2001-10-04 / Other News

From The Desk Of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani...

From The Desk Of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani...

From The Desk Of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani...

‘Terrorists Also Attacked Ideas Of Free, Civil Society’

The following are excerpts from remarks made by Mayor Giuliani to the United Nations Geneal Assembly’s Special Session on Terrorism last Monday.

Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak, and for the consideration you’ve shown in putting off your General Session. Our City is now open, and any time we can arrange it, we look forward to having your heads of state and your foreign ministers here for that session.

On September 11th 2001, New York City was viciously attacked in an unprovoked act of war. More than five thousand innocent men, women, and children of every race, religion, and ethnicity are lost. Among these were people from 80 different nations. To their representatives here today, I offer my condolences to you as well on behalf of all New Yorkers who share this loss with you, This was the deadliest terrorist attack in history. It claimed more lives than Pearl Harbor or D-Day.

This was not just an attack on New York or on the United States of America. It was an attack on the very idea of a free, inclusive, and civil society. It was a direct assault on the founding principles of the United Nations itself. The Preamble to the U.N. Charter states that this organization exists "to reaffirm faith in fundament human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person...to practice tolerance and live together in peace as good neighbors [and] to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security."

Indeed, this vicious attack places in jeopardy the whole purpose of the United Nations.

Terrorism is based on the persistent and deliberate violation of fundamental human rights. With bullets and bombs — and now, with hijacked airplanes — terrorists deny the dignity of human life. Terrorism preys particularly on cultures and communities that practice openness and tolerance. Their targeting of innocent civilians mocks the efforts of those who seek to live together in peace as neighbors. it defies the very notion of being a neighbor.

This massive attack was intended to break our spirit. It has not done that. It has made us stronger, more determined and more resolved.

The bravery of our firefighters, police officers, emergency workers, and civilians we may never learn of, in saving over 25,000 lives that day — carrying out the most effective rescue operation in our history — inspires all of us. I am very honored to have with me, as their representative, the Fire Commissioner of New York City, Tom Von Essen, and the Police Commissioner of New York City, Bernard Kerik. [Applause)

The determination, resolve, and leadership of President George W. Bush has unified America and all decent men and women around the world.

The response of many of your nations — your leaders and people — spontaneously demonstrating in the days after the attack your support for New York and America, and your understanding of what needs to be done to remove the threat of terrorism, gives us great, great hope that we will prevail.

The strength of America’s response, please understand, flows from the principles upon which we stand.

Americans are not a single ethnic group.

Americans are not of one race or one religion.

Americans emerge from all your nations.

We are defined as Americans by our beliefs - not by our ethnic origins, our race or our religion. Our beliefs in religious freedom, political freedom, and economic freedom - that’s what makes an American. Our belief in democracy, the rule of law, and respect for human life - that’s how you become an American. It is these very principles - and the opportunities these principles give to so ‘ many to create a better life for themselves and their families - that make America, and New York, a "shining city on a hill."

There is no nation, and no city, in the history of the world that has seen more immigrants, in less time, than America. People continue to come here in large numbers to seek freedom, opportunity, decency, and civility.

Each of your nations - I am certain - has contributed citizens to the United States and to Now York. I believe I can take every one of you someplace in New York City, where you can find someone from your country, someone from your village or town, that speaks your language and practices your religion. In each of your lands there are many who are Americans in spirit, by virtue of their commitment to our shared principles.

It is tragic and perverse that it is because of these very principles - particularly our religious, political and economic freedoms - that we find ourselves under attack by terrorists.

Our freedom threatens them, because they know that if our ideas of freedom gain a foothold among their people it will destroy their power. So they strike out against us to keep those ideas from reaching their people.

The best long-term deterrent to terrorism - obviously - is the spread of our principles of freedom, democracy, the rule of law, and respect for human life. The more that spreads around the globe, the safer we will all be. These are very powerful ideas and once they gain a foothold, they cannot be stopped.

In fact, the rise that we have seen in terrorism and terrorist groups, I believe, is in no small measure a response to the spread of these ideas of freedom and democracy to many nations, particularly over the past 15 years.

The terrorists have no ideas or ideals with which to combat freedom and democracy. So their only defense is to strike out against innocent civilians, destroying human life in massive numbers and hoping to deter all of us from our pursuit and expansion of freedom.

But the long-term deterrent of spreading our ideals throughout the world is just not enough, and may never be realized, if we do not act - and act together - to remove the clear and present danger posed by terrorism and terrorists.

The United Nations must hold accountable any country that supports or condones terrorism, otherwise you will fail in your primary mission as peacekeeper.

It must ostracize any nation that supports terrorism.

It must isolate any nation that remains neutral in the fight against terrorism...

I say to people across the country and around the world: if you were planning to come to New York sometime in the future, come here now. Come to enjoy our thousands of restaurants, museums, theaters, sporting events, and shopping- but also come to take a stand against terrorism.

We need to heed the words of a hymn that 1, and the Police Commissioner, and the Fire Commissioner, have heard at the many funerals and memorial services that we’ve gone to in the last two weeks. The hymn begins, "Be Not Afraid."

Freedom from Fear is a basic human right. We need to reassert our right to live free from fear with greater confidence and determination than ever before —here in New York City... across America-and around the world. With one clear voice, unanimously, we need to say that we will not give in to terrorism.

Surrounded by our friends of every faith, we know that this is not a clash of civilizations; it is a conflict between murderers and humanity.

This is not a question of retaliation or revenge. It is a matter of justice leading to peace. The only acceptable result is the complete and total eradication of terrorism.

New Yorkers are strong and resilient. We are unified. And we will not yield to terror. We do not let fear make our decisions for us.

We choose to live in freedom.

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