Looking Back reviews opinions published in The Spokesman-Review during this week in history.
American attacked, Sept. 12, 2001
The following is the The Spokesman-Review’s editorial after the terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2001.
“War has come to U.S. soil. Today, Americans see the world with new eyes.
“While thousands of innocent civilians lay dead or maimed in New York City and our nation’s capital, Palestinians took to their streets, where some shouted, ‘God is great,’ as if they had won some victory. On the Internet, Web sites maintained by American white supremacist groups published electronic hallelujahs. In this new war, Americans have enemies at home as well as enemies abroad.
“When Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, Americans knew who they had to fight – and they fought, with an avenging fury that pulverized the aggressor. From farm boys to the president, from the elderly who tilled victory gardens to the young women who marched into factories and built B-17s, Americans of that generation knew the right thing to do. And found the courage to do it.
“Who do we fight now? Terrorism is a phantom, a killer of innocents. Irrational. Hateful. Cowardly. But terrorism’s shadow is cast by real persons. Today, the task at hand is to identify them, find them and destroy them. That will take some time. Let us take the time to do the job well, with lethal aim and all of the resources at our nation’s disposal. If our country equivocates, we leave the enemy free to strike again.
“In addition, let us take notice of those who celebrated the disaster, while decent people were recoiling and rushing in to help. Let us notice the belief systems that inspire such hate, for evil values beget evil deeds, and there is a new generation to raise, a generation that may face its own Pearl Harbors.
“We cannot stamp out hateful beliefs but we can embrace the better way. We can teach our children the beliefs that made our country a refuge for the oppressed, a doer of justice and a righter of wrongs.
“In the wake of Pearl Harbor, Americans wrongly imprisoned loyal, fellow citizens of Japanese descent. Let us not make that mistake again. For us to hate on the basis of race, creed or nationality would be to emulate our enemy. For us to fear would be to compromise the freedom that sets our nation apart. Before the dust had settled Tuesday afternoon, some Americans eager to lash out were doing so with a scatter gun, denouncing any fellow Americans with whom they have disagreed, from religious fundamentalists to environmental extremists. This sort of talk ought to be beneath us.
“United, we ought to pray for and support our nation’s leaders as they plan the appropriate response. We ought to help those who have been hurt in any tangible way we can. And when we embrace our families at night, we ought to be raising up a generation committed, as prior Americans have been, to justice, freedom and the courage to recognize each generation’s evil and wipe it from the face of the Earth.”