A judicious response is the best measure of our wisdom...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

September 14, 2001

A judicious response is the best measure of our wisdom, mettle

In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the United States, our reactions will provide the best gauge for assessing whether the terrorists succeeded or failed.

If Americans lash out against the innocent Arab-Americans or Muslims in our communities (as some did in 1979 after the attack on our embassy in Tehran), then we will have unwittingly adopted the flawed rationale of our attackers.

If our legislators and intelligence agencies use this attack as an excuse to increase spying on our citizens beyond justifiable bounds, eroding our Constitutional rights to privacy, then we will have judged paranoia more important than civil liberties and democratic rights.

If our government's military retaliation needlessly sacrifices the lives of hundreds of innocent civilians whose only offense is a nationality or religion similar to that of the perpetrators, then we will have become the mirror image of the terrorists themselves.

The goal of terrorism is not material destruction, but psychological distortion.

Our greatest danger lies in getting suckered into abandoning our dignity and principles in our response.

Scott Tippetts

Columbia

Tuesday's terrorism demands swift justice. But I do not desire that my nation, acting in anger, overstep the demands of justice and so undermine freedom.

It would be contrary to freedom and justice that innocent Afghanis die, for example, as the result of their government harboring a criminal.

The future of our world begs that each of us be persistent in our effort to build community across cultures and nations.

We must strengthen our resolve to appreciate diversity, not retreat to barricaded compounds harboring only the like-minded. Terrorism intends a psychological victory. That's what I hope we deny it.

Joby Taylor

Baltimore

Respond to terrorism with brutal determination

I voted for President Bush. I campaigned for him and consider myself an avid supporter.

I will, however, refuse to support him in any way in the future if the United States does not launch a massive and complete response against every known terrorist group within our reach.

The carnage in Washington and New York is so indescribably gruesome that we must change the way free people think about responding to acts of terror.

We should not respect the borders of rogue nations or wait to receive the approval of other nations before we act.

Our tactics should be overwhelming, brutal and complete. And we must not waiver in our determination. The cowardly fanatics of the Middle East have terrorized the world long enough.

Michael DeCicco

Severn

Terrorists have only added to our resolve

Whatever the terrorists thought they could accomplish by executing thousands of Americans, they have done nothing but galvanize citizens behind the greatest military power on earth and focus every resource at our disposal on acquiring a target.

In a single moment we have changed from a calm observer and facilitator of peace who measures each military action against the lives of our sons and brothers who might be lost, to an unbreakable fist of anger and purpose that feels no pain.

Matt Quirk

Baltimore

Until Tuesday, I could never understand why someone would say that he or she would die for their country.

My husband is an active-duty military man and I have heard him say that many times. "Why?" I would say.

But I will never again question that statement, for now I understand. We must find and act upon these horrible people so such a horrific act of war never occurs in this wonderful country of ours ever again.

If ever there was a time for a nation to pull together and love one another, the time is now and forever on.

Kim Filer

Perry Hall

Everyone should fly their flags in front of their homes and businesses as a sign of unity against this horrific assault against our country by the cowardly terrorists.

We should let flags wave everywhere in respect for the victims and their families, and remember them in our prayers.

Edward W. Cummings

Patricia M. Cummings

Baltimore

Americans wouldn't cheer the slaughter of civilians

However strongly we feel against those we perceive as enemies, I cannot imagine a group of ordinary Americans laughing and cheering over the murder of thousands of civilians.

Patricia Strawbridge

Catonsville

Attack underscores need for missile defense system

I have a message to those who think that our nation has no enemies and therefore does not need to expand our defense capability to include missile defense: Consider the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon a wake-up call.

Not only do we need a missile defense system, we need the same kind of detection and response weapons in strategic areas of the country that our most advanced warships have - to detect and destroy hostile approaching bodies, be they an aircraft on collision course or a missile.

At any time and for reasons unknown, a nation with nuclear capability can decide to launch an attack on our nation. It doesn't have to make sense to us.

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