The pettiness of pacifism
Tears flowed down when I saw the towers fall with disbelieving eyes. Anger intensified quickly as I saw a majestic city in partial ruins and innocent civilians, black with soot and confusion, running through canyons of skyscrapers for any glimpse of light or protection from the smoke. This was Manhattan on a Tuesday. In the coming days I began to grow angry at bin Laden. I began to grow angry at our government for failing to protect us. But nothing, and I mean nothing, got me angrier than some of my own so-called fellow Americans voicing their views about demonstrating for peace, not war, for America, urging for a non-military response. I gratuitously admit that pacifists have had their place during history, and, though not especially revered or even respected, they did bring another viewpoint into many critical periods in history. This, however, should not be one of them. In my humbled view, to demand non-military action is to place yourself hand-in-hand with the horrific monsters that committed these acts.
I understand these comments may elicit angry responses, but I ask these so-called bringers of peace to go over to what used to be the World Trade Center. I ask them to go there and observe the graveyard it has become to more than 6,000 innocent civilians and selfless rescue workers. I ask them to explain their anti-war views to the families of the victims of this senseless crime. Try to explain to them why we should hope for peace at a time like this, and why "two wrongs don't make a right." I ask them to watch training tapes of fundamentalists taught from an early age to hate America. I ask these pacifists, these people so confident in a non-confrontational answer to our problems, to watch these monsters train on a daily basis to kill us, and I ask these pacifists to bring their loving views to them.
I do give pacifists and anti-war demonstrators some credit. Two wrongs usually do not make a right. But how about two terrorist acts on innocent civilians? Perhaps the Sears Tower, or the Empire State Building. Or even three more attacks. How many terrorist wrongs will it take to understand that war is not something sought by drooling greedy politicians looking for a boost in approval ratings? It is, in fact, necessary to defend our freedom and our way of life. We may not be perfect people, us Americans who meddle in international affairs and have our own skeletons in our closet. But I assure you, we are better than thugs disguising themselves as religious weapons, hurling themselves and their hate-infested views onto innocent civilians.
I do understand that the whole beauty of this country is that we can have anti-war demonstrators voice their opinions at a time as somber as this. I even somewhat comprehend why we can let someone publish editorials about Bush and CIA-sponsored cover-ups at a time like this. For this is one of our bedrock rights guaranteed to us. Rights that we won by fighting the Brits for our independence. Rights we kept by storming beaches at Normandy and sacrificing the lives of our soldiers. I hope they comprehend that the only reason they are able to enjoy such freedoms is due solely to the fact that our fellow American soldiers fought and died for them.
I'd like to finish by making a small proposition to these "anti-war" demonstrators. I ask these people, who ask that American flags not be inserted in the paper because of objections they have with our government, who talk of the acts of Sept.11 being nothing more than a government conspiracy, I ask these so called critics to visit Afghanistan. Visit Iran or Iraq. Try and express your viewpoints against the governments there. It won't happen. They are as far from a free society as you can possibly be. After this visit, I guarantee most of these critics of America and democracy will have turned over a whole new leaf. They'll understand the meaning of freedom and why we have to protect it by means we see fit and necessary. In the coming weeks and months our military will once again try to protect and defend our country and our freedom, as they have tirelessly done in the past. They'll lay down their lives so that we can enjoy political and social debate as we do now. I just hope these anti-war and anti-American citizens appreciate this. I do.
Daniel Gershburg is a Livingston College junior majoring in philosophy.