Photo by David KawashimaTV, newspapers, weekly magazines—since Sept. 11, many of them have been asking the same question in bold headlines: "Why do they hate us?"
Ollie North has the answer: Muslim radicals hate us not because we're free and rich nor because U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East has been designed to guarantee the unfettered flow of oil.
No, North tells us, Muslim fundamentalists hate us because they "know what the scripture tells us, which is that the only path to God in heaven is through his son, our savior, Jesus Christ."
Speaking at Anaheim's Melodyland Christian Center Church on Nov. 11, the Fox News commentator and former Marine Corps officer said he agreed with "his colleagues in the 'mainstream' news media" that not all Muslims are evil or hate America. But pointing at what appeared to be a Bible, North said, "We know that every single word in this book is true." And because of that, North asserted, America's Islamic enemies, including Osama bin Laden and the Taliban, hate Christians.
North's stunning revelation that only Christians will go to heaven came about two-thirds of the way through his Veterans Day speech, "Security in Uncertain Times."
The event began with 30 minutes of gospel singing, featuring deafening piped-in music and a band that performed such classics as "Our God Is an Awesome God." Children in the audience were treated to a special appearance by a quartet of costumed holy warriors—an Inspector Gadget look-alike, a fat girl with blue hair, an apoplectic kung fu expert, and a human-sized crime-fighting dog. They took the stage to a throbbing techno beat while Evil—represented by a man in a Mexican lucha libre costume—ran around the stage, flailing his arms as the sound system rattled with his maniacal laughter.
Introducing North, Melodyland's senior pastor, a crewcut South African named Neville McDonald, addressed the topic of insecurity as a white person who had "experienced terrorism" in South Africa. As many in the crowd began to shed tears, Neville urged them to scream and shout out their love of Jesus, saying that he learned to be loud in the military. "We are soldiers in the army of God," he explained.
But the highlight of the morning was clearly Ollie North. He defined terrorists as those who "try to inflict a few casualties, kill a few people, and scare many others." In contrast, North said, the U.S. Marine Corps "takes on the whole enemy apparatus and tries to kill as many of the enemy as possible." North also said that unlike terrorists, the Marines Corps exists to take land from the enemy. "Really, we're in the real-estate business," he joked.
North told his audience that he's also an expert on terrorism, having mastered the subject while working as Ronald Reagan's point man between 1983 and 1986, when the administration sold missiles to Iranian terrorists in order to raise money for Nicaraguan terrorists.
North didn't mention any of that. Instead, he discussed his whereabouts on the morning of Sept. 11. Flying from Detroit to Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C., at 8:45 a.m., he claimed, he was armed with two weapons—a Swiss Army knife and a leather-working tool that "went right through the metal detector."
North also claimed that he bribed an Afghan taxi driver to take him from Dulles Airport in Virginia, where his plane was diverted, to Capitol Hill, where North said he was urgently needed at Fox's television studio. North said he paid the cab driver $100 to drive him to Capitol Hill, even though that area of the city was being evacuated. After taking the bribe, North said, the cab driver told him, "Colonel North, we have to go after Osama."
North said he asked the cab driver how he knew bin Laden was behind the terrorist attacks. "'Because,' he said to me, 'I am from Afghanistan,'" North stated. When Melodyland's congregation began to emit cries of horror—"Oh, no! Not from there!"—North quickly reassured them.
"This man was not a Muslim; he was a Christian," he intoned. North added that the man was also a former CIA agent who had helped the U.S. drive the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan in return for U.S. citizenship for his wife and children. According to North, the man agreed to help the mujahideen, the fundamentalist Muslim rebel army, because "he knew, back in the 1985 time period, that the Taliban were going to be a problem and kill all the Christians in Afghanistan and Pakistan."
The facts—that it was the Reagan administration-backed mujahideen that was busy slaughtering Christians in Afghanistan "in the 1985 time period" (most of them Soviet troops) and that the Taliban didn't exist until what we might call the 1996 time period—didn't seem to bother North's audience. They peppered North's entire speech with cries of "Hallelujah," "Bless the Lord," and "Go, Ollie!"
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Finally, however, a young, conservatively dressed woman stood up and interrupted North's speech.
"Were you being a good Christian when you smuggled drugs into our country and sold weapons to terrorists?" she asked.
North's eyebrows fell; his voice followed. He politely offered to respond to her question "a little bit later, if that's okay with you."
Apparently to help facilitate that offer, a dozen church ushers and security guards hastily escorted the woman out of the building.