My columns dealt mainly with the atrocity, not its causes
Stabroek News
October 14, 2001

Dear Editor,

The letters by Jacob Yusuf and Miguel Thompson (l2.l0.200l) [ please note: links provided by LOSP web site ] are critical of my treatment of the attack on America on September 11. They make points which I respect as giving increased depth and dimension to what happened on that day. I had previously seen Arundhati Roy's article which Mr Yusuf mentions and I agree it is an interesting analysis of why hatred of America exists.

I hope a few further comments from me will contribute to the debate.

1) I do indeed feel strongly that the atrocity of September 11 in which 6,000 innocent civilians were murdered was an outright evil act. I do not think that Mr Yusuf and Mr Thompson cannot but think that what happened at the World Trade Center is an atrocity justifying action in self?defense against the perpetrators and their protectors. Virtually the whole world, including the Islamic world, thinks so.

2) What gives the atrocity an extra dimension of evil is that there was an absolutely cold blooded and declared intention to murder as many thousands of innocent civilians as possible. Deliberate intention is an important factor in assessing the heinousness of capital crime.

3) In my columns I focused on the atrocity of September 11. It is true that I did not deal with the causes of Arab terrorism. It is also true that this terrorism is not simply pure evil appearing out of a vacuum and I think, on reflection, that my first column was deficient in implying this. And again it is true that America and its allies will have to analyse the causes of Arab terrorism in much greater depth than previously and gradually adjust their policies to address these causes. But my columns, rightly or wrongly, were not about these matters. As it is, I do not think I showed myself particularly pro-American, more anti-atrocity. Indeed, the Martin Amis quote I used showed apprehension about the likely nature of America's response to the atrocity. "More realistically, unless Pakistan can actually deliver bin Laden, the American retaliation is almost sure to become elephantine. Then terror from above will replenish the source of all terror from below; unhealed wounds. This is the familiar cycle so well caught by the matter, and the title, of V.S. Naipaul's story, Tell Me Who To Kill."

4) I confess I do not understand how the colour of my skin, mentioned by Mr Thompson, comes into it. I have always considered myself fully West Indian and, indeed, have been treated as such in all that I have ever tried to do in and for the West Indies. It has never been signaled to me that the colour of my skin makes a difference. But, yes, I am a product of Western culture though, no, that does not automatically make me an imperialist and neo-coloniser.

Yours faithfully,

Ian McDonald