This year I marked the anniversary of September 11th by driving through Massachusetts. It wasn’t exactly planned that way, just the way things panned out. So, heading toward Boston, I tuned to Bay State radio colossus Howie Carr and heard him reading out portions from the official address to the 9/11 commemoration ceremony by Deval Patrick, who is apparently the governor of Massachusetts. 9/11, said Governor Patrick, “was a mean and nasty and bitter attack on the United States.”
“Mean and nasty”? He sounds like an over-sensitive waiter complaining that John Kerry’s sent back the aubergine coulis again. But evidently that’s what passes for tough talk in Massachusetts these days — the shot heard around the world and so forth. Anyway, Governor Patrick didn’t want to leave the crowd with all that macho cowboy rhetoric ringing in their ears, so he moved on to the nub of his speech: 9/11, he continued, “was also a failure of human beings to understand each other, to learn to love each other.”
I was laughing so much I lost control of the wheel and the guy in the next lane had to swerve rather dramatically. He flipped me the Universal Symbol of Human Understanding. I certainly understood him, though I’m not sure I could learn to love him. Anyway I drove on to Boston and pondered the governor’s remarks. He had made them, after all, before an audience of 9/11 families: Six years ago, two of the four planes took off from Logan Airport, and so citizens of Massachusetts ranked very high among the toll of victims. Whether or not any of the family members present last Tuesday were offended by Governor Patrick, no-one cried “Shame!” or walked out on the ceremony. Americans are generally respectful of their political eminences, no matter how little they deserve it.
We should beware anyone who seeks to explain 9/11 by using the words “each other”: They posit a grubby equivalence between the perpetrator and the victim — that the “failure to understand” derives from the culpability of both parties. The 9/11 killers were treated very well in the United States: They were ushered into the country on the high-speed visa express program the State Department felt was appropriate for young Saudi males. They were treated cordially everywhere they went. The lapdancers at the clubs they frequented in the weeks before the Big Day gave them a good time — or good enough, considering what lousy tippers they were. September 11th didn’t happen because we were insufficient in our love to Mohammed Atta.
This isn’t a theoretical proposition. At some point in the future, some of us will find ourselves on a flight with a chap like Richard Reid, the thwarted shoebomber. On that day we’d better hope the guy sitting next to him isn’t Governor Patrick, who sees him bending down to light his sock and responds with a chorus of “All You Need Is Love,” but a fellow who “understands” enough to wallop the bejasus out of him before he can strike the match. It was the failure of one group of human beings to understand that the second group of human beings was determined to kill them that led to the crew and passengers of those Boston flights sticking with the obsolescent 1970s hijack procedures until it was too late.
Unfortunately the obsolescent 1970s multiculti love-groove inclinations of society at large are harder to dislodge. If you’ll forgive such judgmental categorizations, this isn’t about “them,” it’s about “us.” The long-term survival of any society depends on what proportion of its citizens thinks as Governor Patrick does. Islamism is an opportunist enemy but you can’t blame them for seeing the opportunity: in that sense, they understand us far more clearly than Governor Patrick understands them. The other day, you may recall, some larky lads were arrested in Germany. Another terrorist plot. Would have killed more people than Madrid and London combined but it was nipped in the bud so it’s just another yawneroo: Nobody cares. Who were the terrorists? Mohammed? Muhammad? Mahmoud? No. Their names were “Fritz” and “Daniel,” “Fritz,” huh? That’s a pretty unusual way to spell Mohammed.
Indeed. Fritz Gelowicz is as German as lederhosen. He’s from Ulm, Einstein’s birthplace, on the blue Danube, which, last time I was in Ulm, was actually a murky shade of green. And, in an excellent jest on western illusions, Fritz was converted to Islam while attending the Multi-Kultur-Haus – the Multicultural House. It was, in fact, avowedly unicultural – an Islamic center run by a jihadist imam. At least three of its alumni – including another native German convert – have been killed fighting the Russians in Chechnya. Fritz was hoping to kill Americans. But that’s one of the benefits of a multicultural world: There are so many fascinating diverse cultures and most of them look best reduced to rubble strewn with body parts. Fritz and a pal, Atilla Selek, had previously been arrested in 2004 with a car full of pro-Osama propaganda praising the 9/11 attacks. Which sounds like a pilot for a wacky jihadist sitcom: Atilla And The Hun.
Fritz Gelowicz. Richard Reid. The Australian factory worker Jack Roche. The Toronto jihadists plotting to behead the Prime Minister. The son of the British Conservative Party official with the splendidly Wodehousian double-barreled name. All over the world there are young men raised in the “Multi-Kultur Haus” of the west who decide their highest ambition is to convert to Islam, become a jihadist and self-detonate.
Why do radical imams seek to convert young Canadian, British and even American men and women in their late teens and twenties? Because they understand that when you raise a generation in the great wobbling blancmange of Deval Patrick cultural relativism – nothing is any better or any worse than anything else; if people are “mean and nasty” to us, it’s only because we didn’t sing enough Barney the Dinosaur songs at them – in such a world a certain percentage of its youth will have a great gaping hole where their sense of identity should be. And into that hole you can pour something fierce and primal and implacable.
A while back, I had the honor of a meeting with the president, in the course of which someone raised the unpopularity of the war. He shrugged it off, saying that 25 percent of the population is always against the war — any war. In other words, there’s nothing worth fighting for. And I joked afterwards that some of that 25 percent might change their mind if Canadian storm troopers were swarming across the 49th Parallel or Bahamian warships were firing off the coast of Florida. But maybe not. Al Qaeda’s ad hoc air force left a huge crater of Massachusetts corpses in the middle of Manhattan, and Governor Patrick goes looking for love in all the wrong places.
How many people in any society think like Deval Patrick? That’s the calculation to make if you want to figure out its long-term survival prospects.