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Staff Opinion

By Wildcat Opinions Board

Wednesday September 12, 2001

Once upon a time, when the United States was at war with Japan, it was decided that thousands of Americans who happened to be of Japanese decent would be sent to camps to address "public safety concerns." Years later, we recognize the error of our ways. These men and women were as American as any other citizen of this country, and their loyalty should never have been questioned.

We now potentially face a similar problem. As it stands, some citizens and government officials have assumed the terrorist attack on New York and the Pentagon is a result of Arab fundamentalist group leader Osama bin Laden or another anti-American group or country. The validity of these suspicions are irrelevant until there is confirmation of responsibility, and that should be kept in mind. And if our worst suspicions are a reality, we must remember that Islamic members of our community were not the perpetrators and are not terrorists - they are our neighbors.

The University of Arizona has a substantial population of students of Arab - and other non-Western - descent. It's imperative that these men and women be spared from aggression. In many cases, they are American as anyone else and are terribly disturbed by yesterday's event. Furthermore, those students who are not Americans should not be, in any way, blamed for yesterday's tragedy or chastised for their heritage or religious beliefs. If this attack was at the hands of a specific group, it's important to remember the actions of a select few in no way reflect the beliefs of an entire population or culture of people.

All citizens and non-citizens of America deserve to live their lives in safety. The same goes for UA students. On behalf of the campus community, the Daily Wildcat asks that UA students ensure the safety of our non-American peers. Please afford them the same respect and courtesy that you would impart to a student of any other faith or race. They are not the enemy, and they shouldn't be treated as such.

The University of Arizona Police Department will be monitoring the Islamic Center just west of campus, among other areas, around the clock. Violence toward the people worshipping there, or vandalism of the grounds will be prosecuted with the fullest force of the law.

The UA is an academic institution, and it is expected that the students of this school will be above petty, ignorant and hateful behavior due to the fact that there seem to be so few answers to yesterday's tragedy. All of those who attend this school have been endowed with an education that affords them an advanced understanding of the world and its inhabitations - now is the time for all of us to put it to good use.

A terrorist attack is not only an attack on civilians, but it is a psychological attack on the entire nation. It is meant, obviously, to create hysteria and to breed suspicion and distrust. It is our duty; it should be our goal, not to let this attack do more damage than it has already done.

A sign on the newly constructed "Wall of Expression" on the UA mall reads, "Fight violence and pain with peace and compassion."

We need to fight violence and pain with education and maturity, too.


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