Dear Friends of The Metaphor Project,
The letter to the editor included below (already sent to the S.F. Chronicle) represents the most concise and complete version of the message I believe we must get out to every member of Congress, every media outlet, and every opinion maker as quickly as possible. I have already contacted all my own Congressional representatives with most of it (it has been evolving this morning).
Please use your own contact lists and forward this message as widely as possible, write versions of it to your own local newspapers, and do whatever else you can to create a buzz. The key part of it, I believe, is the issue of U.S. moral integrity. It is well known that cognitive dissonance, the sense of being in conflict with oneself over value or meaning concepts, is one of the most powerful change agents there is. If George Lakoff is right about American politics and I think he is, morality is the center of gravity in our political rhetoric.
Please do not fail to include the moral integrity point in your own versions of this message and the reference to McVeigh and collateral damage; otherwise it will be too abstract.
If you would like to read an excellent and detailed argument for why calling the attack a crime is best, look at Michael Klare’s piece entitled How to Defeat bin Laden at www.salon.com, dated 9/13/01 Klare does not use the moral integrity/McVeigh references, but he includes brilliant ideas about how the crime definition can strengthen our ties to mainstream Islam worldwide and increase American understanding of the suffering of others abroad.
I feel very strongly that this terrible moment in our history as a country. It offers us an unprecedented opportunity for growth and moral evolution, if we can fully confront the moral gulf between responding to these bombings as crime or as so-called acts of war . . .
Susan C. Strong
The Metaphor Project
It is vital to our moral integrity as a nation that we immediately stop calling the bombings of New York and Washington acts of war. These attacks were crimes against humanity perpetrated by an international network of mass murderers. They demand that justice be done. To react by calling for war brings us down to the same level as our attackers, because modern war involves the massive and systematic killing of innocents. The military’s language for this, collateral damage, is exactly how terrorist Timothy McVeigh dismissed the deaths of his innocent victims. Our country and our leaders must rise above this level now, before it is too late.