Fourteen years have gone by, and what have we learned?
Almost immediately, we learned that Islam was a religion of peace. We learned that, despite the explicit statements of the 9/11 hijackers and plotters explaining and justifying their actions by reference to the Qur’an and Muhammad’s example, those hijackers and plotters were not actually motivated by Islamic texts and teachings, which are entirely benign and, indeed, beneficial for mankind.
We have learned that anyone who thought that jihadis’ statements invoking Islamic texts and teachings to justify their actions and make recruits among peaceful Muslims was linking Islam to terrorism, which was an intrinsically bigoted action.
We have learned that those who thought that some effort should be made to ensure that the Islamic texts that the jihadis invoked were not being taught in American mosques were nativists following in the footsteps of the Know-Nothings, the Ku Klux Klan, and Deep South lynch mobs.
We have learned that it was racist to be too concerned about jihad terror plotting and activity.
We have learned that if we can set aside our bigotry and racism, we will face a glorious multicultural future in which Muslims will significantly enrich our nation, as they have throughout its history.
We have learned that Islam has been responsible for the best discoveries and scientific innovations in history, and that we should encourage an Islamic presence in the U.S., as that presence is entirely benign, and no care need be taken to determine whether or not Muslim immigrants are members of jihad groups, as such groups are only a tiny minority of extremists.
We have learned that if we simply give Muslim communities a sufficient amount of money and economic opportunity, and adjust our foreign policy to eliminate the aspects of it that target Muslims, the jihad will melt away.
We have learned that the real victims of jihad terror attacks were Muslims, for they must suffer from the “Islamophobic backlash” that follows every jihad attack and foiled jihad plot, even though FBI statistics show that such “backlash” is essentially nonexistent and anti-Semitic attacks are much more frequent than “Islamophobic” ones.
We have learned that the threat of “right-wing extremists” is a far greater threat than that of the global jihad, and that Islamophobia is a much greater threat to the U.S. than jihad terror, even though “right-wing extremists” have no ideology, goal, global network, financing, terror training camps, or recruitment infrastructure.
We have learned that law enforcement counter-terror efforts in Muslim communities are hateful and bigoted, in that they single out a single community for scrutiny, when everyone knows that extremism is found in all communities: Amish, Mennonite, Unitarian Universalist, what have you.
We have learned that hate speech is not free speech, and that whatever is deemed hate speech does not enjoy First Amendment protection, and that much, if not all, counter-terror material, especially that which explores the stated motives of the jihadis, is hate speech and should be forcibly suppressed.
We have learned that when Islamic jihadis threaten us with death for doing or saying things that they say offend them, we should immediately stop doing and saying those things. To do otherwise would be needlessly provoking the jihadis, such that the ensuing jihad murders would be entirely the victims’ fault.
We have learned, in sum, what Muhammad Atta told the people on the plane he had hijacked on 9/11: “Stay quiet and you’ll be okay.” That has become the motto of the United States, and may well be its epitaph.