Sept. 12, 2001: As the smoke clears
This editorial was originally published on Sept. 12, 2001.
It is truly unbelievable. In the worst act of terrorism on American soil, untold thousands have died, and the nation has been shaken to its core.
The three hijacked airplanes that crashed into the two towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday morning truly made it a day that will live in infamy.
Reactions have ranged from sorrow and shock to rage at the unknown perpetrators responsible for this despicable act.
The uncertainty of not knowing who has done it or whether there will be more attacks has been nerve-wracking.
However, it is wrong to jump to conclusions about who is to blame for these attacks. Many people immediately assumed it was carried out by Osama bin Laden, who is known as an extremist Muslim terrorist leader. But there is no hard proof.
These assumptions have led to harassment of many Muslims, even here at UH, where we are usually so proud of our diversity.
All day Tuesday, students wearing traditional Muslim clothing or appearing to be of Muslim descent were taunted and harassed by other students. Some even had to be escorted off campus by UH police officers because they were so afraid for their safety.
This is a travesty. These same assumptions were made in April 1995 when the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was blown up, and the terrorist turned out to be an American citizen.
Even more disturbing, these same reactions came during World War II, when Japanese-Americans were condemned to internment camps for the sins of others.
Just because a person happens to belong to an ethnic or religious group doesn’t mean he or she can be blamed for the actions of the most extreme member of that group.
This is not a time to jump to conclusions and blame innocent people. This is a time to come together and mourn the nation’s losses.
It is a time for us to assess what has happened and determine as a nation how to punish the people who are responsible for the heinous crimes.
As we pick up the pieces and continue on with life, remember the values upon which our society is based. Be proud of the heroes who risked and lost their lives helping others in the collapsed buildings.
Respect the law enforcement officials and other government agents who will be putting in millions of hours in this investigation. Stand behind our military as it prepares to avenge the act of terrorism.
But whatever you do, don’t lower yourself to the level of the vile criminal who committed this act by taking out your anger on innocent people.