In his first public address on the Sept. 11 attack on America, the Rev. Jesse Jackson called for the country to rise from the tragedy and lead a new world of coalition, faith, and economic and political justice.
Speaking Monday morning on “America’s Response to Terrorism” for Jesse Climenko Professor of Law Charles Ogletree’s “Saturday School” program at the Law School, Jackson said the United States walks a “tightrope between revenge and remedy.” The country, he said, should “build bridges and relationships, not simply bombs and walls.”
Jackson referred to his own efforts to rescue Americans detained in countries such as Syria, Cuba, and Iraq. In each case, he said, the United States failed to maintain diplomatic ties or intelligence, and underestimated the power of the clerics in the society. The former presidential candidate said the attack has now compelled the United States to reach out to other countries and cultures, the kind of bridge-building that recently has been ignored, said Jackson. “We wouldn’t do the same things today we did two weeks ago,” he said.
Citing the struggle as one between surplus and deficit cultures, Jackson said terrorism is “a tactic often used by the oppressed who are marginalized or alienated.” Economic justice and concern for the poor will stem terrorism as much as military might, he said.
His passion and pace increasing as he spoke, Jackson enlisted the packed audience of students and media in Austin Hall to repeat his call for U.S. leaders to exert self-control in the campaign against terror. “We must use precise intelligence over indiscriminate bombing,” he said.
Jackson also urged the nation to reject prejudice against Arab-Americans and those of the Muslim faith. While people mourn, they can also change for the better, he said.
“It’s easy to handle triumph. Can we handle trouble or disaster?” said Jackson. “Let us rise together for hope, healing, and a vision for the new world order.”