A heinous attack on freedom justifies our nation's military strikes

“”Those who would sacrifice freedom for security deserve neither.”” Thomas Jefferson’s words remain as true today as when he said them 225 years ago on the eve of our nation’s liberation from tyranny and oppression.

Pat Leung
Guardian

The horrors of Sept. 11 and its consequences — both good and bad — have compelled this American, among countless others, to rethink his concept of freedom — both its value and its price.

The heinous acts of Sept. 11 not only butchered thousands of innocent Americans, but attacked the freedom that is so intrinsic in our everyday lives that we often take it for granted. After all, when was the last time we were forced to question it? Our generation did so during the escalating arms race of the 1980s, but while our parents were walking us to kindergarten, unbeknownst to our generation, President Reagan won a Cold War so we wouldn’t have to.

Our parents tell us that growing up in the 1960s involved fear of nuclear annihilation at the hands of the Soviets. We can only thank God our grandparents’ generation subverted such a calamity. It is they, moreover, who know better than anyone what it’s like when freedom comes into question.

My grandfather landed with thousands of other young Americans on Omaha Beach during the battle that liberated Normandy, France and led to the end of Nazism and Adolf Hitler’s conquest of the free world. My grandfather knew as well as his parents that Hitler would not stop with Europe; he would never stop until all of the world fell before his tyranny. My grandfather faced 25 percent survival odds on that beach not because he had to, but because he shared the fierce determination of an entire generation to defend democracy for his unborn children to enjoy.

Sept. 11, 2001 resembled Dec. 7, 1941 more than we would like to believe; just as the attack on Pearl Harbor was the end of the innocence of one generation, the Day of Terror was the end of the innocence of our own. On Sept. 10, we went to bed ready to get up and go to work. The victims of that tragedy did just that: They got up and went to work just like they would on any other day. The rest of us awoke horrified by the sight of the World Trade Center smoking and burning. Untold thousands died before our very eyes. The crumbling of those pillars of freedom was the momentary crumbling of our spirits; we knew the world would never be the same.

For a moment, it was almost conceivable that evil had won. For a moment, America was on its knees. For a moment, Americans panicked and hurriedly bought all the bottled water and canned food they could at the grocery store, just in case. For a moment, gas shot up to $6 per gallon in some places. For a moment, America was incapacitated by fear and grief.

It was, however, only for a moment.

America began to heal. Maybe you’ve noticed that wherever you shave, be it your face or your legs, the hair grows back thicker, stronger and more resilient. Such is the American spirit. That terrible tragedy has fostered a determination to continue living with a newfound appreciation for the freedom that permits us to do so.

The terrorists wanted us to tremble in fear; they wanted us to be afraid to go to work, go on vacation, fly aboard airplanes, invest in our stock market, and afford ourselves the items of luxury that have marked the triumph of capitalism. Obviously, they failed. Not only are Americans going about their lives just as they had before the vicious attack on their freedom to do so, but they are doing so with resolve and solidarity. Americans are buying flags, banners, pins and stickers right and left — not because they never loved their country before, but to show they love it now more than ever.

The Taliban, along with other U.S.-hating tyrants hiding behind the name of Islam, spreads its lies to its people, invoking the hatred of an uneducated, third world populace upon the United States.

We, however, see through their propaganda. The terrorists hate us because we ally ourselves with Israel; they hate us because our women are allowed to show their faces in public and enjoy the same civil liberties as men. They hate us because we are taught math, science and liberal arts in school rather than the Koran. They hate us because of the bountiful free market we have established; they hate us because our democracy is based upon freedom, especially the freedom to practice any religion we choose. They claim to hate us because of our vices, but that is a bold-faced lie — they hate us for our virtues! Moreover, their evil plans will always fail, for they can never succeed in damaging any of these virtues, for each is a pillar of a freedom indivisible by any evil.

As we continue to recover and proceed along the road to success at home, it is clear that we must protect ourselves and our children from the terror that has plagued the rest of the world for decades. Just as our grandparents ensured our freedom, it is time for us to do the same for the sake of our own unborn children and grandchildren.

The absence of a severe military response would have invited countless other terrorist acts against the American people. When your very livelihood is in danger, you must stand up for yourself and the principles that define the standard of living that you want to guarantee for future generations. The Taliban and other criminal regimes would never hand over bin Laden and his cronies through the diplomatic methods some would advocate; this much is obvious because we’ve been asking the Taliban to extradite him for the past eight years. They’ve watched our military destroy their bases, kill their soldiers, disrupt their communications and ravage their country, yet they still refuse to hand over bin Laden.

The Taliban is clearly beyond reason, and it’s senseless to think they’d ever voluntarily extradite their posterboy of hatred and butchery.

The Pro-America Rally last week at the Price Center demonstrated the loud patriotic voice of the students of an ordinarily apathetic student body. It was a day to celebrate our liberties as Americans, stand vigilantly before the flag that symbolizes them, and emphasize that if we don’t support those who protect those rights, they will be lost. Several terrific speakers highlighted the event, including former San Diego mayor and top-rated local talk show host Roger Hedgecock, who subsequently broadcasted his KOGO show live from the Price Center.

A few scant protestors tried to spoil the event, but they were paid little attention. If anything, they showed how insignificant they are in the grand scheme of things. They also resent the un-American stigma bestowed upon them, yet several showed their true colors by refusing to stand during the “”Star Spangled Banner,”” which I’d say is not only unpatriotic, but downright distasteful.

If any word could describe how they appeared that day, it would be foolish.

I won’t even call these individuals liberals; as California Review editor in chief Terrence Morrissey stated in its last issue, “”They do not contribute constructive dialogue in our cities concerning public policy issues. They maintain no congressional representation.””

I recognize their freedom to speak as candidly as they wish; in turn, I hope they recognize that our servicemen are fighting abroad for the flag that allows them to say this and whatever else pops into their minds. I’m not going to waste any more thought on them for the time being.

Is there any reasonable alternative to war? If so, nobody seems to know what it is. If you come up with answers that share the same divine intervention as “”Demilitarize the Middle East”” or “”Capture bin Laden,”” I suggest you contemplate how to achieve those goals and why you think you’re smarter than the military strategists who have made careers out of planning for the dilemmas you just began pondering two months ago.

More than anything, compare your lifestyle to that of those who have suffered under the Taliban and then realize how much your freedom means to you. Above all, be united; terror discriminates against no one. This is an enemy that we must fight and will defeat together.

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