The Report From Ground Zero
Outside my window as I type this I can see ground zero. It is two blocks away. Three weeks ago I couldn't see it, but that was before they finally, after eight years of delays deciding what to do with it, tore down Fritterman Hall, our campus building here at BMCC that was damaged when most of World Trade Center #7 fell upon it. I was teaching in Fritterman that semester (though not that day) and so in a minor way claim to have been a victim of 9/11. My classroom was destroyed as a result. My job came within a day of disapearing too, but they managed to bring us back in time to finish out the semester.
So I've got a minor amount of skin in this game from that, and from the fact that I still cry sometimes when I see a firetruck go by.
So I get to throw in my two cents and say I think bringing the accused terrorists here to New York to stand trial is not only the right thing to do, it was the only thing we could do.
But that is not what I want to say in this post. What I want to talk about is all these people, both int he media and on the street, who are saying that the trial shouldn't take place at all. I'm talking tot he Glen Becks and Sean Hannities of the world, I'm talking to Mayor Giuliani and the editors of the New York Post--everyone who says that becasue these accused terrorists are not US Citizens they don't deserve the protection of the constitution (the post went so far as to say they should have been lined up against the wall and shot years ago).
The concept of "rights," born of the enlightenment, is that all people deserve them, no matter where they are from, simply by virtue of being born. The Declaration of Independence (which has no weight of law, I know) said it best when it said that tehy are "inalienable" and are endowed to all men by their creator. The declaration recognized three rights--life, liberty, and the pursuit of hapiness. The constitution recognized several more. Theya re not gifts granted to the citizenry, they are restriction placed upon the government. The fact that there are more than the ones listed is recognized by the ninth amendment, which says that just becasue a right is not listed in the constitution doesn't mean it doesn't exist. The idea that non-citizens are not protected by the constitution is simply wrong.
And those people who say that the accused terrorists don't deserve those rights, that they should be imprisoned forever without trial, that they should be lined up against the wall and shot-- they are as bad as Osama Bin Ladden himself. Bin Laden, mind you, didn't fly the planes into the towers himself, he simply told people it was ok to do so--just like the post is telling people it would be ok to line these men up against a wall and shoot them, with no respect for justice, no respect for the rule of law, no respect for human rights. So Sean Hanity, Mayor Giuliani, editors of the New York Post and all the rest: you are no better than the terrorists. Shame on you!