To the Editor:

Emily Regan Wills (“Anti-Attacks,” 10/15) offers a fine example of a very dangerous sort of idealism. She founds her anti-war argument on the pleasant-sounding assumption that “everyone has a right to live, and nothing can terminate that right.”

Since “to take the life of another, whether in offense or defense” is never under any circumstances justified, the United States must not practice violence against those who fight for fundamentalist Islam.

It is sufficient to note that, if U.S. policy-makers had for any minute of the 20th century embraced Wills’ principles, we would all be slaves to Nazis or prisoners in a Stalinist labor camp. More likely, we would already have been burned, beaten or starved to death.

Ivy League pacifists may renounce all that is base and violent in human nature, but many people don’t. Sometimes, these people band together and try to take over the world or a large part of it.

The people whom they have decided to kill — in this case, us — have two choices. The first is to die. The second is to destroy their would-be murderers first. The third option, “peace and love,” does not exist — the murderers have already declared a fight to the death.

This is, in part, why violence in self-defense is so widely acknowledged as an inalienable human right.

For those of us who wish to survive, the road ahead will be an unpleasant one. It will involve taking lives. Those who swear never to kill, even in defense, unburden themselves of this tough reality.

But in doing so, they urge nothing less than national suicide.

Schuyler Schouten ’03

October 15, 2001