Ten years ago today, I was awakened from a cell phone call from my father and told that there was an attack in London. I was 16 years old, taking summer classes at Harvard, and the September 11th attacks – an event that changed my life, as it had for many people – were not yet even 4 years in the past.
I remember that I ended the conversation quickly and went upstairs to the dorm room of a girl who was from London, to make sure that she knew and – as someone who had been through this before – had contacted her family and friends before the phone lines became too busy. It was unnecessary: her door was open and she was standing in the center of the room, her hand over her chest, watching a small television with some of the other dorm-mates. I could see the familiar shock in her eyes as she watched the news unfold.
The attacks of 9/11 are what made me a Conservative. I have never forgotten that there are evil people who follow totalitarian creeds and wish to do us harm. My grandfather, a World War II veteran, had told me about the need to defend freedom and the sacrifices it would entail. To see my country come under attack made my grandfather’s warning much more than an abstraction.
That summer – as to be expected – Harvard was a hot spot for those who opposed the War on Terror. I didn’t yet understand how it could be that people who are in the cross heirs of such ruthless evil were resistant to the necessities of self-defense.
Remember what Prime Minister Tony Blair said that day:
The extremist propaganda is cleverly aimed at their target audience. It plays on our tolerance and good nature. It exploits the tendency to guilt of the developed world, as if it is our behaviour that should change, that if we only tried to work out and act on their grievances, we could lift this evil, that if we changed our behaviour, they would change theirs. This is a misunderstanding of a catastrophic order.
Their cause is not founded on an injustice. It is founded on a belief, one whose fanaticism is such it can’t be moderated. It can’t be remedied. It has to be stood up to.
I Remember I stood with my British friend in silence, watching the news for another 15 minutes. When she stepped out, her roommate told me that she had already contacted her family and friends, and they were safe. (I would later meet her family on her birthday, when they flew from England to celebrate with her in Cambridge. A truly wonderful family.)
After that summer, I never saw her again. When I went to NYU, I became part of the pro-Israel clubs on campus as they endured numerous wars of aggression from the same maniacs who attacked London. Only they had no time for shock, because the supporters of the humane, democratic state of Israel have no sympathy from a campus where the radical Left rules supreme and are in common cause with the enemies of freedom.
But the day London was attacked will always remain with me – because it was a day that I relived 9/11 through the eyes of someone else. It was an attack on democracy itself. As Prime Minister Blair added: “It’s important however that those engaged in terrorism realize that our determination to defend our values and our way of life is greater than their determination to cause death and destruction to innocent people in a desire to impose extremism on the world.”