“To Any Would-Be Terrorist”

Posted: January 28, 2007 in All, Blogroll, Life, Motivation & Inspiration, Religion

Letter from Naomi Shihab Nye, Arab-American Poet:To Any Would-Be Terrorists

I was doing some research, and trying to figure out what I’d  like to say to the terrorist and would be terrorist, not only in Iraq, but around the world.  We know terrorist are all over the world, plotting and planning and waiting.   I stumbled upon this letter, and although it’s not what I had in mind…the letter spoke to me.  It seems as if it were written right after 9-11…but I think it reads well for today also.  If you can, try to read the entire letter.  Each part of the letter, leads into a wonderful, touching ending.  My favorie quote from the letter is from a “Arab scholar, Dr. Salma Jayyusi, [who] said, “If we read one another, we won’t kill one another.”” 


  1. little indian says:

    What is terrorism?
    Who are terrorists?
    Who calls these group of people terrorists?
    And what are their motives for doing so?

    Ms Nye addresses her letter to ‘would-be terrorists’.
    I feel she has lost her appeal even before she started.

    I may not have the same level of intellect as she does.
    So I look at issues from a logical perspective.

    Few words are as politically or emotionally charged as terrorism.
    A 1988 study by the US Army counted 109 definitions of terrorism that covered a total of 22 different definitional elements. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Definitions_of_terrorism#_note-Carlisle

    I read this in a document “Bounding the Global War on Terrorism – published by The Strategic Studies Institute of the US Army War College. [Page 14]

    …..”The definitional mire that surrounds terrorism stems in large measure from differing perspectives on the moral relationship between objectives sought and means employed.
    It is easy for the politically satisfied and militarily powerful to pronounce all terrorism evil regardless of circumstance, but, like it or not, those at the other end of the spectrum are bound to see things differently.
    Condemning all terrorism as unconditionally evil strips it of political context and ignores its inherent attraction to the militarily helpless.
    This is not to condone terrorism; it is simply to recognize that it can reflect rational policy choice”…..

    In India’s struggle for independence, those who had resorted to violent methods were called ‘terrorists’ by the British government and on capture were executed. Even to this day, Indians considers them as ‘freedom fighters’ and martyrs.

    She tries to make an emotional appeal.
    Only from her own interpretation and perspective of events.
    I doubt if she will ever make contact, reach the hearts and minds of those she is addressing.

    Because she does not consider how these ‘would-be terrorist’ look at themselves or what their own near and dear ones, thinks of them.

  2. *MomoBetta* says:

    Hey, so I agree with what the previous person said, but there is also the point that she is only talking to those people who she believes are terrorists. It would be unfair to claim that she is only relying on emotional appeal, because she is just explaining from her point of view. She is always letting “would-be terrorists” know that she is of the Palestinian descent and with them trying to terrorize America it puts a bad name on herself and her family. I thing Nye wrote a very good letter that only addresses her point of view, but that shouldn’t be judged for that

  3. YoLite says:

    I do not think that Nye target audiences are solely the “would-be terrorist”. I believe the audiences are everyone, from Americans to Jews and so forth. As what I see is that she is trying to tell the world that not every person from the Mid-East is terrorist. She wants the readers to realize the stereotypes that exist among people. Furthermore, in her 3rd point, she points out that not all Americans like war which she wants to tell the world that we shouldn’t generalize everything. All in all, I do not think the main purpose of the essay is to address the “would be terrorists” but everyone of us who has the “potential” to stereotype and overgeneralize things.

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