NOW Do You Believe It?
The defense has begun in the death penalty phase of the trial of Zacharias Moussaoui, the Taliban conspirator who worked with the team of terrorists who bombed the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on 9/11. We are being asked to show toleration and understanding for Mr. Moussaoui, a comprehension of his life and putative mental illness.
When asked by a lawyer whether he would be prepared to kill Americans, he said: "Anytime, anywhere."
"You are the head of the snake for me. If we want to destroy the Jewish state of Palestine, we have to destroy you first," he went on to say.
Zacharias Moussaoui was born to a 14 year old mother, who was abandoned by his father. She raised him while working as a cleaning lady in Paris, and later in other Muslim ghettos in France. His life experience and attitude towards western culture is not uncommon, as shown by the Parisian riots of last summer.
As the attorneys bob and weave, proffering his upbringing, his alleged mental illness and his desire to become a martyr before the jury as mitigating factors, one fact emerges ever more clearly.
Zacharias Moussaoui believes intently in radical Islam and jihad. His contempt for his lawyers and their stratagems, and his outbursts of indignant rage, demonstrate that his belief in the necessity of the destruction of Western culture is real and sincere.
Why is that so hard for us to comprehend? Our various attitudes are all equally ignorant of Muslim culture and sincerity. We are a young nation, thinking we know best in a conflict that is milleniums old - that of Issac and Ishmael. We are like a toddler standing between two prizefighters in the ring as far as understanding is concerned.
So we say - We shouldn't give in to him. Since he wants to be a martyr, we should keep him in jail at taxpayer expense for the rest of his life. Or, he was driven to his terrible acts by poverty and rage. We should reach out to the little ones in the Middle East, and educate them and teach them tolerance and brotherhood, possibly by expanding Head Start. Or, the anti-Semitism expressed by some alleged terrorists is just a negotiating ploy to gain a real homeland for the Palestinians. The suicide bombers are desperate patriots, and we should tolerate their views.
How disrespectful. How condescending. How destructive. How foolish.
The religious zeal of Moussaoui is real, sincere and deadly. If we fail to execute him, it will be perceived as a signal of our inherent weakness in the Muslim world, much as the disputed election of 2000 and its ugly and disrespectful sloganeering was, and will ultimately cause the death and destruction of millions. We may have had a Reformation or Enlightenment in western culture, but Islam is a different path. It is worth noting one of the Taliban's first acts was to blow up ancient Hindu statues of Buddha in Afghanistan, as they were graven images and an affront to Allah. The combined appeals of the world for tolerance, understanding of another faith, and respect for artistic heritage all fell on deaf ears.
There is no God but Allah. There is no solution but jihad. There is no tolerance of infidels.
Now, we must decide if we value our own culture enough to defend it.