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Caliifornia State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: August 31, 2001
Latest Update: September 16, 2001

E-Mail jeannecurran@habermas.org
E-Mail takata@uwp.edu

Sharing the Site
from the Week of September 17, 2001 - Week 4

Copyright: Jeanne Curran and Susan R. Takata and Individual Authors: September 2001.
"Fair use" encouraged.

    Sharing the Site



    You monster. You beast. You unspeakable bastard.

    by Leonard Pitts, Jr., the Miami Herald.

    On Thursday, September 13, 2001, Tina Juen wrote:

    Something I think Habermas site could use right now.
    Love and Peace, TIna

    This was in today's newspaper. It is written by Leonard Pitts, Jr., a columnist for the Miami Herald.

    "They pay me to tease shades of meaning from social and cultural issues, to provide words that help make sense of that which troubles the American soul. But in this moment of airless shock when hot tears sting disbelieving eyes, the only thing I can find to say, the only words that seem to fit, must be addressed to the unknown author of this suffering.

    You monster. You beast. You unspeakable bastard. What lesson did you hope to teach us by your coward's attack on our World Trade Center, our Pentagon, us? What was it you hoped we would learn? Whatever it was, please know that you failed. Did you want us to respect your cause? You just damned your cause. Did you want to make us fear? You just steeled our resolve. Did you want to tear us apart? You just brought us together.

    Let me tell you about my people. We are a vast and quarrelsome family, a family rent by racial, cultural, political, and class division, but a family nonetheless. We're frivolous, yes, capable of expending tremendous emotional energy on pop cultural minutiae, a singer's revealing dress, a ball team's misfortune, a cartoon mouse. We're wealthy, too, spoiled by the ready availability of trinkets and material goods, and maybe because of that, we walk through life with a certain sense of blithe entitlement.

    We are fundamentally decent, though - peace-loving and compassionate. We struggle to know the right thing and to do it. And we are, the overwhelming majority of us, people of faith, believers in a just and loving God. Some people, you perhaps, think that any or all of this makes us weak. You're mistaken. We are not weak. Indeed, we are strong in ways that cannot be measured by arsenals.

    Yes, we're in pain now. We are in mourning and we are in shock. We're still grappling with the unreality of the awful thing you did, still working to make ourselves understand that this isn't a special effect from some Hollywood blockbuster, isn't the plot development from a Tom Clancy novel. Both in terms of the awful scope of its ambition and the probable final death toll, your attacks are likely to go down as the worst acts of terrorism in the history of the United States and, indeed, the history of the world. You've bloodied us as we have never been bloodied. But there's a gulf of difference between making us bloody and making us fall. This is the lesson Japan was taught to its bitter sorrow the last time anyone hit us this hard, the last time anyone brought us such abrupt and monumental pain.

    When roused, we are righteous in our outrage, terrible in our force. When provoked by this level of barbarism, we will bear any suffering, pay any cost, go to any length, in the pursuit of justice. I tell you this without fear of contradiciton. I know my people, as you, I think, do not. What I know reassures me. It also causes me to tremble with dread of the future.

    In days to come, there will be recrimination and accusation, fingers pointing to determine whose failure allowed this to happen and what can be done to prevent it from happening again. There will be heightened security, misguided talk of revoking basic freedoms. We'll go forward from this moment sobered, chastened, sad. But determined, too. Unimaginably determined.

    You see, there is steel beneath this velvet. That aspect of our character is seldom understood by people who don't know us well. On this day, the family's bickering is put on hold. As Americans we will weep, as Americans we will mourn and as Americans we will rise in defense of all that we cherish.

    Still, I keep wondering what it was you hoped to teach us. It occurs to me that maybe you just wanted us to know the depths of your hatred. If that's the case, consider the message received. And take this message in exchange: You don't know my people. You don't know what we're about. You don't know what you just started.

    But you're about to learn."

    On Saturday morning, September 15, jeanne responded:

    Never did I think that a Journal dedicated to peace and social justice would be receiving such messages. In love and peace, I would like you to remember that all these feelings are going to pour in on us, and all are real and valid. We are going to have to work hard to temper them with love, the love that will remind us that not everyone we encounter is an enemy. We must now return to faith in our own judgment, in the judgment that people are to be loved and trusted, not hated and reviled, and that to hate the innocent along with the hate-filled ones who may just look like them, but bear no other resemblance will take us even further from the love and peace we seek.

    For those of you who are part of our virtual community, I need to tell you that Tina is today working on her Master's in Counseling at a Christian college. Yes, Tina, we do have to discuss religion, for some of the issues at the forefront now are spiritual and ethical issues. Remind me to put up the LA Times article on how the conflict is really between modernism and anti-modernism, or medievalism. More soon . . .

    love and peace, jeanne