September 11

Sixty years apart — December 1941 and September 2001 — the rhetoric of the Bates College campus confronted the tangled ideas of war and peace.

It is difficult to reconcile the tenets of religion with the realities of war. – Austin Staples ’42, The Bates Student, Dec. 10, 1941

When religion encounters politics and economy, religion always wins. Religions and religious people will always be the first to act in a nationalistic way. – Mishael Caspi, visiting professor of religion, The Bates Student, Sept. 18, 2001

It seems, about wars in general, that we cannot consider ourselves really civilized, as we would like to, as long as we resort to this means of settling our difficulties. – Virginia Day ’42, The Bates Student, Dec. 10, 1941

The only solution to this terrorist act is to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice in a humane way that demonstrates our ability to condemn an act of violence without stooping to the level of committing one ourselves. – Bill Spirer ’04, Portland, Maine, The Bates Student, Sept. 18, 2001

When we find ourselves in the midst of the war itself, and when everything seems forgotten except the need to kill or be killed, we’ve got to hang on with all our strength to the memory of the ideals we used to have. We can’t let ourselves be scarred internally; we can’t afford to lose our courage, our faith in the future and in the eventual triumph of sanity and decency. When all the world is filled with hate, we’ve got to remember how to love. – editorial, The Bates Student, Dec. 10, 1941, editor Ralph Tuller ’42, managing editor John Donovan ’42

The inevitable truth is that it does sometimes take an act of terrible malice to shock us into re-evaluating our life position – our actions, our beliefs, and our day-to-day routine. In that one short morning, thousands of lives were lost. It was a horrible reminder that the days we are granted are as much of a privilege as they are a right. It behooves us to conduct ourselves with that in mind. Be a good citizen, be a good neighbor, and be a good friend. We owe it to those who had that privilege taken from them one week ago today. – Will Coghlan ’02 and Dan Neumann ’02, co-editors, The Bates Student, Sept. 18, 2001

This is the most tremendous thing that has occurred in our life! It will shape our destinies! There will be a degeneration of civilization as we know it now and a simplification of morals. – Harry Barba ’44, The Bates Student, Dec. 10, 1941

How could anyone hate so much to conceive of such an atrocious act? Our faith has been tested. – Melody Beaulieu, secretary, Development Office, The Bates Student, Sept. 18, 2001

As the war was inevitable, I am glad that it came as it did, for in their attacking us, we have been unified in our cause against them. – Jack Cole ’44, The Bates Student, Dec. 10, 1941

Never judge a culture by the acts of individuals. If we can avoid that, it will be a better world. Otherwise, we are doomed to live in hell. – Mishael Caspi, visiting professor of religion, The Bates Student, Sept. 18, 2001

I feel that we have taken the only step possible, but I also feel that in this crisis we are demonstrating a nationalism dangerous to a future establishment of permanent peace. We who hate war must make it clear that we are fighting not because we believe that war is the way to bring about international peace and democracy, but because we as a nation, have been attacked and must defend ourselves. – Myra Holt ’42, The Bates Student, Dec. 10, 1941

What people don’t understand is that our response will not be retaliation, but self-protection. We’re not out to murder an equal number of civilians, because we would be terrorists ourselves. As Gandhi said, an eye for an eye only makes the whole world blind. However, Christopher Hewitt, in “The Effectiveness of Anti-Terrorist Policies,” is very clear: Negotiations don’t work, ceasefires don’t work, and making concessions, reforms, or improvements in the society don’t work. In the long run, the only solution is to make it impossible for the terrorists to strike. – Dominick Pangallo ’03, Salem, Mass., The Bates Student, Sept. 18, 2001

This is not something to cheer about. – John Lloyd ’42, The Bates Student, Dec. 10, 1941

Like many other Americans, I would like to turn the other cheek, because I believe that loving one’s neighbor begets good. However, I’m not a martyr to be sacrificed on the altar of U.S. foreign policy mistakes. The dozens of persons jumping to their deaths from black and burning towers testified that an evil has been unleashed, and whatever our country’s contribution to its origination, we now have a responsibility to defeat it, and not to wait like lambs for the slaughter. – Andrew Gentes, instructor in history, The Bates Student, Sept. 18, 2001

I feel that the Allies will ultimately defeat the Axis powers, although it will be a protracted and bitter war. I can only hope that the tragedy of Versailles is not repeated and it is up to all of us to do our share in bringing the war to a successful conclusion and above all to make peace based on reason and tolerance, not on hatred and hysteria. I cannot feel very optimistic about the prospect. – Glenn Meader ’42, The Bates Student, Dec. 10, 1941

This is the logical conclusion of our economic warfare. Forty years ago the anti-imperialists warned us to stay out of the Pacific. We must now work to prevent war hysteria and intolerance and to retain civil liberties intact. And let us not identify God and Christ with our armed forces. War is murder and hell on earth, and all belligerents share in the blame. – William Worthy ’42, The Bates Student, Dec. 10, 1941

What America is experiencing – the anger, the accusations – is familiar. In Israel, after a terrorist attack, people go out into the streets yelling, “Death to the Arabs!” Some people call for the indiscriminate bombing of Gaza or Ramallah. Many others who do not support such actions sit at home, feeling helpless and angry. The pain felt by Americans is real, and the anger felt by Americans is justified. But the way Americans deal with what so violently struck them will determine what kind of people they are. Just like the way Israel has been dealing with the occupied territories has shaped who we are – a violent monster. – Smadar Bakovic ’03, Neve Ilan, Israel, The Bates Student, Sept. 18, 2001

There’s no point in fighting a war to save democracy if, in fighting, we lose our democracy right at home. Our nation is supposed to uphold freedom of expression, and this is no longer a truly democratic government when free speech is suppressed. If national unity is carried too far, then we turn into 130 million yes-men, we might as well give up all pretense and hire a good, efficient dictator. – editorial, The Bates Student, Jan. 21, 1942.

America is an understanding place. But all one has to do is look back to the Japanese internment during World War II to realize that it has not always been this way. Recently, actions have been taken against Arab Americans because of what has happened. This is where hate can take us. As a nation, we have been feeling a lot of hate recently. We want someone to blame. We want someone to hang. In this circumstance, we are likely to try to take the easy way out rather than finding the hard truth. The hard truth is what we should be interested in. – John Ziegler ’03, Flanders, N.J., The Bates Student, Sept. 18, 2001

The work we do at Bates, and how we do it, must ultimately make a difference – in how we live our lives and in the leadership roles Bates students will be called upon to serve. It is important to remind ourselves that our commitment to liberal learning means our eschewing unsubstantiated judgment and prejudice, rejecting hateful substitutes for the difficult search for justice, or denying the courage to think for ourselves about what is profoundly relevant to sustaining a free society – even as we collectively make every effort to preserve it. – President Harward, letter, Sept. 12, 2001

The present situation has started a good many of us thinking seriously about our futures for the first time. It is too bad that a major catastrophe is necessary to make us do this. About all any of us can hope for is the strength to meet whatever task will be demanded of us. – Dave Nickerson ’42, The Bates Student, Dec. 10, 1941

Many in this country wanted immediate military retaliation. But tactical air strikes and sustained ground invasions are not something to be decided while blinded by rage or tears…. The victims of this atrocity, their families, and the United States are deserving of reprisal for the devastation we have suffered. But it would be a sad day for us if we were to act on the whim of our emotions and then later regret our choices. – James Peyster ’02, Washington, D.C., The Bates Student, Sept. 18, 2001

The Japanese bombs at Pearl Harbor did more than kill 1,500 people and sink a battleship. They dispelled the dream world of wishful thinking in which we thought that this was not our war, that we might escape. But, most of all, those falling bombs created a national unity unequaled in our entire history. – President Clifton D. Gray, The Bates Student, Dec. 17, 1941

Even if I close my eyes, they won’t stop burning. This fire runs through optic fibers as if led by an explosive charge, until my pupils dilate into huge, mushroom-shaped clouds, and dust covers the consciousness of what I have witnessed. One tower explodes in each eye, and with it, the world as we know it falls. No tear can extinguish the fire. – Kerrin-Sina Arfsten ’02, Moorestown, N.J., The Bates Student, Sept. 18, 2001

The Varsity Club has offered its services to the War Dept., Office of Civilian Defense, and is awaiting a reply as to their place in helping the defense of the country. – John Sigsbee ’42, The Bates Student, Dec. 10, 1941

Everyone who employs violence has a reason, and they all feel every bit as justified in the call for war as many Americans feel now. – Nathan Harrington ’05, Rockville, Md., The Bates Student, Sept. 18, 2001

We’re all behind the war effort. That is a fact we take so much for granted that it hardly needs to be mentioned. Some of us may regret the steps that have led us into the war, most of us sense the futility of trying to prove right through might, and all of us are disillusioned about the glories of battle. But now we’re in this thing, and we’re resolved to see it through to the end. – editorial, The Bates Student, Dec. 17, 1941