that they did not have prior to
the attack. Most Americans are far clearer about good and evil in the world
than they were before 9-11. With the end of the Cold War, many Americans had
been lulled into believing that international evil had ended. The existence
of totalitarian or authoritarian Islamist theocracies in Sudan, Afghanistan,
Saudi Arabia, Iran and Libya; of international terror movements such as
Hamas, Hezbollah and al Qaeda; the development within Islam of a theology of
suicide terror; the violent attempts to impose Islamist rule in Nigeria, the
Philippines and elsewhere; and the amassing of horrific weapons of mass
destruction in Iraq -- few, if any, of these evils registered in most
Americans' consciousness before 9-11. Now they do. Thanks to 9-11, the
seemingly unstoppable totalitarian Islamic movement has been identified and
Second, prior to 9-11, most Americans regarded Islamic terror
against Israel as a misfortune for Israelis. They now regard it as a threat
to humanity. The many Palestinians who celebrated the 9-11 attack on America
were not only morally wrong, they were wrong in terms of their own
self-interest. Outside of our universities, the majority of Americans do not
perceive a moral difference between Islamic terrorists murdering innocent
Israelis and their murdering innocent Americans.
Third, many Americans were beginning to regard military strength
as an anachronism at best, and as an impediment to world peace at worst. Not
now. As of 9-11, most of us now regard the American military as the greatest
force for good on earth.
Fourth, those of us who warned about the moral decay in our
universities were not heard. Since 9-11, many more Americans have become
aware of the moral confusion that permeates our universities. When a
Colorado College invites Yasser Arafat's former spokeswoman to be the
keynote speaker at the college's commemoration of the first anniversary of
9-11; when there is an anti-Semitic riot at San Francisco State University;
when students and faculty at colleges like Scripps College oppose erecting a
flagpole to fly the American flag; and when the University of California,
Berkeley discourages any signs of patriotism lest they offend some students,
people now notice and are appalled.
Fifth, the Islamic attackers succeeded in uniting American Jews
and Christians more than ever. The misplaced suspicions of Christian
conservatives among many American Jews, the great majority of whom are
liberal, have begun to be replaced by trust. Most American Jews now realize
that their best and most loyal friends are conservatives, especially
Sixth, the moral dividing line that separates the left from the
rest of America has become far clearer to most Americans. The left is
largely composed of people who, faced with the greatest test of moral acuity
in our time -- the ability to identify the morally right party in the
Arab-Israeli and Islamist-American wars -- failed. Just as they failed to
identify right and wrong in the Cold War.
Seventh, the Islamic attackers brought out what many of us
feared had died -- an enormous patriotism among most Americans. An
18-year-old called my show and told me that she had never seen Americans
express patriotism until 9-11. Neither had I. And I am 54.
And finally, more Americans are prepared to go it alone. The
mantra of the liberal editorial pages that our behavior must be governed by
United Nations resolutions, not by what we deem moral, is convincing to
Again, none of this consoles the grief of those whose loved ones
were murdered on 9-11-01. But if these developments continue, it may surely
be said for a generation to come that they did not die in vain.