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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Activists: We must bridge gap between 'haves and have nots' to stop the hate

Tuesday, October 2, 2001

According to one self-styled peace maker, the United States and the entire world is on the "cusp of that new chaos."

"We have to understand the atmosphere of hatred for America and where it comes from," said Brian Terrell, with the Catholic Workers Movement in Des Moines.

"September 11 was a response to real violence, to real grievances," he said of the attacks in Washington, D.C., and New York City.

Terrell along with Father Frank Cordero delivered a message of tolerance and understanding at Buena Vista University just days following the terrorists attacks.

On Sept. 14, both were to appear at BVU to discuss U.S. foreign policy in regards to the visit of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, but the veteran protesters, who picketed Colin Powell's visit a year before, suddenly found themselves discussing a wholly new topic. Cordero and Terrell were forced to "start from scratch" to address a subject that is still very close to every American's heart.

The Catholic Worker Movement, founded by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin in 1933, is based on a belief in the God-given dignity of every human person. There are over 175 Catholic Worker communities working to help the poor, and to protest war and "violence in all forms," said Cordero.

That includes the terrorist actions against the United States, and according to Cordero and Terrell, past actions of the United States has made it a target of disenfranchised people throughout the world.

With signs indicating Islamic or Arab fundamentalists responsibility for the attacks, Cordero said there is not enough understanding between the Middle East and the U.S.

"I don't think Arabs really know us, but I don't think we really know Arabs," he said.

Cordero said the attacks against the United States were performed by people whose anger against the country was at least partially influenced by U.S. policy.

One area of continuing anger is U.S. sanctions against Iraq. Terrell, who has traveled to Iraq in humanitarian missions, said over 500,000 Iraqi children have as a direct result of U.S. sanctions.

Terrell also said warnings from President Bush that U.S. retaliation could result in collateral damage makes him think of an interview with Tim McVeigh, who said while he regretted children dying in the Oklahoma City bombing, it was "collateral damage."

He played an interview from CBS "60 Minutes" from 1996 in which Madeleine Albright said sanctions are worth preventing U.S. troops from having to re-enter Iraq. Terrell was upset with her remarks.

"It's the ethic of a terrorist to count the loss of human life in thousands and decide it's worth it," Terrell said. "It doesn't matter what side you're on, a terrorist is a terrorist.

"When we praise sad, broken, pathetic people like Madeleine Albright, who can measure things in thousands of lives, we too share that responsibility," he added.

And while the President is calling the terrorists attacks a battle between "good and evil," Terrell said that is the same rhetoric Osama bin Laden uses to rouse his followers.

Cordero said U.S. foreign policy has set the country up to form what Albright called "breeding grounds" for people who hate the United States.

"How could we possibly think this wouldn't come back to us. You can't do what we've done to the world for the past 50 years and not expect it," Cordero said.

There has been comparisons made between last Tuesday and Pearl Harbor, Cordero said he thinks a better comparison is with the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

"We're not saying we need to do nothing, but we live in a society that loves violence," he said. "We need to bridge the gap between us and the have nots."

Cordero said 24,000 children die throughout the world every day as a result of hunger.

"If we can't bridge the gap between 24,000 children and those that died on Tuesday, we'll continue to create these pockets of hate," Cordero said.

Cordero said as a priest he has preached a gospel of nonviolence. "The bias of the gospel is to see the world from the bottom up," he said.

Both men have been involved in peace efforts for over 25 years. Cordero has been arrested numerous occasions for "crossing the line" at military bases, including Offut in Omaha. Terrell was one member of an illegal trip into Iraq three years ago to deliver medicine to Iraqi hospitals.

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