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"WW III? No thanks...!" On-Line Library

What is an appropropriate response?
Political and philosophical considerations after the attack on the Word Trade Center

Chorus of Sanity: a collection of personal statements

David Noller, Tamim Ansary, Gavin R. Putland, Chris Corrigan...
Also: links to petition and action sites

David Noller writes:

Within a block and a half of my own house are (a) a
Muslim-owned pizzeria (1st generation); (b) a
Muslim-owned corner market (1st); (c) a Muslim-owned
Middle Eastern restaurant (also 1st); and (d) a small
mosque.  Tonight after hours I left the following
letter [with these businesses and the mosque]:

    = =  = =

Dear Friends & Neighbors;

We know that during this horrible time of terror you
may be suffering wrongly from the ignorant fear and
anger of others.

We are sorry.

We hurt with you.

We apologize for any hurtful comments which may be
directly or indirectly made against you; they come
only from scared but spiritually poor people.

We hope that you are well in body and soul.

We deplore all violent language and violent action--by
and against any and all people.

We know that many of our own immigrant
ancestors--including but not limited to German,
Italian, and Japanese-Americans during the equally
difficult times of the World Wars-unfairly suffered
from the same fear and bigotry.

We want you to know how glad we are that you bring
your strength and your traditions to our country of

We are proud of your hard work.

We are proud of your courage.

We are Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist,
atheist and agnostic.

We are all colors.

We are all national and ethnic backgrounds.

We welcome you.

We support you.

We are Americans.

We are your friends and neighbors.

    = =  = =

     Earlier tonight I bought a pizza. I expressed
concern by asking "Ali" how he was doing under the
current circumstances. He shrugged it off.
     "Okay, fine; no problem" he said, turning away.
It was obvious he was embarrassed by the question.
     Then he turned back around a moment later. And
with great sincerity he said, "Thank you. Thank you
for asking."

Tamim Ansary writes:

I've been hearing a lot of talk about "bombing Afghanistan back to the Stone 
Age." Ronn Owens, on KGO Talk Radio today, allowed that this would mean killing
innocent people, people who had nothing to do with this atrocity, but "we're at 
war, we have to accept collateral damage. What else can we do?" Minutes later I
heard some TV pundit discussing whether we "have the belly to do what must be 

And I thought about the issues being raised especially hard because I am from 
Afghanistan, and even though I've lived here for 35 years I've never lost track
of what's going on there. So I want to tell anyone who will listen how it all 
looks from where I'm standing.

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 Ben 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?

Gavin R. Putland writes:

Most Muslims -- law-abiding, peace-loving Muslims -- want the United
States to get out of Saudi Arabia and lift the sanctions against Iraq.
This is also what Osama bin Laden SAYS he wants.  But it is not what he
REALLY wants.  What he really wants is World War III: Islam vs. the West.
He won't get that if America does exactly what most Muslims want.

So what I would say to President Bush (but cannot, unless other people
multiply my message for me) is this: When your enemies make a
premeditated strike against you, they have considered your likely
response and have decided to accept it.  They may or may not actually
WANT it, but they have certainly decided to accept it.  Therefore, if you
respond as they expect, you will confirm them in their present behavior.
If you want to change their behavior, you must do something that they

Bin Laden and his followers neither want you nor expect you to get out of
Saudi Arabia or lift sanctions against Iraq. So, whatever else you do,
make sure you first get out of Saudi Arabia and lift sanctions against

Bin Laden's war against America is not only a war of terror, but also a
war of deceit.  Don't fall for it.

Click here for more information on Gandhi...

The following contribution had at first been attributed to Asha Parker
who apparently did not write it, however, but had forwarded it by e-mail.
The author is Chris Corrigan ( ).

My daughter Aine and I were walking in the woods today playing a game.
She was pretending that there were monsters in the forest and that they
were coming to eat us.  We had to be vigilant.  We had to defend

I asked her "What is the plan? What are we going to do if we see one of
the monsters?"

She replied, "Feed them."

"Feed them?" I said.

"Yes," she said. "If we feed them they won't want to eat us."

I think she has the answer there.  Imagine if George Bush took that $40
billion that Congress gave him and used it to feed people.  Heck, take
$20 billion to fix up US security and clean up New York and use the
other half to feed people.  And not just feed them with food.

What if we decided that people's spirits needing feeding too?  What if
we chose to take $1 billion and build the biggest, most beautiful mosque
in the world, right in the heart of Kabul.  And what if we gave it as a
gift, no quid pro quo, as a place for people to feed their spirits?

What would the reaction be?  What do we want the reaction to be?  We
have choices

Seems we could bomb innocent people to death and celebrate, mirroring
the images of this week, and thereby satisfy our thirst for vengence.
But what would that get us?  A world that so admired the West that it
wanted to emulate it in every way and celebrates it;s way of life?  Or
would a large part of the 5 billion people that don't live in the west
see things differently?  Would more people feel as if vengence was the
only possible response, and figure out more simple and effective ways to
terrorize?  We can have that kind of world if we choose it.

Or we can take Aine's advice and feed people.  And what would that get
us?  There is no better way to rob the world of it's anger and
bitterness, jealousy and hate, than to feed people unconditionally...
feed their bodies, minds and spirits.  Build places of learning, places
of spirit, places for healing and nourishment, places of community.

Take that $40 billion dollars and spend it in every neighborhood in the
world.  Put the world to work growing food, healing people, restoring
land and water, building communities, creating the thin fibres of
connection between peoples, families, communties, cities, nations....

"If we feed them they won't want to eat us."  Can you think of a better
form of security?

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