On Friday, I attended what UW-Madison officials claimed would be a memorial service for the victims of last week’s horrendous acts. What ensued Friday afternoon at the alleged “vigil” was deplorable, misleading and most importantly, immensely disrespectful to the victims of this tragedy.
UW Professor Joe Elder, among others, is deeply confused on the relative and separate definitions of memorial service and activist rally. This day should have been about one thing: the victims of this particular assault. Speakers should have underscored the importance and meaning of the victims’ lives, how they contributed to this earth, and how they touched us all. Professor Elder did not accomplish nor attempt to achieve any of these objectives. Other than a few obligatory lines toward the end of his speech, little mention was made of the actual victims of the attack. Instead, it was a slyly constructed argument against the likely upcoming raids on Afghanistan and other nations harboring terrorists. If Professor Elder wanted to state such feelings, an appropriate forum would have been on the opposite side of Memorial Library with the other relatively silent and respectful activists, not in front of thousands expecting remembrance and closure.
I’m sure many of those who attended Friday’s ceremony were as dismayed and disgusted as I was by the “Christians” who interrupted the speaker with a message of “Know Jesus or go to Hell.” I, like many other Christians, covered my head in shame.
After Sept. 11’s horrific tragedy, I doubt God wants to interrupt our grieving with a message of eternal condemnation. Our God is a loving God. Although we have shed many tears, God has shed more. God is right there in the midst of this tragedy, longing to comfort us in our suffering.
Just as the hijackers are not a representation of all Muslims, please don’t let those demonstrators represent all Christians, or God.
I graduated from UW-Madison in 1999 and have since been teaching in Paris. I’m writing because the grotesque events of Sept. 11th and their possible repercussions are keeping me awake at night. All I can say is that I feel physically ill at the waste of human life that has occurred, and I feel violated as an American. Seeing my country under attack, familiar landmarks in flames, has shaken me to the core.
Here in France, I have witnessed the impact these attacks have had on the average European – they are no less shaken. Some have loved ones and colleagues in New York and D.C., but everyone is horrified by what has happened, appalled by the level to which terrorism has been taken. Nobody here finds the terrorists’ use of violence justified, even those who may at times severely question American foreign policy.
This reprehensible act touches us all so deeply that we can’t help but want to punish the perpetrators and send a message to terrorists that such acts will not be tolerated. We have to. What I hope and pray is that our leaders will look beyond their gut feelings of violation, anger and desire for revenge and seek justice in the purest sense of the term. I fear we will assign a scapegoat that innocent people will suffer unnecessarily if the terrorists are unreachable. What is happening in Iraq, for example, with untouchable Saddam becoming a martyr because his people suffer and die because of our blockades, should not be repeated.
Please don’t make war the only answer.
I’m writing this as a proud American citizen – nothing more and nothing less. Perhaps it’s because the last generation never faced any serious hardships or national security threats, but it’s become apparent that some people in this country, many of which happen to be at this university, do not know how to properly react to this recent attack on our freedom.
It is freedom that has made the United States the greatest nation in the world. When that freedom is attacked, it is our duty to unite behind our leaders, regardless of whether we support their political ideology.
Less than 20 years ago, the single greatest threat to our freedom was communism and the evil empire of the Soviet Union. Under the leadership of Ronald Reagan, Americans united to defeat, not appease, our enemy.
Today, it is clear the greatest threat to our freedom is terrorism. It is time that we unite under President Bush and the rest of our leaders to use whatever force necessary to end terrorism.
Rogue nations sponsoring and harboring terrorists are guilty by association and should not be regarded as innocent. Larry Johnson, a former terrorism expert at the State Department makes this quite clear.
“When you are dealing with sewage, you’ve got to get in the sewer. These people (terrorists) are not operating in nunneries,” he said.
This fight against terrorism is one that we must win. Our freedom and the fate of this great nation depend on it.
On Sept. 11, we witnessed the climax of what happens when human beings allow hatred, prejudice and rampant fanaticism to seep into their minds and hearts. On Sept. 13, Jerry Falwell appeared on Pat Robertson’s TV program, “The 700 Club,” and started pointing insane fingers of blame at people who had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks on our nation.
According to Falwell, “ACLU … pagans … abortionists … feminists … and those gays and lesbians” have to share in the blame for the acts of the hateful terrorists.
Apparently, in his radically-misguided mind, Falwell and those like him think what happened last week are signs of the “End Times,” that God is taking out his wrath on our nation because we battle against the very hate that Falwell and Robertson espouse. The attacks were not the acts of God; they were acts of evil, hateful men.
Falwell’s words are disgusting. At a time when he, along with other religious leaders, should be working to bring our country together, these comments instead aid and abet the goals of the terrorists who attacked us by seeking to tear us apart. He should apologize to us all immediately for his wholly inappropriate tirade and for inflicting yet more injury on our already wounded society.
The feelings of terror, devastation, aggravation, and most of all intense anger each American is feeling today, is felt by the Palestinians 365 days a year. America’s blind-backing of Israel under all circumstances has lead Palestine and the people who are affiliated with it to believe that America is someone who just will not listen unless made to do so.
It is extremely hypocritical for the United States to expect the Middle East to sit and morn for us. I personally do not recall seeing people tearing up because a little Palestinian boy was killed in “crossfire,” or seeing any candlelight vigils held for the many Iraqi men, women and children who perished in our “mandatory bombs raids.”
Of course it is absolutely disgusting to see people celebrate while we are going through such a state of shock, but as our media often does, they did not show you the whole picture.
The United States is known for its biased thoughts and its bullying nature. While it is a great country and has done significant good for the world, America has made her share of mistakes, one of which is simply not letting other countries voice their opinions without interference.
We need to eliminate our double standards. We should not expect Palestine to mourn for us, because we do not ever mourn for them. And above all, we need to stop the assumptions. One of the principal rights of democracy – America’s platform – is that one must not be charged as guilty unless proven so. Please remember, nothing has been stamped yet.
On this day of remembrance, I wish to convey, on behalf of the Madison Turkish Students Association, my most sincere feelings of sympathy to the American people, and especially to UW-Madison students following Tuesday’s tragic events. These incidents affect us all very deeply, and are especially difficult for those students who cannot be with their family and friends during these difficult times. We are sensitive to your worries as a number of Turkish-Americans are listed among those missing. Above all, our hearts reach out to those who have lost loved ones in this terrible disaster.
The Turkish people still remember vividly the outpouring of help from the United States following the catastrophic earthquakes in our own country just two years ago. Let it be known that we will offer our support in any way possible as we all work toward peace in the days to come. Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you all.
President, Madison Turkish Students Association