We should give John Walker Lindh just a bit of credit.
The American-turned-terrorist, currently facing a life sentence for his involvement with the al-Qaida terrorist organization, is certainly an American enigma. Why maintain citizenship in a nation that you despise? But the optimistic folks here at the Collegian have found something useful in his story.
Sure, he is a terrorist, he will probably spend the rest of his life in a prison cell (and he most probably should), but at least the guy felt that he had something worth fighting for, which is something many 20-year-olds don’t experience.
The Collegian Editorial Board in no way supports the choices that Lindh made, just as we do not feel that he should receive any slack from the government due to a possibly misguided youth. But we want to point out that the guy did something that many young people never quite get around to doing. Lindh found a cause, something that gave his life purpose.
How many of us can say the same?
How many young people can say that they are willing to travel halfway around the world in order to learn more about a cause? To take up arms against something that we in our hearts feel is wrong?
This campus is certainly home to those who are willing to do such things; we have study abroad programs and internships; we have ROTC programs that train students to take up arms for this country. Some of us are doing what we feel will make the world better. But how many apathetic students are there on this campus searching only for a large bank account? At least Lindh looked for success in his achievements and not his wallet. That’s at least something, right?
But let’s not take this too far. The guy, after all, is a terrorist.
While here we note his desire to cause change, we also note that we abhor the decision to use death and destruction as a political tool. Terrorism is never a useful answer, although, as one board member quoted a political science professor, “One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist.”
It is clear to us that Lindh is the latter, but the positive in this story is worth some attention, too.
Lindh made a commitment to change.
It is a travesty that he made the wrong decision.