Peace After Terror Essay

1430 words - 6 pages

In the immediate wake of the September 11th, 2001 attacks, how many people would gladly place part of the blame on the United States and extend a hand of peace to Arabs and Muslims? While most Americans stood ready to bear arms and seek revenge for the gross injustice that was perpetrated against the United States, Naomi Shihab Nye stood bravely against popular opinion and advocated that peace was needed, not more violence. During such an emotionally charged time, Nye does well to utilize that emotion for her own purpose, which is part of the reason why her argumentative essay, To Any Would-Be Terrorists, works effectively as a whole. She also does a superb job of utilizing her unique heritage and perspective to establish a strong sense of credibility, which helps to further her argument. However, her essay falls short in the feasibility of the solution, in addition to suffering from a release period that had a rather poor sense of timing.
Perhaps one of Nye’s essay’s greatest strengths is found not, ironically, in her essay, but rather in her personal life. As a writer of Palestinian-American origins, she stands as a uniquely positioned person to present a perspective that does not often appear in American literature. She grew up in Jerusalem in the 1970’s; the city at the center of countless culture wars over the centuries (317). As a result, Nye possesses an understanding of the intricacies of conflict between cultures to an extent that surpasses a clear majority of contemporary writers. Because she spent a good number of her formative years in such a turbulent region, she also has significant experience with the violence that can happen when two cultures cannot reconcile their differences. This makes her a unique authority on the subject of culture conflict; perhaps one that both sides of the Arab-American clash would be willing to listen to.
Nye begins the references to her own life early in the essay and continues interspersing personal experiences throughout the entirety of the work. In only the fifth paragraph, she describes her own father as having “Planted fig trees (and) invited all the Ethiopians in his neighborhood to fill their little paper sacks with his figs” (318). She does this to provide undeniable evidence that her father, a Palestinian refugee living in America, lives the life of a good person; even a model for how American citizens should act toward their neighbors. In this paragraph, Nye also makes it a point to draw a clear connection between her father and all Arabs, for she says “There is no one like him and there are thousands like him – gentle Arab daddies who make everyone laugh around the dinner table, who have a hard time with headlines…” (318). Due to the fact that almost all American readers agree that her father appears to be a good person, and because she convincingly claims that most Arabs live just like her father, she successfully presents a logical argument to Americans that Arabs do...

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