We must never forget the horror of 9/11

THE passage of time — two decades to be exact — cannot erase from our minds the horror we felt as we watched the heartless slaughter of almost 3,000 human beings in co-ordinated attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001.

That Jamaicans were among those who were so senselessly killed in those heinous acts, committed by terrorists using hijacked commercial jets to bomb the World Trade Center in New York, made our pain even more severe.

We remember watching with revulsion the celebration of that mass murder and the labelling of the bombers as heroes by some people in other parts of the world where anti-American sentiments run deep.

However, this newspaper continues to maintain that the monsters who snuffed out so many innocent lives in those attacks were nothing more than cowards who used Islam as a cloak to perpetrate one of the most abominable acts ever against humanity.

We accept that America, given its history of military involvement in a number of countries, does have enemies. However, there can be no justification for the carnage that was inflicted on the USA, and indeed the world, that day.

No one can successfully challenge that those evil acts changed the world forever, creating general suspicion, fear, a political atmosphere receptive to retaliation, and resulted in US troops going to war in Iraq and Afghanistan — wars that have claimed thousands of lives, displaced millions of people, and left too many with physical and mental scars.

Democracy, we hold, must be motivated by the force of ideas and not the force of arms. However, we are resolute in our view that the world should not submit to the climate of fear that the gutless hijackers and their now late leader, Osama bin Laden, wanted to create by their actions.

Every opportunity must be taken to make clear the fact that murder and mayhem will not shake our belief in the ideals of democracy, freedom, and tolerance of cultural diversity.

Unfortunately we note that America is now struggling with maintaining those ideals — a deficiency highlighted last Saturday by former US President George W Bush, who occupied the White House at the time of the attacks.

Noting that the unity America showed following the attacks “seems distant” from today, Mr Bush said, “So much of our politics has become a naked appeal to anger, fear, and resentment. That leaves us worried about our nation and our future together.”

The current president, Mr Joe Biden, expressed similar concerns and appealed for the people of the US to unite and lead the world by example.

“That's the thing that's going to affect our well-being more than anything else: How the rest of the world responds to us,” Mr Biden said.

His comments echo those of President Mr Barack Obama on the anniversary of the attacks in 2011.

“The terrorists who attacked us that September morning are no match for the character of our people, the resilience of our nation, or the endurance of our values,” he said in a broadcast to the nation. “And no matter what comes our way, as a resilient nation, we will carry on.”

So, as we reflect with the American people and the families of those Jamaicans who were victims of this slaughter, we again express our sympathy but affirm our commitment to the ideals of freedom, democracy, and tolerance shared by our two nations who have a long history of friendship.

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