Said another writer, "I worry that amid the anger arising from this week's attack, our representatives will be swayed to ignore their moral compasses and go in search of an enemy that may prove very elusive. And I worry that more innocent people—in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Pakistan—will fall victim under U.S. anti-terrorism initiatives."
A third noted, "I too do not want the terrorists to get away with these evil deeds," adding, "To combat terrorism, let's act in accordance with a high standard that does not disregard the lives of people in other countries. If we retaliate by bombing Kabul and kill people oppressed by the Taliban dictatorship who have no part in deciding whether terrorists are harbored, we become like the terrorists."
Another common sentiment concerned what many felt to be the imprudence of rushing to war. "While we all oppose terrorism, a more tempered, well-tailored response is needed than to write a blank check to the president for waging war in unknown places, against unknown adversaries, and at unknown costs," one stated, echoing the congresswoman's own words. "You have my support and my vote."
A likeminded note added, "We should be thinking soberly about strategically effective actions to prevent further terrorist attacks, not plunging headfirst into a crusade for bloody revenge against an ill-defined enemy that we will never successfully battle using traditional military methods. I stand in horror at what this government, which is supposed to represent me and my fellow citizens, is talking about doing." The note thanked Lee for her commitment to finding "an appropriate solution to this problem, rather than a politically expedient and viscerally gratifying one."
Another correspondent wrote: "I don't see the unilateral bombing of any country in an effort to extract terrorists as a solution. Do we not think that Afghanistan will be just as outraged as we are should their civilians die unnecessarily? Wouldn't any country?"
A few correspondents insulted the American majority. "It must have been among the hardest things you have ever done in your life," one stated, "to stand up in the face of all that jingoism and redneckery." Many correspondents simply thanked Lee, while others praised particular qualities like "courage," voting one's conscience, or simply perceiving the situation as they perceived it themselves. "Yours is the voice of reason during this momentary lapse of reason," one letter said. Another stated, "Your words are exactly what I longed to hear and feared would forever miss. You give me back my own resolve to speak out with courage."
Said a third:
Thank you for having the courage to stand up before your colleagues, the nation and the world and speak your conscience. Thank you for giving us the courage to voice our concerns about going to war so quickly. Thank you for reminding us to listen to our hearts, our consciences, and to adhere to our moral beliefs. I keep hearing Amazing Grace played at services, on TV, and in my head, and I know that we must also be certain to pray and allow God's grace to work among us.
For those who felt differently than Bush and a majority of Americans, Lee provided a glimmer of hope that the whole world wasn't crazy, as letters like this one expressed:
If I were in Berkeley right now, I would be organizing, speaking out, doing something to try to stop this madness. Being outside of the country, I have felt a terrible sense of powerlessness. After reading about the vote authorizing the use of force yesterday I felt a chill pass through me. When I found out you were the sole voice of reason, I felt a tiny arrow of hope pierce my heart ....
In these days of grief there seems to be madness afoot. Far too many people have been swept up by their anger and have lost touch with their basic faculties of judgment and the very principles on which this nation was founded. At the head of this outraged lynch-mob, bent on vengeance over justice at all costs, is a president more than half our nation did not elect. A president who routinely humiliates and shames us.
Many locals expressed pride in being represented by the one nay vote in Congress, some adding that they were proud of what it said about the East Bay community.