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Shades Of Grey

I would like to question some of the statements made by Matt Craighead in his column on September 14th [“An Eye For An Eye”]. While I understand his anger and share his fears and loss from the attacks Sept. 11th, I disagree with his conclusions. The world is not black or white. There are more than the two sides Matt mentions: with America or against America. One can be with America and yet be against blind retaliation. To be patriotic and to support democracy and freedom, one does not necessarily need military action against innocent people. At the same time, people here and abroad can be against American foreign policy and yet yearn for the freedoms that we, the American people, enjoy here.

I strongly believe in the American principles which state that one is innocent until proven guilty, and in the due process of law. It is exactly at times like this that our principles must shine through. Matt mentions that the terrorists and others complicit for the attacks must be killed. I disagree. We should do a thorough investigation (which is being undertaken right now), and hold our judgements until it is completed. Remember the Oklahoma City bombing when the Islamic fundamentalist groups were initially incriminated, leading to hatred and prejudice against Arab-Americans. It turned out be a home-grown terrorist who bombed the Federal building. When we do find out who is responsible, we should not kill them as Matt proposes, but bring them to the U.S. for a fair trial. If the U.S. evidence is strong, which I believe it will be, they will then be tried and sentenced. That is the American way, not killing or bombing people. In light of all of this, let us also not forget to understand why these terrorists behaved in the way they did. I have faith in universal humanity to state that it is not because they are inhuman, or don’t care about people, or don’t value their own lives. Human beings everywhere share common values and love for their family and friends. It’s only when cornered into an extreme situation that they react in inhumane or perhaps irrational ways to sacrifice their lives and other innocent lives. In this light, let us be brave enough to question what America done to them that they felt compelled to take such horrible actions. Are we truly innocent?

Is our foreign policy so perfect? Or, is our foreign policy in some ways complicit or responsible for cornering them?

These terrorists’ acts must never be condoned. However, while we investigate who has done this, let us also look in the mirror and investigate our own hearts.

Ananth Chikkatur G