First and foremost, the entire staff and fellows of American Opportunity/Free Congress Foundation express our anger toward the anti-Semitic attack on worshipers at the Tree of Life Synagogue this past Saturday. We express our deepest sympathy and solidarity to the families of the victims -- good people, true to their faith, and totally innocent of any affront to anyone anywhere.
Beyond the loss to this community and the families of the victims, this was truly an attack on all of us -- on every American. By its nonsensical motives and the randomness of the attack, this is truly an act of terrorism, having the effect of making danger all too real in a country of laws and threatening the safety and security of all Americans.
In a free society, it is hard to prevent the irrational actions of bad or deranged people. Sometimes, the temptation towards total security leads us to forget our civil liberties. Yet it was our police and first responders went in harm’s way to protect our citizens and to arrest and disable the attacker. They did so as representatives of our our values as a civilized nation and raced to the aid of this congregation, and did so specifically to protect our liberties against a transgressor.
Liberty is the right to do as we ought. If our liberties are the balance between tyranny and license, we are reminded in instances such as Pittsburgh of our commitment to living in a free society protected by laws and the protection of every American life under those laws. To fail to acknowledge this core truth as we fight against domestic and international terrorism is to assert that we live in a jungle without righteousness. This would be a dreadful falsehood.
Observe the recent case of the Florida man who mailed makeshift bombs to prominent political figures. None of the explosive devices detonated, and might not have been able to be detonated. Yet the bombs sent a message of terror that must be stopped in our free society. It was representatives of our states and country that flew to the defense and safety of our citizens.
The far left political voices in our country immediately blamed President Trump for these attacks. Mayor Bill Peduto went so far as to cynically suggest that President Trump was not welcome in Pittsburgh to express his condolences.
This is all outright nonsense. There is enough hot rhetoric to go around. Let us not forget that it was Congresswoman Maxine Waters who urges her fellow Americans to assault and insult those fellow Americans not of her own political outlook, or Hillary Clinton who said civility was something we could discuss after Trump, or Eric Holder who suggested physically attacking political opponents "when they go low".
Instead let us look at murders plotted and perpetuated by government authority. Embassies and consulates are supposed to be safe havens where citizens can secure the protection of their own country while living or visiting another country. While Khashoggi was residing in the United States, he was a Saudi citizen, and the murder took place in a foreign country, namely Turkey. We certainly don't want to be manipulated by Turkey, nor can we protect every citizen of every country in the world. Nevertheless, the recent murders of Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul are by most accounts were conducted as a matter of official policy. This violent murder was an intended act of terror against all Saudi citizens, and really all citizens everywhere in the world. If this murder stands without consequences, how can any citizen feel safe anywhere in the world?
Unfortunately for policy makers, this puts the United States in a difficult geopolitical position. Newsmax points out how essential Saudi Arabia is to us in the global conflict we are in right now. He asserts that Saudi Arabia as an ally of the United States helped bring down the authoritarian Soviet Union to the benefit of all persons everywhere in the world. This much is surely true. Yet we as Americans are confronted with breaking with an ally, or condoning official murder.
Another case of apparent official murder by a state is the recent attack on Sergei Skripal, a Russian national living in the United Kingdom. Skripal and his daughter, Yulia were victims of a poison attack, apparently by members of the GRU, Russia’ military intelligence organization. British Prime Minister, Theresa May stated that the attack must have been approved at “a senior level of the Russian state”. Dawn Sturgess, an innocent bystander in fact was also affected by the poison and was killed.
The terror message here sent by the Russian government is clear. No matter that you live in a Western country despite the rule of law, we will find you and kill you -- so don’t become our adversary.
This harkens back to the attack on Alexander Litvinenko in 2006, an ex-KGB agent who was likewise living in London. He was exposed to polonium-210, presumably by a Russian agent, and died from radiation poisoning. A terrible and painful death. The message was the same: “We will find you and murder you.” These are acts of official terror by states.
All of these acts, Pittsburgh, the nationwide bomb mailings, Saudi Arabia and London are all part of the same war on terror on which we are all engaged. We can just say “these victims are just individuals, and we should just let it go”. I say these attacks are intended to terrorize us all. We are all victims, because the purpose of political terrorism is to enact or threaten violence in service to political outcomes -- be those domestic or international.
In the case of the American attacks, our justice system will reaffirm right from wrong. But we cannot be unmindful of the foreign attacks and the government policies they seek to advance, because in many respects they follow the very same pathways.
Incidents such as these remind us that we live in an uncivilized world, or perhaps more accurately, that we are always one generation away from a descent into darkness.
But our American righteousness -- a sense that we are indeed exceptional in this brutal world -- is a national asset more precious than guns or military resources. Admiration for American values is an essential element of our national power. It is what draws people to us, sets us apart, and makes us unique.
Those values are what in the end will make us victors in the global conflict.
More after the jump. . .