"If only." Those are the verbal crutches America must discard in a post-9/11 world.
If only the State Department hadn't been so sloppy in issuing visas to the 9/11 hijackers. If only police and state troopers had been able to check the immigration status of the hijackers who were pulled over for speeding before the attacks. If only universities had been more diligent in monitoring the hijackers' whereabouts. If only the feds had listened to alert agents' recommendations to profile young Arab students in our flight schools. If only someone, anyone, had said something when they saw the suspicious behavior of the jihadists on dry runs.
We have borne the bloody costs of coulda-woulda-shoulda. Nearly 3,000 dead. The World Trade Center in ruins. The Pentagon on fire. The fields at Shanksville, Pa., scarred. Six years later, we can no longer afford hindsight heavy breathing. Memory must guide action. And action must be taken without apology.
Zogby released a poll for the sixth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks showing that "77 percent of those living in the East and 46 percent of those living in the West -- 61 percent overall -- said they think about the attacks at least weekly. Eighty-one percent -- 90 percent in the East and 75 percent in the West -- said the attacks were the most significant historical events of their lives."
That's good news. But remembrance without resistance to jihad and its enablers is a recipe for another 9/11. Not every American wears a military uniform. Every American, however, has a role to play in protecting our homeland -- not just from Muslim terrorists, but from their financiers, their public relations machine, their sharia-pimping activists, the anti-war goons, the civil liberties absolutists, and the academic apologists for our enemies.
Earlier this year, jihadist enablers attempted to intimidate citizen whistleblowers who said something about the suspicious behavior of six imams on a US Airways flight in Minneapolis/St. Paul. The legal battle to protect ordinary Americans from such lawsuits gave rise to the John Doe movement. Pro bono lawyers and GOP members of Congress stepped up to provide protection. And Americans across the country expressed solidarity with the airline passengers targeted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations and its ilk.
The Left greeted the John Doe movement with mockery and derision, preferring instead to suck its collective thumb, wield the grievance card and play the blame game. But it's the John Does of the country, not the race-hustling litigators and speech-stiflers, who will help prevent the next terrorist attack. They are John Does like Brian Morgenstern, the young Circuit City employee who contacted authorities after viewing a jihadist training video by the Fort Dix Six Plotters.
"It was a difficult decision at first," Morgenstern told Fox News. "I went home, and I talked with my family about it. And we all came to the general conclusion that it was the right thing to do." No regrets. No apologies. And no "if onlys."
Not everyone is willing to do the right thing. When the FBI recently asked for the public's help in identifying two men acting suspiciously on Pacific Northwest ferries, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper refused to run the photos -- and instead held a reader haiku contest mocking the terrorism concerns. When two young Muslim men were arrested and indicted on weapons and terrorism charges after being stopped near a naval base in Goose Creek, S.C., Muslim civil rights groups immediately cried racism and suggested that law enforcement officials were bigoted and paranoid.
There are 9/10 people and there are 9/12 people. 9/10 people live in a world of make-believe, where sensitivity trumps security and second-guessing is their only acceptable homeland security policy. 9/12 people are the John Does in your neighborhood, on your plane, train or bus, moving ahead with their lives but always on alert.
We live in post-9/11 reality where "Never forget" is not just a once-a-year slogan. It's a 24/7 frame of mind.