The Ultimate Faith-based Initiative, Ten Years On

September 9, 2011

"9/11 should be acknowledged more vividly on its tenth anniversary for being a faith-based initiative . We should never forget the lesson 9/11 teaches about the dangers of religious zeal. Absent what nineteen men (and various of their leaders and exhorters) believed about Islam’s vision of paradise, there would not have been a 9/11."

Those words concluded my recent Washington Post "On Faith" blog praising NYC's Mayor Bloomberg for keeping the city's official commemoration secular. At this tenth anniversary, we seculars need to keep reminding our fellow Americans that the 9/11 attacks were, among many other things, a grim exemplar of uncompromising religious faith in action.

As we reflect on the almost 3,000 people from all over the world, of every religion and none, who died in the attacks -- and the many thousands more who have sickened or died as a direct result of their participation in post-attack relief efforts -- let's also remember that Sunday marks some other somber anniversaries. It marks the end of the "firewall" between the intelligence and law enforcement communities, a giant step forward in the architecture of a free society that had been realized only in the wake of Watergate, and which we may never see again. It marks the end of America as a nation we could take pride in because it did not detain large numbers of human beings for indefinite periods without charge, and did not torture.

This is only my personal opinion, but I think aspect of this anniversary that we might regard with the greatest sadness is the moment when America's leaders chose -- and I say chose because they could always have chosen otherwise -- to categorize the 9/11 attacks not as a monstrous crime, but rather as an act of war. In my view, the moral fallout of that botched choice has done as much to harm this nation as anything the terrorists inflicted. But that's just how it looks to me.

Comments:

#1 gray1 on Friday September 09, 2011 at 10:44am

Well said, but one can never cross the same river twice.

#2 Larry Clapp (Guest) on Friday September 09, 2011 at 1:41pm

> It marks the end of the “firewall” between the intelligence and law enforcement communities, a giant step forward in the architecture of a free society that had been realized only in the wake of Watergate, and which we may never see again.

A giant step *forward*?

#3 gray1 on Friday September 09, 2011 at 2:09pm

Methinks Mr. Flynn is somewhat concerned about Big Brother’s potential abuse of unchecked centralized governmental power wherein our right to an attorney, any consideration of bail and speedy trial by a jury of our peers might be diverted into a “prolonged detention” of a dozen years or so in some far-off and isolated prison somewhere.  Even the good President Obama has spoken of the necessity for this “preventive measure” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_msTII61hWY) while at the same time castigating Bush and Cheney for doing the same.  Very scary speech, very.

#4 Larry Clapp (Guest) on Friday September 09, 2011 at 2:12pm

@gray1: If you’re replying to me: I got that.  But in that case it seems like it should either be a giant step *backwards* “in the architecture of a free society”, or “a giant step forward in *tearing down* the architecture of a free society”.  Maybe I’m just not getting it.  :(

#5 Ben Radford on Friday September 09, 2011 at 2:18pm

Well put, Flynnzo. Well put.

#6 Pau (Guest) on Saturday September 10, 2011 at 3:36am

Nobody worries about the approximate 400,000 americans that have died at the hands of other americans due to the lax weapons control during these last ten years?

#7 gray1 on Saturday September 10, 2011 at 11:36am

Larry,  I did a double take on that structure as well.

Pau,
Weapons control?  Is that not another faith based initiative of some kind?  So what particular authority is supposed to control who has access to weapons (see 2nd Amendment regarding the rights of the people) and should the term “weapons” not be expanded to include all firearms, knives, axes, swords, bows, sticks, baseball bats, rocks, brick bats, and certainly bottles which are capable of being filled with gasoline and then lighted and thrown at police officers (as utilized in recent European riots) etc. etc…

Of course the criminals will ignore any “weapons control” law leaving the remainder of us law abiding citizens to be abused and slaughtered at will since there never seems to be a policeman around when you need one and then most will not actually do anything until after the fact which is a bit late for the victim.  Witness what happened in England which has long had “weapons control”.

No, I suspect that the authorities would actually like to maintain is some PEOPLE control for which we already have an extensive criminal justice system in place. Unfortunately there are numerous cultural aspects within the U.S. which gravitate towards and even glorify immoral (general definition), self destructive and illegal activities.  If we can somehow change the general population’s attitudes paradise will certainly follow.

There are plenty of laws already on the books covering the sale and use of firearms if such laws are enforced properly as opposed to having our own “Justice Department” waiving through illegal gun sales which are known to be going to murderous foreign criminals, but I digress.

#8 Tom Flynn (Guest) on Sunday September 11, 2011 at 6:52am

Mea culpa, I did write a confusing sentence there. (Example number eleventeen of the difference twixt blogging and writing for print; FREE INQUIRY has editors who would’ve caught that and fixed it. Yes, I meant to praise, and regret the loss of, the “firewall” restricting the flow of information between intelligence and law enforcement, as inspired by the Church Commission hearings into Watergate. Yes, the firewall makes it harder to chase terrorists. But it also makes it harder to misuse the intelligence community to oppress Americans on American soil. The America I used to be more proud of knew which was more important.

9/11/11

#9 Tom Flynn (Guest) on Sunday September 11, 2011 at 6:54am

And if I were writing for FREE INQUIRY an editor would have challenged me to close that parenthetical phrase. Imagine a close parenthesis, fixing it, after “fix it.”

#10 Pau (Guest) on Monday September 12, 2011 at 10:21am

#7 gray1
I wrote:
“due to the lax weapons control during these last ten years”, to which yo reply :
“control for which we already have an extensive criminal justice system in place. Unfortunately there are numerous cultural aspects within the U.S. which gravitate towards and even glorify immoral (general definition), self destructive and illegal activities.  If we can somehow change the general population’s attitudes paradise will certainly follow.”
A faith based initiative you ask? You even mention the possibility of a paradise coming In the best imitation of a religious fanatic.
The constitution, which you fanatically uphold, was written well over two hundred years ago under completely different, social, economic and geopolitical circumstances. The second amended was adopted on December 15, 1791, along with the rest of the Bill of Rights, which protects an individual’s right to possess A FIREARM, unconnected to service in a militia[1][2] and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. Additionally, the Court enumerated several longstanding prohibitions and restrictions on firearms possession that it found were consistent with the Second Amendment.
At that time there were no revolvers (Samuel Colt wasn’t even born then), nor any other kind of repetitive firearms. Do you really think that the same rules apply under completely different conditions? I do not.The same as I do not agree with a bible that states, which peoples may be enslaved, which not and for how much can you sell your sister (or that thousands of virgins will wait for me if I kill a few infidels).
Are you specially concerned about the recent U.K.’s riots, but not the Watts? Or the French, etc.
Here are a few statistics that help seeing things in a proper perspective (I hope they print all right)
International Homicide Rate Table (Death rates are per 100,000).
Country Year   Population Total Homicide   Firearm Homicide   Non-Gun Homicide   % Households With Guns
South Africa   1995   41,465,000   75.30   26.60   48.70   n/a
Colombia1   2005   43,000,000   36.53   29.59   6.94   n/a
Estonia   1994   1,499,257   28.21   8.07   20.14   n/a
Brazil   1993   160,737,000   19.04   10.58   8.46   n/a
Mexico   1994   90,011,259   17.58   9.88   7.70   n/a
Philippines   1996   72,000,000   16.20   3.50   12.70   n/a
Taiwan2   1996   21,979,444   8.12   0.97   7.15   n/a
N. Ireland   1994   1,641,711   6.09   5.24   0.85   8.4
United States3   1999   272,691,000   5.70   3.72   1.98   39.0
Argentina   1994   34,179,000   4.51   2.11   2.40   n/a
Hungary   1994   10,245,677   3.53   0.23   3.30   n/a
Finland4   1994   5,088,333   3.24   0.86   2.38   23.2
Portugal   1994   5,138,600   2.98   1.28   1.70   n/a
Mauritius   1993   1,062,810   2.35   0   2.35   n/a
Israel   1993   5,261,700   2.32   0.72   1.60   n/a
Italy   1992   56,764,854   2.25   1.66   0.59   16.0
Scotland   1994   5,132,400   2.24   0.19   2.05   4.7
Canada   1992   28,120,065   2.16   0.76   1.40   29.1
Slovenia   1994   1,989,477   2.01   0.35   1.66   n/a
Australia   1994   17,838,401   1.86   0.44   1.42   19.4
Singapore   1994   2,930,200   1.71   0.07   1.64   n/a
South Korea   1994   44,453,179   1.62   0.04   1.58   n/a
New Zealand   1993   3,458,850   1.47   0.17   1.30   22.3
Belgium   1990   9,967,387   1.41   0.60   0.81   16.6
England/Wales5   1997   51,429,000   1.41   0.11   1.30   4.7
Switzerland6   1994   7,021,000   1.32   0.58   0.74   27.2
Sweden   1993   8,718,571   1.30   0.18   1.12   15.1
Denmark   1993   5,189,378   1.21   0.23   0.98   n/a
Austria   1994   8,029,717   1.17   0.42   0.75   n/a
Germany7   1994   81,338,093   1.17   0.22   0.95   8.9
Greece   1994   10,426,289   1.14   0.59   0.55   n/a
France   1994   57,915,450   1.12   0.44   0.68   22.6
Netherlands   1994   15,382,830   1.11   0.36   0.75   1.9
Kuwait   1995   1,684,529   1.01   0.36   0.65   n/a
Norway   1993   4,324,815   0.97   0.30   0.67   32.0
Spain   1993   39,086,079   0.95   0.21   0.74   13.1
Japan   1994   124,069,000   0.62   0.02   0.60   n/a
Ireland   1991   3,525,719   0.62   0.03   0.59   n/a

Pau,

#11 Rob R (Guest) on Monday September 12, 2011 at 12:26pm

Agree with Pau. The difference between firearms and most of your list, gray1: “...knives, axes, swords, bows, sticks, baseball bats, rocks, brick bats, and certainly bottles which are capable of being filled with gasoline and then lighted” is that they’re specifically designed to kill people. “Witness what happened in England”... are you refering to the riots? It would have been much worse if firearms were freely available here. There is no evidence that citizens of high gun control countries are “abused and slaughtered”. Conversely, most criminals know that they elevate themselves to a whole new level of punishment when they arm themselves.

#12 gray1 on Monday September 12, 2011 at 12:50pm

Pau,
So we carry some differences of opinion on some things? Cool, but riots are riots wherever they occur and all are prime examples of mankind at its worst.  I do recall, however, that at the Watts riots the looters/rioters turned and ran the other way when they came up against a group of armed Korean-American shopkeepers ready to protect their own property when it was apparent that the police would not.  You didn’t see that in England, Greece or France - people actually able to defend themselves!

Yes, Wikipedia does have an extensive article on the 2nd Amendment along with the historical judicial rulings.  Certainly more such fiats will follow for this particular item with the ever changing flux of our political tide. In the context of a “militia being necessary”, however, it would be a huge mistake to limit our militia (which includes most able bodied citizens) to keeping and bearing basically antique firearms as you seem to suggest when any perceived adversary would not be limited in that respect.

I do feel, however, that comparing as you have certain statistics between the U.S. which consists of a unique diversity of cultures and attitudes with generally homogenous and relatively civilized places like Switzerland (high gun ownership/low crime) or Japan (low gun ownership/low crime)is basically moot.  We might as well ask why the rate of incarceration for the U.S. is so outrageous.

If the general concept of “paradise” with all people living peacefully together is somehow limited to being faith based, sign me up now!

#13 gray1 on Monday September 12, 2011 at 1:07pm

Rob,

Thank you for your local perspective, however all of the “arms” listed are quite capable of killing whether specifically designed for same or not. Criminals who use firearms are also subjected to a whole new level of punishment in the U.S.  In fact, it is illegal for a once convicted felon of any nature to ever even own one, having lost that particular right.

If I recall, the incident that started the riots in London (thankfully my daughter had just left there from a month-long visit) involved an illegal pistol and “gang member” in a fight.  Apparently the sight of a gun initiated a possible over-reaction by the police who considered the best course of action was to shoot both of the people involved in the fight (shoot first, sort it out later).  Note there WAS an illegal gun involved, so the law did nothing to stop that.  The criminal had a gun, law abiding citizens did not.  Paradise?  I think not.

#14 gray1 on Monday September 12, 2011 at 2:06pm

Rob,

As to, “There is no evidence that citizens of high gun control countries are “abused and slaughtered”.”  No evidence?  Au contraire my British friend. Perhaps a little history lesson giving but one example is in order: 

The 1938 German Weapons Act…
Jews were forbidden from the manufacturing or ownership of firearms and ammunition.

On November 11, 1938, the Minister of the Interior, Wilhelm Frick, passed Regulations Against Jews’ Possession of Weapons. This regulation effectively deprived all Jews of the right to possess firearms or other weapons.  (Gun Politics in Germany, Wikipedia)

Need I mention what followed thereafter?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halocaust

#15 Rob R (Guest) on Monday September 12, 2011 at 2:22pm

So, by extension, anything heavy enough or pointy enough to kill is a weapon? Your list needs to be quite a lot longer then! It’s naive to think we can just turn on gun control like a tap - it would take a generation or two. It’d be nice to be the generation that started it, though.
An extreme example from seventy years ago doesn’t make a case for the modern world, or come close to the overwhelming evidence thats guns make for a more dangerous world, whoever’s hands they are in.

#16 gray1 on Monday September 12, 2011 at 6:40pm

Previous references to various items considered “weapons” which should be put on the all inclusive “list” is intended to be taken as facetious.  No, it is not a laughing matter, but so called weapons control in the U.S. will work at least as well as the current war on drugs.  Illegal drugs currently flood the streets unabated and illegal and even more dangerous guns would follow the same path.  As mentioned earlier, it was a fully illegal gun which started the London riots.  Do we suppose that example was the only such illegal gun in the country?  Dream on. 

Punish the criminals, not the law abiding citizens who would just like to have some means on hand to effectively protect themselves and their loved ones as currently guaranteed by the 2nd Amendment.  It is the weak who might one day find they need to rely on a gun to protect themselves.  The big nasty bad guys need nothing more than their own knuckles and boots to pound someone weaker than themselves into permanent brain damage or death.  Such criminals love an unarmed populace because they know they have nothing to fear.  Many laugh at the prospect of going to jail, which is considered a right of passage by many gangs and a place to develop new criminal contacts.  Please keep your weapons control on your side of the pond and let us know how well it is working as the days turn darker.

#17 Pau (Guest) on Tuesday September 13, 2011 at 4:46am

Gray, Rob,
I agree with Rob, bringing up the behaviour of a hardly legal rogue government of 70 years ago, does not contribute anything to the present discussion.
With relation to the Swiss statistics, please note that all (male)citizens are required to do their military service and afterward, must keep their weapon at home and in good working order. Note also, that the statistics refer to guns in the house, not to gun ownership.
You say ” I do recall, however, that at the Watts riots the looters/rioters turned and ran the other way when they came up against a group of armed Korean-American shopkeepers ready to protect their own property when it was apparent that the police would not.”
But you can read in an article in the Civil Rights Digital Library the following, which agrees with other sources:
” The outbreak of violence that followed Frye’s arrest immediately touched off a large-scale riot centered in the commercial section of Watts, a deeply impoverished African American neighborhood in South Central Los Angeles. For several days, rioters overturned and burned automobiles and looted and damaged grocery stores, liquor stores, department stores, and pawnshops. Over the course of the six-day riot, over 14,000 California National Guard troops were mobilized in South Los Angeles and a curfew zone encompassing over forty-five miles was established in an attempt to restore public order. All told, the rioting claimed the lives of thirty-four people, resulted in more than one thousand reported injuries, and almost four thousand arrests before order was restored on August 17.”
If the looters had not owned guns and used them in their rioting and looting, a war would not have ensued.

#18 Larry Clapp (Guest) on Tuesday September 13, 2011 at 4:54am

It’s interesting to see how this discussion has gone totally off topic with respect to the actual blog, based on a single one-sentence off the wall comment.  Good luck solving the gun control / 2nd Amendment debate here, guys.

#19 Pau (Guest) on Tuesday September 13, 2011 at 7:03am

I apologize, Larry.

Commenting is not available in this weblog entry.