An Ames couple whose son died in the World Trade Center five years ago today (Monday) called for “reconciliation” with enemies of the United States rather than a “pursuit of vengeance.” Tim Haviland, the son of retired pastor Doug Haviland and his wife, Betty, of Ames perished on 9/11.
Without mentioning President Bush directly, Reverend Haviland said his Christian faith “beckons” him in a different direction than that being taken by the Bush Administration. “The event has been exploited to arouse national fears and create an ongoing state of anxiety,” Reverend Haviland said during a news conference at the statehouse. “The wound must be kept open and inflamed so that the war on terror can be waged with vigor and go on and on and on.”
The Republican Party of Iowa declined to comment on Haviland’s assertions. According to Haviland, Christians and Muslims should focus on their shared heritage. “In Biblical terms, we need to remember on both sides that we are the children of Abraham,” Haviland said. Haviland called 9/11 “one of the great tragedies of our time” but the pastor said it was time for a new approach to dealing with our enemies. “Let us resolve to pursue a better way. Let us resolve to undermine the terrorists not by force but by reaching out to build bridges of understanding,” Haviland said.
Betty Haviland said five years ago, she and her husband knew instantly there would be two ways of responding to 9/11. “Either anger at the murderers — a feeling we perfectly understand — or a different response that demands not only justice but love, forgiveness, mercy and healing,” Betty Haviland said. “Anger tends to undo the person who is angry and vengeance never satisfies but destroys any attempt to be just.”
President Bush in recent days has declared the nation “safer but not yet safe.” Mrs. Haviland, a longtime Democratic Party activist, offered her own response to that. “Do you really think the path we are taking is working? Has the path of vengeance and fear actually made us safer?” she asked. “Are Christians, Jews and Muslims more secure between and with each other or is there more hate and violence in our world on this 9/11 than on the first 9/11?”
Mrs. Haviland said she hopes that on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 vengeance and fear will be a thing of the past and, instead, reconciliation and healing “will be our patriotic duty and our national priority.” The elderly Havilands spoke at a statehouse news conference organized by Seldon Spencer, the Democrat who’s running against Republican Congressman Tom Latham.
Spencer spoke before the Havilands. “We have not completed the mission with regards to Osama bin Laden,” Spencer said. “So, I think it’s time today to remember — five years later — that the perpetrator of that crime has still not been brought to justice.” Spencer’s called for “engaging” with Muslims to build a better worldwide opinion of Americans. But Spencer, a doctor who just returned from a medical mission in Afghanistan, supports the continued military pursuit of the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. “I don’t believe the wounds that were inflicted in 9/11 will heal until (Osama bin Laden) is brought to justice, until we have seen justice served in that regard,” Spencer said.
Congressman Latham’s campaign issued a statement Saturday saying Latham would suspend all campaign activities today (Monday) to honor the 9/11 victims. Latham’s campaign manager suggested Spencer should have heeded the advice House Democrats issued September 6th.
In that news release last week, House Democrats said “September 11th is a day of mourning and remembrance for every American. We do not believe that it is appropriate for it to be tainted by false assertions of blame or partisan spin.”