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Location: Austin, Texas, United States

I'm a software engineer / partner working for a young company in Austin, Texas, USA. I spend most of my free time hanging out with friends and family, eating out, and partying in the Warehouse District. I should spend more time working on my house....

Thursday, July 07, 2005

When you assume...

After reading this editorial in Friday's online Austin American Statesman, I felt it deserved a letter in response, so here is what I sent:

After reading today's editorial "Britain won't be defeated by terrorists" I am concerned that you jumped to conclusions about the source of the attack and the goals of its vicious perpetrators.

In the editorial you specifically cite al Qaeda as the perpetrator and then go as far as to assume the goal of the bombing. Most suspected al Qaeda when the bombings occurred in Oklahoma City too. We were wrong. We shouldn't assume we know the perpetrator of this incident until an investigation leads to evidence giving us a basis to make such claims. Accusations before that time only serve to muddy the waters. Also, please remember just because some group makes a claim to have done this doesn't mean it is true. We should follow the evidence, and then make educated decisions about who is the culprit.

After making the assumption that al Qaeda is the culprit you write, "Terrorists might be disappointed if they expect the government in London to react like Madrid's did last year and pull its troops out of Iraq.", and, "If all foreign troops left Iraq today, al Qaeda would make other demands..." We don't know what the perpetrators goal was. It is not illogical to assume that this attack could have been performed for demented reasons that have nothing to do with the war in Iraq. It is even possible that this attack was intended to refocus us on Iraq, to keep us from focusing on North Korea, Iran or Afghanistan. Making such assumptions is a serious problem. It tempts people to respond to ideas that might otherwise be reasonable with the response, "We can't do that because that is what the terrorists want!" It encourages everyone to play pop psychologist guessing what the terrorists want us to do, so we can do the opposite. It makes rational debate impossible.

Neither Britain nor America will be defeated by terrorist. We will respond to this attack by finding those responsible, holding them accountable, and working to prevent such attacks in the future. Throwing out unfounded accusations and making assumptions about the purpose of the attack only makes that job harder. You may turn out to have been correct on both counts, but that will not justify the mistakes made in the editorial.

I don't care if they print it or not, I just hope they read it and realize the mistake.

Update: Minor spelling mistake fixed and one sentence added.


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