In light of recent events, it is hoped that cooler heads will prevail. 

You have no idea how it displeases me to hear someone shouting, "Let's wipe them all out!" I would like to hand this person a rifle and assign him/her to a battalion. Anyone can cry war, but it is our children who will have to fight it, and no one returns from war unscathed. 

Thus I have collected a few things here that hopefully will allow us to explore our humanity before we start pulling triggers. 

 

I was sent links to two tribute sites that were very beautiful. I lost the actual sites but found the tributes saved in my temporary internet files and I have loaded them up here for you. They take a while to load, but are well worth it. I thank the authors for their work, their compassion, and their sensitivity.

Tribute to America - 2,621KB

Can't Cry Hard Enough - 1,175KB

This article came from the Jewish Voice For Peace newsletter: 

A Muslim's stirring first-hand account of the WTC tragedy

My name is Usman Farman and I graduated from Bentley with a Finance degree last May. I am 21 years old, turning 22 in October; I am Pakistani, and I am Muslim. Until September 10th 2001, I used to work at the World Trade Center in building #7. I had friends and acquaintances who worked in tower #1 right across from me. Some made it out, and some are still unaccounted for. I survived this horrible event.

I'd like to share with you what I went through that awful day, with the hopes that we can all stay strong together; through this tragedy of yet untold proportions. As I found out, regardless of who we are, and where we come from, we only have each other.

I commute into the city every morning on the train from New Jersey. Rather, I used to. I still can't believe what is happening. That morning I woke up and crawled out of bed. I was thinking about flaking out on the train and catching the late one, I remember telling myself that I just had to get to work on time. I ended up catching the 7:48 train, which put me in Hoboken at 8:20 am. When I got there I thought about getting something to eat, I decided against it and took the PATH train to the World Trade Center. I arrived at the World Trade at 8:40 in the morning. I walked into the lobby of building 7 at 8:45, that's when the first plane hit.

Had I taken the late train, or gotten a bite to eat, I would have been 5 minutes late and walking over the crosswalk. Had that happened, I would have been caught under a rain of fire and debris, I wouldn't be here talking to you. I'd be dead.

I was in the lobby, and I heard the first explosion; it didn't register. They were doing construction outside and I thought some scaffolding had fallen. I took the elevators up to my office on the 27th floor. When I walked in, the whole place was empty. There were no alarms, no sprinklers, nothing. Our offices are, or rather, were on the south side of building
seven. We were close enough to the North and South Towers, that I could literally throw a stone from my window and hit the North tower with it.

My phone rang and I spoke with my mother and told her that I was leaving, at that moment I saw an explosion rip out of the second building. I called my friend in Boston, waking her up and told her to tell everyone I'm okay, and that I was leaving. I looked down one last time and saw the square and fountain that I eat lunch in, was covered in smoldering debris. Apparently, I was one of the last to leave my building, when I was on the way up in the elevators; my co-workers from the office were in the stairwells coming down. When I evacuated, there was no panic. People were calm and helping each other; a pregnant woman was being carried down the stairwell.

I'll spare the more gruesome details of what I saw, those are things that no one should ever have to see, and beyond human decency to describe. Those are things which will haunt me for the rest of my life, my heart goes out to
everyone who lost their lives that day, and those who survived with the painful reminders of what once was. Acquaintances of mine who made it out of the towers, only got out because 1000 people formed a human chain to
find their way out of the smoke. Everyone was a hero that day.

We were evacuated to the north side of building 7. Still only 1 block from the towers. The security people told us to go north and not to look back. 5 city blocks later I stopped and turned around to watch. With a thousand people staring, we saw in shock as the first tower collapsed. No one could believe it was happening, it is still all too-surreal to imagine. The next thing I remember is that a dark cloud of glass and debris about 50 stories high came tumbling towards us. I turned around and ran as fast as possible. I didn't realize until yesterday that the reason I'm still feeling so sore was that I fell down trying to get away.

What happened next is why I came here to give this speech.

I was on my back, facing this massive cloud that was approaching, it must have been 600 feet off, everything was already dark. I normally wear a pendant around my neck, inscribed with an Arabic prayer for safety; similar to the cross. A Hasidic Jewish man came up to me and held the pendant in his hand, and looked at it. He read the Arabic out loud for a second. What he said next, I will never forget. With a deep Brooklyn accent he said "Brother, if you don't mind, there is a cloud of glass coming at us, grab my hand, lets get the hell out of here". He helped me stand up, and we ran for what seemed like forever without looking back. He was the last person I would ever have thought, who would help me. If it weren't for him, I probably would have been engulfed in shattered glass and debris.

An Open Letter From an American of Afghanistan Heritage

I speak as one who hates the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden. There is no doubt in my mind that these people were responsible for the atrocity in New York. I agree that something must be done about those monsters.

But the Taliban and Bin Laden are not Afghanistan. They're not even the government of Afghanistan. The Taliban are a cult of ignorant psychotics who took over Afghanistan in 1997. Bin Laden is a political criminal with a plan. When you think Taliban, think Nazis. When you think Bin Laden, think Hitler. And when you think "the people of Afghanistan" think "the Jews in the concentration camps." It's not only that the Afghan people had nothing to do with this atrocity. They were the first victims of the perpetrators. They would exult if someone would come in there, take out the Taliban and clear out the rats nest of international thugs holed up in their country.

Some say, why don't the Afghans rise up and overthrow the Taliban? The answer is, they're starved, exhausted, hurt, incapacitated, suffering. A few years ago, the United Nations estimated that there are 500,000 disabled orphans in Afghanistan--a country with no economy, no food. There are millions of widows. And the Taliban has been burying these widows alive in mass graves. The soil is littered with land mines, the farms were all destroyed by the Soviets. These are a few of the reasons why the Afghan people have not overthrown the Taliban. 

We come now to the question of bombing Afghanistan back to the Stone Age. Trouble is, that's been done. The Soviets took care of it already. Make the Afghans suffer? They're already suffering. Level their houses? Done. Turn their schools into piles of rubble? Done. Eradicate their hospitals? Done. Destroy their infrastructure? Cut them off from medicine and health care? Too late. Someone already did all that. 

New bombs would only stir the rubble of earlier bombs. Would they at least get the Taliban? Not likely. In today's Afghanistan, only the Taliban eat, only they have the means to move around. They'd slip away and hide. Maybe the bombs would get some of those disabled orphans, they don't move too fast, they don't even have wheelchairs. But flying over Kabul and dropping bombs wouldn't really be a strike against the criminals who did this horrific thing. Actually it would only be making common cause with the Taliban--by raping once again the people they've been raping all this time.

So what else is there? What can be done, then? Let me now speak with true fear and trembling. The only way to get Bin Laden is to go in there with ground troops. When people speak of "having the belly to do what needs to be done" they're thinking in terms of having the belly to kill as many as needed. Having the belly to overcome any moral qualms about killing innocent people. Let's pull our heads out of the sand. What's actually on the table is Americans dying. And not just because some Americans would die fighting their way through Afghanistan to Bin Laden's hideout. It's much bigger than that folks. Because to get any troops to Afghanistan, we'd have to go through Pakistan. Would they let us? Not likely. The conquest of Pakistan would have to be first. Will other Muslim nations just stand by? You see where I'm going. We're flirting with a world war between Islam and the West. 

And guess what: that's Bin Laden's program. That's exactly what he wants. That's why he did this. Read his speeches and statements. It's all right there. He really believes Islam would beat the west. It might seem ridiculous, but he figures if he can polarize the world into Islam and the West, he's got a billion soldiers. If the west wreaks a holocaust in those lands, that's a billion people with nothing left to lose, that's even better from Bin Laden's point of view. He's probably wrong, in the end the west would win, whatever that would mean, but the war would last for years and millions would die, not just theirs but ours. Who has the belly for that? Bin Laden does. Anyone else?

Tamim Ansary

When Tamin speaks of the Taliban being Nazis, he's not far off. Here is a story off the wires earlier this year:

Afghan Taliban Orders Non-Muslims to Wear Badge
May 22, 2001 1:16 pm EST

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (Reuters) - Afghanistan's Taliban rulers ordered the country's non-Muslim minorities Tuesday to wear a distinctive badge on their clothes while going outdoors. The Taliban-controlled Voice of Shariat radio, monitored in Islamabad, quoted religious police chief Maulawi Abdul Wali as saying the order had been issued in the light of a fatwa, or religious decree, given by Islamic scholars. "The ulema (scholars) issued a fatwa that the non-Muslim population of the country should have a distinctive mark such as a piece of cloth attached to their pockets so they should be differentiated from others," it quoted Wali as saying in an interview with the official Bakhtar news agency. "And this decision is in accordance with the Sharia (Islamic law)," he said.

After reading through some very powerful editorials passed around the internet, here is one that didn't quite make it to all the same places that the cries for war did. 

Friends:

There's been a lot of talk of parallels to the events of last week - Pearl Harbor, Kennedy's assassination, the Civil War - but there's a better parallel that I haven't heard any media commentator mention: the 19th century American West, when innocent ordinary citizens faced the threat of attack and atrocities by American Indians, and the media whipped up hysteria that exaggerated the fears ... and conveniently failed to mention the fact that Indians had the same fears, but of whites committing atrocities against them, and much more, and like the Palestinians over the last fifty years, losing their homeland and their way of life.  When white settlements were attacked, it was an atrocity; when Indian villages were attacked, it was justified retaliation.  Are things so different today?

Custer's "Last Stand" at the Little Big Horn was similar in impact to the WTC massacre.  Of course, unlike the workers in the WTC and the passengers in the hijacked planes, Custer was no innocent; he set out that day to massacre a Cheyenne village and found the tables unexpectedly turned.  But the impact on the American public was very similar to the WTC.  Custer had been the darling of the American media, the Michael Jordan - or better, the Muhammad Ali - of his day.  Custer was dashing, distinctive with his long, golden hair, arrogantly boastful of his victories over Indians, and absolutely confident in himself. When he was killed, the media played it to the hilt as an example of Indian brutality, whipping up anti-Indian hysteria, and may have made any further hopes for reasonable peace between Indians and whites impossible. 

This is one of my fears about the current environment.  Even if we "win" the "war", which is in itself questionable, I fear the only way to accomplish this without changing US foreign policy is treat the world's oppressed and despairing people similarly to how 19th century America treated its Native population.

I support efforts to apprehend and punish those responsible for last week's atrocities, but this alone is not enough, and neither is military action.  The only way to permanently end the terrorism problem is to give genuine hope, justice, and opportunity to the oppressed and desperate populations of the world.

Gordon Bainbridge

And if we must go to war, then let us learn from someone who taught the art of war, the history of war, at the Air Force Academy, Retired Colonel Tony Kern (from http://www.radioparadise.com/?content=911) :

From: Dr. Tony Kern, Lt Cool, USAF (Ret)
Date: 14 September, 2001

Recently, I was asked to look at the recent events through the lens of military history. I have joined the cast of thousands who have written an "open letter to Americans."

Dear friends and fellow Americans:

Like everyone else in this great country, I am reeling from last week's attack on our sovereignty. But unlike some, I am not reeling from surprise. As a career soldier and a student and teacher of military history, I have a different perspective and I think you should hear it.

This war will be won or lost by the American citizens, not diplomats, politicians or soldiers. Let me briefly explain.

In spite of what the media, and even our own government is telling us, this act was not committed by a group of mentally deranged fanatics. To dismiss them as such would be among the gravest of mistakes. This attack was committed by a ferocious, intelligent and dedicated adversary. Don't take this the wrong way. I don't admire these men and I deplore their tactics, but I respect their capabilities. The many parallels that have been made with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor are apropos. Not only because it was a brilliant sneak attack against a complacent America, but also because we may well be pulling our new adversaries out of caves 30 years after we think this war is over, just like my father's generation had to do with the formidable Japanese in the years following WW II.

These men hate the United States with all of their being, and we must not underestimate the power of their moral commitment. Napoleon, perhaps the world's greatest combination of soldier and statesman, stated "the moral is to the physical as three is to one." Patton thought the Frenchman underestimated its importance and said moral conviction was five times more important in battle than physical strength. Our enemies are willing --better said anxious -- to give their lives for their cause.

How committed are we America? And for how long? In addition to demonstrating great moral conviction, the recent attack demonstrated a mastery of some of the basic fundamentals of warfare taught to most military officers worldwide, namely simplicity, security and surprise. When I first heard rumors that some of these men may have been trained at our own Air War College, it made perfect sense to me. This was not a random act of violence, and we can expect the same sort of military competence to be displayed in the battle to come.

This war will escalate, with a good portion of it happening right here in the good ol' U.S. of A.

These men will not go easily into the night. They do not fear us. We must not fear them. In spite of our overwhelming conventional strength as the world's only "superpower" (a truly silly term), we are the underdog in this fight. As you listen to the carefully scripted rhetoric designed to prepare us for the march for war, please realize that America is not equipped or seriously trained for the battle ahead. To be certain, our soldiers are much better than the enemy, and we have some excellent "counter-terrorist" organizations, but they are mostly trained for hostage rescues, airfield seizures, or the occasional "body snatch," (which may come in handy). We will be fighting a war of annihilation, because if their early efforts are any indication, our enemy is ready and willing to die to the last man. Eradicating the enemy will be costly and time consuming. They have already deployed their forces in as many as 20 countries, and are likely living the lives of everyday citizens. Simply put, our soldiers will be tasked with a search and destroy mission on multiple foreign landscapes, and the public must be patient and supportive until the strategy and tactics can be worked out.

For the most part, our military is still in the process of redefining itself and presided over by men and women who grew up with - and were promoted because they excelled in - Cold War doctrine, strategy and tactics. This will not be linear warfare, there will be no clear "centers of gravity" to strike with high technology weapons. Our vast technological edge will certainly be helpful, but it will not be decisive. Perhaps the perfect metaphor for the coming battle was introduced by the terrorists themselves aboard the hijacked aircraft -- this will be a knife fight, and it will be won or lost by the ingenuity and will of citizens and soldiers, not by software or smart bombs. We must also be patient with our military leaders.

Unlike Americans who are eager to put this messy time behind us, our adversaries have time on their side, and they will use it. They plan to fight a battle of attrition, hoping to drag the battle out until the American public loses its will to fight. This might be difficult to believe in this euphoric time of flag waving and patriotism, but it is generally acknowledged that America lacks the stomach for a long fight.

We need only look as far back as Vietnam, when North Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap (also a military history teacher) defeated the United States of America without ever winning a major tactical battle. American soldiers who marched to war cheered on by flag waving Americans in 1965 were reviled and spat upon less than three years later when they returned. Although we hope that Usama Bin Laden is no Giap, he is certain to understand and employ the concept. We can expect not only large doses of pain like the recent attacks, but! also less audacious "sand in the gears" tactics, ranging from livestock infestations to attacks at water supplies and power distribution facilities.

These attacks are designed to hit us in our "comfort zone" forcing the average American to "pay more and play less" and eventually eroding our resolve. But it can only work if we let it. It is clear to me that the will of the American citizenry - you and I - is the center of gravity the enemy has targeted. It will be the fulcrum upon which victory or defeat will turn. He believes us to be soft, impatient, and self-centered. He may be right, but if so, we must change. The Prussian general Carl von Clausewitz, (the most often quoted and least read military theorist in history), says that there is a "remarkable trinity of war" that is composed of the (1) will of the people, (2) the political leadership of the government, and (3) the chance and probability that plays out on the field of battle, in that order. Every American citizen was in the crosshairs of last Tuesday's attack, not just those that were unfortunate enough to be in the World Trade Center or Pentagon. The will of the American people will decide this war. If we are to win, it will be because we have what it takes to persevere through a few more hits, learn from our mistakes, improvise, and adapt. If we can do that, we will eventually prevail.

Everyone I've talked to In the past few days has shared a common frustration, saying in one form or another "I just wish I could do something!" You are already doing it. Just keep faith in America, and continue to support your President and military, and the outcome is certain.

If we fail to do so, the outcome is equally certain.

God Bless America

Dr. Tony Kern, Lt Col, USAF (Ret)
Former Director of Military History, USAF Academy
LCDR Robert Bennett N78C2A

 

"Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it."
George Santayana

On Monday

On Monday we lived our normal lives, working, driving, eating, drinking, laughing, arguing, fighting, sleeping.
On Tuesday all that changed.

On Monday we were indestructible, we were number one, we were the strongest nation in the world.
On Tuesday we got the beating of our lives by a handful of fanatics armed with razorblades.

On Monday prayer was outlawed in schools.
On Tuesday our schools, offices, homes, and streets were filled with prayer.

On Monday our heroes were actors and athletes.
On Tuesday we learned who the real heroes were: firefighters, police, and ordinary citizens who gave up their lives helping others.

On Monday we were men and women, gays and straights, blacks and whites, rich and poor.
On Tuesday we were Americans.

On Monday partisan politics rang loudly throughout Capital Hill.
On Tuesday our representatives gathered together on the Capital steps to sing "God Bless America."

On Monday parents yelled at their kids to clean their rooms, do their homework, help with the dishes.
On Tuesday parents raced home to hug their kids.

On Monday we got upset if we had to stand in line.
On Tuesday we gladly stood in line for hours to give blood.

On Monday we cut out coupons hoping to save some money.
On Tuesday we gave our money away to help people we'd never met.

On Monday we moved in tight circles, hardly looking our neighbor in the eye.
On Tuesday we held hands and cried with strangers.

What a difference a day makes.
What a difference a handful of people make.
What a difference we can all make
when we stand together: one voice, one heart, one country.



God Bless America

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