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Letters to the Editor

By Wildcat Readers

Wednesday September 12, 2001

Pain hits home for UA alumna

I went to the eye doctor yesterday. On the subway into Manhattan (I live in Queens) they announced delays in train service. They announced that E trains were not running below Canal Street because a plane had run into the World Trade Center. It's not your typical subway announcement, but I just thought that some moron had flown his tiny plane into the antenna or something. After all, not long ago somebody ran into the Statue of Liberty.

The TV was on in the optometrist's waiting room with the image of the smoking towers. After I came out of my eye exam, the first tower had just collapsed. As I rushed over to my office building, people were on the street everywhere talking about it. "It fell over!"

"Hey, it's the end of the world!" Cell phones were not working - either because the antennas on top of the towers were gone or because millions of people were overloading the circuits.

Everyone was leaving work, but I went into the office to use the phones. I called my parents and spoke to my boyfriend's mom. My boyfriend works downtown on Wall Street, and I was unable to get in touch with him. I didn't know where he was or if he was OK. Everyone was shaken and scared. Then we heard that the second tower had collapsed, too.

All of the subways and train services were shut down. So many of us non-Manhattan residents were marooned on the island. Every sidewalk was its own river of people moving uptown, away from the disaster. There were long lines at all of the pay phones. I could see down Sixth Avenue to where the towers had been and where a huge pillar of smoke and dust was rising and billowing out toward Brooklyn. Every time the drone of a fighter plane was heard overhead people jumped.

Finally, around 1 p.m. my boyfriend was able to get through to me. He had gotten on the subway to get to work. The subway train stopped between two stations, and it stayed there for an hour and a half. Dust, looking like clouds of smoke, started to come through the doors. Finally, the train backed up to the Brooklyn Bridge station, and he was able to get out onto the street near the federal building.

The sky down there was dark, because so much smoke and dust was in the air. There were Federal Marshals everywhere, carrying very large rifles. People were emerging from the smoke covered in dust and bleeding from injuries. Some had collapsed on the ground and were being helped up by others. The police were telling everyone to get out of there and get uptown.

My boyfriend walked all the way up to Grand Central Station. As he neared the major train and subway terminal, people started streaming out of it, and police were screaming "RUN! Get out of here!" He ran. I was finally able to meet up with my boyfriend. Since all of the subways were closed, we joined the crowds, making an exodus out of Manhattan on foot. Most of the streets were closed, and only emergency vehicles drove by on their way to the scene: fire trucks, ambulances, a Hummer full of soldiers, seven bulldozers traveling in a pack with a police escort, a delivery truck commandeered and labeled with a cardboard sign that read "NYC Emergency Hospital Medical Supplies."

As we walked over the bridge to Queens and I looked at the still-billowing smoke that used to be two tall skyscrapers, I still couldn't believe the towers are gone. When I've watched disasters like the Oklahoma bombing and the Columbine shootings unfold before me on TV, I've been unable to imagine the pain and grief that the victims' loved ones suffered. Now I am much closer to being able to imagine it.

Erin Kirsten Stein is an associate editor with Time Inc. Custom Publishing in New York City. She is also a University of Arizona alumna and a former Arizona Daily Wildcat columnist.

This is not a time for peace

I'm writing this letter to express my most sincere disgust for the feelings of many of my fellow students. What I saw early yesterday afternoon on the Mall made me sick to my stomach. A forum of sorts was held where people expressed their opinion about the destruction yesterday morning and what course of action we as students at the UA should now take. Most of the empty rhetoric that I heard was for peace and forgiveness. No one I heard speak was enraged by what happened. It is deplorable to me that many UA students will protest and write letters condemning the bombing of foreign countries in retaliation to terrorism because a few civilians - at least that's what the foreign government that is being bombed tells us - died in a strategic military attack.

Then when we, America, are attacked maliciously with no strategic military goals in mind, we at the UA cry out for peace. There is no excuse for this type of act. To be at war, a country needs either to attempt to take over or defend its land or another nation. These evil men that committed this attack were doing neither. They cannot even be excused by a belief in their faith that they were fighting a Holy War, being that there was no war.

All of us at the UA should either be crying for or raging for the untold numbers of victims that died in the attacks. To quote the Bible, "There is a time for everything, a time for peace and a time for war." This is not the time for peace, but is in essence a time for war. We at the UA, as Americans, should be crying out for justice, not mercy and love. To quote my roommate, who is an alumnus, "This is the time for God to have mercy on the souls of those who did this, because the American people shouldn't."

Matt Slechta

religious studies senior

Middle Eastern studies department calls for tolerance

Members of the University of Arizona's Middle East studies community share the sorrow, fear and anger others feel in response to (yesterday's) tragic events. While there is nowhere to direct our anger at the moment, we can come together to express our grief, and in our efforts to achieve understanding of this horrific series of events as more information becomes available. It is important to emphasize that, at this point, we do not have information about the cause of the attacks. Unfortunately, such events may provoke a backlash against those supposed to have some association with the perpetrators. Those targeted often include innocent people of Middle Eastern background.

A particularly heartening response to the day's tragic events has been a message I received this morning from Barbara Bixby, faculty member of Arizona International College. She wrote that members of her class on community conflict resolution are concerned to reach out to the UA Middle Eastern community. She explained that her class knows that "the scapegoating that is common in this country makes people of Middle Eastern heritage feel unsafe." We appreciate the class's expression of concern, and hope that others will respond as thoughtfully at this painful moment.

We thank UA President Peter Likins for encouraging the university community to discuss the day's tragic events, and to gather today to "share our grief and strengthen our resolve to meet the future in a constructive way." The Center for Middle Eastern Studies echoes his sentiments, and urges tolerance and patience at this very difficult time.

Center for Middle Eastern Studies

University of Arizona


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