A high school sophomore asked me this week whether Sept. 11 would always be remembered. Would it always be, as she put it, "somber"?
Lacking a crystal ball, I have no answer. And, frankly, looking back seven years to that cataclysmic jihadist atrocity, I realize I'm probably not the most dependable prognosticator because never would I have imagined back in 2001 how successful that heinous strike would be in utterly changing us and our world.
Blame ignorance, blame cowardice: The strangest effect of 9/11 has been, on balance, an accelerated campaign of accommodation of Islam's law in the West, a campaign boosted across the globe by the jihadist attacks of 3/11 (Madrid 2004) and 7/7 (London 2005) and many, many others. Paradoxically, such fast-track accommodation has occurred even as any and all connection between jihadist acts and Islam -- specifically Islamic war doctrine -- have been emphatically ruled out by our leaders, both civilian and military. It's not that they have disproven the connection. Worse, they have chosen to ignore it.
With this in mind, it becomes possible to understand how President Bush could this week vaguely invoke the spirit of 9/11, as it were, to spur Americans to "volunteer" more. Similar statements came out of the presidential campaigns with Barack Obama also talking up the "spirit of service," while he and John McCain jointly called on Americans to "renew" the unity of 9/11 (while honoring the dead, and grieving with those who lost loved ones). It's not that we shouldn't do such things -- but to what end? I mean, was 9/11 a catastrophic hurricane, or a jihadist act of war?
Meanwhile, the undermining reach of Islamic law stretches across American society, from the hilltop farm in rural Vermont, where goats are now raised to be slaughtered according to Islamic law, to Wall Street, where once-mighty financial institutions, some of them having become trinkets of Islamic potentates, now adapt themselves to Sharia banking practices, to Washington, D.C., where stately government buildings have been ringed in quasi-medieval, high tech anti-jihad defenses. It may be politically incorrect to notice this expansion of Islamic influence in the West, but it is also extremely difficult not to notice it. Then again, perhaps due to a 9/11 numbing effect, too few of us do.