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America's unity after 9/11 is done and gone

We’re no longer the way we were.

Increasingly frayed and eroding over the years, the national post-9/11 consensus on American solidarity and shared values seems to be finally over, as events in recent days and weeks demonstrate.


Police once were celebrated as among heroic first responders, now they are damned as an occupying force in inner city neighborhoods. The alleged misdeeds of a few have been seized by left-wing propagandists and organizations who never much liked cops in the first place to condemn en masse the men and women in blue. The job of protecting society from crime has just gotten harder. And police will remain a vital force in defending us from terrorists, like the cop who shot two terrorists trying to attack an event in Texas celebrating provocative cartoons about Islam.

The 1960s anti-military ethos of the liberal college campus is reasserting itself. Students at the University of Michigan petitioned to cancel a showing of the movie “American Sniper” because they saw the late Christopher Kyle as “a racist who took a disturbing stance on murdering Iraqi civilians.” After push back, the showing went ahead. Football coach Jim Harbaugh rallied support for “American Sniper” by declaring his team would watch the film.

The protest spread to other campuses with, no surprise here, Muslim students leading the campaign to ban the film depicting an American hero at the University of Maryland and George Mason University.

The dead cartoonists in the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris were once universally celebrated as martyrs for free speech. This week the writers association PEN America gave the French satirical magazine its freedom of expression courage award in New York, but as many as 200 members signed an open letter of protest. Their letter claimed the Charlie Hebdo cartoons about Islam were “material that intensifies the anti-Islamic, anti-Maghreb, anti-Arab sentiments already prevalent in the Western world.”

Such sentiments, if indeed they are prevalent, are not the fault of a few cartoons in an obscure French magazine. They would stem from the murderous violence and terror sweeping the Middle East, North Africa and beyond generated by an international, well funded, fanatically committed radical Islamist movement.

In accepting the PEN award, the editor of Charlie Hebdo, an equal opportunity offender in satirizing and criticizing all religions and creeds, got the better of the argument with a powerful defense of free expression in just a few words. “Being shocked is part of democratic debate,” said Gérard Biard. “Being shot is not.”

The shock of the twin towers in New York crashing to the ground served as a reminder that the tiny state of Israel has been on the front line of the war against terrorism longer than anyone. The duplicity of Palestinian leadership and the no peace, no negotiations stance of the Arab and Muslim worlds were recognized as the impediment to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Yet today left-wing media, organizations and even the administration of President Barack Obama see Israel as the roadblock to peace. They seized on a comment by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his reelection campaign as the justification for this misguided view. All that Netanyahu had said was the unvarnished truth that no conditions exist today for achieving a peace arrangement. The simple truth is the Palestinians have rejected or ignored proposals from Israel since 2000 that would have created a Palestinian state.

The United Nations has a long history of anti-Israel resolutions, and the United States has always been a bulwark against them. But apparently not any more. While telling a congressional committee last month that America will stand with Israel “when it matters,” U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power would not rule out letting resolutions targeting Israel move forward in the U.N.

The extraordinary national unity that followed the 9/11 shock couldn’t last forever given our fractious politics. Still, only our enemies can be happy to see where the country is today.