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Fred's Views


We have been observers and victims of one of the most horrific demonstrations of hate ever visited on this planet. Amid the devastation and the desperation it is easy, all too easy, to lash back in hate as well.

We have already seen sad examples of irrational hate. This horrific deed was not done by Arabs or Muslims or by any other racial, religious or other arbitrary grouping. It was done by a small band of terrorists, some of whom may be Arab and/or Muslim, but that is inconsequential.

When you have suffered or even simply witnessed the destruction that hate creates, it is difficult not to lash out in supposed retribution. However, the terrorists who perpetrated these unspeakable acts did not learn from history, but we must.

Sixty years ago, the government of Japan (which was mainly controlled by its military), felt they had no choice but to launch a surprise attack on the United States at Pearl Harbor. They hoped to knock the US Navy out of the war for at least a few months and possibly so demoralize the U.S. that it would make peace more or less on Japan's terms. They were wrong. Their actions did cripple much of the navy for about six months, but it certainly did not demoralize Americans.

Before the attack, Americans were divided. Some actually wanted to support Germany. Many wanted to support Britain and the allies. Most wanted to be left alone. While Roosevelt slowly tried to drag the nation out of the depression and steer it towards full support of the allies, Germany was swallowing up Europe and Japan was attacking China and threatening other nearby territories in desperate search for raw materials.

After the attack, everything changed. America united as it had never done before. Men lined up at the recruiting centers and women moved into the factories. Industries geared up to produce the essential war materiel and the mass media endeavored to keep everyone motivated. In just over six months, Japan's expansionist dreams were ended with its defeat at Midway. While it would take more than three more years to defeat Japan, the writing was on the wall. Japan had made a catastrophic miscalculation.

But the U.S. and Canada also made a tragic error. They forgot their own principles and struck back at Japanese nationals, placing many in essentially concentration camps. Of course, we have the benefit of hind sight. We know that the vast majority of Japanese Americans and Canadians were fiercely loyal to their adopted countries. We know what a black mark this action was on both countries' records. It wasn't so easy to see back then, but it should have been seen.

Today, we must learn from our history. To attack anyone simply because they "look" Arab or Muslim is to lower yourself to the level of the terrorists. To attack anyone who has not been proven to have taken part in this terrorist activity is simply wrong. We must show some restraint. We must show some common sense. We must allow our anger and frustration to mellow. Our goal is not to lash out blindly. It is not even to seek revenge. It is to obtain justice. As a last resort, it may be necessary to use military force to find justice. However, justice can best be attained when the accused have their day in court and are proven guilty. Anything less would only belittle us as democratic countries and as human beings.

Copyright © 2001 by Fred Oldfield. All rights reserved.

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