The Atlanta Constitution from Atlanta, Georgia on September 16, 2001 · 40
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The Atlanta Constitution from Atlanta, Georgia · 40

Atlanta, Georgia
Issue Date:
Sunday, September 16, 2001
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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ROGER S. KNTZEL, Pubhher rlontzellg' SANFORD SCHWARTZ, Central Manager JAMES M. COX JR., Chairman, 1957-74 JAMES M. COX Chairman, 1950-57 RON MARTIN, Editor JOHN WALTER JUUA WALLACE Executive Editor Managing Editor CYNTHIA TUCKER ' JIM WOOTEN Constitution Editorial Journal Editorial Page Editor Page Editor : s a I s E AFTER THE ASSAULT 12 n n s 1 CYNTHIA TUCKER Resist efforts to lessen our civil liberties The news is nearly unbearable. The crime unspeakable. The devastation unfathomable. As news images focus on the faces and families of our countless dead, rage inevitably mingles with horror and grief. As we search for reassurance that this will never happen again, some national leaders and security experts suggest that much about American culture must change: our civil liberties, our tolerance, our diversity. Some call for less immigration, expanded police powers and unleashing; all restraints on the FBI and the CIA. . As Americans watch the mounting body count, those calls may seem almost reasonable. Wouldn't less freedom be a fair price to pay for more security? Wouldn't allowing the FBI to invade the privacy of all Arab-Americans be a necessary counter to suicidal fanatics? A police state is easier to protect from terrorism. Crime was nearly nonexistent in the former Soviet Union, and the only terrorism in Fidel Castro's Cuba comes from his own security. But America's freedoms and ideals are the virtues that make it worth dying for. If we surrender them, Osama bin Laden and his band of anti-Western, modernity-fearing fanatics have already won. They hate us not only for our prosperity and technological advances but also because of our tolerance, our openness, our religious and racial diversity. They would like nothing more than for us to become like them: intolerant of those who do not look like them or believe what they believe, repressive, backward-looking, fearful of political and cultural progress. All Americans, regardless of race or religion, will have to make sacrifices in a long war against terrorism. Not only will air travel be less convenient and more expensive as authorities tighten airport security, but our entire economy could also fall into a long recession if oil supplies are disrupted, as they might be if we take the fight into oil-producing regions. My generation, coddled by prosperity and softened by peace, must prepare to make the sacrifices our parents and generations before them made. But we ought to be able to learn from the mistakes of the "Greatest Generation" as well as from its accomplishments. It made the shameful decision to intern Japanese-Americans for no reason other than ancestry. So we ought to know better than to blame all Muslim Americans. They accommodated an out-of-control McCarthyism that made suspects of law-abiding Americans, ending their careers and pushing a few to suicide. Under the guise of fighting communism, they allowed FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to pursue a shameless crusade against civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. Those crusades made no contribution to ending the Cold War; they only pitted one group of Americans against another. It is easy enough to ignore the lunatic ravings of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, who, in a sick perversion of Christian values, have declared last week's devastation the fault of gays, lesbians, supporters of reproductive rights and the American Civil Liberties Union. (By the way, even Falwell and Robertson have the constitutional right to say what they believe, no matter how ridiculous.) But, in a time of widespread anxiety, it is harder to fend off the siren song of fear sung by those who would have us trade in a little liberty for a little more safety. There is no such thing as a little liberty. Before you know it, you don't have any, and America is no longer the shining beacon of equality and freedom that terrorists loathe. Cynthia Tucker's column appears Sundays and Wednesdays. Americans called to do our duty EDITORIAL t first there were just the two burning towers terrifying, yet somehow distant. From there we watched the horror unfold, but only through a haze of abstract facts and figures: 110-story buildings collapsing, 50,000 office workers, 11,000 body bags on order. Now, days later, the numbers are becoming real. They have faces. The body bags are not empty, but are being filled with the remains of our brothers and sisters, each with his or her own story. The pain, once almost intellectual, is now visceral. And, as the body count grows, so grow the rage and the hunger for retribution. But we Americans mustn't fool ourselves. If, indeed, this stupendous crime was committed by international terrorists; and if, indeed, we are going to war against them; and if, indeed, we intend to win, then we are in for a long, bloody and disruptive fight. Lobbing bombs from afar, however large and destructive, simply won't do the job. There will be no quick and tidy "closure" to this episode. The first step, of course, is to identify the hijackers' sponsors and, as Secretary of State Colin Powell said, "make the case" against them. If we lash out blindly and miss the guilty while killing innocents, not only do we compound the injustice, but we also empower our enemies by appearing ineffectual. Says Jessica Stern of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, who has spent time among self-proclaimed holy warriors in Pakistan and elsewhere: "Striking back quickly is far less important than discouraging future strikes by our enemies, and the two are not the same." Next we must learn who is with us and who is against us in this struggle. Cooperation in the war against terrorism must be required of all states that would have normal relations with America and its allies. Those that join us should be rewarded for doing so, with trade ties, security help and economic assistance. Stern says, for example, that the Pakistani schools "madrisas" that breed young boys to be suicidal terrorists might be eliminated if the United States would help the desperately poor nation build public schools. And what of states and organizations that do not cooperate, but continue to harbor terrorists? "These states and organizations cannot be given a free ride anymore," Powell says. He's right. To hold these entities accountable, we must be prepared to do what it takes militarily; we cannot shrink from the expense or potential for American casualties. And at the outset of this war, Americans must understand that it is likely to last many years and require enormous sacrifice, both at home and abroad. We must be prepared to stay the course through the next several administrations, much as this country did during the Cold War. In that spirit, Congress should pass legislation akin to the National Security Act of 1947, which realigned government for that effort. As recommended by the Hart-Rudman report of February, the new act should create a Cabinet-level post for homeland defense, combining the Coast Guard, Customs, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Border Patrol. In a figurative sense, we will all be soldiers in this war. It will require overt acts of heroism and simple acts of personal bravery. We already know that domestic air travel is likely to cost more in money and hassles. But we must be prepared, too, for the possibility that world oil supplies will be disrupted, meaning radically higher gas prices, and in the worst case, rationing. And we can be assured that as the pressure on terrorists is ratcheted up, Americans may be targeted more frequently for retributive terrorism. Meanwhile, we must stubbornly preserve the civil liberties that are the hallmark of our society. Toughest to sustain may be what Franklin D. Roosevelt termed the fourth essential human freedom, "Freedom from fear." But this is perhaps the most important task of all, unless we are to let the terrorists win. And in this networked world, where anything can happen to anyone anywhere, there is only one guarantor of freedom from fear: Courage. This war will require overt acts of heroism and simple acts of personal bravery. EDITORIAL BOARDS The Atlanta Journal and the Atlanta Constitution have separate editorial voices In their weekday editions. THE ATLANTA JOURNAL: THE ATLANTA CONSTITUTION: Editorial Page Editor: Jim Wooten ( Editorial Board Members: Benlta M. Dodd (WoddaJc.eom), Susan Laccetti Meyers (, Richard Matthews (, Thomas Oliver ( Editorial Page Editor: Cynthia Tucker Editorial Board Member: Jay Bookman (ooo(tmanaccomj, Maureen Downey (, Martha Ezzard (, Joe Geshwiler (, David Goldberg (, Susan Wells (sweWsQaJccom JIM WOOTEN 'The tree of liberty must be refreshed' Among the young, body disfigurement and mutilation tattoos, tongue and navel piercing and related declarations of identity have become a national pastime. In our meandering ennui, our shuffle through a peril-free world that expects or requires little of the individual, and no commitment that matters, the national behavior turns to doodle. We doodle our bodies and our causes, dramatically elevating our choice passions to immediate and consuming crisis, with the pitch escalated to match. Thus does the rhetoric of global warming become the spiked leather bracelet and the black lipstick expression of body-doodle boredom: Marilyn Manson and Ziggy Stardust meet Our Moral Obligation. A legitimate question does abound: Is a nation cheery in its self-indulgences and distanced from suffering or sacrifice up to the anguish ahead? So little has been asked of us, so little required to harvest freedom's blessings, that we are comfortable and complacent in the certainty that liberty's bounties are divinely secured. They are not, of course. More than 200 years ago, Thomas Jefferson, in correspondence to William Stephens Smith, a congressman and the brother-in-law of John Quincy Adams, expressed this truth: "What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure." Understanding and accepting Jefferson's truth at its core is the challenge of the days ahead. We are now in the calm of national resolve, of understanding and acceptance of the journey ahead. "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." For many, because it is our culture, the fruits of living in a time where so little is asked in obligation of citizenship, the reaction to the horror of Tuesday is to invite negotiation and understanding anything that avoids the calamities to come. War is not our tendency or character. It is, truly, so horrible that only the alternative the cowering life is more to be feared. Throughout our history, a nation unprepared and unwilling has moved when grievously assaulted to stand as patriots against tyrants. Their blood and their sacrifice do convey a solemn obligation across the generations that cannot be parsed or parried. My generation, the Vietnam generation, thought otherwise and with their indulging elders created an all-volunteer army of hired surrogates, who were then dispatched as policemen and nation builders. We have created an illusion that our obligations are negotiable and self-selecting. But some are not. Military service is an obligation of citizenship. Now, and for the first time, the post-Korea generations are to be called to unwavering commitment and to blood sacrifice, It is new to us. It is very frightening. The Greatest Generation provided. The Vietnam Generation eschewed. And both sought to shield their children from the sights they had seen, either across the battlefield or through the camera's eye. But shield we cannot. Duty is now at hand. Body disfiguration and coloration are the visual symbols of the purposeless life, unhurried and unfazed by the travails of the larger but disconnected world. Tragically for us all, this evil is now our charge. At this newspaper, as around the nation, we have just stood and observed three minutes of silence in prayer and mourning. I wept. So many others do too, some for the suffering they have already borne; me, I wept for the passages to come. For it is true: The tree of liberty must be refreshed. ' Jim Wooten's column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

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