Letter to the Editor: Response to “Forgiveness sets us free and gives us peace”


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This letter is a response to your article of September 14 on the topic, “Forgiveness sets us free and gives us peace.” We discussed your article here on campus, at the Speech Language Pathology Clinic, where I regularly attend the group therapy sessions of a University of Toledo-sponsored support group called DaZy Aphasia Centre. This is a group founded by a retired licensed nurse and stroke survivor, Jacquelyn Davis-Zychowicz, and now supervised by a UT Speech Language Pathology Clinic faculty member, Adrienna Lange.
Two graduate student-clinicians, both in charge of group therapy, chose your article for discussion; it helped us focus on the memories of the great tragedy of 9/11. You chose to write about a topic that has been the matter of intense arguments for centuries; this is the problem of evil, and how to respond to it.
As each of the group members took turns to read a couple of paragraphs, and the student clinicians then asked for our comments about it, we realized that indeed it is a complex topic, a true philosophical matter.
Firstly, a group member pointed out that the 9/11 casualty number is far above 2,996; other victims survived temporarily but later on died of complications caused by the terror attack; still others were left crippled, physically and otherwise, hundreds of them if not thousands.

Then a student-clinician, Jordan, asked us to report where we were on 9/11. When her turn came, she made the most relevant point about it: She was at school, in second grade, when it all happened. “I remember where I was very well —she said —because I could understand what was happening. But my younger sibling could not understand it,” she added.
One might call the matter the “cohort effect”: Those below age 21 were not as acutely marked by the tragedy as those above that age.
We all agreed with your analysis; it was concluded that from the response to the same evil endless, ongoing wars have resulted. But it was also pointed out that no nation is supposed to be a martyr by not defending itself: The Roman Catholic doctrine of “just war” was mentioned as the justification of what our nation did against al-Qaida in Afghanistan.
It was not the latter that caused what you called a “counterproductive” approach to responding to 9/11: There was a worldwide consensus, even among Islamic nations, that the United States had a right to wipe al-Qaida out, at least in Afghanistan. But then our nation did the worst that true democracies can do: To make a hasty decision and invade Iraq, which as you pointed out has done more damage than good.
To forgive is always difficult because so to speak automatic forgiveness can hide great resentment and even hatred for the enemy; it is a slow process; it can take a lifetime.
The United States indeed acted hastily and now the consequences are here. But there is something else about 9/11 that we did not discuss during group therapy; it has to do with the origin of Islamic terrorism. From the beginning Islam was a warring religion, as it was Christianity during the Crusades; but the kind of terror methods used by current Islamic extremist groups were unknown to Islam.
There is a little-known book that sheds light on the origin of Islamic terrorism, “The Beast Reawakens,” by the journalist Martin A. Lee. It is shocking: Islamic terrorism was single-handedly crafted by World War Two, fugitive German Nazis; they taught the Palestinian Liberation Organization, PLO, how to make explosives and how to use terror against Israel.
Eventually, Israel and the PLO made peace, as the PLO was never as bloody, genocidal as, for example, today’s ISIS.
There lies the difference. After WWII, indeed, European thinkers, even those who were atheists, concluded that Nazism was no ordinary evil, but absolute evil, as it was the case. Absolute evil not born of German, or Austrian, minds, as Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently pointed out, causing an outcry among Palestinians and even liberal Israelis: It was a Palestinian Muslim radical who, after meeting Adolf Hitler, masterminded the Nazis’ idea of a “final solution” to a problem that did not exist, this is the integration of Jews into mainstream European societies.
Back to your point, now we in the United States have a self-avowed Christian who in real life is a prophet of hatred, Donald Trump, sowing the seeds of what has the potential of turning out to be the Holocaust of Muslims, or, in your words, “proxies here at home in our search for retributions and revenge.”
Trump, whom another Republican leader involved in the unfortunate response to 9/11, former State Secretary Colin Powell, in e-mails then hacked and published over the internet called a “national disgrace and an international pariah.”
Using your words, I can’t think of a more hateful, bitter and vengeful political leader than Trump, who then, nonchalantly, claims to be a Christian and proposes going after not only the Muslim terrorists; but also killing their families!
So, from the moral viewpoint you brandish, a sound moral analysis, as a predominantly Christian nation we are not any better than the worst of Islam. How come the Christian fools deluded by Trump’s Machiavellian political discourse did not collectively react, “Hey, wait a minute, this guy cannot possibly be a Christian”?
No, they did not; President Trump might as well organize a genocidal Crusade against Muslims: these Christians would still support him. But, wait until November: if (God forbid) Trump wins, then over the next years all Americans travelling abroad will have to hide their national identity and call themselves Canadians: the hatred Trump would pour to the world would return to us like a boomerang.
From Oscar Martínez, UT alumnus

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Letter to the Editor: Response to “Forgiveness sets us free and gives us peace”