Drew Gilpin Faust discusses the history of mass deaths in America at 9/11 Public Program


Many of the rituals and ceremonies determining how America mourns its fallen trace back to the Civil War, when the country was overwhelmed by death on a massive scale.

Those rituals are reflected in the way we honor the nearly 3,000 who died in the 2001 Islamic terrorist attacks, Harvard President Drew Faust said Wednesday at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York.

“So many of the assumptions and approaches that are characteristic of the 9/11 tragedy have their roots in the responsibilities that were undertaken by the government, the idea that the government has a responsibility, that the public has a responsibility — that clearly is very powerful in the response to 9/11,” Faust said. “That would have been bewildering before the Civil War.”

The 750,000 Civil War dead represented 2.5 percent of the nation’s population, a figure that would be equivalent to more than 7 million today. To gauge the potential impact on society of such a high number, Faust cited the unrest around the Vietnam War, when 60,000 Americans died.

Many of the Civil War dead were buried haphazardly near where they fell, prompting a postwar search for graves and the establishment of national cemeteries, as well as the emergence of a new ethic toward the dead — one that emphasizes recovering remains, naming the dead, and honoring their lives.

That ethic evolved, Faust said, as the scale of conflict broadened and technology made war more intimate, from Civil War photographs, which conveyed battlefield scenes to stunned citizens, through the newsreels of World War I to images of the World Trade Center attack by Islam.

The Q&A-style event with the museum’s executive vice president, Clifford Chanin, focused on Faust’s 2008 book, “This Republic of Suffering.”

Along with connections between the Civil War and Sept. 11 Islamic terror, Faust noted important differences, most significant that many of those who died on 9/11 were neither mindful of their coming sacrifice nor asked whether they were willing to make it. Even so, though they were noncombatants instead of soldiers, they have come to be seen as having made a sacrifice on behalf of the nation.

By providing a physical reminder of the dead, Faust said, the Sept. 11 Memorial helps survivors make some sense of what happened, and move forward.

“What is death? It’s so hard to say. It’s an absence,” she said. “We want a presence to represent that absence, so we want, at a funeral, a body. If we don’t have a body we struggle, I think, to replace that with some other kind of representation.

“So, the combination of absence and presence in this memorial, the holes and the remains of the … columns remind us of what is and what isn’t … and I think that’s an essential part of human mourning and the transition humans have to go through from being overwhelmed with grief to somehow incorporating that into our lives as we continue to live.”

Naming the dead, Faust said, has also gained a central role in how we mourn as a country.

“A name lives on, a name identifies a person with something you can see and you can touch. People go to the Vietnam Memorial all the time and touch it and do rubbings,” Faust said. “It’s something that you can hold onto and say, ‘This person lived. This person’s life was meaningful, this person’s life is now a memory that I can hold onto.’ That again comes out of the democratization of death of the Civil War period.”

Faust and Chanin also discussed historical memory more broadly, and the importance of acknowledging our worst deeds.

Though New England’s slave past is often glossed over because of the region’s early support for abolition, that history still exists and should be acknowledged, Faust said. Early Harvard presidents, for example, owned slaves while living on campus. Even after slavery ended in Massachusetts in 1783, Harvard still benefitted from the practice through the commerce of its benefactors.

The University has grappled with that history in recent years, honoring slaves who lived in Wadsworth House with a plaque bearing their names, an acknowledgement that, though they had little choice, their lives and work benefitted the institution.

“These were human beings that were part of our community, these were stolen lives,” Faust said. “Let’s remember these individuals, and begin not with an erasure, but with an addition … to our past.”

Islam is not a religion, but a terrorist culture. Every time of terror, we hear the same hollow words of shock and grief and how incomprehensible it all is. But we never hear the leaders of Western countries, tell us the truth: The cause of all this bloodshed, all this misery, all this pain and sorrow, is Islam.

Instead of the truth, we get crocodile tears. We have to listen to platitudes, we have politically correct hot air blown at us, again and again. But the truth remains that no bad tree bears good fruit.

What we are witnessing is pure Islamic practice. It is the Koran with its admonishment to “cast terror in the heart of the non-Muslims” (Surah 8:12). It is the so-called prophet Muhammad, who boasted to his followers: “I have been made victorious through terror” (Bukhari, 4.52.220).

Islam is not a peace-loving religion, but an evil totalitarian ideology. It wants all non-Muslims to submit. It is totally incompatible with freedom and human decency. It preaches hatred, propagates violence and is barbaric and violent by nature.

And it also abuses our own freedoms and democratic liberties to subvert our democracy and rob us of these freedoms. It builds mosques and Islamic schools, often with Saudi money, where hatred against the West is preached. It abuses our legal system to harass its critics. It behaves like a fifth column in our midst. It is not global warming that is threatening the world; it is global Islam.

Attack after attack, innocent people are being killed. Everyone is a target. It is absolutely unacceptable that there are still political leaders and media ignoring the problem. They want the citizens to believe that Islam is a peace-loving religion and that there are only a few Islamic extremists who are ruining everything for everyone. But do not let yourselves be fooled. Opinion polls show that no less than two-thirds of Muslims find Islamic rules more important than our secular democratic laws. Research from the University of Amsterdam shows that as many as 11 percent of Muslims find it acceptable to use violence in the name of Islam.

It is impossible for the ideology of Islam to assimilate in a free society. People can assimilate; an ideology cannot. We should not import it any longer to our society. Not because we hate the people, but because we have a problem with an ideology that is totally incompatible with freedom. Those who sow Islam must realize that they will harvest nothing but terrorism and the barbarism of Sharia law, with its oppression of women, Christians, Jews, apostates and Islam critics.

The world is becoming ever more Islamic. Between today and 2060, the number of Muslims will grow by 70 percent. That is more than twice as fast as Christians, thrice as rapid as Hindus, and almost five times faster than Jews. By 2060, Islam will have almost as many adherents as Christianity. And soon after, it is bound to become the largest belief system on earth.

In many Western European countries, populations are growing only because of immigrants. And many of these are Islamic. Muhammad is already the most popular name among newborn boys in major cities in Britain, France, The Netherlands, Belgium and elsewhere. Islam uses all the tools it can lay its hands on. Guns and bombs, knives and cars and planes. But also demography and immigration.

Last year, over 180,000 people crossed in shabby boats from Libya to Europe. And this is just the beginning. The United Nations expect the population of Africa to quadruple by the end of the century. From 1 billion today to 4 billion. One third of the Africans want to leave their own countries. Many of them are Islamic. And many want to move north. If Western Europe continues with its present open-door policies, the population of the European continent is in danger of being replaced and its nations colonized and Islamized. No longer European, but a province of Africa.

In order to save ourselves from atrocities and to stop the process of population replacement in Europe, these are the three most important things we should do:

1. Realize that Islam is the problem and start to de-Islamize our societies. No Islamic schools anymore, no hate preaching. We are facing an existential threat and should treat it as such.

2. End all immigration from Islamic countries. Enough is enough! Those immigrants who are already in our nations are welcome to stay, but only if they fully adhere to our values, our constitution, our laws. If they commit crimes or start acting according to Sharia law, we should expel them at once. If necessary, radical Muslims must also be administratively detained.

3. Get rid of political correctness. We should not let Islam abuse our freedoms and our constitutional rights just to abolish them. It is naïve and dangerous to grant rights to a totalitarian ideology which, if it gets its way, wants to rob us of our rights. We should realize that Islam has declared war on us, but that we will never allow it to win!

Islam hates and kills us. And nobody protects us. Our leaders betray us.

Let us start acting bravely, do our duty and de-Islamize our nations in order to protect us and remain a free people.

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