Image: Osama bin Laden was evil.
Washington, D.C., Austin, and Conroe, August 6 – On September 11, 2001, the culture of the United States began an overwhelming disfigurement. The change came from a carefully-crafted plan of a terrorist. What was frightening about it was that the influence went so deep, extended so far, and has accelerated even though the evil leader is dead.
Four airplanes intentionally crashed – two into the World Trade Center in New York City, one into the Pentagon, and one in a field in Pennsylvania but intended either for The White House or the Pentagon.
Under an Executive Order, the Federal Aviation Agency immediately suspended all air flights in the United States. Aviation soon returned. The victims worked to rebuild their lives. Nevertheless, America has still not recovered.
The intent of the evil leader, a civil engineer by the name of Osama bin Laden, was far more than carrying out a mere terrorist incident. His intent was to transform and disfigure America.
While it’s now clear that bin Laden didn’t have a particularly strong grasp of American culture or political philosophy, his plan ultimately succeeded as a matter of serendipity from forces he didn’t consider.
Bin Laden’s acts ultimately transformed American culture and continue to have a negative transformative impact. His unwitting accomplices are people you know, like, and respect in your own community.
How different the world is
During the summer of 1977, a lot was happening in Washington, D.C. The Washington Post newspaper published each morning what activities were occurring on Capitol Hill that day. After a brief ride into town with Uncle Bob, who worked at the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation headquarters, one could ride the subway a couple of miles to Capitol Hill and enjoy a full day of entertainment, which the United States Congress hosted.
Back in those fun times, you’d walk into the Russell Senate Office Building next to the Capitol, go down the stairs to the basement, and begin the fun with a Capitol Subway ride to the Capitol Building. You could enter by walking there, but the subway ride was more fun. Also, you’d get to meet members of the United States Senate riding the subway with you.
Senator Lawton Chiles, a democrat of Florida, regularly rode the Capitol Subway the same time every morning. If you rode the Subway regularly with him, he remembered you, your name, and even give you a brief rundown of what was happening in the United States Senate that day.
Can you imagine how exciting that experience would have been for a 15 year old already interested in politics and business to get to do that every day for a month?
During the summer of 1977, the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, on which Senator Chiles sat as a member, conducted a series of hearings on Office of Management and Budget Director Bert Lance’s alleged scandal related to his work as an officer of Calhoun First National Bank before he joined the Carter administration. While the Committee eventually cleared Lance of all allegations, Lance still had to resign as OMB Director in the Carter administration in that post-Watergate era.
You could sit directly behind Lance and his attorneys during the hearings. On breaks, you could walk right up to Lance and speak with him. On a lunch break one day, Lance could invite you to lunch, so a 15 year old boy could have navy bean soup with a Cabinet-level official in the United States Capitol.
None of that could ever happen today.
Regular people can’t even enter the Capitol complex without waiting in a line designated for tourists at a “Welcome Center” which is a nice euphemism for very strict security. Regular people can’t ride the Subway, roam around the Capitol, or talk to members of the Senate or House without an appointment.
The United States Capitol is a very different place from what it was a mere 42 years ago.
On July 1, 2019,
This 3-part series tries to provide a cultural answer. In all candor, the details are far more complex. Nevertheless, the broad brush change is important for us to explore.
What did bin Laden really want?
Osama bin Laden was a complex figure. He was far more than a one-dimensional thug. He was far more than these people whom law enforcement officers attempt to describe in their talks to the public about how to respond to “active shooter” situations. Bin Laden wrote manifestos, but he was a brilliant organizer, teacher, financier, and manager.
Most of the press coverage of bin Laden’s complaints against the United States revolved around his condemnation of American intervention in the Middle East, both in Palestine and in Saudi Arabia. In truth, bin Laden’s argument against American intervention was much broader, because he in a bizarre fashion blamed the United States allegedly for supporting the Russian Federation’s oppression of Muslims in Chechnya, allegedly for supporting India’s oppression of Muslims in Kashmir, and allegedly for supporting Jews in government around the world.
Those complaints of American world intervention certainly have gotten the most attention. Nevertheless, those complaints do not touch the second prong of bin Laden’s hatred towards the United States.
As he made clear in his October 6, 2002, “Letter to America,” Osama bin Laden accused Americas on the domestic soil of the continental United States for worship of Satan rather than Allah. Specifically, bin Laden accused all Americans of fighting for “Taghut,” for the plot of Satan, as bin Laden read in the Quran.
The evil leader argued that American citizens in the continental United States trade and use “intoxicants,” that they “permit drugs, and…[are] the largest consumer of them.” He complained that the United States is “a nation that permits acts of immorality, and you consider them to be pillars of personal freedom.” He complained that the United States permits “gambling in all its forms,” including permitting business companies to engage in trade and industry which bin Laden likened too gambling.
He opposed a free media, which he characterized as Satanic. He blamed the United States for refusing to enter into global treaties to control carbon emissions and other pollutants. Osama bin Laden despised the fact that Americans enjoyed profits from “greedy companies and industries.”
The liberation of women was unacceptable to the terrorist genius. Freedom of entertainment, tourism, and art deeply offended bin Laden.
Osama bin Laden made clear that his goal was to end American freedom of movement, of action, and of thought and to bring a government to power worldwide under Islamic law.
Basic freedom and democracy were precisely what bin Laden and the highest level of leaders within al Qaeda opposed.
That is the disturbing irony of the reaction of the United States government at the federal, state, and local levels to the threat which the American people felt after the horrific, but very successful, September 11 attacks.
In the United States, in Texas, and in Montgomery County, one of the most conservative and freedom-oriented communities in the entire United States, the reaction to the September 11 attacks has been a frightening “homeland security state,” the precise government control bin Laden sought as the mechanism to destroy the United States of America, as he perceived it through his dark eyes.