The last two weeks I have been following the route of the American Army’s drive from Normandy into Germany in 1944-5. It is quite something to visit Aachen, Mainz, the Hürtzen forest, Bastogne, Omaha Beach, and Pointe du Hoc, and then juxtapose such visits with the daily pabulum in the International Herald Tribune, CNN, and the European dailies. And after two weeks, I think most would prefer the wisdom of the noble dead to the ignorance of the shameful living.
At this point the American message of religious tolerance, equality of women, democracy, and secularism is too well known — and it is no more welcome to Islamicists than the idea of tolerating Jews was to an SS Panzer division. Yet, like Hitler’s young minions, the masked men in bathrobes and machetes have not yet learned to fear the power of Western democracy that could, if it so wished — as the 10,000 resting at St. Avold have so proved — put a stop to their cowardly murdering rather quickly and thus end the Arab tolerance of these beheading fanatics.
Indeed, if our dead could rise out of their graves they would surely rebuke us for our present blasphemy — shaking their fingers and remonstrating that bin Laden and his followers, both active and passive, are no different from Hitler and the other evil killers of their own age, who deserve to be defeated, not reasoned with or apologized to, and not understood. The voices of our dead abroad murmur to us, the deaf, that a nation is liked not by being good and weak or bad and strong, but only by proving both principled and resolute.