Letters to the Editor

The horrific events of September 11, and the irony of their relationship to two other recent events in my life compel me to write this letter. In August, I had a long discussion with a learned friend concerning the widespread perception that Americans are arrogant. In the end, we agreed that self-confident would be a more appropriate term. The United States is the oldest constitutional democracy in the world. The DNA of its citizens contains the genes of every population on earth. The skins of its citizens reflect a rainbow of colors. The mouths of its citizens produce a Babel of languages. The hearts of its citizens cling to every religious persuasion. The minds of its citizens never cease to question and explore and discover. The sum of these parts, these disparate colors, languages, religions, and philosophies, is a nation that is secure in its diversity, proud of its achievements, and confident in its future: Not arrogant! On September 6, in the Kallimarmaro Stadium, Rod Steiger read Socrates’ Apology. I remember saying to my wife as we were leaving that one could easily imagine the US in the shoes of Socrates today. Socrates had, in fact, been condemned because he was perceived as being arrogant. Socrates died, praying that civilization would come to understand that questioning old beliefs and habits, and exploring new ones, was not arrogance – and that it certainly did not justify the death of the questioner. We civilized people of 2001 consider him to be one of our intellectual and philosophical fathers, but it seems that many of us still harbor the twisted logic of those who judged him. That logic was faulty then: It is faulty today! Let us leave this blame game behind. What needs to be done now? I realize that I cannot speak for all Americans, but the United States that I know and love will not seek eye-for-an-eye vengeance. Nor will it meekly let this moment pass into history with no response. Were President Bush to ask for my advice today, I would urge him, above all, to lead the effort to blur the distinction between SIDES on an earth that is, in fact, the single environment within which we all live and breathe. We (all nations of the world) share a common future on this planet. There is no THERE; no THEY. There is only WE, and we are HERE. Together, we must all decide, today, that terrorism anywhere on earth is a cancer. We must treat terrorism as we would treat any cancer: Cure it with non-invasive methods, cut it out, or poison it; or else we, and our children, will surely die a premature death. I prefer a non-invasive cure but I can’t rule out the other options, simply because I’m not qualified to make that choice. I will therefore put my faith in our democratically elected leaders to find a permanent cure for the cancer of terrorism, just as I would defer to my oncologist if the cancer were in my body. President Bush (and all world leaders helping to find that cure) has my full support in this effort – and my prayers. Ronald N. Curry Athens Editor replies: We have reported that Archbishop Christodoulos’s office announced last Saturday that his statements had been misrepresented and that his sermon had been based on an exploration of Saint Paul’s teaching on the Holy Cross. In various statements he has condemned terrorism absolutely and expressed his grief for the victims of the attacks. As for the image of Greeks, please do not allow a few voices to drown out the pain that most people feel for the terrible loss of life in the terrorist attacks. The Greek government has expressed full support for the United States in its campaign against terrorism and, along with the other allies, is waiting to see what Washington will decide. The response to terror As a Greek American, one thing irksome about the Greek response to last week’s barbarous attack on the World Trade Center, is the continual carping and preaching. I’m tired of hearing Greeks criticize America for lack of restraint and belligerence in the face of the inhumanity foisted upon it, and criticizing the anti-Arab climate stoked by the US mass media (which would be understandable, but is categorically false). It’s not enough that many Greeks have behaved as apologists for the terrorist act (e.g. Archbishop Christodoulos). Americans must also be implored by Greeks to just grin and bear it. Before leveling such criticisms and advice, we Greeks would do well to imagine how we would react in an analogous circumstance. Imagine if subversives being hosted by and living within Greek society leveled our Parthenon and Pentagon in a dramatic display of audacious and symbolic terror, killed hundreds of innocent people and firefighters, and sowed such fear that tourism and the economy came crashing down. And that subsequent investigations revealed hives of suicidal subversives cancerously woven throughout our society. How patient would we and our media be? How open to immigrants and their civil liberties? How pacifist? How measured? How rational? I believe the answer is quite obvious. We would explode in a frenzy of war, recriminations, and hatred beyond compare. Having just returned from the USA, I have to tell you that considering the past week’s horrific events and revelations, Americans have been extremely patient, restrained, and measured. Anti-Arab hatred has been limited to a few incidents, and the media, law enforcement, and government continually implore people to view Arab Americans as Americans first. America is demonstrating a maturity that few other nations would exhibit in similar circumstances.

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