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The events of September 11, 2001, were an unforgettable tragedy, but they also revealed that the spirit of America is strong and undiminished. Not since the shocking attack on Pearl Harbor has the nation pulled together with such unity and purpose, resolving to endure whatever hardships may be necessary to win the war on terror. We were united in the defense of and belief in our country. It truly brought out the best in our national character.
But a small group of influential public intellectuals, writers, members of the media, and academics were not part of this unified response. They still preached the same self-doubt about America and her traditions that have steadily undermined our national confidence and resolve in recent decades. Within days of the attacks this debilitating mindset was in evidence, as influential figures rushed to point the finger at America and decry what they were sure would be our murderous and indiscriminate reaction. While most Americans remain confident of the justice and appropriateness of our military response in Afghanistan, these vocal critics have caused some to wonder whether we brought the attacks on ourselves because of our foreign policy, our popular culture, or our support for Israel.
As we enter the next phase of what will undoubtedly be a protracted and dangerous struggle--a war unlike any other in our history--it is more important than ever to respond to these doubts and objections and to preserve the patriotic ardor seen in the wake of September 11. In clear, compelling, straightforward language, William Bennett takes up and refutes the many myths and misconceptions about America’s character and role in world affairs that have become fashionable among our nation’s elites. The morning of September 12 dawned with a stunning moral clarity that has guided the actions of many Americans, both her leaders and her citizens. Bennett seeks to preserve that clarity in order to ensure that our national resolve does not falter in this difficult and necessary war.
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Bestselling author William J. Bennett says he was inspired by displays of patriotism after the September 11 terrorist attacks, but he was also struck by how "some were quick to find us to blame." He worries that this "countermovement of America-bashing" will make the United States lose its resolve: "What I fear is the erosion of moral clarity, and the spread of indifference and confusion, as a thousand voices discourse with energy and zeal on the questionable nature, if not the outright illegitimacy, of our methods or our cause." Bennett cites dozens of examples of professors who decry U.S. foreign policy and pundits who object to so much flag flying. While recognizing that these are minority views, he concludes that Osama bin Laden caught Americans with their defenses down--not just physical and military defenses, but also moral and intellectual ones. "Many of us have forgotten what we once knew about our freedoms and our decencies, and we have forgotten why, time and time again, we have had to rally ourselves to the point of ultimate sacrifice to defend them," writes Bennett, who also appraises Islam and defends Israel on these pages. Why We Fight is short and quickly read--and worthwhile for anybody who wants to be reminded of first principles during the war on terrorism. --John MillerAbout the Author:
WILLIAM J. BENNETT is co-director of Empower America and founder and chairman of K12, an Internet-based elementary and secondary school. He is the editor of The Book of Virtues and The Moral Compass and the author of several books, including the bestsellers The Death of Outrage and, most recently, The Educated Child: A Parent’s Guide. He lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland, with his wife, Elayne, and their two sons.
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