Reflections on 9/11

Fourteen anniversaries, fourteen commemorations of the horrible events of September 11, 2001. Undoubtedly all over the country, there will be moments of silence in remembrance, a continuation of the post-9/11 phrase, "We will never forget" – that event's equivalent of "Boston Strong," the phrase that took currency after the marathon bombing in that city.

But memories do weaken with time, and with the growing-up of youngsters too small to really feel the emotional impact of that day's events, and the birth of children who grow up not having even been alive when 9/11 took place. Perhaps a better tribute to the 9/11 victims than moments of silence would be moments of reflection. These are mine.

So many years of war, so many American lives lost, or unalterably changed, by our efforts to root out evil and stamp out terrorist extremism. So many changes in our society: constant security regimens in public places and on public transport that were unthinkable prior to 9/11. A government so determined to protect the public that it is willing to subject us all to Big Brother intrusions of our privacy, but still unwilling to acknowledge even the most rudimentary connection between public security and large-scale, untrammeled immigration, legal and illegal.

Terrorism is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as "the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims". It's well to remember that, for Islamic extremists – who, we should acknowledge, are the wellspring of terrorism aimed at the United States and the West – religion and politics are inseparably intertwined. Thus, they use terrorism to bring their enemies to their knees. And if terrorism is the aim, then oftener than not, immigration is the modus operandi by which we become susceptible to extremists. The most rudimentary analysis of terrorist acts completed or intercepted establishes that.

What we must also recognize, though, is that Islam is broken – Sunni and Shia branches hate each other with the same implacable enmity with which each loathes the West. Syria, crumbling and pouring forth refugees by the millions, is in many ways a proxy war between sects. Factions in each of those branches of Islam will try to use us to inflict crippling blows on the other. But each will also seek to cause us harm, often through acts of international or domestic terror, whenever or wherever possible: Iran and ISIS are prime examples.

Notwithstanding administration pronouncements to the contrary we do face an existential crisis. Where Islamic extremism is concerned, we stand on a ridge with sect-driven chasms to either side. We must not allow ourselves to be drawn into the sectarian conflict, and we must be chary, very, very chary, of permitting our liberal and progressive Western tendencies to drive us toward accepting refugees by the thousands, with no way to meaningfully understand exactly who we are granting access to.

Already press reports have carried warnings by the Italian Minister of Interior that ISIS has infiltrated migrant boats heading for Europe, and that hundreds of documents have been dropped on the roadside by migrants heading landward toward Europe, so that they can assume new, false identities en route to their new lives in Europe.

If we as a nation are ever truly to "connect the dots" we failed to connect before 9/11, then the first line must be in drawing the nexus between large-scale, badly-vetted immigration, and extremist cells or poorly assimilated pathological individuals who commit acts of terror on our shores.

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