Letters to the editor

Anti-terrorism label limits discourse from other views

As members of the Northwestern community, and occasional readers of The Daily, we object to The Daily’s characterization of our community as ‘Uniting Against Terrorism,’ which is used to label NU’s response to the Sept. 11 attacks. This rather politically charged statement now precedes all ‘objective’ news coverage of recent events. The statement is misleading, if not plainly false. Although we hope and agree that most are ‘united’ against any crimes, especially murder, we feel The Daily’s label suggests something less defensible.

Issues surrounding terrorism are inherently political and are not easily divorced from their context. For example, popular American rhetoric does not acknowledge that the U.S. government is responsible for 60,000 deaths each year as a result of economic sanctions on Iraq, 25,000 deaths from bombings of essential pharmaceutical factories in Sudan, and at least 200 civilian deaths from bombing Afghanistan.

Many people support the Bush administration’s ‘war on terrorism’ and the means that are used to achieve it. However, a sizable minority believe the issues of terrorism are far more complex. Perhaps the United States is similarly culpable of ‘terror’ as those we deem ‘terrorists.’ Perhaps terrorism is rhetoric simply used to delegitimize the political goals of the weak, or perhaps the rhetoric affects racialized stereotypes of violence. Either way, the issues of terrorism are far from being clear cut. And even if we are united against terrorism, we certainly don’t agree on what terrorism is, who it affects and what we should do about it.

The Daily’s label does a poor job of characterizing the student and national response to recent events and excludes the viewpoints of many readers.

Michael McGillen

Weinberg sophomore

Bret Harper

Weinberg sophomore

U.S. has a responsibility to defend all those in fear

There has been a lot of criticism on campus about current U.S. policy following the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center. Many people are understandably upset that more innocent lives are being lost in Afghanistan as a result of the recent disaster. Only a cold-hearted individual does not feel remorse for the long-suffering Afghan people who are facing greater hardships due to U.S. military action.

However, the use of U.S. armed forces is a necessary and appropriate response. Regrettably, diplomatic appeasement of the fundamentalist radicals in the Taliban and the terrorists they support will not end our troubles but rather postpone them until a later date.

Middle Eastern terrorist groups have been attacking United States and its citizens with regularity since the 1970s. Our minimal response to the recent bombings of two U.S. embassies and the USS Cole might have been a result of the attacks being on foreign soil. This passive approach obviously did nothing to prevent the tragedy in New York.

The fact is that terrorists and their fundamentalist supporters will not be satisfied until the U.S. and its allies abandon Israel and leave the Middle East forever. This “all or nothing” diplomacy option is not only unacceptable, but would be the most cowardly betrayal of democratic ideals in our nation’s history. U.S. departure from the region would compel other radical groups to overthrow more moderate regimes. Pakistan, which possesses nuclear arms, is one country where this scenario is plausible. New authoritarian governments would not hesitate to commit atrocities against their peaceful civilian populations, similar to the horrors that Afghans have endured during the Taliban’s rule.

I agree with Alex Thomas’s Tuesday political cartoon where he expressed that “we aren’t any other nation.” We are the greatest democratic power in the world. As such we have a responsibility to defend not just our citizens from terror, but all people who live in fear, regardless of nationality or religion. We do not seek anything so crude as revenge. Afghan civilians are not our targets, nor are they our enemies. Our enemies are those with the capability to kill without warning, who do so with little provocation. Until this hostile capability is destroyed, no one is safe.

Aaron Rapport

Weinberg junior