Office of the Governor Rick Perry

A Time for Texans to Stand United

By Governor Rick Perry
Thursday, September 20, 2001  •  Editorial

Over the past two weeks, in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, I have never been prouder of Texans and I have never been prouder to be an American.

In the face of one of the gravest tests in history of this country’s resolve and this country’s heart and soul, we are rising to the challenge.

In recent days, we have witnessed innumerable instances in which Texans, like their counterparts across the United States, have poured out their hearts with a generosity of spirit and a resolute demonstration of our can-do attitude.

In cities across this great state, Texans stood in line for hours to donate blood. They dug deep in their pockets to raise funds for victims and their families – including one Central Texas couple who donated their federal income tax rebate check to the efforts.

Even our youngest Texans – the schoolchildren – found their own way to give. For example, students and staff at Lubbock’s Hutchinson Junior High School donated soft drink and candy money received over a 10-day period to the American Red Cross, while Wheatley Elementary School students wrote letters to New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Elsewhere, elementary school students made get-well cards for New York hospital patients.

These are Texans who exemplify the spirit of America.

Sadly, we have also had distressing reports of mosques that have been firebombed and shot at, a young woman of Middle Eastern descent who was pelted with stones, a blaze at a Houston automotive repair shop owned by a Pakistani Muslim – even a Pakistani grocer in Dallas who was murdered.

The terrorists who attacked our nation would like nothing more than to see Americans turn on their neighbors. Such acts are wrong, misguided and un-Texan. Texans are angry, and rightfully so. But those appalled by the terrorist attacks on America also include Muslims and Arab-Americans who have been living and working in America for years; fellow Texans who cherish the freedoms, opportunity and prosperity they have found here.

It is important in these unprecedented and frightening times that we not let our anger blind us, that we not let our demand for justice turn to injustice, that we not let our renewed sense of patriotism be tinged with hatred.

I ask that all Texans be mindful that the attacks on New York City and Washington are not the work of the Islamic faithful, but the work of terrorists – of fanatics – who have hijacked the name of religion for their campaign of hatred.

And individuals who engage in such criminal acts serve no purpose other than to display their own woeful ignorance by attempting to link peaceful, law-abiding Texans and places of worship with the acts of fanatical terrorists. Those acts serve only to compound this tragedy.

Like most of the world’s major religions, the Islamic faith preaches peace, love and tolerance. Indeed, terrorism is the antithesis of the basic tenet to which the one billion Islamic followers all over the world adhere.

The Koran teaches that “whoever killed a human being, except as punishment for murder or other villainy in the land, shall be regarded as having killed all mankind; and that whoever saved a human life shall be regarded as having served all mankind.”

The heartfelt condolences and overtures of cooperation that have been offered by Islamic communities in Texas portray the true spirit of Islam.  They – like Texans from any other religious belief or nation in the world – share in America’s grief and outrage.

One of Texas’ greatest assets is its rich cultural diversity, with residents from, perhaps, every nation in the world. There is a pervasive spirit of diversity and cooperation that defines the very essence of our great state. Indeed, the many ethnic and cultural groups have historically provided Texas, as well as the rest of America, with the energy, sense of discovery and unquenchable work ethic that have contributed to our greatness.

With a long and perilous road ahead of America as President Bush leads this country – indeed the world – in seeking justice and ridding the world of terrorism, this is not a time for Texans to turn on each other. More than ever, this is the time when we must stand together, proud and united as one people.

We are too big a state, too large a country to give in to senseless and destructive acts of hate. We are a lot of different faces and a lot of different people, and this was an attack on all of us.

If we give in to fear, if we surrender our system of justice to lawless acts of vigilantes we have taken the first step toward giving in to those very fanatics who seek to destroy us.

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