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September 17, 2001

Emory Voices: Campus leaders speak out on tragedy


President Bill Chace delivered these remarks at the interfaith service held 5 p.m., Sept. 11, in Glenn Auditorium

We gather here as a community to dwell upon an event that will not easily yield, now or ever, to understanding. The worst of public and private tragedies has come at last to us. Once it inhabited only our nightmares; today the nightmare pierced our waking lives. None of us has perished, but people exactly like us have—workers young and old, people of all races and creeds and colors, believers of every kind. A significant piece of New York City, one of the most diversely rich centers of population in the world, has been ripped away, and the ripping now can be felt by all of us and will be felt for years to come.

We have always said that the world is small, that borders count for less and less with each passing year, and that we are bound together as the people of the world. And we have said that we know that the technology improving our lives, and shortening the distance between us, could also be used as a weapon to hurt us. Now we know as a certainty how close we are to violence; now we know how little distance matters.

What we do now in the face of that danger will prove a great test for us all, for us within this sheltered community and for us all as American citizens. Let us hug closely to ourselves these essential truths: that life is forever precarious and its joys must be shared just as its sadness must be borne; that the perpetrators of this violence today were not a people nor a religion, but individuals who did a terrible wrong to other individuals; that the institutions we have established to sustain and protect us—institutions like universities—must never tremble in the face of adversity, no matter how severe; and that we must forever find the way to love, for love alone will at last shelter us.

For some of us, the pain will be searing and almost impossible to endure, for the names of parents and relatives will emerge among the list of the dead. And so, for the rest of us, spared this immediate agony, we know the duty we have: to reach out, to support, to comfort, and to embrace our wounded brothers and sisters. The fabric of the Emory community must not now be rent and torn. There has been too much tearing on this awful day. Let each of us become a healer; let each of us summon up all the lessons of reason and patience and understanding we one day learned, knowing that those lessons would be needed in the days of misfortune. Such a day is today. Let Sept. 11, 2001, mark the time when, knowing great sadness and anguish, we practiced the hardest lessons—the lessons of love.


Robert Pastor is Goodrich C. White Professor of International Relations

Since the “Suicide-Hijackings” of Sept. 11, our nation—almost as one—has experienced an emotional freefall. Beginning with shock, we have felt horror, sadness, numbness, anger, and finally, many are demanding revenge, even before we know who is responsible.

The United States is the most powerful country in the world, but it is precisely because part of our strength is derived from our moral authority that we need to use our power with responsibility. In 1776, our Founding Fathers explained to the world their reasons for declaring independence because they had a “decent respect for the opinions of mankind.” Similarly, we should act only after we have gathered sufficient evidence on the conspiracy to persuade world public opinion.

Secondly, we should act only after marshalling our allies and the civilized world. We can be far more effective if we act with others than alone and if we use the international institutions that we created.

This approach will be essential if the conspiracy is widespread. Third, if force is needed, it should not be used with anger, but with clear purpose and in a way that limits casualties of innocent people. Not only do we want to avoid making new enemies, we will need new alliances to isolate the terrorists.

Fourth, if we do identify the criminals, we need to take great care to refer to them as members of a terrorist group not as representatives of a religious or ethnic group. If the terrorists are associated with conflicts in the Middle East, we need to remind ourselves that very few people are responsible for almost all of the terror. Most people in the Middle East are victims—like us.

Force is rarely a useful tool in international relations unless it is part of a comprehensive strategy. In developing such an approach, we need to understand the mindset of our enemies. Yet how can we ever understand people who would deliberately kill themselves and thousands of innocent people in such heinous acts? This journey into the depths of insanity is clearly the most difficult but also the most important because force alone won’t win the struggle against terrorism.

American leadership has been decisive in the 20th century because we built alliances and institutions to extend freedom. The Twin Towers Terror has posed the first security challenge of the 21st century, and it will require a new kind of American leadership—one that is creative as well as strong, deliberate as well as resolute, and cooperative with all those who want to share in the common struggle for liberty and against terrorism.


Susan Henry-Crowe is dean of the chapel and religious life

Terror violates the most basic human needs for security, safety and well-being. This society has been profoundly terrorized. We do not know how to live in the face of terror. We do not know how to face death and destruction of this magnitude. Our shock, pain, anger, helplessness and fear are overwhelming. Impelled by these feelings, we look for someone, some group, something to blame.

There are those in our community who not only carry the common burden but also the additional burden of being threatened because of their religion, ethnic origin and race. Emory must be resolute in creating a sense of security and safety for every member of this body. We cannot label, stereotype, call names or threaten one another.

In times like these, one of our forces of strength is our faith or religious tradition. The terrorizing events of this week have nothing to do with religion. But religious communities, traditions and rituals help us address these events. No religious tradition promotes evil, violence or destruction.

The religious communities of Emory have gathered to pray for those who died and all who mourn. They have prayed knowing that communities of life will never lead the life they knew before Tuesday morning. They have prayed for freedom from fear and terror. They have prayed that this community will be a community that is safe and home-like in caring for one another.

In the face of great uncertainty, there is a deep desire for a community where love is found and present.


Frank Lechner is associate professor of sociology

In his statement at the service in Glenn Memorial on Sept. 11, President [Bill] Chace offered valuable support to students who were directly affected by the recent terrorist attacks.

However, I would like to take issue with one point he made. He said that “the perpetrators of this violence today were not a people nor a religion, but individuals who did a terrible wrong to other individuals.” I disagree. The coordination of the attacks indicates that these “individuals” must have been part of an organized group. The resources required for the attack could not have come from some “individuals” alone. The targets they selected were not simply “individuals” either, though surely the perpetrators meant to terrorize individual Americans, but clearly were chosen as symbols of American power and values. This was, as many publications correctly put it, an attack on America.

President Chace urged students not to blame a people or a religion for this attack. It is also important, however, to tell them that it was most likely the culmination of a long struggle in which various groups of Muslims, inspired by a particular interpretation of their religion and by certain historical resentments, have been engaged in attacks on Americans and on American interests, with the active support of many specific regimes and the moral support of many of their fellow believers. While it is true, as president Chace rightly imp-lies, that one cannot attribute terrorism to Islam, it is also true that religion is by no means an incidental feature of the terrorist attacks of the past 20 years.

President Chace laudably urged us to draw the “lessons of love” within the Emory community. But I believe we would do greater justice to our academic mission by drawing the lessons of history. If the sorrow he meant to soothe is to have meaning, America must now strive not just for retribution but for the transformation of the Muslim world into a community of peaceful, tolerant and democratic nations no longer oppressed by dictators or inflamed by fundamentalist passions.


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