Jewish World Review Sept. 11, 2003 / 14 Elul, 5763

Michael Graham

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The wrong way to remember September 11 | What's the right way to remember the horror and injustice of the September 11 attacks?

Is it with cheesy, one-dimensional, made-for-TV movies starring Timothy "That's My Bush" Bottoms on Showtime?

Is it with yet another tear-jerker retrospective featuring the music of Enya, the voice of Rudy Giuliani and all the subtlety of Nathan Lane on a Broadway bender?

Is it merely a quiet moment of personal reflection, followed by another year of supporting military action against Islamo-fascism on battlefields abroad?

To be honest, I'm not sure. But while I'm uncertain about the right way to commemorate September 11, I have no doubt about the wrong way: Making it easier for the Islamists to attack and kill us again.

Which is exactly what the state of California has done. Two years — almost to the date — after 19 immigration-law violators seized our planes and brought down our buildings, California has changes its public policy and will now give driver's licenses to the next wave of Islamist murderers.

Governor Gray Davis, desperate to his office, if not his long-abandoned honor, has succumbed to "recall fever" and reversed himself on the issue. In 2001, Davis vetoed a nearly identical bill giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, saying at the time that "the tragedy of September 11 made it abundantly clear that the driver's license is more than just a license to drive; it is one of the primary documents we use to identify ourselves. Unfortunately, a driver's license was in the hands of terrorists who attacked America on that fateful day."

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Alas, what was abundantly clear just months ago has suddenly turned opaque and impenetrable. Now Davis has cheerfully signed the "Leave No Terrorist Behind" driver's license bill, though according to my radio compatriots Jon & Ken at KFI in Los Angeles, Davis's staff gave erroneous information about the signing ceremony to English-language media sources, attempting to arrange a Spanish-language-media-only signing.

So Davis has won this political battle. But regardless of whether he remains in office, I wonder how he will feel, and how history will remember him, if the next terrorist attack comes from an Islamist with a legal California driver's license in his wallet?

This isn't just a hypothetical. The state of Virginia had lax driver's license oversight before September 11. As a result, seven of the 19 hijackers had legally-obtained Virginia IDs, making it easier for them to rent cars and board airplanes. Virginians were embarrassed and ashamed at their complicity, and rightly so. The state has since tightened its procedures, and immigrants seeking Virginia driver's licenses must now present documentation proving they are here legally.

Will this single step end the terror threat? Not any more than locking your front door will end burglary, but I can't imagine Gov. Davis signing the "Mandatory Lock-Free Front Door Freedom Act of 2003," can you?

I'd like to think one way to remember 9/11 would be to acknowledge it as an attack on Americans as a whole, a day when citizens of every race, faith, and persuasion were seen, and made targets, for their collective identity as Americans. Shouldn't this insight by the Islamists inspire us to raise the value of American citizenship?

And yet, once again, Democratic leaders strain to maintain the opposite. Far from raising the value of citizenship, virtually every presidential candidate wants to reduce it to nothing by handing it freely to illegal immigrants. Sen. John Kerry went so far as to declare that these immigration criminals have "a human right" to American citizenship.

During the recent debate, Kerry suggested that every illegal who has "been in this country for five or six years, who's paid their taxes, who has stayed out of trouble ought to be able to translate into an American citizen immediately." In Kerry's opinion, "it's a matter of human rights, a matter of civil rights, a matter of fairness to Americans."

Who are these "Americans" to whom amnesty for criminal immigrants would be "fair?" Is it the millions of Americans who immigrated to the U.S. legally, who stood in line, paid their fees and swore an oath of allegiance to our nation? Is it "fair" to the millions of American taxpayers who pay for the public social services that illegal immigrants consume? Is it fair to the vast majority of Americans who don't think it unreasonable for a country to control its own borders — an activity that such enlightened nations as France and Switzerland engage in ruthlessly and without apology?

Of course not. When Sen. Kerry says that immediate amnesty for immigration criminals is "a matter of fairness to Americans," he means the illegals themselves. In the eyes of the man who would be our next Democratic president, these immigrants are already Americans, having earned their citizenship by demonstrating their proficiency at evading our laws.

As I recall, several of the 9/11 terrorists were in America illegally, but "paying their taxes and staying out of trouble," before they carried out their attacks. Perhaps Sen. Kerry would have us remember September 11 by extending them citizenship under his new regime.

Posthumously, of course.

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JWR contributor Michael Graham is a talk show host and author of the highly acclaimed "Redneck Nation: How the South Really Won the War." To comment, please click here.


Le cirque du C.A.
Not in your right mind?
07/15/03: Keep your eyes on the lies
07/08/03: ‘LIBERIALS’
07/01/03: Our Strom
06/24/03: Like white on Rice
06/20/03: Security begins at home
06/16/03: DEAR HIL—
06/11/03: Madame Hillary's Lessons for Young Ladies
06/03/03: War games
05/28/03: A few small reparations
05/22/03: Springtime for Hitler?

© 2003, Michael Graham