Guest Editorial: On the anniversary of Sept. 11, the greatest threat is from within

Sunday we marked the 21st anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.

We should never forget the deadliest attack on American soil in U.S. history.

On Sept. 11, 2001, 19 hijackers used commercial planes as missiles and crashed into the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and a Pennsylvania field. The terrorists killed nearly 3,000 people and toppled the trade center’s twin towers.

We should not forget the bravery of the passengers of United Airlines Flight 93, who forced down their airplane hijacked by al-Qaida terrorists before it could be used as a weapon against the nation’s capital. The first three planes were directed at symbols of the nation’s economic power and military might.

The fourth plane was directed at the heart of U.S. democracy. But the passengers of Flight 93 courageously fought back and attempted to take back control and the plane crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

We should remember the resilience of the firefighters and other first responders who rushed to the scene.

We should remember that Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda, was emboldened to launch the attack in part because he naively believed the United States was a “paper tiger,” according to Abu Walid al-Masri, an Egyptian who was a bin Laden associate in Afghanistan in the 1980s and 90s. The terrorist leader thought the U.S. was weak because of the U.S. departure from Lebanon after a 1983 bombing killed 241 American servicemen in Beirut, the withdrawal of American forces from Somalia in 1993 following the deaths of 18 U.S. servicemen in Mogadishu and the American pullout from Vietnam in the 1970s.

He was wrong.

And for a brief moment, the nation united to fight a common foe.

Today, the nation is deeply divided and there have been increasing acts of domestic violence, an insurrection to stop the certification of a presidential election and a veiled threat by a U.S. senator of “riots in the streets” if former President Donald Trump is indicted for mishandling classified documents.

The country is now at a crossroads. Will this multiracial democracy go forward toward a more perfect union, or descend to an authoritarian state?

This is a time for courageous leadership.

Standing in front of Independence Hall, President Joe Biden gave a primetime address to the nation where he warned of an existential threat to democracy from Trump and his allies.

“MAGA Republicans do not respect the Constitution, they do not believe in the rule of law, they do not recognize the will of the people,” Biden said at Independence Hall, where both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were debated and adopted by America’s Founding Fathers.

This is a courageous act, given that more than 74 million people voted for Trump in 2020.

Biden campaigned on unifying the nation. He tried for months to not even mention Trump’s name.

Critics say Biden is disparaging Americans and is dividing the country.

No. He is calling out those Americans who only believe in their country if their side wins and are willing to use political violence to achieve their goals.

This is painful for some to admit. But truth is more critical now than an illusionary unity.

On this anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on America, the greatest threat to our nation is from within.

Reprinted from The Philadelphia Tribune

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