Yesterday, as our nation was reminded of the vicious terrorist acts resulting in the tragic destruction of many innocent human lives seven short years ago, I had to reflect on the import of this particular day in the life of our nation. For here we were, seven years later, still remembering those who died at the hands of vile human beings, praying for their surviving family members and carrying on with America's "war on terror."
As I listened to some of the remembrances, it occurred to me that most people in our nation really do not comprehend the full meaning of “terrorism,” nor do they examine it in a broader context. That is why I decided to write this commentary. I hope that it will contribute to a deeper understanding of what it means to honestly wage a war on terror.
According to the online encyclopedia Wikipedia,
The War on Terrorism (also known as the War on Terror) is the common term for the various military, political and legal actions initiated by the United States government, in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks.
This seems to accurately define what America perceives as its war against the evil enemy embodied by the September 11, 2001 attacks. But hidden in that definition is the core problem with our perceived war on terror.
When the enemy can be seen, clearly defined and adequately demonized by politicians and the media, we feel united as a nation and capable of fending off the bad guys. But I would suggest to you that there is another enemy within our own borders that has not been clearly defined, is not demonized and, in fact, is placed upon a pedestal by far too many in our midst.
So let's take a hard look at the situation.
What is “terror”? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, terror is “a state of intense fear” or “a cause of anxiety” among those who feel threatened by something or someone much stronger and much more violent than anyone can imagine. A small child can feel terror when confronted by a growling dog. An elderly person can feel terror when approached by a masked gunman. I daresay most of us can probably recall a time in our own lives when we felt gripped by that type of fear more accurately described as terror.
A "reign of terror," such as that which occurred during the French Revolution, is “a state or a period of time marked by violence often committed by those in power that produces widespread terror.”
So, imagine that you are a preborn child, or Janet Rivera, Terri Schiavo or someone else afflicted with a disabling condition.
What are your thoughts as you hear discussion about how inconvenient it is for your life to continue, or what a waste of medical resources it is to provide you with basic health care when you are no longer a contributing member of society? Do you feel terror? Are you overcome with fear that you will die without ever having had the opportunity to live outside of the womb or to recover from your affliction?
To my mind, if you were capable of imagining that you were the unwanted or unplanned child, you might have gotten a small idea of what real terrorism is all about. Oh, it is easy to point the finger at an enemy like al-Qaeda, but we seem to be blind when it comes to recognizing the enemy within.
We spent yesterday – at least many of us did – remembering those who fell on September 11, 2001 and praying for them, the loved ones they left behind and our troops, who are defending freedom against threats from a visible enemy.
But in the name of true justice and fairness to the more than 48 million Americans who have died as victims of America's war on innocent children – who are not terrorists – how can we be so callous toward these innocent victims, on the one hand, and so willing to grieve for other innocent victims, on the other hand? Someone once said that preborn babies whose blood has been spilled throughout our land cry out for justice … and receive death.
It is indeed true, if we are honest about it, that our moral blindness is destroying the very ideals that made America a great nation not so many years ago. I am not suggesting to you that the United States was ever a perfect country, for I know better than that. But I am suggesting that there is no sense of real justice any longer in our laws, our courts, our legislatures or our politics.
I invite anyone who disagrees to explain this to me: If it is true that justice requires a moral and legal obligation to respect the rights and the dignity of every human being, then why isn't America considered one of the most unjust nations on earth? After all, America's laws discriminate against an entire class of human beings, and many of America's judges deny that all people are created equal.
America's laws protect abortionists, and the very act of abortion itself is defined as a right, even though abortion is unconstitutional on its face. Many of America's judges, though not all, have chosen to agree with those who argue that there are some lives, like that of Terri Schindler Schiavo, unworthy of being lived. Currently, America's political system gives no quarter to the argument that the principle of personhood should apply to every human being, regardless of his age, state of development or condition of dependency. In fact, most so-called pro-life politicians do not advocate personhood and demonize those who expect consistency.
These are the facts, and they are troublesome. Until our nation comes to grips with the need to be consistent – to defend and protect all citizens, both born and preborn; and courageously defend justice for everyone – I fear that no war on terror will be truly effective.
Just as surely as the enemy is embodied in those whose callous disregard for human life resulted in the tragedies of September 11, 2001, so too the enemy is embodied in those whose callous disregard for human life results in the brutal killing of preborn children and the sanctioned killing of the vulnerable in our midst. We must not presume that one group should be brought to justice while the other group should be free to continue perpetrating terror.
Abortion and euthanasia are intrinsically evil acts of injustice, regardless of what the law says or what judges dictate. As the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops made perfectly clear recently,
Protection of innocent human life is not an imposition of personal religious conviction but a demand of justice.