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RE: A Plea For Tolerance - please forward if you wish

From: Charles F. Munat <chas@munat.com>
Date: Tue, 18 Sep 2001 13:20:41 -0700
To: "Hewitt, Denise" <Denise.Hewitt@idea.com>, <sigia-l@asis.org>, <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Demands for tolerance don't carry much weight with me if they aren't

I have read Tamim Ansary's article, and I found it abhorrent. "When you
think Taliban, think Nazis. When you think Bin Laden, think Hitler." There
is no difference between this sort of labeling and calling people savages,
or madmen, or monsters. Hitler was not a monster. He was human just like you
and me. He had hopes and fears. At some point in his life, his frustrations
became more than he could bear, and he looked for a scapegoat -- a very
common human trait. He found his in the Jews.

Hitler differed from others not because of his views, which were commonplace
then (and still are), but because he got the opportunity to act them out
(and thanks to him, so did many others).

The problem for most people seems to be separating the behavior from the
person. And there is a very good explanation for this: If we refuse to
separate the behavior from the person, then we can deny the possibility of
behaving that way ourselves.

So we call the Nazis (and the terrorists who launched last week's attack)
"monsters." They were "mad with anger and hatred." And that gets us off the
hook. After all, *we're* not monsters.

The need to do this is understandable, but it must be resisted at every
turn. ANY of us could have been one of those terrorists. We lacked only
sufficient motivation and opportunity. In EVERY human being is the capacity
for evil. To understand and acknowledge this is vitally important, because
if we refuse to see the evil in ourselves, we become blind to its
expression. We will still engage in evil deeds, but they will remain outside
our awareness.

Hitler thought that he was completely justified in slaughtering the Jews and
everyone else who did not fit into his concept of the "master race." He
believed that he was doing a great deed, one that would be celebrated for
centuries to come. There is nothing so dangerous as one who believes that he
has access to the one truth.

So now many Americans believe that they are right about Afghanistan and
Osama bin Laden. They either don't know or don't care that both bin Laden
and the Taliban are largely creations of our own CIA. They either don't know
or don't care that the U.S. is the greatest exporter of terrorism in the
world, and that these acts are simply our own acts turned back on us.

Most of us know that our government has engaged in heinous acts in our names
and with our support, but we force this unpleasant knowledge back into the
shadows of our consciousness. We tell ourselves that there's nothing we can
do about it, or that everyone else is doing it, too, so we're justified in
doing the same.

If we as a nation proceed while remaining in this state of denial about
ourselves and our actions, we will create death and destruction on a scale
orders of magnitude larger than that which took place last week in New York,
Pennsylvania, and Washington.

If we as a species are to survive, we must learn to look first to our own
actions. We must examine our own behavior and ensure that we have done no
wrong *before* we denounce the behavior of others. For "why beholdest thou
the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is
in thine own eye?"

Do not look to the government to make these decisions for us. Does any of us
really believe that our government officials are there out of altruism or
concern for the American people? Or could it be that they are in positions
of power *because* they were the most ruthless and effective in pursuing
power? Has anyone else noticed that war is the only option our government is
willing to consider? There is no discussion at all in Washington about other
courses of action. It is not a question of "Will we go to war?" but of "With
whom and how soon?"

Let's act to prevent those among us who cannot control their anger and
hatred from harming innocent people. But more importantly let's stop and
reconsider our own culpability in these recent attacks before we react out
of anger and hatred ourselves, using the attacks to justify violence against
others across the planet. We cannot revive our dead by further bloodying our
own hands; to do so will only perpetuate the cycle of violence, and in time
it will visit us again.

Charles F. Munat
Seattle, Washington

> -----Original Message-----
> From: w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-ig-request@w3.org]On
> Behalf Of Hewitt, Denise
> Sent: Tuesday, September 18, 2001 9:14 AM
> To: sigia-l@asis.org; w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
> Subject: OT: A Plea For Tolerance - please forward if you wish
> I apologize for  this being off topic to what we do - but my friend & I
> wrote this because of all the recent incidents in Texas and
> elsewhere in the
> aftermath of the WTC attack. And also because of incidents that have
> happened to people I care about.
> Dear humans,
> This is a plea. This is a cry for awareness. Please read this.
> 	"Even though people look different, I see the reflection of the same
> God in all of them." (Sikh)
> Kicking and screaming their way through the smoke and rubble of
> this all too
> tragic event are angry and scared people - a dangerous combination.
> "Cultivation of tolerance for other faiths will impart to us a truer
> understanding of our own." (Gandhi)
> We, the American people, have been faced with a devastating
> attack, one that
> appears to be tied to a man named Osama bin Laden. He was granted
> sanctuary
> in Afghanistan, a country currently run by the Taliban. The Taliban is a
> very hard-lined council that has uses military power to keep the former
> government away. The former government of Afghanistan has pledged the
> entirety of its 15,000 troops to support the United States.
> "What we see depends mainly on what we look for." (John Lubbock)
> Life in Afghanistan is hard for its people. To give you a better
> idea of the
> situation, this is a quote from a Tamim Ansary, a reporter in San
> Francisco
> of Afghan descent.
> 		"But the Taliban and Bin Laden are not Afghanistan. They're
> not even the
> 		government of Afghanistan. The Taliban are a cult of
> ignorant psychotics who took over Afghanistan in 1997. Bin Laden is a
> political criminal with a plan. When you think Taliban, think Nazis. When
> you think Bin Laden, think Hitler. And when you think "the people of
> Afghanistan" think "the Jews in the concentration camps."
> Also think of David Koresh - while he called himself a Christian,
> he was not
> representative of Christians. While he called himself American, he was not
> representative of Americans.
> 	"Unto friends And unto foes alike in tolerance;" (Bhagvad Gita,
> Chapter XIV)
> What we have here is a group of people who hold a country hostage
> and share
> a common religion. That religion is a specific sect of Islam and with a
> definitively hard interpretation of the Islamic laws that makes them stand
> apart from the sect they are based off of.
> 	"You are all my witnesses." (Isaiah 43:10)
> With all of this being said, we would like to move on to the scared
> people... those we are trying to reach with this message.
> 	o	Please realize that killing a person in Arizona just for
> wearing a turban or having a beard is wrong!
> 			o	There are 500,000 Sikhs living in America -
> some families have been here for more than 100 years. The Sikh people
> originate from India, our ally. They are our friends, neighbors,
> and fellow
> citizens.
> (http://www.salon.com/news/wire/2001/09/16/arizona_attack/index.html)
> 	o	Do you realize that burning down a store owned by a
> Pakistani-American is wrong?
> (http://www.click2houston.com/hou/news/stories/news-96210820010916
> -150931.ht
> ml) Pakistan is willing to go to war with Afghanistan, a country up until
> now they have considered an ally, and allow us to stage our military from
> their country! In addition, many of the Pakistani people who live in the
> United States came here as political refugees so that they could bring up
> their children in a free country, a country where they would not fear.
> 	o	Do you not realize that a Sikh American is no more related
> to the Taliban than you or me? (<http://www.sikh.net/AOA/sikh911.htm>)
> 	o	Do you not realize that making such generalizations and
> acting out on your rage and your pain in such a manner makes you no better
> than those who brought this rage and this pain to you?
> 	o	Please think before you act. Think of the many lives lost in
> the World Trade Center. Think of the many people, families, children who
> have lost loved ones. Think of that pain and sorrow. Then think of your
> fellow neighbors, co-workers and friends. Would you wish to add to their
> pain?
> 				"Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
> 				where there is hatred, let me sow love;
> 				when there is injury, pardon;
> 				where there is doubt, faith;
> 				where there is despair, hope;
> 				where there is darkness, light;
> 				and where there is sadness, joy." (Prayer of
> St. Francis)
> If your need for revenge is too strong, then you must deal with
> it, because
> that is all we can do right now. If your need for blood is too
> strong, then
> try your hand at the armed forces. Perhaps you will be lucky enough to act
> out on your feelings, with someone intelligent who is able to
> determine the
> proper target for you.
> What we really need is empathy. We need to realize that anyone living in
> America (whether they own a gas station in Arizona, worship at a mosque in
> Dallas, or believe that the universe is owned and operated by a supreme
> alien being named Xalnak) has been touched by this attack. Have you been
> touched by this attack? Do you now wonder what the next target
> will be? Will
> you be in that building? Now try to imagine the same feelings, and add to
> them the dirty looks and the open hatred that your FELLOW AMERICANS greet
> you with on the streets, at work, and everywhere you go. Try to
> imagine what
> it would be like if someone decided to focus the blame on you. Try to
> imagine not only how you feel now, but if you also had to live in fear as
> well.
> 		"When they came for the socialists I did not speak out
> because I was not a socialist.
> 		When they came for the homosexuals I did not speak out
> because I was not a homosexual.
> 		When they came for the Jews I did not speak out because I
> was not a Jew.
> 		When they came for me there was no one left to speak out."
> This is what scared fearful people are doing.  We are asking you to please
> send this message to everyone, everywhere so that it will spread,
> and in the
> hopes one frightened person will read this, and realize we are all
> Americans, we are all children of God, we are all united together by what
> has happened.
> 	"We must indeed all hang together, or, most assuredly, we shall all
> hang separately." (Benjamin Franklin)
> And please, delete the headers to this message before forwarding. Nobody
> likes to scroll through a list of 1000 email addresses to get to the
> message. Except for spammers who want email addresses.
> -=rev=- && -=| denise |=-
> http://www.reverendphil.com/
Received on Tuesday, 18 September 2001 16:20:42 UTC

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