The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday September 28th

Still Raging -- And Trying to Find Answers

I wanted to write about football. I wanted to write some college student piece, full of sweetness and light, about a random element of UNC life -- one of the incidentals that we give grand importance to here.

But on Tuesday our American world was torn apart and the things we are concerned with -- the daily minutiae we have the luxury of worrying about -- became instantly insignificant.

And we are still reeling.

There has been some talk of how we must seek peace: peace in the world, peace within ourselves.

But I am raging.

I am raging because it is so damn difficult to love one's enemies. I am raging because I feel so little faith in the leader of my country. I am raging because I can find so few lessons in all of this.

And I am raging because a search for peace goes against every initial human reaction to the attacks -- we are deeply hurt and frustrated, our grief has quickly coalesced into anger, and we are aching to have a target.

True, we must take some sort of action in response. But it is utterly terrifying to see how our country seems so desperate to go to war.

One of the more unsettling moments of last week occurred when the headline graphic on CNN changed from "America Under Attack" to "America's New War."

It seemed so abrupt and so final.

We have been so quick to declare war on an enemy we cannot point out on a map. President Bush has pledged to "eradicate terrorism from the face of the earth." This is a laudable goal, but it is impossible to truly eradicate terrorism unless we eradicate the mentalities, the hatred and the iniquities that cultivate it.

At what time has war ever decreased resentment and hatred?

It's upsetting to realize that, as of right now, it doesn't matter who did this. We are prepared to wage a war against terrorism itself -- not against one enemy but against all of them.

It has been argued that the attacks were just like Pearl Harbor, but these acts were not orchestrated by a country but by a nameless group.

This is much different than Pearl Harbor, and it is just that much worse. There is no national entity we can point to as the "evil" that must be eradicated.

It is terribly frustrating for a country that knows the concept of massive retaliation very well, of knowing our enemies by name. If the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks parallel Pearl Harbor, then does that mean that our future holds a parallel to Hiroshima? To Nagasaki?

Can our world stand another?

Can humanity stand another?

There have always been complaints in the past about the American media's habit of filling the pages of newspapers with fluff -- a movie star's affair or the sexual dalliance of a president.

I once heard a woman who had just arrived in America from a war-torn country respond to such complaints. She said something to the effect of how nice it was to live in a country, like the United States, where times are peaceful enough that "fluff" news makes the front page. I think we've begun to understand her point, having had so many years without tragedy in our nation.

Those who wonder whether rushing into war is the best and only option are not any less angry about the attacks than those who push for immediate retribution.

Questioning the wisdom in creating massive violence does not dishonor those who have fallen. The attacks have awakened in us a realization of just how fragile and precious a human life is. Cultivating a war would utterly disregard that lesson and would absolutely guarantee further American and foreign loss of life. Our generation has no concept of war -- we have grown up in an era of prosperity and relative peace.

It is not a question with an easy answer. All we know is that our nation has been grievously injured and that we must do something. But this conflict has no solid enemy or foreseeable end.

Before making a decision to send our country into fighting, we need to know more. So much is still unclear.

Rationality is being sacrificed for righteousness, and a sense of confusion and moral conflict is prevalent. It is unsettling that when truly tested our country turns to two things.

Prayer and war.

Erin Fornoff can be reached at

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