On September 11, many Americans will recall what they were doing when terrorists attacked the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City in 2001. It is a moment burned into our collective memory banks and now threatens to destroy our national psyche. While we will never get over the loss of family members, friends and colleagues lost in lower Manhattan, at the Pentagon and in a field in Pennsylvania, our inability to come to terms with the larger meaning of that fateful day has us paralyzed in fear.
Many of us have taken the easy way out – we have made Islam evil and all Muslims our enemy despite the fact that some 300 innocent Muslims were killed in the attacks on September 11, 2001. Some of us have invested in conspiracy theories, suggesting that our own government was behind tha carnage that took down two of the world’s tallest buildings and penetrated the fortress of our American military. While others continue hoping for the capture of the elusive Osama bin Laden, the al Qaeda leader who may or may not be alive in some barren cave in Afghanistan. The common thread that runs through each of these reactions is fear and hopelessness. In the ashes of September 11, we fear our way of life will never be the same and are desperate for someone or something to blame.
We hope that rather than tearfully remembering that moment on September 11, 2001 when we experienced a national nightmare, Americans will think about where they stand right now. The time is now for a renewed commitment to justice. People of good will from all walks of life can embrace a new vision of our nation that fulfills the promise of its founding and honors the sacrifices of those we lost nine years ago. What the terrorists opposed was the American ideal. We have an opportunity, a responsibility to build an America that was better than the one that existed on September 10, 2001. There can be no greater living memorial to the victims of September 11. It is why we must support the proposed Islamic Cultual Center in lower Manhattan and oppose those who are trying to exploit this tragedy for their own selfish gain.
No single race defines our nation. No single faith defines our nation. We are an agglomeration of civilization that can be a beacon of humanity if we embrace our differences as a divine gift that sets us apart from the world. What too many of us view as a weakness, is our strength. We must resurrect what the terrorists on September 11, 2001 and in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995 thought they killed. Their intended victim was not of flesh and blood, it was an idea. It is the idea for which we must now fight. It is where we stand on September 11, 2010 that now matters most.
It is time for justice in America. The witch-hunt like atmosphere that has enveloped our nation must be met by a greater force commited to justice. The venom we are hearing from politicians, talk radio and cable television personalities, and even from the pulpit, is cause for alarm. If it is not confronted it will grow like mold and contaminate our society. Our nation has experienced how words can embolden cowards and give license to evil. If this is the course we choose, then the terrorists won on September 11, 2001 and our nation is united in name only.