I am concerned too about Rachel's withdrawal (but as Marcy says I'm not
sure whether it is actual or whether she's still eavesdropping), but it
seems to me indicative of what is occuring across the world this week.
Everywhere, we are drawing lines in the sand. We are reducing our world
to a set of binaries: us and them, friends and foes, pro and anti
-terrorist, pro and anti- American. If an expression is read as
"anti-American" I will sign off, draw my line in the sand. Admittedly,
Rachel may not have the energy to "fight" for an ideal in this virtual
space. I can understand. My grad students this morning pointed out how
unproductive their week had been -- it wasn't a good week for thinking
What we know, however, is that a dualistic response is simple, but never
adequate. When my younger son hits his brother, the older might react by
trying to strangle him. I can intervene, but as I do, it helps to
understand what motivated the initial strike. It helps to talk together.
I don't know if those in the terrorist organizations have reasoning
capacity -- fanaticism would seem to be at odds with reasoning -- but I
know that with my kids I try and talk first. And if that doesn't work, I
send them to their rooms until they cool down.
What I'm hearing coming from the political elite in the US sounds very
much like they too need to go to their rooms and cool down.
Unfortunately, on the street many in Canada and the US need to cool down
too -- we're hearing of muslims being harrassed, mosques being
I guess my hope is that as intellectuals in Canada (the US's second
biggest friend after Mexico) we would be able to advise our friend to
cool down, to analyze the facts, to see the people in Kabul who are just
as innocent as the people in the WTC, and not to become terrorists who
take their might into other people's turf. Just because it was done to
the US, doesn't mean they should give as they got. Violence, we know
from experience, begets violence, until someone has the courage to stop.
Dr. Robert Irish, Director
Language Across the Curriculum
Applied Science and Engineering
University of Toronto
Sandford Fleming B670
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