EDITORIAL: Let freedom triumph over fear and terror

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It is etched in our collective memory, that terrible moment when death emerged from a clear blue sky on a beautiful September morning.

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Twenty years ago, terrorists attacked the heart of a vibrant democracy, in a form of war the United States had never seen. There was no declaration of war. No nod to the Geneva Convention and its combat rules. On one side were 19 motley jihadists bent on revenge on their ideological enemies – honest, law-abiding people going about their daily business.

They did not use weapons or bombs; they hijacked planes and took them to the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania in their demented attempt to bring down Western culture.

The litany of the lost is agonizing to read. Almost 3,000 innocent people, including 24 Canadians, died in these murderous acts.

Suddenly the United States was at war with an obscure group determined to destroy the freedoms and freedoms cherished by the West.

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There have been countless acts of bravery. Firefighters scaled the Twin Towers as terrified office workers fled. Over six celebrated days, the people of Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador, welcomed more than 6,000 air passengers among them. Strangers have become friends.

Canada joined with other allies of the United States in invading Afghanistan in an attempt to root out the evil mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks – Osama bin Laden. The recent botched US withdrawal from Afghanistan reminds us of what life was like in Afghanistan 20 years ago. The Taliban are misogynists who publicly beat women, do not allow girls’ education, and summarily execute dissidents.

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The 9/11 Commission report concluded that the attacks were a massive US intelligence failure. They were “a shock, but not a surprise”. The warning signs have been repeatedly ignored.

The West was bloodied, but inflexible. Yes, there have been other terrorist attacks since. But we won’t be intimidated by bullies. The human mind always seeks peace and freedom rather than violence and tyranny. With a thousand acts of strength and kindness, we did just that.

In the future, we can wallow forever in these horrific losses, or we can overcome this tragedy with an unwavering determination to keep Western society free and democratic.


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