Kengor Writes . . .
Paul Kengor is a professor of political science and the executive director of The Institute for Faith and Freedom at Grove City College, in Grove City, Pennsylvania. These essays are republished from The Institute for Faith and Freedom, an online publication of Grove City College, and The American Spectator. Paul Kengor is the author of God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life (2004); The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (2007), The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan’s Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007), and The Communist — Frank Marshall Davis: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor (Threshold Editions / Mercury Ink 2012).
Us vs. Them — Why We Remember 9/11 Differently
Editor’s note: This article first appeared in the The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
On Sept. 8, 2021, Grove City College President Paul McNulty spoke in downtown Pittsburgh regarding his uniquely fascinating, yet somber, 9/11 experiences. He played an intimate role in the prosecution of the hijackers and their associates as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia and deputy attorney general in the Bush administration. The audience was riveted as McNulty walked through the anguished moments from 7:59 a.m. to 10:03 a.m. on Sept. 11, starting with the takeoff of the first hijacked jet and ending with the crashing of the last, Flight 93, in Shanksville.
What particularly sticks with me from that talk was the contrast in how the Islamist terrorists view human life versus how we do.
McNulty recounted Osama Bin Laden speaking from his Taliban-controlled sanctuary in Afghanistan in February 1998, where he ordered, “Kill Americans, wherever and whenever.” This was an edict against every American, soldier or civilian, young or old, Marines or babies. On 9/11, they targeted us all.
McNulty recounted the grisly exchange between 9/11 plotter Zacarias Moussaoui and U.S. attorney Robert Spencer on March 23, 2006.
Asked by Spencer if he had any regrets, Moussaoui conceded none: “I just wish it will happen on the 12th, the 13th, the 14th, the 15th, the 16th, the 17th, and I can go on and on. There is no remorse for justice.”
Moussaoui told Spencer that he enjoyed listening to the chilling testimony from Pentagon victims. It made him smile: “I would have even laughed if I didn’t know that I would be kicked out of the court.” Asked Spencer: “You enjoyed seeing the Pentagon on fire?” Moussaoui replied: “My pleasure.”
When asked his reaction to the harrowing testimony of Lt. Col. John Thurman describing crawling out of the building with his face against the floor, Moussaoui sniffed, “He was pathetic. I was regretful he didn’t die.” Asked about those who did die, Moussaoui celebrated: “Make my day.”
To Moussaoui, if only every day could be like 9/11.
“Like it to all happen again, right?” Spencer asked Moussaoui, who affirmed: “Every day.”
In contrast, Paul McNulty recalled how the victims of 9/11 have been remembered by Americans, right down to their scarcest physical remains. He noted that only 1,100 sets of remains were found of the 2,823 who perished under the World Trade Center buildings. Most were pulverized. Among those 1,100, McNulty noted that each time remains were found in subsequent weeks by personnel on site, the entire place silently stood in order, heads bowed, as the remains were slowly carried away from Ground Zero.
The contrast between how one side views human life versus the other could not have been clearer.
Every Sept. 11, we remember the dead and pray for their families. We don’t seek violent deaths as suicide “martyrs” for a God that wants us to kill. Our God is the Author of Life. We plead for life. But to radical Islamists like Moussaoui and Bin Laden, God is the master of the sword, not of the cross — not of love and mercy, but of their distorted view of “justice.”
America’s Judeo-Christian roots have taught us to honor the sanctity and dignity of every human being as made in the image of the Creator. This has long made America different. Let’s hope it remains so.
MLB Strikes Out in Cuba
“Major League Baseball remained absent-mindedly and cowardly mute on the Cuban people’s freedom struggles, despite the game’s close ties with Cuban players.”
So writes David, a Grove City College alum and a reader of my columns.
David continues: “The league has no excuse now for dodging the political issues of the day as they arise. Aroldis Chapman represented the New York Yankees at the All-Star Game in Denver — and certainly to his credit, he didn’t shy away from the hot-button issue of the week: the ongoing protests and demonstrations against Communism in Cuba, about which social and sporting institutions have remained silent.”
As David noted, Chapman was quite vocal in his solidarity with his people, writing “SOS Cuba” and “Patria Y Vida” on his game hat. His commendable gesture was joined by Texas Rangers outfielder Adolis Garcia. Both players are defectors from Cuba.
Has Major League Baseball joined them in their protest of Communist Cuba’s abuses? Not at all.
And this isn’t the first time that MLB’s silence in the face of Cuban oppression has been pointed out. Back in April, before the current uprising in the Cuban streets, Senator Marco Rubio called out the “hypocrisy” of MLB and commissioner Rob Manfred for relocating the All-Star Game from Atlanta to Denver in protest over Georgia’s new election laws while being mum on abuses in nations like Cuba and China. “Will Major League Baseball now end its engagement with nations that do not hold elections at all, like China and Cuba?” Rubio asked.
If you’re puzzled by this mixing of baseball and politics, well, you should be, but it’s entirely the fault of Major League Baseball. The likes of Rubio and Chapman and Garcia and my friend David and countless others are angry at Major League Baseball for engaging in politics, in the first place, and in the hypocrisy.
In a number of columns here the last few months, I wrote about the outrageousness of MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred politicizing America’s national pastime by yanking the All-Star Game out of Atlanta as a result of his partisan interpretation of Georgia’s new election-integrity laws. That game, in case you missed it (I did — recall that I’m boycotting baseball for the entirety of the 2021 season), was played last week in Denver rather than Atlanta.
In those columns, I noted that Manfred opened up himself and the MLB to all sorts of charges of hypocrisy in the future, because such is what happens when you politicize baseball. Fans wonder why Manfred punishes say, city X rather than city Z, or state A rather than state B, for this or that alleged political infraction. In one of my articles, I noted that Pennsylvania has certain voter criteria more restrictive than Georgia’s, and I thus asked if MLB would be boycotting the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Philadelphia Phillies games. Once you open this door and go down this road of politics, you’re vulnerable to complaints of double standards. That’s why baseball should stick to baseball, and get its big nose out of politics.
In the case of Cuba, the hypocrisy is even worse. Not only does Cuba obviously have far more stringent voting restrictions than Georgia or anywhere in America or the entire Western Hemisphere — being a Communist dictatorship — but baseball players in Cuba have no wage and labor rights.
This is actually a topic I’ve followed for a long time, given my focus on Communism. No one even knows how much money Cuban baseball players currently make, though we know this much: their incomes are far below what Rob Manfred and anyone else would consider the poverty line.
The last reliable numbers we had (early 2000s) revealed that the entire payroll for the Cuban national team was $2,400 — yes, for the entire team. Each man on the roster of 20 players was paid a paltry $120 per year, just like everyone else in Cuba, from doctors to teachers to maintenance workers. That is what absolute equal redistribution of wealth looks like.
But like every Communist country, while everyone in Cuba is equal, some are more equal than others. No one in Cuba has had a payroll quite like the Castro brothers. Forbes magazine estimated Fidel Castro’s net worth at the time of his death at a cool $900 million. He was regularly ranked one of the top 10 wealthiest rulers in the world.
Of course, Cubans painfully realize their horrible situation. They flee the country when they can.
Today, MLB is home to a huge number of Cuban nationals who escaped this madness. And many of those freedom seekers no doubt wonder how Rob Manfred can punish the city of Atlanta for alleged injustices that come nowhere near the horrible injustices suffered by Cubans for over 60 years.
MLB strikes out again. *