The commentary below was published on HistoryLink.org's "This Week in History" front page on September 11, 2001.
9-11: An Emergency Call for Unity
The horrific events of September 11, 2001, have left the entire nation stunned. We at HistoryLink join people everywhere in expressing our sympathy for the victims and their families and our solidarity with the survivors of these despicable attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C.
Historians are supposed to offer perspective at such times, but the scale and unmitigated cruelty of these attacks are unprecedented. Pearl Harbor is most frequently cited, but it involved a raid by a known enemy on a military target far from the American mainland. On September 11, a still unidentified force targeted thousands of innocent civilians and quintessential icons of American civilization in our nation's economic and political capitals.
The past can offer a few important lessons. The first demands that we resist the temptation for blind revenge. It would only compound the tragedy if innocent Muslim and Arab communities suffered their neighbors' anger on the basis of unfounded suspicion, supposition, and stereotypes, just as loyal Japanese Americans bore the brunt of Pearl Harbor some 60 years ago.
Second, greater Seattle will feel the aftershocks of these attacks for a long, long time to come. Many here have been personally impacted by the loss of friends, colleagues, and relatives. We live in a cosmopolitan region, and our dependence on international trade, aviation, national defense policy, and capital markets makes us acutely sensitive to any disruption of global commerce and relations.
We know all too well the tensions created by the inexorable spread of the worldwide industrial revolution, for Seattle is an international synonym for globalization and its discontents, nor are we a stranger to terrorist threats. The extraordinary sight of Navy missile frigates patrolling Elliott Bay, however, is fresh evidence that a new and sinister kind of war has arrived on our very shores.
Finally, past events teach this: the course of history is not changed by the actions of terrorists but by the reactions of their victims. The strategy of terror succeeds only in sowing doubt and division, retreat and isolation, and, foremost, imitation to prolong and escalate dehumanizing conflict.
Thus, we as individuals and as a community have the power to win the ultimate victory.
-- Walt Crowley for HistoryLink.org