The Common Good
December 2006

Principled Power?

by Terry Hess | December 2006


I agreed with Joan Chittister’s article (“9/11, Five Years On,” September-October 2006) except for two statements, best exemplified by a sentence in the final paragraph: “What went down is the soul of a country that once put principle over power.”

I strongly disagree. From the very beginning of this formal “nation,” we excluded Native Americans, blacks, women, and the poor, so clearly elucidated by Howard Zinn. And as Noam Chomsky has articulated, the “principle” that seems more appropriate to our history is to presume that the world’s resources belong to us for our consumption and, consequently, that we have the right to dominate and kill people around the world to maintain “our way of life.” Scores of examples could be listed: what we did to Nicaragua under the Reagan administration, the slaughter of the Vietnamese during the Vietnam War, our support of the genocide in East Timor through so many administrations, our support of apartheid in South Africa, our support and direction to overthrow governments—Chile and Guatemala, for example.

I would ask Chittister: When have we put principle over power in a more positive way?

Terry Hess
New Berlin, Wisconsin

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