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11 September 2002 @ 08:45 am
Things to remember  
My sister posted a message attributed to "Ed Evans, MGySgt., USMC (Ret.)" which said a lot of things I disagree with. This is message is derived from that one.

On September 11th, 2001, thousands of people were murdered, killed by extremists for no crime beyond living their lives as they saw fit, being in the wrong place at the wrong time. On September 11th, 2001, a few brave men sacrificed their lives to take a stand for their beliefs, and strike against symbols of greed and cultural oppression.

I will remember that almost nobody sees themselves as evil. The Nazis, the Klu Klux Klan, the Taliban ... even the people most thoroughly and justly demonized by history considered themselves to be heroes. I've heard the terrorism on September 11th described as "cowardly"; I refuse to accept that position. I disagree with their beliefs and goals. Their methods are an abomination in my eyes. I have no respect for mass-murder, but I refuse to call them cowardly. They sacrificed themselves for a cause they believe in completely, and that inspires in me a certain amount of respect.

I will remember how inspired I feel by the courage of anti-war demonstraters, even in this political climate. I was positively giddy the first time I saw a man in downtown Seattle carrying pro-Taliban signs.

I will remember the quote often attributed to Voltaire: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

I will remember that the Moslem extremists who attack America bear the same relation to Islam as the Klu Klux Klan do to Christianity. Our enemy is not Islam.

I will remember the tragedy and honor the bravery of all who dealt with it. Such devotion and self-sacrifice in the face of adversity is a powerful reminder that Americans are not all the selfish monsters that our enemies often accuse us of being. I still hear new details of that day that make me twitch; my amazement at their devotion continues to increase.

I will remember the soldiers. So often they must follow orders without a clear understanding of why. Theirs is the task of engineering our "wars". Theirs is the task of finding the enemy. They are the ones who feel hated and betrayed by peace protesters. They are the ones who must face the realities of war. They get the nightmares. And they are the ones who may have to willingly, knowingly sacrifice their lives.

Such sacrifice is bravery, and commands respect.
Jim: karandraswarpdragon on September 11th, 2002 09:22 am (UTC)
Courage and cowardice have become the code words for good and bad these days. I remember a cover story on the 1996 Olympics, juxtaposing athletes and the aftermath of the Centennial Park bombing, with the words "Courage and Cowardice." The Olympic athletes had many virtues, but generally speaking, it doesn't take courage to swim or run or shoot (despite what NBC would believe about every one of them having to overcome cancer). And cowardice... bombing the park, like attacking the World Trade Center, is evil, wrong, and a hundred other adjectives, but cowardly is not among them.
As for the notion that their sacrifice commands respect... no. Dying for a cause is one thing. Dying so you can take others with you, cause or not, is quite another. Perhaps if this had been a suicide-assassination directed at the leaders of their enemies... but this wasn't. This was an attack on civilians in retaliation for a poorly defined crime. It may not have been cowardly, but it deserves no respect.