Today America stands on the brink of war.

Today America stands on the brink of war. The president, the media and the military-industrial complex have already declared it. Our hearts are on fire with grief for those innocents lost in a senseless act of terrorism precipitated on our own shores. We feel violated and we are angry. Many are heartbroken and many want blood.

And justice must be done. Those who have perpetrated this crime must be found, their terrorist cells eradicated, and the conspirators prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The guilty must be punished.

The guilty, yes, but not the innocent. Not the women and children in Afghanistan. Not the elderly and the infirm in Iran or Iraq. Not one single, freedom-loving soul trapped in foreign country living in poverty under an oppressive regime over which they have no control. They have done nothing wrong. Must they pay with their lives for the heinous acts of a few of their desperate and deranged countrymen? Must they suffer because we are suffering? Must they die in an American jihad because we cannot bear the pain one second longer?

America is a great country. The principles of liberty and justice for all are not just hollow words. We believe them in the very core of our being, and we live by them, not just on a political level, but on a very personal level. Our business dealings, our neighborhood and community relations, the ways in which we treat our friends and our enemies alike, are all colored by our very American values of justice and compassion. When our neighbor steals from us, we do not kill his family. When we have been wronged, we do not lash out at the helpless just because it is convenient and they are easier to catch. America is not like a pride of lions seeking out the most vulnerable members of the herd simply because it is hungry.

Instead, we tell the world to give us its tired and oppressed. That message has not changed in over two centuries, and those of us who value liberty, equality, and justice cannot condone setting these values aside in the name of assuaging our grief. Terrorism begets terrorism, and violence against the innocent inevitably leads to more of the same.

Now more than ever, if America must fight for something, let it fight for peace.

CLG supports:

  • Honest evaluation of current foreign policy with an eye toward eliminating the unilateral isolationism that characterizes the current administration's world view.
  • a rational approach to military spending and national defense policy which includes the non-proliferation of all weapons of mass destruction.
  • a defensive strategy, consistent with the congressional resolution, against terrorism which targets terrorists rather than innocent civilians.
  • continued sane and open debate on the controversial issues that face our contemporary American society, such as missle defense, social security, the environment, and the economy.
Carol Schiffler, with input from Michael Rectenwald and the Steering Committee of CLG
September 17, 2001