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Letters to the Editor 9/20

Do not equate justice with vengeance, ethnocentrism

Many times during the days since last Tuesday, I have felt compelled to express my thoughts and feelings in regard to the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

I am saddened. I grieve for the thousands who were killed in the attack, the rescue workers who have lost their lives in trying to save others, and for all of humanity. I grieve because the thing that humans are still most proficient at is destroying each other. I grieve not only for the American lives lost but also for the European, Asian, South American, African, and, yes, even Middle Eastern lives lost. I grieve because not only am I a citizen of the United States, but I am also a citizen of the world.

I am afraid, and I am angry. I worry that there will be other terrorist attacks ? what right did these terrorists have to take innocent lives? I worry about our reaction to the terrorists ? what right does the United States have to take innocent lives?

Since the tragedy of last week that resulted in loss of lives in New York, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania, I have seen American patriotism higher than it has been since the Gulf War. American flags are waving from houses and cars. However, I worry about the extreme of ethnocentrism. In their own fear and anger, people have lashed out at innocent people they thought to be Middle Eastern or Muslim. I know of someone who was asked to leave a grocery store simply because she was Middle Eastern. She was innocent ? she had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks.

One Indian (not Native American) who was killed may have been targeted simply because he looked Middle Eastern. He was innocent ? he had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks. Mosques are being vandalized, and Muslims are being threatened. These people are innocent ? they had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks. Now, tell me, how are our actions any better than those of the terrorists?

Remember, the suspected terrorists believe in a perversion of the Muslim faith and not in the faith most Muslims have. These attacks horrified the mainstream Muslim population. Now, for those of you who are going to tell me about the Palestinian refugees who were celebrating in the streets after the attacks, let me say this.

Those people who were celebrating the attacks were a very small percentage of the population. Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, condemned the attack and offered his condolences just as quickly as leaders of our allies did.

Now, please don?t misunderstand me here. Nothing justifies terrorism. There are those around the world who feel that Americans deserved what they got. That is a fact. Shouldn?t we be asking ourselves why they would be celebrating such a tragedy? Could it be that the United States itself has been committing acts of terrorism against these people? How is the starvation of millions of innocent people not terrorism?

After the terrorist bombings of the U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998, the United States retaliated by bombing Sudan and accidentally hit a pharmaceutical company. Innocent people died. How is it that the atrocities committed against Americans are worse than the atrocities committed by us?

Amber Kelly is a junior majoring in political science.