Director, Commonwealth Policy Center

Twelve years ago our nation changed. We were jolted out of a routine morning of school and work when we heard news of an airliner crashing into the World Trade Center. Then a second plane struck.  We were under attack. “But why?” everyone asked.  One minute we were sending our kids off to school and on our way to work. The next minute our world changed, forever.

We were gripped by the stories of first responders who layed down their lives to save strangers in buildings that were on fire. We all remember Todd Beamer who fought the hijackers on flight 93, but there were unsung heroes like Benjamin Clark, a chef in the South Tower of the World Trade Center, who was credited with saving hundreds but didn’t make it our alive himself.  Duty called on 9/11 and courage answered.

The courage that Clark learned as a marine is the same that has led our military into danger and suffering—just over 19,000 casualties in Afghanistan alone, 2200 dead and 17,000 wounded. Bin Laden, the personification of evil behind the attack, is gone. Yet the war rages abroad in the powder keg we call the Middle East and religiously motivated attacks continue at home on a smaller scale, whether we muster the political courage to call them that or not.

There have been Sharia inspired “honor killings” of young women, yes here.  Grisly beheadings perpetrated, most recently in New Jersey, when two Coptic Christians were decapitated and had their hands cut off by a Muslim attacker back in February. It didn’t become national news until a British soldier was beheaded with a meat cleaver by two Muslims in broad daylight on a busy intersection in London last May. They shouted “Allahu Akbar,” the ancient Islamic battle cry, then boasted of their deed and asked passerbys to videotape them.

Religiously motivated terrorist attacks have touched diverse venues and targets:  a military recruiter killed in Arkansas; congregants at the Seattle Jewish Federation attacked and killed; students at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill mowed down; soldiers killed and wounded at Fort Hood. Most recently, the bombs planted in the midst of the Boston Marathon remind us that a mindset and motivation unlike anything we’re accustomed to is at work. The FBI has thwarted many other terrorist plots. Yet something strange happened last year when their counter-terrorism training manual was altered.

Orders from on high whitewashed counter-terrorism lexicon of terrorism in regards to al Qaeda, Hamas, jihad, Islam, or the Muslim Brotherhood. Interestingly, while the policies handling terrorism relating to Islamic extremism changed, the Russians warned the FBI about Boston Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

The fairy dust, magically making the bad men go away, was sprinkled on the Department of Defense in 2011 when they banned certain training material and trainers who link radical Islam with terrorism. Mention of jihadi ideology or religious motivation behind terrorism is now forbidden.  This came to light a few weeks ago when evidence linking Ft. Hood shooter Nidal Hasan to Al Qaeda and jihadi motives was barred by the judge. There is one word for this: censorship.  Another word comes to mind but I digress.

The Gatekeepers of Discourse, channeling their inner Orwell, sterilize the language and dismiss those who fail to comply and agree.  As a result, the Fort Hood shooting became known as “workplace violence,” and the Boston Marathon bombing became “violent extremism.” We all know better.

Even the simplest among us know that shouting “Allahu Akbar” while mowing down your fellow soldiers with a machine gun probably means a little more than you are having a bad day at work. We know that plowing into pedestrians on a North Carolina college campus and later admitting the reason was to "avenge the deaths or murders of Muslims around the world," is more than just waking up on the wrong side of bed.

We all know.  Even if we cannot say it openly.

Big Brother might manipulate information, but it will result in everyone being less informed. The authorities might pervert the language, but we will be less able to communicate truth. And they might marginalize those who speak clearly and accurately, but it won’t make our enemies like us any better. This is not even political correctness. It is more like an affair with death, a society’s flirtation with suicide.

Real heroes died on 9/11 trying to save others. They didn’t know what they were up against that day, but we do now. The question remains: is anybody willing to say it?