Freedom as America knows it is not free

Freedom as America knows it is not free

Freedom as America knows it is not free

Dr. Richard LaNear

On Sept. 11, 2001, a terrorist attack, masterminded by Osama bin Laden, was carried out against the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. In a blatant disregard for humanity and a blatant acceptance of barbarism, an excess of 3,000 innocent lives were snuffed out of existence. This was arguably the worst single-day loss of life in the U.S. history, surpassing even the day losses at the Civil War’s Battle of Antietam, D-Day and Pearl Harbor. To many, this date with “infamy” was a direct response from the Muslim world in regards to our support of Israel; nothing could be further from the truth, as many countries lost lives at the Trade Center, including Pakistan and Turkey (the most “democratic” of all the Muslim countries).

This barbarous attack upon innocent people was an unmitigated assault upon civilization, rule of law, capitalism, globalization, material well-being, secular (not clerical) government and the essence of democracy, whereby power is subjected to the people. The demented minds that perpetrated this senseless atrocity are not just fixed upon the creation of a Palestinian state but upon totalitarian government versus democracy, submission verses creativity, a perpetual state of economic squalor verses economic growth and a visceral hatred and jealously for all of the accomplishments of the western world. These perverters of Islam are not frustrated at the United States for what we are but are frustrated at themselves for what they are not. Instead of looking at a translucent glass window and seeing the world as it could be, they are looking at a mirror and only see the wretchedness of themselves.

The WTC as a target became a “bull’s-eye in the crosshairs” of terrorism, as it represented “trade and commerce,” which is the very essence of capitalism. Compare the per capita gross domestic product of the United States versus Afghanistan, and ask how could they hate us and our system so? Or ask how many attacks upon innocent civilians does Israel initiate? These aforementioned groups resent us for our military power (which has prevented totalitarianism in World War II and the Cold War), envy as for our wealth (the largest per capita GDP in the history of mankind) and hate us for our liberty, which allows our women to see the world without the “fog of a veil” and allows our men to shave or not to shave at their own discretion. And as all great men have risen in response to a cataclysmic event – Lincoln in the Civil War, and Churchill in World War II – so has President George Bush grown in stature to meet and conduct this “war on terrorism.” The great Prussian military genius, Clauswitz, was right when he said, “No one starts a war – or rather no one in his senses ought to do so – without first being clear in his mind what he intends to achieve by that war and how he intends to conduct it.”

No longer will we be led by the political expendiency(sic) of President Lyndon Johnson fighting with “one hand tied behind his back” in Vietnam, or President Jimmy Carter sending only eight helicopters on a rescue mission, or President Bill Clinton not supporting the Rangers in Somalia with the armored vehicles they had requested, or President John Kennedy getting cold feet at the Bay of Pigs. No longer will 19 service men be killed at the Saudi Arabian Khobar Towers in 1996 and the Hezbollah perpetrators go unpunished. No longer will the killing of 12 Americans at the Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania by bin Laden go unpunished. And no longer will bin Laden get away with attacking the USS Cole (killing 17 sailors), and President Clinton’s only response is firing an expensive missile at an aspirin factory. With this kind of weak and tepid response, no wonder bin Laden took on New York City and the Pentagon; he figured we had lost our resolve. He was wrong as we now have a president who is waging “war on terrorism” and not just talking about it.

Some of our “learned intellectual elite” state we should be calm and patient and try to understand why the likes of bin Laden hate us so. This is like saying we should have set down with Adolf Hitler after he exterminated million of Jews and apologized for Germany’s harsh treatment at Versailles. But it is too late to ask for understanding and contemplation when someone has their hands around your throat. It is time to respond and defend your very own survival. We will not bow or cower, we will not despair, and we will not apologize for our economic system or our political system. But we will use the heroism and sacrifice of those who perished on Sept. 11 to inspire us and establish a precedent and foundation to pursue a new “silver lining.” Young people are now carrying flags instead of burning them. We will realize we are not a nation of ethnic tribes, but a nation that has forged an amalgam of unity; “e pluribus unum,” “out of many, one.”

The long odyssey of life offers many avenues of travel, some arduous, some not. We have survived the Civil War, World War I, the Depression, and World War II, always strengthened in the aftermath. I lost one of the best friends I ever had in the senseless attack on the Pentagon.

His sense of humor and eternal optimism, kept me going during the year I spent in Vietnam. I would hope and pray his loss (and all of the other victims) remind us all freedom does not come to those who are unwilling to sacrifice, even with our lives. Perhaps the small monument at the base of the campus flag here at Missouri Southern, says it best, “Freedom is not free.”

Dr. Richard LaNear is a professor of finance. His opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of The Chart staff.