As one who's been following the recent happenings in the Republican presidential primary I've come to a curious conclusion about what you're allowed to believe and what you're not allowed to believe if you want to remain a member in good standing of the Republican party.
What you're not allowed to believe is that American intervention abroad in any way contributed to the events of 9/11. See, that's Congressman Ron Paul's position and a principal reason why he wants to withdraw the U.S. from Iraq. He feels that, by waging a "pre-emptive" war of choice against a Muslim country that had nothing to do with the events of 9/11, we are generating the sort of hatred abroad that could well come back to haunt us sometime down the road, culminating in another terrorist event on U.S. soil. But that's also a principal reason why Ron Paul is reviled within his own party, why his supporters have been banned from Republican leaning discussion forums and why he's only polling around 3%. Apparently, to be a Republican in good standing you have to believe that the U.S. was attacked because terrorists hate out freedoms, and even the least interventionist foreign policy imaginable would not have prevented the World Trade Center attacks.
However, being a Republican in good standing with the party does not mean that you must ascribe sole responsibility for the events of 9/11 to the terrorists themselves. You can still blame America if you want, but you have to ensure you blame the right people in America. U.S. foreign policy is off-limits, but U.S. domestic policy is fair game. So its OK, for instance, to say that 9/11 was, in part, God's punishment for our society's permissive attitudes toward gays, toward abortion rights, and toward the separation of church and state. The latter is what Pat Robertson believes. And today, the front-runner for the Republican nomination, Rudolph Giuliani, who leads the Republican field with 10 times as many supporters as Paul, won a prize he's been eagerly and relentlessly pursuing for the past few months: Pat Robertson's official endorsement.
So again, for those of you keeping score. If you're trying to prove your GOP credentials:
Not OK to believe: U.S. foreign policy breeds the sort of resentment that manifest itself on September 11, 2001.And that, my friends, is today's GOP.
OK to believe: U.S. society's permissive social mores provoke an angry God who responds by green-lighting the sorts of terrorist events we witnessed on September 11, 2001.