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Student Voices

September 17, 2001 at 12:00 AM EDT
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KEITH LUCERO, Geography Teacher: I want to know what you think… I want to know what you think about what happened. What are your impressions? Are you still scared? Are you still angry? Are you contemplative? What are you thinking about? Abigail?

ABIGAIL FOUST: I think especially for us like we’ve never had to experience anything like this in our lifetime. I mean we’ve heard about Pearl Harbor. We went through columbine and… But I don’t think… This is huge. And it’s just sort of a shock because at least I know I had this… I put our government and our country on this really high pedestal. I was proud to be an American. I still am. It’s really scary to know that something like this can happen.

KEITH LUCERO: Marie, do you want to say something?

MARIE LoVERDE: I think it’s great how our country is coming together and we have the patriotism now especially for our generation because we never really had that before. But on the other hand, it’s like all this hate too, it’s just like building up especially against just like Arabs and being like the most powerful country and being the most devout we need to like somewhat more rise above that.

KEITH LUCERO: Adrienne.

ADRIENNE TECZA: I think it’s really good to have everyone unite, you know, to try and help out and do that. But what starts to develop sometimes is an over sense of nationalism, like people start to think, “we’re Americans against the rest of the world. We have to stand up for, you know, America and it’s us against them.” I think that that’s something that is a real threat right now.

KEITH LUCERO: Louis.

LOUIS GOMEZ: I’ll say it myself. I don’t like our government. And I know a lot of people that have the same feelings for it. But right now I feel like I need to be part of this. I need to be American, whether I like it… whether I like this or not. This is what happened to us and this is who we are.

KEITH LUCERO: Do you think that? What do you think? Micah?

MICAH FRIEDMAN: When you see people celebrating in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in Israel about things like this happening and, you know, Iraq issuing a formal statement saying that we deserved it, it’s hard not to have cultural biases.

MADOLYN JONES: It’s understood that you’re going to have cultural biases but I think that the media plays a large part in that, and that they portray those people as, you know, getting excited and being proud that they killed so many Americans. But, I don’t know. I just think that media portrays them and it gives us… They’re doing it to give us people comfort in order to blame somebody else. You know what I’m saying?

KEITH LUCERO: Rory, what do you think? Why don’t you tell us?

RORY TAGGART: I think what’s really tragic out of this whole situation is there’s a small group of, a very small percentage, of the Muslim population that might have these views and America’s turned to out-and-out racism. If you listen to a lot of the morning talk shows, there’s a true passionate hatred towards these people.

I think it’s become because it’s more easy to distinguish this group of people based on their skin color or based on religious practices than a Timothy McVeigh who could very easily blend into America’s culture. And so I think that we have to be very careful not to turn to out-and-out racism and hatred for these people because that’s the same mentality that bred the actions that led to this tragedy.

ALLISON NUANES: Muslims, not all, but many view America… They call us “the Big Satan” and Israel is the Little Satan and we’re the snake’s head to them. What they want to do is to rid the planet of us. We’re bad to them. And they have the will to do it; they just don’t have the power right now. But what they’re doing is they’re trying to get the power. If they get it, they will do it — like no matter what it takes. I think that the scary thing is that either we have to go against them and show that we have the will that they have – and — you know, retaliate.

ADRIENNE TECZA: When people go off and, you know, go to war, we think a lot of Americans as war heroes. You know? It’s a give-and-take kind of. We are like, oh, yeah, these people are giving their lives for their country when our people go to war. But when somebody like fights against us, we’re like they’re evil. You know. You have to realize that they’re fighting for something they believe very deeply in and they’re not necessarily evil.

ZENITH WARD: When the United States probably does act and bomb other countries it’s on a political level, it’s like… I mean, not to say that that makes killing people right, but I mean it’s a government making decisions like with a large group of people. It’s not a small or maybe not small but a terrorist cell just trying to kill as many people as they can. And I don’t think that’s ever been the United States, you know, intent in a war is to kill as many civilians as possible and America is not even at war with them officially.

ALISON PETERS: We never actually officially declared war on Vietnam and we did kill quite a few Vietnamese people.

STUDENT: We weren’t at war with them.

STUDENT: We were officially at war.

ALISON PETERS: They’re not officially at war with us.

ZENITH WARD: Soldiers acting under a government. My assumptions would be those weren’t a government acting. They were those were individuals acting and that’s just murder.

ADRIENNE TECZA: These are people who have incredibly strong feelings about political views. Maybe they didn’t go about it the right way but you’ve got to understand it’s not like they were just like let’s just kill a whole bunch of people for the hell of killing a whole bunch of people. They feel like we are the enemy, like we are evil, like we have done something horrible to hem.

ZENITH WARD: It was terrorism. It’s not war. It’s not flying a plane into a building.

STUDENT: President Bush said this was an act of war.

ZENITH WARD: It was an act of war. I’m not saying I don’t think it’s even… It’s not anything similar flying that airplane into a building in downtown Manhattan is not the same as bombing another country.

MICAH FRIEDMAN: I can’t sit here and accept the fact that we’re going to justify the actions of these people. I mean they’ve killed possibly 10,000 20,000 innocent sieve civilians for no other reason than the fact that they feel we’ve committed atrocities against them.

Obviously America is not right. If we’re going to pick apart America’s action, that in no way justifies them killing our innocent civilians for no reason. I’m not saying we should go in do an eye for an eye and start killing their civilians because that would be just as wrong. I don’t think that’s the point.

LYDIA CAYTON-HOLLAND: I don’t think anybody is trying to justify these acts. I think what people are saying, the question was what scares us about this. The scariest aspect of this is that there’s somebody out there like I said yesterday that hates us this much to do this because of our actions in the past — that there’s stuff that has happened in the past between us and other places that has prompted other people to attack us like this and that’s what’s scared everybody is the uncertainty that’s arisen from it.

Do we go to war now or do we take a pacifist point of view and try to end terrorism? It’s the internal conflict arising between people with different opinions about what’s happened and what’s going to happen is really what’s scaring us.

KWAME SPEARMAN: But the United States has to show in this, in the next upcoming days, weeks, months and years is that if you help terrorism, we, you know, are going to do everything in our power to kick you out.

I mean, we have to show that the ramifications for terrorism are going to be so high that, yes, you may have four people who hate the united states so much that they’re willing to do that but the United States is powerless if they don’t have someone bigger supporting them. That’s how we’re going to have to end terrorism. We’re going to have to show that if you support this, if you believe in this, we’re going to do everything in our power to take you out.

KEITH LUCERO: Okay. Joe, what do you think?

JOSEPH KAISER: That’s the scary part for me is what’s next. America’s reaction may be something we will regret. Look at Pearl Harbor, with the internment camps or whatever. The U.S. has a conundrum. We can’t be too violent. Then again we can’t do nothing. That’s a very scary conundrum because no matter what we do, there’s really no right answer at this point.