My first thought, of course, was the ever-eloquent, "What the fuck!?!"
We watched the news, and I was baffled. Why would anyone do such a thing? I was about as ignorant about this as someone can be. But I'm a learner. It's what I like to do. And since that day, I've learned a lot.
I learned that this was not an isolated incident. Attacks had become more frequent and more deadly over the years. I just hadn't noticed.
And I eventually learned that this is not just a problem of generic "terrorism," but a global movement based on teachings from the Koran and the example of Muhammad. I learned that Islam is a unique religion because it's a political system and a system of law as well as being what most people would call a religion. Its goal is world domination, it has explicit permission for (and approval of) violence in its holy books, and it is intolerant of non-Muslims. Its laws even include legally-imposed discrimination against non-Muslims (and all women). (Read more about that here.)
I learned that an almost-uninterrupted jihad has been waged against non-Muslims for 1400 years. The attacks are near constant. So far since 9-11, Jihadis have carried out 23,795 deadly attacks. Most of us don't see it as a war. We see isolated attacks. If you take in the whole global view, however, or listen to the point of view of a Jihadi, or read this, you will see it for what it is: A global war — orthodox Muslims against everybody else.
The majority of the conflicts in the world today consist of Jihadis fighting non-Muslims or Muslims who are considered insufficiently Islamic. If you removed jihad from the world right now, it would be a fairly peaceful place.
I also learned that one of the main reasons democracies have so much trouble dealing with Jihadis is because of an important conflict within democracies. Specifically, most people in the free world believe 1) everyone has a right to worship as they wish, and 2) discrimination of any kind is wrong. These are important foundational principles of liberal democracies around the world.
Why is this a problem? Because the simplest way to deal with Islam would be to discriminate against it. In other words, to openly admit Islam is unique (because of its political aspirations and religious duty to overthrow all other forms of law and government), and stop all concessions to Islam and roll back any concessions already made.
We "can't do that" because it violates important values of our societies. Or does it necessarily? This dialog needs to happen and solutions need to be created for it. But of course, that can't happen as long as the majority of people in free countries remain ignorant of the most elementary facets of Islam. And it's not just ignorance. Many people have a real resistance to hearing anything about it because even talking about it seems to violate the principles of decency and kindness!
So the final thing I've learned is that the solution to this problem starts with a grassroots movement: Those who know something about Islam's dangers to the free world must talk to people who don't, and successfully educate them. Once enough people are educated, national conversations can happen that could result in new, carefully-crafted policies that retain our democratic freedoms while limiting the destructive and insidious encroachment of orthodox Islam.
If you want to participate in this grassroots movement (and I hope you do), start here: WhatYouCanDoAboutIslam.com.
Please add your comments below. What have you learned since 9-11?