How you can help
To the Editor:
Thank you so much for your insightful coverage of the recent terrorist attacks. In the Sept. 20 issue of the paper, you listed some things people can do to help. Here are a few others.
Confess. Feelings of outrage, confusion, fear and even hatred are common human reactions, along with more noble-seeming emotions of grief, love and compassion. The trick is to admit, accept and find positive ways of dealing with these feelings.
Connect -- to God and nature; to loved ones; to creative endeavors and physical activity; to institutions; and yes, to strangers and even enemies.
Commit -- to at least one simple positive deed each day. A smile, a prayer, even picking up a piece of litter can all make a difference -- even if it only brings some peace of mind to the doer.
Peace activist A.J. Muste said, "There is no way to peace. Peace is the way." Thank you for considering this simple action list, created in the hope that it will bring peace to at least one other person.
-- Marsha Anderson Smith
Terrorism at home
To the Editor:
Terrorism is defined in Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary as: the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion. To accurately understand terrorism, we must by necessity understand "terror," which according to the dictionary means to frighten; to be afraid.
When America's senior citizens are forced to travel out of the United States in order to buy prescription medications; when senior citizens are allocated minimal Social Security Benefit payments; when senior citizens are forced to live in constant fear of being financially unable to afford needed medical or life insurance; when senior citizens are left without the financial means to have necessary automobile repairs made or are unable to pursue avenues of legal justice except for limited areas, I would submit to "America," especially its state and federal politicians, that they are terrorists.
When veterans of WWII are stripped of their promise of lifelong medical benefits for themselves and their spouses, I would submit to the state and federal politicians that your terrorist acts are not only mean-spirited, they are life threatening and not so dissimilar to the acts carried out by the terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001.
My question is: Why have the state and federal politicians not put forth a call to arms to eliminate terror against American senior citizens? Why must we be daily afraid of not having enough food to sustain an active healthy life? Why must we be forced to choose between needed medication or food? The bombings of Sept. 11, 2001 are horrific acts taking human life and cannot be permitted to go unpunished. However, we need to be aware of the fact of the ongoing systematic use of terror (fear) practiced against America's senior citizens and the homeless.
-- Faruq Al-Hafeez
Can't we learn?
To the Editor:
There are some people who just can't learn.
We all woke up on Sept. 11 to chaos and horror. What we saw, what seared us to the very depths of our souls, were thousands of innocents victimized by hatred and ignorance.
Unfortunately, some of those among us have chosen to react in the most un-American fashion possible: by victimizing other innocents with their own hatred and ignorance. Some have chosen to embarrass America by calling mosques and leaving threatening messages. Others have confronted and even hurt good American citizens who happen to be of Middle Eastern descent. Last night, a Muslim couple was turned away from a Colorado Springs motel; it was mostly empty, but the desk clerk, another embarrassment, told them there was no vacancy.
In some places it has been even worse. More American Embarrassments have chosen to attack and even kill those who appear to be Muslim or Arabic -- and often showcase their ignorance even further by not being able to tell the difference between one Middle Eastern ethnicity or religion and another. They have missed an incredibly important point: These radicals, these terrorists, do not truly represent or adhere to the Muslim faith any more than the "Reverend" Fred Phelps, or more recently Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, represent true Christianity as it is practiced and understood by decent people everywhere.
Can we not learn this lesson as a society? Have we not yet been able to evolve beyond separating people out by skin color or spirituality? Have we learned nothing over the years? Do any of these Embarrassments have enough understanding of history to remember the Japanese prison camps from WWII, where American-born people of Japanese descent were rounded up, torn away from their lives and incarcerated because we were afraid of the way they looked?
Each time one of these American Embarrassments does this kind of irreparable damage, they reinforce what this small number of radicals already believes about our culture. It is the responsibility of every member of our community and the American family to practice Zero Tolerance in regard to this kind of ugly, poisonous ignorance.
To all Muslims here and everywhere, please know this: These people do not represent our community or the American ideal.
Black Tuesday was a wake-up call. Now, more than ever, what we need is to love each other. If we can't learn that lesson, then there truly is no hope for us.
-- Alysabeth Clements
Let's not become what we hate
To the Editor:
Thank you, Cara DeGette, for your Sept. 20 Public Eye.
I had heard of the child mortality in the Middle East following the Gulf War, but I have to admit that I haven't bothered to follow the developments of it these past years. After the terrible events of last week, I wondered if their children were still dying at such a rate.
Now, let me get on with it.
I've been a student of history throughout my life and have learned of things, both horrible and beautiful, that have caused me to cry. The events of Sept. 11 were no exception. However, I was frankly quite shocked at the amount of sympathy and support that we received from the nations of the Middle East and northern Africa. These nations are taking a grave risk by offering such support. I have seen their ambassadors in the media and they appear quite frightened, not of us, but of the retribution that their people could face as a result of their support for us.
We, more than ever, need to act with deliberate prudence and sagacity. We have the military might to cause profound destruction, but, in doing so, I'm afraid that we could turn the whole of the Middle East into one great big West Bank. Some in the Middle East hate us, but there is a substantial number there that don't. In attacking any nation of the Middle East, we may only serve to galvanize the radical views of certain factions.
We should take heart that there are those over there -- and they are many -- that have the wisdom and courage to see, and repel, the odious depravity of the terrorists. We can choose to fight one another, or we can choose to fight terrorism together. The United States has the military might to cause profound destruction, but if we can hold ourselves in abeyance for their sakes, that would be grace. Let us not become that which we hate.
-- Fred Lausch
Bomb them with butter, bribe them with hope
To the Editor:
A military response, particularly an attack on Afghanistan, is exactly what the terrorists want. It will strengthen and swell their small but fanatical ranks.
Instead, bomb Afghanistan with butter, with rice, bread, clothing and medicine. It will cost less than conventional arms, poses no threat of U.S. casualties and just might get the populace thinking that maybe the Taliban don't have the answers. After three years of drought and with starvation looming, let's offer the Afghani people the vision of a new future -- one that includes full stomachs.
Bomb them with information -- video players and cassettes of world leaders, particularly Islamic leaders, condemning terrorism. Carpet the country with magazines and newspapers showing the horror of terrorism committed by their "guest." Blitz them with laptop computers and DVD players filled with a perspective that is denied them by their government. Saturation bombing with hope will mean that some of it gets through. Send so much that the Taliban can't collect and hide it all.
The Taliban are telling their people to prepare for Jihad. Instead, let's give the Afghani people their first good meal in years. Seeing your family fully fed and the prospect of stability in terms of food and a future is a powerful deterrent to martyrdom. All we ask in return is that they, as a people, agree to enter the civilized world. That includes handing over terrorists in their midst.
In responding to terrorism we need to do something different, something unexpected, something that addresses the root of the problem. We need to take away the well of despair, ignorance and brutality from which the Osama bin Ladens of the world water their gardens of terror.
-- Kent Madin
Over the Internet
No higher priority
To the Editor:
Keeping all the military bases in El Paso County in the same Congressional District is the most critical issue in Congressional redistricting. Without that, Colorado will not have a seat on the Armed Services Committee and all of Colorado will suffer. No plan should pass unless it meets this simple criterion.
El Paso County currently contains five military installations and nearly 22,000 military retirees. This military sector in El Paso County alone provides $2.4 billion annually to the state economy. Fort Carson is the second largest employer in the state (after state government itself). The number of military retirees ranks the 5th Congressional District third in the nation for retiree density. America faces another round of base realignment and closures. It is imperative that Colorado be represented on the Armed Services Committee for the benefit of the entire state. There is no higher priority, especially now as we call on our military to respond to the terrorist threat.
Will our state legislators put the state's interests ahead of partisan politics and their own personal ambitions?
El Paso County Commissioner
A liberal declares war
To the Editor:
Although I cannot support the idea of President Bush's vengeance, I do unequivocally support a war against Afghanistan and any other fundamentalist Islamic state harboring terrorists. And I am a liberal. Yup, registered Democrat in El Paso County.
You may ask, why would I espouse such heretical ideas. (After all, they might pull my certified liberal card!) Well, let me tell you what I think liberal means. I am very happy that my "liberal" country allows me to attend college, even though I am a woman. I know that in other parts of the world, I would not only be denied schooling but the freedom to do as I wish with my own body, to marry as I choose, to work, indeed, even the right to laugh in public or look at a man in the street. I am very happy that in my "liberal" country I have a wide choice of churches to attend. I know that in other parts of the world, I would only be allowed to worship at the altar of one faith. I am also happy because my "liberal" government does not censor the books I read, makes at least an attempt to not kill civilians during wartime, and allows me to publicly protest its policies without fear of reprisal. And this is just the short list.
As a liberal, I would like to extend my happiness to the rest of the world. As a pragmatist, I am aware that both revolutions and wars are bloody and that we all must pay a price for freedom. There have been very few great social advances in the world that were obtained easily or peacefully. As Edmund Burke said, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
This "war" is the excuse and the opportunity for America the Brave to finally do something about the brutality, oppression and hate that flourish because of the Taliban and other fundamentalist regimes of the Middle East. Yes, it will be ugly, and yes, innocents will die on both sides. But I cannot condone doing nothing -- we have done nothing long enough. I would charge my fellow liberals out there to think upon Nazi Germany -- how long would you have stood by watching or advocating peace and restraint? If you refuse to act in the face of blatant evil, you are also at fault.
-- Kira Stanley