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I just read Godfrey Cheshire's piece ["Judgment Call," Sept. 26] and agree with every word, almost. Like other Americans and most of the Western world, I too have been struggling to understand the motivation behind such a devastating attack on this country's symbols, its values and most terrible of all, its innocent victims.

Yes, much of American pop culture is viewed as effluent in the rest of the world, and we all have the choice to consume or not. The "off" button on the television set is the easiest choice of all. The same cannot be said about certain freedoms of choice in many Islamic countries. Except for perhaps Morocco, democratic principles are few and far between. Vast numbers of Muslims do not have a choice on what to read, what to wear, whether and where to work, or how and when to pray and to whom or what.

Yes, our foreign policy hands are bloodied, let's not kid ourselves. Yes, we create and export mountains of cultural drivel while attracting millions to mindless shrines of entertainment such as Disney World and Busch Gardens. But no one deserves what befell us on Sept. 11, as Mr. Cheshire implies. This was not an act of God, similar to what the Bible claims felled Babylon or the Walls of Jericho. This was an act of Man, motivated by societal factors and a misguided interpretation of God.

Blind justice?
The vigil lead by UNC Chancellor James Moeser evidenced a Carolina "family." Hand in hand, often in tears, the crowd of more than 10,000 affirmed the simple idea that responding to these terrorists with more hate is detrimental. The time is devastatingly ripe to look closely at capital punishment, particularly the coming execution of Robert Bacon, within these considerations of compassion. Mr. Bacon may be the first man executed in this country after the incidents on September 11. If you applaud Moeser's admonition to avoid hate, understand what this pledges you to in the realm of the death penalty. Not wanting more death does not label you disrespectful of the victims. It rather begs the following question of you: Ought we answer hate and death with more of the same?

Rather than focusing our attention on revenge and retribution, we must turn the rage inward and ask ourselves why anyone would have done this. Let us clarify: Excusing these atrocities is not an option; not one of the innocent civilians who perished in the tragedies deserved what happened to them. These thoughts fail to respect the delicate processes of mourning.

Nevertheless, we have the opportunity to break the cycle of violence that has plagued the world in recent decades of terrorist acts. In this way, by reflecting on our darker history, we have the chance to reach out in new frameworks and end the cycle. Mounted violence simply begets further destruction and plays into their hands. We will be no better than those who would harm us if all we seek is blood.

The old adage is horrifically pertinent: An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind. Yes, we are vulnerable. It is precisely because of this vulnerability that we must set precedent to deter cyclical destruction.

The road less traveled
I read with interest Bob Geary's worthwhile article on the Chapel Hill mayorial race, "Fight for the Hill," [Sept. 26]. However, the article missed focusing on the point that voters, in the upcoming election, will have a real option for change.

Kevin Foy and Lee Pavao, longtime town council members, are clearly the front-runners. But newcomer Cam Hill is the only candidate offering an unambiguous, if not blunt, choice for stopping the growth that is overwhelming and now defining Chapel Hill.

Mr. Hill has stated that he never would have voted for approval of the massive Meadowmont devlopment, the unwanted consequences of which Chapel Hillians are just starting to feel. He claims, and I concur, that if the Meadowmont issue had been put to a voter referendum, it would have lost in a landslide. If that's true, then why is Mr. Hill the only candidate calling, unequivocally, for "no more growth?"

To discourage more mega-developments, Mr. Hill calls for a tough Adequate Public Facilities ordinance: If, for instance, there aren't enough public school spaces for the hundreds or thousands of children projected in a proposed development, then the development can't be approved. Mr. Hill has also spoken out against UNC-Chapel Hill's inadequate expansion plans, approval of which is currently before the town council.

Mr. Hill is in the construction industry. But stopping the character-changing growth that Chapel Hill is facing is what got him into the mayor's race. His candidacy offers voters a choice they haven't had before.

At what price?
Although I enjoyed Derek Jennings' article, "The Big Payback," [Sept. 12] about the myths surrounding the reparations debate, I would have better appreciated an article that explained exactly how reparations would benefit the African-American community, especially those in ghettos and historically poor rural communities (the Black Belt comes to mind). I would have also welcomed a discussion of what a system of reparations would look like. Individual payments or a trust fund? Monthly payments or a lump sum? Who would receive reparations? Direct descendents of slaves or all black Americans? Most important, is money an adequate remedy for the horrors of slavery? And if it is, what price tag are we willing to put on 250 years of involuntary servitude and inhumane treatment? Are there other options to address the crippling effects of slavery besides reparations? There are so many unanswered questions in this debate that I am surprised so many people have already taken firm stances for or against it. I hope that in future articles Mr. Jennings might address some of these more vexing issues.

Jennifer Robinson, whom we endorsed for election to the Cary Town Council in District A, was appointed to her current at-large seat on the Council in 1999, filling an unexpired term. The Independent erred by saying she was elected to the at-large seat.

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