Tuesday, 11 September 2012

The Evil That men Do....

This day 12 years ago evil men did a very evil deed.

The evil men intended much more than a terrorist outrage. On the anniversary of the date in 1683 that the Sultan's army was forced to retreat from the gates of Vienna, they intended to start a war between the West & Islam. Killing ordinary men and women of all faiths and none was merely a method, not an end. They were Islamic Millenarians with a belief they could shape history in their evil image.

On that day ordinary men and women were victims of their sick, twisted plot but they were also much more. America & New York can be rightly proud of the heroism & courage of those ordinary people on that brutal day. Every year I remember Jimmy Grey, a decent man with two small children who died with his colleagues of Ladder 20 when Tower One collapsed. Jimmy's father was from Kilkenny & and his Grandfather asked us to pray for Jimmy, and very soon, Jimmy's body to be found. He never was. Jimmy's eight year old daughter spoke one of the most heartbreaking lines of 9/11 at his memorial: "Daddy, if I knew you were not coming home I would have let you tickle me a little bit harder".

Today we remember 9/11. We remember the horror, the heroism & the lost & our hearts are heavy. We must also remember what it was that those evil men desired & we must make sure that their evil deed bears no fruit.

A religion which regards it's central text as the unmediated word of God and has no central authority will present problems. It is easy to construct arguments that Islam is disposed to such horrors, easier again to produce empirical evidence for the involvement of its adherents in terror.

Jimmy Grey and the other victims died because evil men wanted a world wide war. The very best commemoration of all those victims, the most scalding is defeat for their murderers, is to deny them that war. That does not mean ignoring terror or dishonestly pretending that we do not have philosophical problems with Islam. Instead, unlike the adherents of  Bin Laden, we must not generalise or fail to see the human. We must not become that which we hate nor wear Ladder 20's heroes as emblems in a religious war. The ultimate defeat of Osama bin Laden is that we seek a way to live with our differences. 

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