First Presbyterian Rev. Gretchen Graf managed to create a predictable controversey with a speech she gave at a memorial for 9/11 in Grand Forks, North Dakota. At that event, Graf opened her speech by saying,
One year ago today, 19 young men on a mission profoundly changed our lives and the life of our nation. This was an act of faith and courage, a carefully planned statement against what they saw as the evils of a corrupt and oppressive nation. They were willing to give their lives so that the world would see their outrage.
I suppose she thinks nutball fanatics who torch abortion clinics are engaging in acts of faith and courage as well.
Anyway, Graf tries to convince a reporter at the Grand Forks Herald that this quote needs to be understood in the context of her entire speech, but her other comments suggest it stands alone pretty well.
From the final two paragraphs of the Grand Forks Herald Story,
She avoids referring to the terrorists and their actions as evil, Graf admits. Â“I will say what they did does not promote good. But I want to make it clear, in no way do I condone what they did. But I think we miss the opportunity if we don’t try to understand why they did it.
Â“We may disagree with what they believe their faith has led them to do, but for them, it was a faith-based action,Â” Graf said. Â“I’m not brave enough to hijack an airplane and fly it into a building, knowing that I would die. They gave their lives to make their point. It may be misplaced courage, but it wasn’t an act of weakness.Â”
That is the worst possible reaction, and I don’t see how non-brain dead adults can make such an argument.
Okay, a small group of men feel they’re not getting enough attention for their pet cause. So they blow up a building, and then Graf and those who agree with her suddenly do all they can to understand the pet cause.
What’s the message? Terrorism works. As Alan Dershowitz told Salon.Com recently, this is the one of the reasons that Palestinian terrorism has escalated so much over the past 30 years — because it worked at drawing the world’s attention (especially in Europe).
Sorry, but I don’t think Al Qaeda’s slaughter of civilians requires us to think deeply about their cause anymore than Timothy McVeigh’s slaughter of civilians requires us to think deeply about his cause.
REMEMBERING SEPT. 11: Pastor’s speech at 9/11 observance sparks woman’s outrage. Stephen J. Lee, Grand Forks Herald, September 12, 2002.
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