Monday, December 7, 2009

Rachel's Response

Dear Editor,
     Abraham Lincoln’s response to John Brown’s brutal attack on slavery supporters in the Pottowatamie Massacre accurately captures Brown’s historic role. Lincoln viewed him as a man with good aims but disavowed actions. As Tony Horwitz mentions in “The 9/11 of 1859,” “Few if any Americans today would question the justness of John Brown’s cause.” Brown may have been fighting for a worthy ideal, but his execution was all wrong. Answering the South’s truly “peculiar institution” with violence was only adding to the growing corruption of the era and sinking to the Southern level that Brown so scorned. When John Brown took up arms against the South, he was acting as “God’s messenger” in an impassioned terrorist attack. Reaching back into history to pardon a man compared to Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is a frightening thought. He may have been forward-thinking ideologically, yet most people today still view him as a deranged fanatic. A man who is, 150 years after his death, not publicly recognized as a martyr has obviously not transcended the then-crazy-but-now-a-hero label. What if 150 years from today our society has revolutionized so much that people consider Khalid Shaikh Mohammed to be such an “honorable terrorist” and want to pardon him?
Thank you!
Rachel B

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