(9/17/2001) Tensions are definitely high as the United States ponders what to do in response to the devastating attack by terrorists on symbolic targets in New York and Washington, D.C. This piece of Armchair Activism expresses what many Americans feel, but has little chance of hitting its mark.
This is an appeal to the leaders of our country to let sanity prevail. We are all grief-stricken by the appalling, inhuman events of September 11. However, in the terrible aftermath of these events, we must plead with our leaders to remain calm and not rashly attempt to exact swift revenge. This email is intended to serve as a petition to our president and members of Congress. We wish them to know that not all Americans desire swift retribution in the absence of clear evidence of the identities of those responsible for this tragedy.
Please copy this email, sign it, and send it on. If you are the 50th person (or multiple of 50) to receive this email, please send a copy of the message to President Bush:
And please contact your Congressional legislators by telephone, letter, and email. We must promptly alert our leaders of this urgent matter.
Dear President Bush,
We are deeply saddened by the events of September 11. A grievous atrocity has been committed against the people of the United States. We keenly feel the nation's loss, and desire that justice be done. However, we are concerned that hasty assignment of responsibility could lead to actions that might undermine the United States' pursuit of justice. We fear that hasty action could heighten the anti-American sentiment that led to this tragedy. We trust that thorough investigation of these events and cooperation with the international community will lead to lasting, peaceful justice.
Your fellow Americans,
END CHAIN LETTER TEXT
A similar version of this petition, with more clearly defined 'demands,' and contact information for U.S. and European lawmakers is also circulating:
SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT
SUBJECT: PETITION AGAINST WAR
To sign the following petition, 'COPY AND PASTE' THIS MESSAGETO A NEW MESSAGE and send to all the people you know in the "Bcc" box, go to the bottom of the petition and type in your name and then "Send" to:
UNITED NATIONS Mr. Kofi Annan Secretary General United Nations Email: email@example.com
WHITE HOUSE President George W. Bush Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
To send your petition to members of the U.S. Congress, go to the following web sites, copy and paste the text below and fill in your details:
U.S. LAWMAKERS http://www.MrSmith.com/index2..html To send your petition to European governments, go to the following web site, copy and paste the text below and fill in your details:
We MUST try to get as many copies of this petition as possible to all governments and especially to the President of the United States at the White House. Remember, don't just hit 'forward'. 'Copy and paste' to avoid getting > at the beginning of each line.
Being a member of our free western society, and in the light of the terrible events in New York and Washington, I want to put forward the following demands to all governments in the world, as these are matters concerning the whole planet:
1. AVOID WAR - DO NOT GO TO WAR OR START A WAR! ( this is exactly what the terrorists want to achieve)
2. AVOID MILITARY ACTIONS AGAINST INNOCENT PEOPLE (regardless of their nationality, language, beliefs, education or origin) MILITARY RETALIATION DOES NOT SOLVE THE PROBLEM OF FANATICISM, BUT INSTEAD FUELS THE ANGER BY DEMANDING "COUNTER"-REVENGE. MILITARY ACTION PLAYS THE PEOPLE WHO ARE CAUGHT IN BETWEEN INTO THE HANDS OF THE TERRORISTS AND THEIR LEADERS.
3. BRING TO INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE THOSE RESPONSIBLE for the terrorist attacks
4. ISOLATE THE TERRORISTS WITH THE HELP OF MIDDLE EASTERN GOVERNMENTS
5. UNITED DIPLOMATIC EFFORTS AND FORCEFUL TALKS INSTEAD OF VIOLENCE ARE OF THE UTMOST PRIORITY.
I undersign and support above demands:
END CHAIN LETTER TEXT
We are all concerned - even scared - about what effect any retaliative actions will have. However, this chain letter is not the way to air those concerns.
Though well-intentioned, this is yet another example of Armchair Activism. They both commit many of the grave errors such chains are prone to. Paramount among these is the request to send 'completed' petitions directly to the party whose actions you are trying to influence. The President's public e-mail account is monitored by White House staffers (most likely interns). It's not likely that thousands of copies of virtually the same e-mail will make it to the President and nobody at the White House is going to dedicate the time and manpower necessary to compile these signatures and eliminate the duplicates. It's unlikely things are any different for the Secretary General or any of the other lawmakers targeted.
Besides, President Bush has already echoed many of these sentiments in his TV appearances. He and his administration are keenly aware of the consequences any retaliative action might have. We must trust our leaders to do what they believe to be in our best interest. And, we must show the world that we support our leaders and that we stand united against terrorism. The world is watching everything we say and do - Break this Chain.