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Issue Date:  November 26, 2004

From the Editor's Desk

The names roll silently by

I am heartsick those nights when I catch “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer” and sit through the silent part at the end of the show, the eerie, somber minutes when we get a last look at those who died in Iraq and sometimes in Afghanistan. What does one do or think as the 20-year-olds, the 18-year-olds, the 24-year-olds roll silently by? They come from everywhere and they look noble and determined, and all one can do is pray for them now and their families.

There is a constitutional amendment I could support, and it would say that whenever a president decides to send our kids to war he or she would be required to also send the vice president, the secretary of state and the secretary of defense to accompany the front lines so that they could see exactly what was going on. I could vote for that.

~ ~ ~

I recall seeing the Osama bin Laden clips just before the election. CNN and others showed little snippets and then characterized the statement. I was curious about what else he had said and why we had not heard more. Then I learned that news outlets were not printing it for fear of being seen as giving a terrorist undue space or time.

Bin Laden is our declared enemy. I believe we should know what he is saying, and I am convinced that thinking adults can handle such information -- in fact must handle such information.

That’s why we decided to excerpt longer segments of the statement and to ask experts to comment on what it all means (see story). It seems to me that the least we owe ourselves is to know as much as we can about the person who has caused such a broad rearranging of our cultural priorities, our dive into unprecedented debt and a declaration of open-ended war against an enemy that is like no other before.

With all the healthy wariness we can muster, we need to know more, not less. The discussion must become broader, not narrower.

~ ~ ~

This issue contains the final installment of the Latin America series. I asked earlier if anyone was interested in seeing it reprinted in a single, easy-to-use format and the response was enthusiastic. I’ll let you know more in the coming weeks about cost and when it will be available.

~ ~ ~

You’ll see a story announcing Tom Fox’s resignation as publisher, effective Jan. 1 (see story). It probably is not a stretch to say that no individual has been more closely identified with NCR in its four-decade history. He was editor longer than anyone else, and his passionate advocacy for the disenfranchised is legendary. I have known him for a long time as a fellow journalist. I have a special affection for him when it comes to NCR -- he’s the one who talked me into coming to Kansas City.

Rest assured that this is not the last you’ll hear of him. We won’t allow him to sneak off with just this notice. We’ll have a fuller send-off in a later issue.

~ ~ ~

We won’t be publishing next week to give the NCR crew a real Thanksgiving holiday, but the week after that we’ll be reporting on NCR’s 40th anniversary gathering held recently in Washington, including the text of a talk by Sr. Joan Chittister, who gave the paper some marching orders for the next 40 years.

-- Tom Roberts

National Catholic Reporter, November 26, 2004

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