I didn’t post this [in the class discussion] tonight because I couldn’t quite formulate my thoughts about it. It isn’t suprising given the anniversary of September 11, that these thoughts would be coming to the surface and that I would be emotional more than rational. So given that pretext…
Ultimately this is about what we say and what we do. Response to tragedy and the communicative structure of democracy as a whole.
On issues of foreign students — in the sense of labeling a group of people — and terrorism, I thought again about the concept of terrorism that is NOT from the outside in. I know this has already been said, that an example of such terrorism from within is Timothy McVeigh. But what happens when it is said? Where does it go? Does anyone listen — more importantly, does anyone understand? I can remember thinking this after September 11, 2000 and after reading a few things quoted from Martin Luther King Jr. I couldn’t believe it. These things were so relevant and full of truth. And yet here we were as a country, as a people, no different, not changed to any significant degree, still unable to cope with such pain and suffering — and honestly, probably incapable of truly making anything out of those words except to feel comfort. I wonder if that was what people felt at the time they were first spoken. Just consolation?
So what about Timothy McVeigh? How do we fight terrorism on perpetrated American soil by American citizens? What does this say about our communication, among government agencies, about preparedness for such disasters? And what about the “why”? Why did an American commit such an act against his ourn people? Why did non-American citizens commit such an act? But these types of questions only cause confusion and turmoil. But I do not fear to say that the truth is this: Our failure to answer these questions is what will lead to further turmoil.
We have begun to do this. The answer our government is providing is that the terrorists are just terrorist — crazy, mad and financially supported by other terrorists. Crazy, I suppose, means that we can give up most of the responsibility for feeling or understanding these events. If not for the events, then at least for the responsibility to think about what lies behind the event. I think there is more to be uncovered in the search both for the safety and well-being of American, as well as an understanding of and coping with tragedy. I want to be clear, too, that I think it perfectly sensible and understandable to chalk it up to “crazy”. It was a senseless act committed by persons with completely different beliefs. But it is this last part that I think becomes crucial for then asking, “What do I believe?”. Why do these beliefs conflict? Is there truth outside both of these beliefs? If we are not willing to ask these questions, if we cannot handle to learn something (and continue to learn things) from tragedy, from history, fine. But then the more rational solution right now, in my opinion, is to deal more exclusively with the homefront, OUR vulnerabilities (architecturally, strategically, financially). Fix those things here and NOT go into another culture we obviously know little to nothing about and rebuild it to match ours! Yikes! The “war on terrorism” and “fighting terrorism” IS terrorism. Here again, we say this. But, how can we get away with such hypocrisy? How can the largest worldwide protest of this war go ignored?
How much does the quote at the beginning of Are We Spiritual Machines have to say about this:
Truth is great and will prevail if left to herself…She is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error and has noting to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition is disarmed of her natural weapons: free argument and debate.