September Triptych, Part Two

It is September 11th again, the fifth time we've looked back on that black day. I'm n0t going to recount the events of that day; you can see them or read about them in plenty of other places. I'm not going to write about my feelings on that day, because I've done that before. Instead, today I'll write about the motivation of those who perpetrated the terrorist attacks.

The first thing we heard from many smirking leftist foreigners after the attacks was "Ask yourself why they hate you." The smug leftists figured that the Muslims hated us for the same reasons that they hated us: Because we didn't buy into their socialist, collectivist political views. They were wrong, of course. The Muslims hated us for a completely different set of reasons.

We Americans are unusual in the world, because while we allow freedom of religion to our citizens, we do not have an official state religion. This goes back to the colonial days before the American Revolution, when many people of other denominations objected to having to pay taxes to support the Church of England. The end result was that when we threw off the British yoke, the Framers put it in our Constitution that there would be no established religion. All would be free to worship as they pleased and to support whichever church they might choose. The government would not play favorites, nor tax anyone to support any religion.

This resulted in the rise of numerous different religions across the country. Most were offshoots of various Christian denominations. There arose a tacit agreement among Americans: "I won't criticize your religion, and you won't criticize mine." This led to the key article of faith in the multicultural canon: "All religions are equally good, all philosophies are equally good, all cultures are equally good." Fallacious thinking, obviously, but it was necessary in order to maintain domestic tranquility. Only when a religion seriously violated cultural taboos, such as the Mormons with their polygamy, would the "no criticism" agreement be put aside.

Ultimately, America became a secular nation. This is not to say that Americans are irreligious, because they are not. But for them, religion was not the focal point of their lives. Instead, Americans concentrated on improving their lot in this life, rather than worrying about the hereafter. And for about the past forty years, Americans have been (mostly) hedonists, and American culture has reflected this. Americans are always looking for the next fun, exciting, pleasurable thing to do. They like to eat, they like to drink, they like to have a good time. And they really, really like sex. From skimpy bikinis to raunchy rap music to trashy movies to porn, sex is ubiquitous in our culture. And our culture is just as powerful as our military, the most influential in the world.

Now, there are some people who are not focused on this world, but the next. They believe that they were not put on this earth to seek pleasure or wealth, but to live according to the stern dictates of their god. They believe that those who tempt them with worldly delights, in order to lead them astray from their religious obligations, are evil people. These people worship a variety of gods. Some are fundamentalist Christians. Some are Orthodox Jews. And many, many of them are Muslims of one type or another. All of these people believe that America's culture is a pernicious influence. The difference between them is that the Christians and Jews do not believe that killing Americans will change their culture or at least end the Americans' cultural imperialism. The Muslims, however, seek to do just that, because they do not understand us.

That was why they hated us: Because our secular culture is incompatible with Islam, or more accurately, because Islam is incompatible with modernity. Give a Muslim a chance to come to America and drink beer and go to strip clubs, like the 9/11 hijackers did, and they will do so, and then they will first loathe themselves for their weakness and then turn that loathing outward on the culture that seduced them. And when our culture starts making its way to the Middle East, and the young Muslims start listening to pop music, wearing blue jeans, and getting Western ideas in their heads like free speech, political freedom or choosing their own mates... That's revolutionary. The 9/11 hijackers, Al Qaeda, all of the anti-Western terrorists, they're all striking back at us because their culture cannot compete with ours. Given a choice, their people will choose what we have to offer, rather than a stifling religion. The Muslim leaders don't want their people to have that choice. They want to drive us from the Middle East so that their people can no longer be influenced by us. The world is too small for that now, though.