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No excuse for terrorist attacks

Carol Denney
Wednesday November 21, 2001



The self-appointed “left” in Berkeley seems dedicated to allowing the perpetrators of the September 11 bombings to make the argument that if you’re angry enough about foreign policy, it is understandable somehow that you would undertake to kill thousands of innocent people. They seem to think that people who consider themselves to have a balanced political and moral perspective should be obligated to try to understand those who manage to find a connection between the Koran and mass murder. They culminate with an insistence that the Berkeley City Council is an appropriate place to attempt to codify their watered-down, short-sighted views and take on an unparalleled moment in history while most of us are still in the deepest mourning. 

Every religion seems to me to have a similar combination of benign intention and fantastic ambiguity that any artful scholar can use to justify almost anything. I confess I’ve lost interest in whether or not the excuse for an atrocity in religion’s name is a burning bush, a virgin birth, or an assumption about what clothing might or might not be offensive to whatever god in question. I don’t honestly think imbuing myself with the niceties of Afghan language or culture is going to bring me any closer to making sense of something senseless. 

There is plenty of room in this wide world for the symbolic gesture, so much room for so many soap boxes in so many places that it seems to me there is no need to constantly use the Berkeley City Council chambers as a glorified gong show. The national media whet their lips when the grandstanding and bickering on the Berkeley City Council gets into gear, and the local economy gets the fallout. I hope it is not too politically incorrect to oppose the bombing of Afghanistan, care deeply about the Afghan civilians being killed or injured, but also hope that the local merchants manage to survive the recession we must all face together. 

While the rest of the nation tries its best to find common ground, or commit to some practical act such as giving blood or fund-raising for the victims, we surely can find a way to offer each other opportunities to show compassion to each other rather than create yet more opportunities for utterly artificial division. We are not each other’s enemies, and the recent hostile confrontation over an anti-war resolution looks much less like honest dialogue than like cruel and senseless theater fueled by weapons-grade vitriol and political opportunism. 

September 11 was not dialogue. It was sociopathy. And one can oppose war while recognizing, as some councilmembers do, that the Berkeley City Council has a purview which now and then it should obligate itself to pursue. I pray for all the victims of this tragedy, but also for a town which seems dedicated to perpetually robbing itself and its citizenry of any shred of dignity. 



Carol Denney