Oprah: Otherwise, our grief may turn to rage.
Madeleine: Right. Doing something is another way to process the grief—giving blood, sending help. Then we can feel we're contributing.
Oprah: Absolutely. Is there any way to make sense of this calamity?
Madeleine: The only way to make sense of why this happened is that we are a country that stands up for freedom, democracy, and human rights. The people who did this are opposed to those policies.
Oprah: Why do they hate us so much?
Madeleine: I think it's partly because we are who we are. They don't believe in our system of government. The Taliban hate us because we believe in equality for women. And we could assume that Osama bin Laden might hate Americans because he thinks our presence in the Middle East has desanctified sacred land. So there are different reasons. There have been very interesting discussions about whether the terrorists who attacked the United States are crazy. I'm willing to buy that they're not irrational, they're just determined in their version of fanaticism.
Oprah: I'm with you. Whenever you label people as crazy, you can then just dismiss their acts. You don't have to analyze how a tragedy happened or consider that it may happen again.
Oprah: Is there a way to hate the act without hating those responsible for it?
Madeleine: That's the hardest part—how do we respond without becoming like them? Hate, emotionalism, and frustration are not policies. It's hard not to cross over into hate when everyone is so revved up, but it doesn't prove anything for us to kill innocent civilians. In the past the United States has been criticized for not responding strongly enough, as in the case of the embassy bombings. Though we determined that those attacks were tied to Osama bin Laden, we weren't sure where he was, so we didn't want to just wantonly bomb and hit a lot of innocent people. We found ourselves being criticized for not doing enough, and yet we didn't want to be exactly like the terrorists.
Oprah: Could we have protected ourselves against the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks?
Madeleine: I don't know the answer to that. What most Americans don't know is that we have prevented a lot of terrorist incidents before this one. There's always the dog that doesn't bark that you don't know about. We need to be very careful not to get so into the blame game that we forget those who died. The challenge is to draw lessons from the past and move forward without spending time finger-pointing.
We Hear You!