Remembering 9-11 in Tennessee

by Rebecca Bynum (Sept. 12, 2011)

Michael DelGiorno (talk radio 99.7 WTN) was the master of ceremonies at the 9-11 remembrance event in Franklin, Tennessee which was attended by over 550 people yesterday. He spoke of looking ahead even as we remember the attack of ten years ago and set a solemn, yet hopeful tone which was perfectly appropriate to the occasion.

It disturbed me that almost every speaker used a plethora of adjectives to precede the word Islam (radical, jihadist, militant, warped version of, twisted version of, etc., etc.) and took great pains to point out that he was not speaking of the “majority of peaceful Muslims” or “Islam itself.” The speakers were labeled hate-mongering Islamophobes anyway, so I don’t fully understand the effort to be politically correct at this late date. It may reveal some lingering confusion as to the nature of Islam and possibly the inability (or doubt in the inability of others) to separate Islam from Muslims as human beings, but this is a minor quibble with what was on the whole a very good program.

Pastor Paul Bane of the Community Outreach Church in Brentwood, TN., spoke first. After the usual caveats about his criticism having nothing to do with the average Muslim, he described Islam as a political force disguised as a religion. He said, “I don’t choose my enemy, my enemy chooses me” and quoted the prophet Isaiah, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” Of all the speakers, Pastor Bane came closest to describing the inverted morality at the heart of Islam and it was proper for a religious man to put it so.

Then Rabbi Jonathan Houseman of Ahavath Torah in Stoughton, Massachusetts spoke. He was passionate about rejecting the label of victim and discussed the personal lessons of 9-11.

1) We must hold our loved ones close and not take them for granted.

2) We are all Israelis now. The jihadist who attacked on 9-11 are the same people who carry out terror attacks on Israel. We share a common enemy.

3) Personal choices have international implications. Every time we fill up the tank, some of that money goes to fund madrassas indoctrinating children in hatred.

4) Don’t sweat the small stuff. He told several stories of people who were delayed by some minor inconvenience and didn’t get to work on time at the Twin Towers the morning of 9-11 and so were saved a horrible death.

Noting that Todd Beamer had recited the 23rd Psalm in his final moments, Rabbi Houseman recited it in Hebrew and Pastor Bane followed, leading the audience in a recitation in English. “The Lord is my shepherd…”

Andrew Miller of the Tennessee Freedom Coalition (the organization that brought Geert Wilders to Nashville last May) was the following speaker. He had worked near the World Trade Center and lost many friends working at Cantor Fitzgerald on 9-11. He spoke of the Islam as the “totality of an ideology of which religion is a very small part.” He said, “Many people would like to go back to the world of 9-10,” and then continued, “Sorry, that world is gone.” He said that we have to face the fact that the perpetrators of the terror attacks on 9-11 “knew in their hearts they were doing Allah/Muhammad’s will.”

When Michael DelGiorno introduced Charles Jacobs he mentioned that he had received the Freedom Award from Coretta Scott King for his work freeing Christians who are enslaved by Muslims in the Sudan. Dr. Jacobs heads Americans for Peace and Tolerance which produced (in collaboration with the Tennessee Freedom Coalition) the documentary Losing Our Sons which was premiered in its complete form yesterday. You may remember how The Tennessean ridiculed the short version while refusing to put it up on their website for people to see and to judge for themselves.

Jacobs spoke about a time of confusion in which people want to deny the fact that a “strand of Islamic thought” is growing in popularity and made the point that a militant minority can subdue a moderate majority as has happened many times throughout history. He said the real threat was not al Qaeda, but an ideology which, like communism, seeks to conquer by infiltration. He said they seek to exploit America’s blind spots, for example, the interfaith dialoguers who turn a blind eye to statements made by Muslim imams to their own people so long as they say the right things while with them in public. He excoriated The Tennessean and religious leaders in Nashville who “fall all over themselves to bring Islamists into the center of civic life.” He said, “Freedom is not free” and that we must all become activists.

The Losing Our Sons documentary was shown. Both Carlos Bledsoe and the young man he killed, Private William Andrew Long, were profiled and the path each man took which led him to that fateful day June 1, 2009 at the recruiting station in Little Rock, Arkansas was detailed. The mosques in Nashville attended by Bledsoe were highlighted and the radical statements by local mosque leaders were well documented as was a particularly egregious statement made by Rabbi Rose of the West End Synagogue in which he likened Tennessee’s anti-terrorism bill to the Nuremberg laws of Nazi Germany. Daris Long spent his life in the military and spoke movingly in the film of the pride he felt when his son, Andrew, followed in his footsteps.

Melvin Bledsoe had hoped his son would return to Memphis after receiving an education in business administration from Tennessee State University to take over his tour bus business. Instead, Carlos found Islam and Mr. Bledsoe is unshakable in his belief his son was targeted to become a jihadi by the Muslim religious leadership in Nashville and how Abdul Aziz (at the Somali al Farooq mosque at the time) formally recommended him to a school in Yemen which Bledsoe Sr. described as a front for jihad training. This characterization is corroborated by Theo Padnos who went undercover to infiltrate the school (which he describes as an al-Qaeda front). He met Carlos, now Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, there. Melvin Bledsoe described Carlos’s transformation from easy going, even if a bit lost, typical young black American boy to a seriously anti-American Muslim man. He described his change in dress, how he stopped listening to music, removed all the pictures from his bedroom wall and how he took his formerly beloved dog out into the woods and left it there.

Bob Smietana of The Tennessean criticized the earlier version of the documentary for failing to include the apparent fact that Carlos Bledsoe had been arrested in Knoxville for possession of a sawed off shotgun and an ounce of marijuana. He argues that this proves Bledsoe/Muhammad had violent tendencies before his conversion and that therefore his belief in Islam does not entirely explain his turning to jihad. To this I would simply say that human beings are complicated creatures and rarely act from of a single motive. Bledsoe/Muhammad clearly explained that his primary motive was jihad in retaliation for our military actions in Muslim lands. He killed Andrew Long because he was a soldier. In his mind, Carlos Bledsoe was engaging in an act of war – jihad – just like the perpetrators of the September 11 attacks.

After the film, Daris Long spoke about how under the Obama administration, terror attacks that are thwarted by the authorities are described as attempted terror attacks and prosecuted in federal court while terror attacks which are successful, like the killing of his son, are knocked down a level or two and not described as terror attacks at all. Bledsoe/Muhammad was prosecuted in Arkansas State court for murder (described as a drive-by shooting), not a jihad terror attack. He wondered aloud if this attack had been taken seriously for what it was by the federal government at the time, whether the Nidal Hasan massacre at Ft. Hood might have been prevented. Hasan had openly praised the Little Rock shooting and warned there would be more.

The Bush administration also refused to identify terror attacks on American soil. The Naveed Haq shooting at the Jewish Federation in Seattle in 2006 as well as the jihad by SUV terror attack at North Carolina University at Chapel Hill were both minimized and discounted by the Justice Department so that the mantra of “no terror attacks since 9-11” could be maintained. Obama has simply amended that policy to “no successful terror attacks since 9-11.”

Long, however, feels that both the government and the military have abandoned his son on the battlefield. The Pentagon has refused to issue him a purple heart. He quoted First Corinthians: “If the trumpet makes an unclear sound, who will prepare for battle?”

Here is an interview with Daris Long done shortly after the shooting.

Then Melvin Bledsoe spoke saying, “Radical Islam came into my house and stole my son. Radical Islam is at your doorstep.” He spoke of his son being like a tree he and his wife had planted and nurtured that had been dug up and planted in other soil and poisoned. He said, “People wonder why we’re stepping on a small minority’s toes, but that small minority wants to stamp us out.” He hoped the film might save someone else’s child and that what he wants most is that “America will understand what radical Islam is and what it is not.” Here is his opening statement to the King hearing in Washington DC.

It was good to see both fathers together standing for America. It was good to be with people who are aware of the threat we faced on September 11, 2001 and which we continue to face today. It was good to be with people who were looking forward even as we looked back, mourned and remembered. We know we cannot say "Never again," for there will be many more terror attacks and the threat of nuclear jihad looms on the horizon of our future, but the hard kernal of political will to resist jihad and to resolutely fight our enemies has been formed and is every bit as determined and self-sacrificing as the slaves of Allah could ever hope to be. This fight is one between levels of spiritual reality and though the path will be difficult and we will experience many setbacks over the next several generations, there is no question of the final outcome. God created us with free will and freedom shall prevail.


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