Editor's note: Below are some initial reactions received by email@example.com to the attacks in Paris. The letters, which are grouped into three broad categories, arrived to us as early as minutes after news broke of the attacks Friday afternoon. Some of the letters reflect the raw, intense anger that's often expressed after such a tragedy.
Fighting terrorism and defeating Islamic State
To the editor: With another Islamist terror attack, this one on our oldest ally, we can brace for a wave of politicians and media pundits telling us that we need to be very afraid. Fearful and angry people are much easier to manipulate, but for those of us who are, in the words of French President Francois Hollande, "keeping our cool," this recent violent outburst should create a moment for serious reflection.
The war on terror is similar to the Cold War in that it is a long, twilight struggle; but it is different in that when we quash one group, another mutates into existence.
The idea that we can wipe out Islamic State and then welcome the troops home is not how the war on terror is actually playing out. We should reject leaders who make this promise and choose ones who understand that we need to contain Islamic terrorists and grind them down slowly.
Of course, there will be moments when religious extremism spills into the civilized world. These are the moments when the broader population will be especially vulnerable to ambitious demagogues.
The American republic was conceived in rationality and science, which is a tremendous competitive advantage for our country. Let us hope the attacks in Paris do not impair our American capacity to think clearly.
Paul Ryan, Pasadena
To the editor: Following the attack on Paris, for which Islamic State claims responsibility, we hear statements of the city being shaken and words and phrases like horror, act of war, terror, resolve, solidarity, savagery, an attack on all humanity, vile, horrendous, unacceptable and so on.
These are words -- nothing but words. Enough of the words. How many more people need to die?
So, France engages in some retaliatory attacks and soon attention shifts elsewhere. When will the world get serious about defeating this evil group?
Every funding source for Islamic State must be targeted with extreme accountability. A massive ground force must surround every area controlled by Islamic State to restrict anything or anyone getting in or out.
Infiltrate every stronghold to guide attacks and carry out assassinations. Target every training camp for destruction. Operate drones and aircraft continuously. Anybody who moves, dies.
There will never be victory, but Islamic State can be eliminated as a fighting force.
Sid Pelston, Marina del Rey
To the editor: Here is a way to defeat Islamic State: Build up the French Foreign Legion with volunteers from all over the world and commit them to battle.
It would not only save the honor of France, but it would provide a glorious adventure for thousands of young men seeking to leave their mark on the world.
Donald Prell, Palm Springs
To the editor: I was opposed to the Iraq war from the beginning. I knew that it would disrupt the balance of power in the Middle East and no one knew what would happen after that. One of the unintended consequences of that war has been the rise of Islamic State.
With the attacks in Paris, we are now clearly engaged in a worldwide struggle against radical Islam. What now? I think it is time that we engage our allies, from Western Europe and the Middle East, to initiate a serious ground war against Islamic State in the Middle East. We also need to work with those same allies to stamp out the radicals where we live, in Western Europe, the Middle East and here at home.
This will be no small task.
Mike Reardon, Fallbrook
To the editor: How could this have happened in Paris when President Obama already told us publicly in no uncertain term just prior to the attacks that Islamic State was contained?
In trying to build a legacy for his presidency, this president has apparently decided to ignore facts and claim wishful victories.
We can only hope that this Paris massacre will not be repeated on American soil and that Obama, and not necessarily all those involved in his administration, will finally recognize that the Islamic State problem is indeed an Islamic extremist issue. Until one can define who the enemy is, there can be no victory.
John T. Chiu, Newport Beach
To the editor: In my opinion, Obama must shoulder some of the blame for what is happening in the world. He ordered American forces out of Iraq prematurely, allowing Islamic State to grow and gain control. He declared years ago that Islamic State was a "J.V." team.
What would he say today? I believe Islamic State has graduated to the majors.
Betty Vanole, Burbank
What these attacks aren't: Islam
To the editor: Once again we watched in horror as coordinated terrorist attacks unfolded in Paris. Now that Islamic State has claimed responsibility, no one, including Muslims, is surprised. Islamic State has not only committed an act of barbarity by killing innocent people, but it has also hijacked the word Islam for its evil designs.
Islam teaches compassion. The Koran says, "Whosoever killed a person ... it shall be as if he had killed all mankind." Islam is a religion of humanity which teaches its followers to not hurt children, women or even trees in the time of war.
By picking soft targets like a soccer stadium, a concert venue and street-side restaurants, attackers showed their cowardice and inhumanity. Islamic State did not represent Islam when it bombed a shopping area in Beirut earlier this week, killing 44 people; it did not represent Islam when it mercilessly shot 200 innocent Syrian children; and it, for sure, does not represent Islam in Paris.
I hope and pray that Paris recovers from this tragedy and responds in a manner that brings all communities together. We can only fight and defeat this common enemy by standing together and joining hands irrespective of faith and ethnicity.
Aziza Faruqi, Austin, Texas
To the editor: France is not alone. Humanity as a whole has endured another dark chapter of unimaginable grief and agony. The heart-wrenching scenes of dead bodies, of the maimed and injured leave indelible marks on our consciousness.
In Russia, Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Ukraine, Palestine, Lebanon, France and elsewhere, we have all suffered profoundly from the tragic loss of innocent souls. However, words of condemnation are not enough.
On the whole, Western governments have failed to fathom the complexity and nature of crises raging in other parts of the world. What they have succeeded in doing is portraying Islam as anathema to modern civilizations, alienating and marginalizing in the process thousands of Muslims, and consequently failed to respond to their demands appropriately, creating two-tier societies.
Yes, terrorists will never intimidate us. But hasn't time come to address the key underlying causes that nourish terror, namely: abject poverty, soaring unemployment, Islamophobia, racism, food insecurity, religious void, social chaos, injustices, occupations and wars?
Munjed Farid Al Qutob, London
Islam (or all religion) is the elephant in the room
To the editor: Here are the facts: The three existentialist threats to our way of life are toxic race relations, terrorism, and unregulated immigration.
But the abject terror westerners have of being even suspected of intolerance, bigotry, or, God forbid, racism has made it impossible for us to address these challenges. Soon the usual voices will be assuring us, once again, that Islam is a religion of peace, that this is all our fault, that we're the ones who have to change and so on.
Forget about the American way of life -- nothing less than civilization itself hangs in the balance. Are we ready now, at long last, to do something about this? Or do more innocent people have to die first?
E.G. Rice, Marina del Rey
To the editor: Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of France during this horrible time. I can't understand why the Obama administration is hesitant to draw any conclusions on the root of this attack, when it is usually quick to have an opinion on everything else.
When the assailants shout "Allahu akbar," it's fairly obvious that we are dealing with yet another Islamic exremist, a phrase that the Obama administration can't seem to embrace.
When President Obama goes to the climate summit in Paris in the next few weeks, will he still insist that the biggest threat to our global security is climate change? The victims, their families, as well as most of the rest of us, see it a bit differently.
Rick Kern, Incline Village
To the editor: Religion and nationalism are the most pernicious forces in humanity -- we have slaughtered throughout human history because of them. How can we not as a society understand this?
If we raised generations of children with love, compassion and acceptance, we may find a world of human peace. This will never happen as along as we are brainwashed to hate.
Dee White, Capistrano Beach