Tomorrow’s 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks naturally will trigger sad memories and heart-felt commemorations. That’s only natural. Americans still mark the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese despite the intervening decades. D-Day, the successful Allied invasion of Europe June 6, 1944, is not forgotten either, even though it happened 68 years ago.
The end of World War I, November 11, 1918, is remembered annually via Veterans Day.
Sometimes, the public forces a memorial. In the first years after the Kent State shootings, so many people annually gathered on the campus despite opposition from university officials that they conceded and set up an official event every May 4.
These important days are recalled in a variety of ways, including speeches, lying of wreaths on graves, flag waving and the like. The 9/11 events get an added touch.
Some Americans will use the day to continue their abuse of Muslims living in this country.
|More than 2,400 people died at Pearl Harbor|
That didn’t happen with Pearl Harbor. Animosity faded quickly. Within a couple of years after the war ended, Japan was our ally and has remained a staunch friend.
That was true with Germany, too, although that country had initiated two massive wars that killed more than 100 million people from 1914 through 1945. It quickly joined the West as a bulwark against Communist Russia. Just three years after defeating the Nazis, we were hastily flying in food and supplies to counter the blockade of Berlin. Starting in 1947, the Marshall Plan pumped billions into devastated Western European countries – former friends and foes -- to help them recover.
Muslims, however, remain victims of repeated verbal and physical attacks. In addition, mosques have been burned and vandalized.
American Muslims are paying for the deadly efforts of their fellow believers, which raises a serious question: Should we condemn all Christians because James Holmes a 24-year-old former Ph.D. student at the University of Colorado, who recently killed 12 people and wounded 58 during a shooting spree in an Aurora movie theater, is Christian? In fact, almost all serial killers in the U.S. have been Christian. Does the sinister activities of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer taint all members of the Church of Christ, where he was re-baptized shortly before being killed in prison?
Are all Jews to blame because Louis “Lepke” Buchalter, who led the murderous portion of the Mafia before his 1944 execution, was Jewish?
No one would accept such nonsense. The Bible condemns that kind of thinking: “Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their fathers; each is to die for his own sin.” (Deut: 24:16) “The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him.” (Ez: 18:20)
The actions of a handful of terrorists on 9/11 were despicable, no less than those guilty of planning the bombing Pearl Harbor.
However, there were several difference between the two events. First, the Muslim attackers all died. Osama Bin Laden, the head of the terrorist organization behind the attacks, was shot to death by American Special Forces earlier this year. We had few to prosecute. Trials of the reported chief organizer, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and several co-defendants aren’t expected to start until next year. The long delay has allowed the anger to fester.
Within three years after World War II ended, six Japanese leaders identified as war criminals were executed. The same thing happened to German Nazi bigwigs at the 1945-1946 Nuremberg trials. The relatively quick response helped soothe anger.
Second, the Japanese planned to deliver a crippling blow to this country and prevent us from waging a successful war against them. As a result, Pearl Harbor constituted an attack on military installations.
The Muslims who hijacked planes had an entirely different agenda. They resented the intrusion of our freewheeling culture into their society. They felt their core beliefs were being attacked and wanted to strike back. They flew planes into civilian targets. To those involved, though, this was a cultural war.
To many in their society, they were heroes, hitting back against the giant. The scenes of celebration irked us enormously. But, those same scenes took place in Japan after Pearl Harbor. We don’t have any events related to the dropping of nuclear bombs on Hiroshima (left) and Nagasaki. The dates of the bombings, however, are still marked with sadness in Japan, but no one there lashes out at Americans at the same time.
Maybe, someday, we’ll realize that the days we commemorate may have a different meaning somewhere else, but that doesn’t require us to attack innocent people who share our memories.
Long-time religious historian Bill Lazarus regularly writes about religion, religious history and, occasionally, American history. A university instructor, he also speaks at various religious organizations throughout Florida. You can reach him at www.williamplazarus.net. He is the author of the famed Unauthorized Biography of Nostradamus; The Last Testament of Simon Peter; The Gospel Truth: Where Did the Gospel Writers Get Their Information; Noel: The Lore and Tradition of Christmas Carols; and Dummies Guide to Comparative Religion. His books are available on Amazon.com, Kindle, bookstores and via various publishers. He can also be followed on Twitter.
You can enroll in his on-line class, Comparative Religion for Dummies, at http://www.udemy.com/comparative-religion-for-dummies/?promote=1