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An Open Letter to President Bush

Response to 9/11 Terrorist Attack

By Rev. James L. Bevel, Pastor of the Hebraic-Christian-Islamic Assembly

September 27, 2001

President George W. Bush
Attention: Scheduling Office
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

Greetings in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, who gave us the Sermon on the Mount to teach the military strategy upon which the Kingdom of Heaven is built.

I write to you today because the position in which you find yourself is not unfamiliar to me. In 1963, I was working to end racial segregation as a member of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s executive staff. It was on a Sunday morning, about two weeks after the March on Washington, that the news came: four little girls had been killed in Birmingham in a bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church where we had been meeting.

I, too, wanted to kill. I wanted to avenge the deaths of the girls and the violation of all the people who had been working with us to end segregation. Right then I actually thought about leaving the movement and arranging to murder the person or persons who had done it, and spending my time in prison.

I had to make a decision: Would I deny the very principles of nonviolence that had brought the nation such nobility without the shedding of blood and subsequently increase the cycle of violence, or would I deny my vengeful emotions in order to really solve the problem? My wife, Diane Nash, and I agonized over this decision; we ultimately concluded that a greater good would come from following the teachings of Christ, 'Do not respond to evil with evil' but instead 'ìBless them that curse you.' That night, we put together a plan that would solve the problem without repeating the tragic event that had killed the girls: if we secured the right to vote, we could vote as citizens to keep all of our people safe from the effects of Jim Crow without violating the rights of others. And from the ashes of a national tragedy, the Voting Rights Movement was born, which secured for the parents of the little girls the right to vote and the right to govern Birmingham, and eventually the perpetrators of the violation were brought to justice.

On March 15, 1965, President Lyndon Baines Johnson addressed the nation to announce that he would present a Voting Rights Bill to Congress, saying that the mission of our nation is 'to right wrong, to do justice, to serve man.' That speech is indelibly etched in my mind, because it showed the nation once again that good ultimately triumphs over evil, even when retaliation seems to be the honorable response.

Today it is your turn to make a decision, and your decision will either save or destroy the world. I pray that you also will heed the small, still voice that tells us that "The anger of man does not work the righteousness of God," as you formulate a response to the grievous terrorist attack on America. I also pray that you will take into account the wisdom of President Johnson when he said, "These are the enemies: poverty, ignorance, disease. They are the enemies, and not our fellow man, not our neighbor. And these enemies too, poverty, disease and ignorance, we shall overcome."

You have the authority and power to secure the life and liberty of every American citizen and every nation in the United Nations by calling for the institution of governments among men that are predicated on marital fidelity rather than military force. Could the desecration of a handful of rogues and the killing of many innocent people be considered a legitimate alternative to that which was advocated by our Founding Fathers? If our response to the present crisis is less principled than this, can we be certain that God will still favor our undertaking?

These are indeed times that try men's souls, and our national security depends on a response that is the fruit of reason rather than rage. Would it not be disastrous for the U.S. to take a military action without first discovering the cause of this grotesque attack? Is the nation wise enough not to fall into the geopolitical trap of irreversible global conflict set by the architects of this terror campaign? Who would benefit from the tremendous casualties of a world war undertaken in an age of nuclear, chemical and biological warfare? Can terrorism be stopped by strong-arming nations into alliances with threats, or will this course of action validate the words of those who call the United States the mother of all terrorists? Please do not let history record you as the president who asked the American people to abandon their constitutional principles, their common sense, and their God.

Mr. President, from the perspective of an American citizen, it appears that counter-terrorism will not stop terrorism, but will merely perpetuate a cycle of violence that cannot help but jeopardize the sovereignty of the American government and the ability of the American citizens to secure their own life, liberty and happiness; this course of action will also provoke animosity against the U.S., make war on the American people, and instigate a global conflict. Surely this is not in the best interest of our great nation!

According to our Constitution, the right to determine and declare war is reserved for the Congress, but the American people themselves are commissioned to fight for justice if war comes upon them. Americans will awaken like rattlesnakes tread upon if our foreign policy does not take into account the threat against the American people and the Constitution at this juncture in our nation's history.

This phenomenon was reflected by the conduct of the terrorist that struck Oklahoma City in 1995; an American citizen who had been trained to kill by the U.S. Army. When the science of government of, for and by the people is not known by heads of state, elected officials and popular leadership and instead, ignorance rules by force, it spawns subcultures of ignorance and violence within the population. When this force seeks to suppress the subcultures of ignorance and violence, it only causes them to proliferate. Such was the case of Mr. Timothy McVeigh.

The effects of the subcultures of ignorance are just as devastating as the effects of the subcultures of violence, as we can see in the case of Mr. James Earl Ray, the accused assassin of Martin Luther King, Jr., who spent 30 years in prison by the State of Tennessee and the United States government for a crime of which there was no evidence, witness nor motive presented in any court of law to prove his guilt. Because Americans did not insist on the due process of law, the American people still do not know to this day what happened in the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; nor of President John F. Kennedy nor of Senator Robert F. Kennedy. The American people have suffered needless, nagging helplessness and demoralization as a direct result of these miscarriages of justice, and we are resolved not to further weaken the fiber of our nation by repeating such tragic historical mistakes and allowing the rogue elements within our own intelligence and security structures to remain at large.

So what should the nation do? At the very least, we owe the Afghani people real proof of our charges as the U.S. prepares to lay waste the suffering nation of Afghanistan once again. We also owe this evidence to the American people, as well as to the Congress, the courts of the United States, the UN General Assembly, the UN Security Council, and the International Court in the Hague. Nothing less would demonstrate to the peoples of the world our sincere pursuit of justice.

But even more important than bringing the architects of this crime to justice, we owe it to the Afghanis, and to all nations, to rebuild Afghanistan, just as we did Germany and Japan after WWII. The Afghani people never imagined that we would cast them aside after they fought a war for us against Marxist expansion. Our response did not uphold the dignity of man but rather created the type of dehumanizing conditions that breed contempt for life. You have said that this is a different kind of war, and a different kind of war demands a different kind of solution. We must find a way to be constructive and, as you said on May 11, 2001, we must end the cycle of violence.

Is there a nation on the planet that would not gladly join you in combating poverty, ignorance, and disease? Would any nation not assist you in becoming the president who ends war between the brothers of the planet? Is there any way that our economy is not better served by rebuilding and improving the infrastructure and technology of our own and our sister nations?

I am at your disposal to help discover the parties responsible for the wanton, dastardly acts committed against our persons and our properties. I am also at your disposal in finding a solution to this problem that will not violate the nations or the people. You may contact me by telephone at (773) 933-0521 or by e-mail at jamesbevel@hotmail.com.

Yours for a more perfect union,

Rev. James L. Bevel
American Citizen and Pastor, Hebraic-Christian-Islamic Assembly

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