"We have to understand that we're fighting a war against people who think that they are engaged in a cosmic battle between the forces of good and evil. They believe that this is not an earthly battle. This is a war between the forces of Christianity and the forces of Islam." - Reza Aslan
After six years it almost goes without saying that we have forgotten the events and the significance of 9/11. While we may still have a memory of what happened, more than enough time has passed to dull the emotional reaction we felt on that day and blunt the resolve which we felt to see justice done. Other events have happened since then, other concerns and other issues have arisen which occupy our conscious minds most of the time. In the moment six years ago we had a clarity of vision which now eludes us. We understood things then which are now obscure, because six years is a very long time for basically decent people to hold onto the purifying anger of the moment.
Today 9/11 has become an intellectual event and a memory, rather than something which we react to emotionally. It has moved from our twisted guts to the part of our mind where things are compartmentalized and rationalized and made abstract and acceptable. What we have forgotten is the truth which was apparent to every one of us on that day, that we were attacked by an outside enemy whose thirst for our blood was irrational, inhumane, and insatiable. We have lost our instinctual understanding that we were not attacked by just an isolated group of crazed fanatics or their latter-day old man of the mountain leader, but by an entire culture which can produce men who believe that the slaughter of innocents can buy their way into heaven.
The Christian tradition of our culture teaches us to turn the other cheek and let bygones be bygones and not to hold a grudge. Even our secular culture is characterized by a kind of stoic existentialism, an 'out of sight, out of mind' mentality. When we aren't constantly reminded of a problem we tend to assume it has gone away because we have plenty of other things to think about. Not on that list of concerns is the fact that jihadists have a lot less to think about. We have a short attention span and a fast-paced culture which produces new distractions on a daily basis.