I found this article today at work. It's a nice little perspective on things.
Come, Let Us Reason Together
As we prosecute our war on international terrorism, the small but growing groundswell of protest can be heard on college campuses across the USA and around the world. "Violence only begets more violence," shouts the leader of a student protest. "Cultural and economic imperialism are the catalysts for hatred," argues a sociology professor. "I'd bomb them with food and medical aid and with love," cries a well-known entertainer to the cheers of hundreds of 20 year olds.
For an old-timer like me, it's deja vu all over again. The long lost sixties have returned ,,, or have they?
The flower children of the 1960s used to say, "What if they held a war and nobody came." What sentiment, what idealism, what nonsense! Now I admit that no one can fault folks for wanting peace, for hoping that hatred and violence can be cured with strong doses of reason and love. In fact, it's a wonderful abstraction.
Our problem, today, in the year 2001 is that somebody has already declared war and they've already shown up. They have killed us ... a lot of us, and they want to kill you, your family, and your friends. Let me repeat that: They ... want ... to ... kill ... you.
But the peace-now folks would protest, "Wait, it's not as simple as that. There are reasons why they're angry. Once we understand them and address their legitimate grievances, we can reason with them. We can make them our friends.
I can only shake my head. Idealism is a wonderful trait, but those who have too much of it can be dangerously naive.
The terrorists and the tens of millions of people who support them will not listen to reason, they will not join hands and sing folk songs, they will not have a sudden epiphany and see our point of view. They will not stop even if we withdraw support for Israel, even if we pull troops out of Saudi Arabia, even if we lift the "inhuman sanctions" on Iraq and allow Saddam to build nuclear weapons and manufacture anthrax by the ton. They will add items to their list of grievances as fast as we address each grievance. They do not negotiate, they extort (and there is a profound difference). You can wish this wasn't true, but it won't change reality.
Far be it from me, an ex-professor myself, to suggest that students and faculty do not have the right to express their views. Of course they do, but please, do it with a little less hubris. If you're a student and a twenty something, you haven't yet had a full dose of life experience, you have relatively limited historical perspective and even less experience in dealing and negotiating with people from other cultures. If you're a professor, recognize that postmodernist relativism is fine for academic discussion, but sorely lacking when your life has been threatened.
I think it was Winston Churchill who said, "If you're not a liberal [progressive] at the age of 20 you have no heart, if you're not a conservative at the age of 40, you have no brain," Strong words, no doubt, but in the present context, they are absolutely accurate. So go ahead, protest, argue that our enemy has real grievances that if addessed would lead to peace now. Enjoy your perceived moral superiority over those of us who think that another road must be taken. And as you whip yourself into a frenzy of moral outrage, just remember five words: They ... want ... to ... kill ... you.