Liberty and justice for whom?

Leslie Arntz

You kill us; we will kill you back. The concept and desire is deeply rooted in every one of us. More primitive societies lived by the law of retribution. Do modern ones follow that doctrine of the blood feud too?

Please don’t trip over yourselves in your haste to find the nearest soapbox on which you might pump your fist aggressively and cry: “YES! I live in one!” There is more to it than that.

Bush did not introduce the concept of a War on Terror to the American people. This administration is merely countering a War of Terror that has been decades in armed practice, and possibly thousands of years in the making.

The point is not exacting revenge. The point is bringing justice to the guilty and preventing future tragedy.

It seems that Sept. 11, 2001, marks the United States’ involvement with terrorism in the Middle East. The truth is that the turmoil of the Middle East has been affecting Americans for decades. Carter, Reagan, Bush Sr. and Clinton all dealt with the violence spawned from radical groups.

History is speckled with hostage crises, embassy bombings and plane hijackings. Military bases and training facilities have been attacked. Even the World Trade Towers were bombed.

And all of this happened before the date Sept. 11 gained any infamy.

Each previous incident was a blip on the public’s radar. News footage would catch someone’s attention (“Tsk. Isn’t that terrible. Can you pass the potatoes?”), but long newspaper stories with names of people and places you can’t pronounce or find on a map got passed over.

Thousands of people have died at the hands of terrorists over the course of decades. Sept. 11 isn’t an isolated incident.

Instead, the events on that day became a sledgehammer to the face of the public. The attacks were personal. The attacks were too close for comfort. No other act has been thrown in the face of the American public like the imminent issue of terrorism. That’s why things changed.

You can’t simply ask: Does the War on Terror bring justice to the victims of Sept. 11? Does it bring justice to any of the other thousands killed, be they American or not? In response, my answer remains the same: No.

There is no way that the gaping holes made in the lives of friends and family of those lost to acts of terrorism can ever be filled. Nothing will substitute a person’s presence. It’s not the government’s job to fill the holes left behind; it’s impossible to do. It’s the government’s job to hunt down those responsible and prevent such things from happening in the future.

Justice, instead, must be brought to those responsible. That is where the government has power and responsibility.

The War on Terrorism is a war of ideologies — ideologies that are violently manifested. This tendency has become a startling reality. Actively avoiding or hampering further acts of inhumanity is the only way to bring justice to anyone.

Call it preemptive measures, for that’s sometimes what it is. Call it preventive measures, for that is what it is as well. Call it whatever you will.

The greater wrong will always be letting evil run unchecked.

Leslie Arntz is a sophomore magazine journalism major and a point/counterpoint columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].