The Tenth of September

How quickly we forget!

Remember, remember, the Fifth of November
Gunpowder treason and plot!
I know of no reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

- British Guy Fawkes Day rhyme

For well nigh half a millennium, British children have sung this little ditty in mid-autumn as they display stuffed effigies of a man long dead while igniting bonfires of old furniture and other debris.  At first, they've no idea of its meaning, but eventually they encounter the tale of Guy Fawkes in school.

Mr. Fawkes was a British Catholic of the early 1600s, a time when Catholicism was outlawed in England.  The great Spanish Armada was within living memory, an episode when Catholic Spain attempted to crush Queen Elizabeth's Protestant nation.  Though no foreign Catholic invasion from outside ever came as close to success again, sedition and treason within the realm continued to try to change the ruler to a Catholic one, an early form of "regime change."

As plotters over the years have discovered, a show of force can really shake things up.  Guy Fawkes' audacious scheme was to rent warehouse space in the basement of Parliament - which you could readily do in those days, King James' administration understanding capitalism rather better than ours - secretly stuff it full of gunpowder, then blow up the whole place, King, parliamentarians, Lords, and all during a major speech.

The plot was foiled at the last possible moment with the torch literally snatched from Fawkes' hand as he went to light off the powder.  Under torture, um, "enhanced interrogation," he confessed the names of the others in the plot; all were executed in a most gruesome way.

Every year following, the British have celebrated their nation's narrow escape from what we would now call a terrorist spectacular, and their salvation from a change of religion enforced at the point of a sword.

America the Forgetful

It has not yet been a decade since our great day of terror - one far worse than Guy Fawkes' Gunpowder Plot, for the 9-11 hijackers were mostly successful in their murderous aims.  They failed to destroy the White House or Capitol, true; but 3,000 innocent office workers were incinerated or crushed in the wreckage of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, to say nothing of the passengers and crew of the hijacked jets.  If anything, we have far more reason to remember 9-11 than the British do to remember Guy Fawkes Day.

Guy Fawkes felt the existence of Protestant England to be a threat to his Catholic religion much as modern Islamofascists consider the very existence of a free, multi-religious America to be a threat to their medieval bigotry.  If Fawkes had been content to simply move to a Catholic country, all would have been well; if bin Laden and his minions had been content to live under sharia law in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, nobody would have minded.

Freedom to worship as they saw fit was not enough for either Fawkes or al Qaeda; no, their god must rule, and all who worship a different one must submit or die.

It is not possible to compromise or negotiate with someone who believes that your very existence offends Almighty God.  Queen Elizabeth, King James, and their successors knew this full well; only after the Inquisition ended and Catholicism came to terms with the existence of other beliefs could there be peace.

Only when Islam truly accepts freedom of conscience and understands that conversions only count when they're heartfelt and not forced at the point of the sword will the War on Terror - or, as it ought to be known, the Barbarians' War on Us - truly end.  Islam needs a Renaissance and a Reformation before it will be fit for civilized company; until then, it is a peril to all free men just as was Fawkes' aggressive Catholicism.

Alas, we do not have a Queen Elizabeth nor a King James.  Instead we have a government - indeed, the entire elite layer of our society - dedicated to the proposition that we have no enemy, no great conflict, no real danger to life, limb, or liberty.  The war is over, they tell us, and we are just clearing up a few confused criminals.

With all due respect to the President and his associates, confused criminals do not kill 3,000 people.  We are not facing a crook or a criminal gang; we are confronted with an ideology that teaches fearlessness in the face of death because of the promised eternal reward afterward.  There is only one way to handle an enemy who longs to meet his Maker, and that's to oblige him in his wish.

Instead, we see the opposite: terrorists freed from their cushy cells to return in triumph as heroes to their own backward lands while the full force of our own laws is turned on our defenders.  If America's soldiers, spies, and policemen have more to fear from their own government and supposed fellow Americans than do the enemy, how long will they fight on our behalf?

After 9-11, we swore never to forget.  There's no point in repeating this mantra; the rest of America has already forgotten, as the headlines show us each day.

We have forgotten who our friends are as we disrespect our allies and bow low before those who wish us hurt.

We have forgotten the price that was paid - the price of honor by the passengers on United 93, the price of duty by New York City's emergency personnel, and the price of innocence by the New Yorkers who went to their offices that morning expecting a day of business and instead found fiery death from above.

Most of all, we have forgotten who the enemy is: a murderous, medieval, totalitarian, inhuman religious system that brooks no opposition, honors no ethic of common humanity, regards lying in pursuit of victory as a virtue, and proffers no mercy.

Regardless of what our naive and feckless rulers say, there can be no peace save the peace of the grave while such men hold power and possess any freedom of action.  Our current administration doesn't even admit there is a War on Islamofascism or Terror, much less pursue it to a victorious end.

The right and proper place for al Qaeda members and anyone who supports their goals is in a dungeon, a dark interrogation chamber, or a coffin.  Allowing them to exist anywhere else spits on the grave of America's fallen and spits in the face of Americans yet alive who will, on a date as yet unknown, pay for our government's willful blindness with their lives.

There will be no Scragged article tomorrow in remembrance of September 11; apparently, Americans have come to believe that there is nothing worth remembering.  All we are now permitted to dwell on is the Tenth of September - a day of ignorant bliss, of dancing 'round with flowers in our hair.

After the Tenth, inevitably came the Eleventh.  So it will be again.  May God help us - for only He can help those who refuse to help themselves.

Remember, remember 11 September
Barbaric Islamic plot!
I know of no reason why Islamic treason
Should ever be forgot.

Read other articles by Hobbes or other articles on Foreign Affairs.
Reader Comments
Great article. While some of us will be remembering 9/11, Obama, no doubt, will instead be spending the day figuring out how to dismantle other parts of the nation.
September 10, 2009 8:58 AM
In your ditty at the end "Islamic treason" isn't really correct, is it? I mean treason only applies to citizens.
September 10, 2009 9:01 AM
True, lfon, but I couldn't find anything else that rhymed. This is why I am a pundit not a poet. I do think the point comes across though - and, in a sense, Islamic terrorists are traitors to the entire human race.
September 10, 2009 10:30 AM
How about...

Remember, remember 11 September
Barbaric Islamic plot!
I know of no place where Islamic disgrace
Should ever be forgot.
September 10, 2009 10:45 AM
Remember, remember the tenth of September,
Happy, ignorant bliss,
The next day was bad but we hate to be sad
So we'll forget and not reminisce
September 10, 2009 1:09 PM
September 10, 2009 5:16 PM
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