Remarks Of William Jefferson Clinton
Albert H. Gordon Track And Tennis Center
November 19, 2001
Thank you very much, Mr. President. (LAUGHTER) It wasn't so very long ago when he had to call me that. I kind of miss the old arrangement. But I'm glad at least one of us landed a job without term limits. [LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE]
I want to thank Congressmen Capuano and McGovern for being here, and for the help they gave me when I was President trying to move our country forward. And I thank the leaders of Boston and Cambridge who have come, and my good friends Mack McLarty and Bruce Lindsey, and the people in the audience and at Harvard who were in the Administration of whom there are very large numbers.
I want to thank my friend David Pryor. I never thought 30 years ago that if he had told me that one day I'd have to come to Harvard to see David Pryor, I wouldn't have believed it. [AUDIENCE LAUGHTER] We spent most of our younger years at county fairs, and coon suppers and with fox and wolf hunters. We've listened to the dogs bay at the moon after 2:00, and we've eaten things that no human being should be required to eat. [AUDIENCE LAUGHTER] He is one of the finest people I've ever known and one of the best friends I've ever had. I'm so glad that he got the chance to come to Harvard and share his gifts with you. [APPLAUSE]
And Dean Joe Nye, I thank you for all the support and help and advice and knowledge you gave to me in the eight years I served. You might be interested to know that my daughter had to go all the way to Oxford to read your books, but they are required reading in her course there, and she has given you a very good review.
I am delighted that Larry Summers was chosen to be President of Harvard. He has proved that academics and politics can go hand in hand, validating the mission of the Institute of Politics since Robert Kennedy conceived it a quarter of a century ago. He was brilliant in dealing with international financial problems and balancing the federal budget. I couldn't help thinking when he was telling you the story about Mexico, he left a critical element out.
There was a poll in the morning paper that said the American people opposed my helping Mexico by 81 to 15 [percent]. And just before the meeting all the Congressional leaders who said they would support it, bailed out on me. So if President Zedillo hadn't paid that loan back with interest and ahead of schedule, I would still be an ex-President, but Larry Summers would have never become President. So we are both very grateful to him.
You know, thanks to Larry's leadership we actually ran some pretty healthy surpluses in the federal budget, but nothing could have prepared him for the kind of money you have at Harvard. [APPLAUSE/CHEERING]
Larry, after the years you spent at Harvard, and all the advice you gave me, one thing you didn't suggest is that we stop calling the surplus a "surplus," and call it an endowment. [LAUGHTER] If we had called it an endowment, that tax cut never would have passed, and we'd still be on our way to a debt-free America. [APPLAUSE/CHEERING]
I've got so many former staff members here I can't keep up with them all, but I know that Elaine Kamarck and my former counsel, Beth Nolan, and Michael Waldman are here. I saw Josh Gottheimer, who is now here in Law School. He actually said he had to work, that he didn't make the mistake of going to Yale where I didn't have to work as hard. [APPLAUSE/CHEERING] I also know that one of my former advance staff, Ted Carr, is actually teaching a class here on Presidential advance. I cannot believe you can get credit for taking a class on Presidential Advance. Everybody who did advance for me had to skip class to do it. So now we're even repairing the breach between politics and the academy at the advance level.
Let me say, it was 25** years ago, just last month, that members of the Kennedy family, the Kennedy White House, the Harvard community gathered for dinner at the Holyoke Center to celebrate the creation of the Institute of Politics. That night Robert Kennedy gave a few brief but powerful remarks. He said this, "With mankind having the power to destroy mankind, this is not the time to relax." And he urged the students who would study at the IOP to be vigilant, to stay engaged in public affairs. And to "use the Institute to find solutions for the changing world."
Well, because the world has changed so much in the last 25 years, Robert Kennedy's words echo every bit as powerfully today as they did then. I was deeply gratified by the IOP survey showing that college students are more ready than ever to serve their country, that civic engagement is on the rise, that more than two-thirds of you have contributed in some way to the relief efforts since September 11. I think Robert Kennedy would be very proud of this generation of young people, and I am very proud of you.
One of the most important achievements of our Administration was the creation of AmeriCorps, the National Community Service Program. [APPLAUSE] It was modeled on the Peace Corps for community purposes here at home, with GI Bill style college benefits. I used the pen President Kennedy used to sign the Peace Corp. to sign the bill creating it. And in seven years, over 250,000 young Americans have served their country, more than in the entire history of the Peace Corps.
Now Senator Biden and Senator McCain have joined together to propose that we provide enough funding for 250,000 young Americans a year to serve in AmeriCorps. That was our original goal, all inspired by what the President, John Kennedy, asked me to do in high school, to "ask not what my country can do for me, but what I can do for my country." So I thank you for that.
Today, I want to talk a little about the road ahead for citizens and public servants in America. We should begin with the fight against terror in Afghanistan and here at home. The terrorists who struck the World Trade Center and the Pentagon believe they were attacking important symbols of corrupt American power and materialism. They were quite wrong about that.
I live and work in New York now. My wife, Hillary, represents the people of New York in the United States Senate. I was Commander in Chief of the people who go to work in the Pentagon every day.
The people who perished represent not only the best of America, but the best of the world I worked hard for eight years to build. The world of expanding freedom and opportunity, of greater citizen responsibility, of growing diversity and deeper bonds of community. The world, in short, it looks a great deal like the student body gathered here today.
People from 70 nations died at the World Trade Center. Irish and Italian-Catholic firefighters died to save Muslims the terrorists died to kill. Those who died in New York, at the Pentagon, and Pennsylvania are part of a very different world and hold very different world views than those who killed them. We are engaged mainly in a struggle for the soul of this new century. Victory for our vision depends upon winning the fight we're in against terrorism, on spreading the benefits, and reducing the burdens of the modern world, on changes in poor nations themselves that will make progress possible, and finally, on developing a global level of consciousness about what our responsibilities to each other are and what our relationships ought to be.
Let me take each of these in turn. First, with regard to the fight we're in, I urge you to keep three things in mind. First, terror, the killing of non-combatants for political, religious, or economic reasons, has a very long history. No region of the world has been spared it, few people have entirely clean hands.
In November of 1095, Pope Urban II urged the Christian soldiers to embark on the first crusade, to capture Jerusalem, which he said is "now held captive by God's enemies and made a servant by those who know not God for the ceremonies of the heathen." When the Christians took Jerusalem they first burned the synagogue -- not a mosque -- a synagogue with 300 Jews, and proceeded then to kill every Muslim woman and child on the Temple Mount. I can tell you that story is still being told today in the Middle East.
Throughout the 20th century people continued to be terrorized because of their race or religion, even in the West. And although we Americans have come a very long, long way from the days when people could kill slaves and Native Americans and get away with it, we still have the occasional hate crime rooted in race, religion or sexual orientation.
The second point I want to make is that in spite of this long history, no terrorist campaign standing on its own has ever succeeded. Terror leaves bitter enemies. The poison stays long in the well. The purpose, after all, is not to achieve military victory, but to achieve a change in circumstances by terror, to make us afraid of today, afraid of tomorrow, afraid of each other. Therefore, it cannot win unless we become admitting accomplices, changing the way we think and feel and live.
The third point I want to make is very important for young people, because I know this is a difficult time especially for young people. You did not grow up as I did, having exercises where you'd go to a fall out shelter where you could supposedly hide in the event that nuclear weapons rained on America. You didn't grow up with Vietnam, and by the time you came of age most of the Cold War was over. Your parents didn't tell you about Korea or World War II. So this whole thing must be terribly shocking to you.
Here's the point I want to make. In any new arena of conflict, offensive action always prevails first, then good people get together and devise effective defenses, and civilization goes on. Ever since the first person walked out of a cave with a club there was a gap, until somebody figured out you could put a couple of sticks together and stretch an animal skin over it, and you would have a shield to defend yourself. In every arena of combat from that day to this, this pattern has held true, first offense, then defense.
We have been involved in this struggle against terrorism here against Americans at least 20 years, since our Marines were killed by suicide efforts in Lebanon. It has been active in Europe for longer. But we will get better in our defenses.
In the years that I served as President, career law enforcement officials worked very hard in the hope that a day like September 11 would never come. They prevented many terrorist attacks from occurring, and successfully brought to justice many perpetrators of terrorism. They thwarted attempts to blow up the Holland Tunnel, the Lincoln Tunnel, the Los Angeles airport, an attempt on the Pope's life, an attempt to destroy the largest hotel in Amman, Jordan, and a Christian site in the Holy Land over the Millennium, attempts to plant bombs in cities in the Northeast and Northwest over the Millennium weekend.
America ratified the chemical weapons convention, tried to strengthen the biological weapons convention. Counter-terrorism budgets were hugely increased. We began training civil responses in the 30 biggest communities in America. We began the stockpiling of vaccines and antidotes, antibiotics, and we began researching what could prove to be a very important question in the years ahead, which is how to quickly develop a response to a variant toxin in the event of a biological attack. Vice President Gore, head of the Commission on Airport Security, made a lot of recommendations, some of which were adopted, some of which weren't.
The point I want to make is, as chilling as what happened on September the 11th and the current anthrax scare, good people have been working on this a long time, they have been getting better, and we will continue to get better.
Clearly we need to do more to improve our defenses for all forms of transportation and other critical infrastructure. The airline security legislation just passed by the Congress is a very good step. We must continue to strengthen our defenses against cyber-terrorism. President Bush has recently put a good man, Dick Clarke, in charge of that, who coordinated our counter-terrorism efforts in the National Security Council when I was President.
We need to strengthen our capacity to chase money that keeps terrorist networks running. When President Summers was Secretary of the Treasury, we put in a lot of very stringent efforts to try to crack down on money laundering and break in to dirty money networks. We tried to pass money laundering legislation, which Congress refused to pass last year, and I hope and believe will probably pass this year, because it's very important.
Perhaps most important, we must improve our woefully inadequate computer tracking capacity, integrate the information systems of the intelligence and law enforcement agencies. Private companies, now mostly doing mass mailing for a living, believe it or not, have a far better capacity to track potential terrorists and other suspects who come into this country using not illegal information or intrusions into privacy, but simple information that has been available for years and years and years on all of us already, and their capacity far exceeds anything the government has. So that's an area where we have to catch up, and catch up in a hurry.
But the larger point holds. Terror has got a long history. It's never worked before. Offense always precedes defense. The more lethal the weapons, the more critical it is to shorten the time between the first offensive action and the construction of an effective defense, but there is no reason in the wide world to believe that not only will the campaign in Afghanistan succeed, but our campaign in organizing our defenses here at home will succeed.
I for one do not believe that the 21st century will claim anywhere near as many innocent lives as the 20th century did. Let me remind you, over nine million people died in World War I. Over 20 million people died from bad governments, abusive governments between the wars. Over 20 million people died in World War II. Twenty million people were killed by abusive governments after World War II. Over a million people died in Korea. A million more or less in Vietnam. Seven hundred thousand at the end of the century in Rwanda alone in 90 days.
The thing that makes this so frightening, especially to Americans and people in other countries that think of themselves as open-minded and progressive, is that this happened here at home, quite often to people we knew, and on television. That brings me to my second point.
Winning the fight we're in is absolutely necessary, but it is not sufficient to build the world you want for your future. To do that we have to build a pool of potential partners and reduce the pool of potential terrorists, and that will require a much larger and more sustained effort. Let me explain what I mean and take you through an exercise that I have been working through with audiences now since September 11.
Try to remember what you thought on September the 10th. If I had asked you on that day, "What do you believe is the single most dominant force of the early 21st century world," what would you have answered? I can think of four answers you might have given if you're a positive, optimistic person. You might have said, first, the global economy. It brought America over 22 million jobs in the last eight years, and lifted more people out of poverty over the last 20 years than at any time before in history.
Or you might have said, "No, it's the information technology revolution, that's what's given us the increased productivity that's driven economic growth." Listen to this, when I became President in 1993 there were 50 sites on the World Wide Web. When I left office the number was 350 million and rising. Even before the anthrax scare slowed the mail, 30 times as many messages were sent by e-mail as the postal service every day.
Or you might have said, "No, even more important than the economics and the information technology would be the advances in the biological sciences." The results of the sequencing of the human genome and other research now underway will rival the significance of the very discovery of DNA or even Newtonian physics. We're developing microscopic testing mechanisms with nano-technology to identify cancers just a few cells in size. Researching the possibility of digital chips to replicate sophisticated spinal nerve movements, raising the prospect that they can work for the spine like a pacemaker does for the heart, and people long in wheelchairs will get up and walk.
Seeing young mothers who have come home with their newborns from the hospital in countries with good health systems with a little gene card mapping out their future, telling what the problems are, what the strengths are, what to do, and babies quite shortly will be born in countries like ours with life expectancies in excess of 90 years.
Or you might have said, fourthly, "The most important thing about this new world is the explosion of democracy and diversity within democratic societies, because they make all this other progress possible." I was honored to be President when for the first time in history more than half the world's people lived in democracies. And to see America and other advanced open societies dramatically increasing in racial and religious and ethnic diversity, proving that people from different backgrounds or different faiths can live and work together for common good.
You might have given one of those answers. On the other hand, if you're from a poor country, are you more pessimistic? Or if you're what my wife Hillary refers to as your family's designated worrier -- and every family has one, I think -- you might have given one of four negative answers. You might have said, "No, the global economy is the problem, not the solution," because half the world's people live on less than $2 a day. A billion people live on less than a dollar a day. A billion people go to bed hungry every night, and a billion and a half people never get a clean glass of water.
Or you might have said, "Before that happens, environmental crises will consume us." The deterioration of the oceans that provide so much of our water, our oxygen, the chronic water shortage. And most important, global warming. If the globe warms for the next 50 years at the same rate of the last 10, we'll lose 50 feet of Manhattan Island and the Florida Everglades I worked so hard to save in America, whole Pacific Island nations will be flooded, and we will create tens of millions of flood refugees with more disruption and violence and war.
Or you might have said, "But before the global warming gets us, global health crises will." We see public health systems breaking down across the globe, and epidemics rising. One in four people this year will die, of all the people who perish, will die of AIDS, TB, malaria and infections related to diarrhea, most of them little kids that never got a clean glass of water. There are 36 million AIDS cases, two-thirds of them in Africa. But the fastest growing rates of AIDS is in the former Soviet Union on Europe's back door, in the Caribbean on America's front door, in India, the world's biggest democracy. The Chinese just admitted they have twice as many cases as they had thought, and only four percent of the adults in China, the world's biggest country, know how AIDS is contracted and spread. If we don't change the trends there will be a hundred million AIDS cases by 2005, making it the largest epidemic since the Black Plague killed a quarter of Europe in the 14th century.
Or you might have said, "Well, even before the AIDS crisis descends on us, we will be plagued by terrorism." The marriage of modern weapons of mass destruction to ancient racial, religious, ethnic and tribal hatreds. If you look at Rwanda, Sierra Leone, the Balkans, East Timor, the Middle East, or, until, God bless them, people finally did the right thing, Northern Ireland, you see that the central irony of our time is that with all of our progress we're still bedeviled by the oldest problem of human society, the fear, hatred and demonization of people who are different from us.
Now, I mentioned four positive things and four negative things. What do they all have in common? They reflect the most breathtaking increase in global interdependence in all of history. Philosophers and theologians have talked for millennia about how we are interdependent because of our shared humanity. Politicians have taken it seriously at least since the end of World War II, the dropping of the bomb, and the establishment of the United Nations. But now it is a reality that no ordinary citizen of the world anywhere can escape.
You live in the age of interdependence. Borders don't count for much or stop much, good or bad, anymore. In other words, this is the point of the whole exercise. September 11 and the anthrax scare are the dark side of the benefits we have been receiving, from a world in which we have torn down barriers, collapsed distances, and spread information to an extent never before known.
Openness brings us both greater opportunity and greater vulnerability. The great question of our time is whether this interdependence is going to be good or bad for you and your children, and people like you all over the world. Since we cannot escape it, and we wouldn't want to rebuild the walls we worked so hard to tear down, we must do everything we can to strengthen the positive forces of interdependence and to diminish the negative ones.
There are three things, in my view, we have to do. First, spread the benefits and shrink the burdens of the 21st century. Second, work to create conditions in poor countries that make progress possible, and give people the sense that they've got some control over their own lives, with special care for the challenges of the Muslim world. Third, we simply must develop a higher level of consciousness about how we can all cherish our faiths and our identities and still live and work together.
On the first point, we have to reduce global poverty and increase economic empowerment. We had a great effort last year to reduce the debt of the 24 poorest countries. It was one of the things that I was most proud of, and we did it in a completely bipartisan way. The results have been stunning. And the poor countries get the debt relief only if they put all their savings into health, education, or economic development. We should do a lot more of it.
For the last several years, America has given two million micro-enterprise loans a year to poor people in Africa, Asia, Latin America. We should do much, much more of that. The U.S. opened its markets to people around the world, to Africa, to the Caribbean, to Jordan, to Vietnam just last year. We should have more trade, not less, but the Jordan Trade Agreement is a good model because it has basic fundamental labor and environmental rights written into it.
The Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto has pointed out that the world's poor people already have five trillion dollars in assets in their homes and businesses, but they're all in the extralegal sector. They live in shanties without addresses. They run small businesses that are so burdened by regulation it would take them a year and money they can never have to legalize their businesses. So he is spending his life going around the world trying to help reform property laws, devise effective court systems, reform banking laws, reform regulations, all with a goal of allowing poor people to get a loan by using what they already have as collateral, because without it you can't have personal advancement or national growth in a market economy.
We helped them a little when I was President, but not enough. He spends a lot of time going around trying to gather up money for each new country he operates in. The rich countries of the world ought to fund this so people can do more to help themselves.
The same argument applies to education. There are a hundred million kids that aren't in school today. We ought to get them in school. Every additional year of schooling in a poor country adds 10 to 20 percent to a child's income. Brazil has 97 percent of its children in school. Why? Because they paid their mothers in the poorest 30 percent of the families a monthly fee if they send their kids to school 85 percent of the time. So they have almost everybody in school. In my last year as President, we got $300 million to provide a meal to children in poor countries, but only if they'd come to school to get it. Do you know what $300 million will buy? A meal for over six million children every day of the school year. And the results are coming in and enrollments are exploding in places where this program is being put in place. Now, we ought to fund programs like this and get these kids in school.
Same argument applies to health care. Secretary General Kofi Annan has asked the rich countries to give him seven to ten billion dollars a year to fight AIDS and other infectious diseases. Look, we got the medicine coming, we have proven programs of prevention. We know what works. Uganda cut the death rate in half in five years with prevention only. Brazil cut it in half in three years with prevention and medicine. We ought to fund the program.
The same argument applies to global warming. [APPLAUSE] While powerful vested interests in the United States, and, I might add, in a lot of the developing world in China and India and elsewhere, still pretend that this is not occurring, there is an already existing one trillion dollar market available today for energy conservation technologies and alternative energy sources that will create jobs in the developing world and in the developed world. [APPLAUSE] Now, you may say to me, "This costs a lot of money." It does, but it's a lot cheaper than going to war. [APPLAUSE] It's a lot cheaper than going to war.
And I want to have a little pander here to the Massachusetts people in the audience, we wouldn't have this global feeding program and all those kids in school if it weren't for Congressman Jim McGovern who was the sponsor of the whole thing, and I thank you Jim. [APPLAUSE]
The second thing we have to do is to help people help themselves. All this aid won't amount to a hill of beans if it doesn't have an impact in a country in a position to use it. That means we need to have more democracy. Democracies don't go to war against each other, and by and large they don't sponsor terrorism. They're more likely to respect the environment and human rights and social justice. It's no accident that most of the terrorists come from non-democratic countries.
If you never have to take responsibility for yourselves, it kind of keeps you in a state of permanent immaturity. Those of you who are undergraduates, imagine what you would be like today if when you turned five or six years old, when you began to go to school, instead your parents put you in a closet to make absolutely sure you would never scuff your knee, you would never get germs, no one would ever say a dirty word to you, you would never hear an alien thought. You would look the same, but you would be very different. And so you were permitted to go out into the world and take risks and make mistakes, and learn to take responsibility for your own lives.
The same argument applies to countries. When people never get a chance to take responsibility for themselves, it is very easy to convince them that their distress is caused by someone else's success. And it isn't enough just to have elections. There's a transition here. You have to have good laws and good regulations and an effective economic policy. And we need to help these people succeed.
And finally, let me say we have to have a special care for the problems of the Muslim world. And I hope that I have earned the right to say this. I was the first President ever to observe every year the Feast of Id al-Fitr at the end of Ramadan, which is coming up pretty soon. To bring large numbers of Muslims into the White House and consult with them on a wide range of issues. The last time we used military power as a nation was to protect the lives of poor Muslims in Bosnia and Kosovo. I tried until my last day in office to get a just and lasting peace in the Middle East that would give a statement of the West Bank in Gaza to the Palestinians and protect their religious equities in Jerusalem. [APPLAUSE]
And what I want to say to you is that there is, as most of you know, a war raging within Islam today about what they think about the modern world in general, and the United States in particular. It is rooted in the frustrations so many Muslims have with the modern world, which they see as a threat to their values, destructive of their way of life, hostile to their economic well-being in many places. We cannot engage in this debate without admitting that there are excesses in our contemporary culture, and that no people have ever been able to live forever, only with their rational faculties, without any spiritual nourishment and non-logical belief systems.
This battle is being fought, of course, in the Middle East and Central Asia, but also in America and throughout the West. Just the other day, a part-time chaplain at the New York State Prison near Buffalo was suspended from her job for expressing sympathy with Mr. bin Laden and other terrorists. We have an Afghan mosque in New York City where the Iman was a stand-up guy on September 12 condemning the terrorism. He was terrific, but a minority of his congregation walked outside and began to worship in the parking lot.
The New Republic ran a story about a prominent conservative activist getting in trouble with the Administration for bringing Muslims into the White House who support terrorist networks. This debate is going on everywhere.
In the Middle East, theocratic and secular, but non-democratic governments with troubling economic, social and political problems, have seen a dramatic rise in fundamentalism portraying the U.S. and Israel in particular, and the West in general, as evil. We've got to get into this debate. We have to strengthen the forces of moderation. We have to increase the capacity of those governments to deliver for their people. We have to support democratic transitions. And we've got to get our story out.
I'll guarantee you that most Muslims in the Middle East do not know that the last time we used military power was to protect Muslims in Bosnia and Kosovo, do not know that America advocated and Israel accepted, but the PLO rejected, the establishment of a Palestinian state with 97 percent of the West Bank and Gaza, East Jerusalem and protection of Palestinian control of the Muslim holy sites. Most people don't know how many Muslims died at the World Trade Center. That would make a big difference. They don't know how many Muslims do well and keep the faith in America. They do not know that when the FBI recently asked for 200 Arabic speakers to help them combat terrorism, there were 15,000 volunteers. [APPLAUSE]
Most Muslims do not know that when 18 American soldiers and hundreds of Somalis died in that firefight in Somalia in 1993 that Mr. bin Laden loves to crow about, they have forgotten that those American soldiers were there on a UN mission to arrest Mohammed Aidid because he had murdered 22 Pakistani Muslim peacekeepers. They do not know that. [APPLAUSE]
So we got to get our story out, and we have to give some ammunition to the moderates in the Muslim world that are trying to take a different course.
And finally, let me just make one last point. Some people may think it sounds naive, but I think it's the most important point of all. We cannot make the world that you want for your children without developing a higher level of consciousness that will permit the world's people to live and work together.
Today, we and those on the other side have dramatically different notions about the most basic things in life. What is the nature of truth? What is the value of life? What is the content of community? The Taliban and bin Laden, like fundamentalist fanatics today everywhere and throughout time immemorial, believe they have the truth. They have it, the whole truth. They believe the world is divided between those who agree with their truth and those who don't. The Muslims who don't are heretics. The non-Muslims are infidels. If you share their truth, your life has value, and if you don't, you're a legitimate target, even if you're just a six-year old girl who went to work with her mother at the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11.
We believe the limits of the human condition prevent anyone from having the absolute truth. That's the whole idea of this University, isn't it? We believe that we're all on a journey on which hopefully we gain greater understanding of the truth, that we can learn from each other, and therefore, that the lives of all God's imperfect children have value. And everybody deserves a chance to make the journey.
Now this leads us to very different notions about the content of community. They believe that community is a group of people who think alike and act alike. And in the case of the Taliban, dress alike and have brutal enforcement by people who beat women. They're especially hung up on keeping women in their place. You probably noticed that. Painting their windows black to deny them access to the world outside.
Well, we believe that everybody can be part of our community. Look around, this is our community. It doesn't matter where you come from, doesn't matter how you practice your faith. All you have to do is embrace certain rules of engagement. Everybody counts, everybody has got a role to play, everybody deserves a say. We all do better when we work together.
This is the heart of the matter. It all comes down to this. Which do you believe is more important, our interesting differences or our common humanity? The answer is so easy to give and so hard to live.
In my last year in college, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were both killed trying to reconcile the American people to each other. In my lifetime, Gandhi was killed, not by a Muslim, but by a hate-filled Hindu who could not abide him because he wanted India for the Hindus and the Muslims and the Jains and the Sikhs. Sadat was killed not by an Israeli commando, but by an angry Egyptian who thought he was too secular and not a good Egyptian for making peace.
One of the greatest men I ever knew, my friend Yitzhak Rabin, was killed, not by a PLO terrorist, but by an angry Israeli, who thought he was neither a good Jew nor a good Israeli because he sought lasting security for Israel in an honorable peace which recognized legitimate aspirations of the Palestinians for a homeland.
In America, the hate crimes of recent years, the rhetoric of demonization, the persistence of poverty, our inability to come to terms with a lot of our responsibilities around the world, and to recognize the legitimate sources of alienation many people feel, all of these remind us that for all of our progress we still have to lead the way in making this new world. In short, we all have to change. The world's poor cannot be led by people like Mr. bin Laden who think they can find their redemption in our destruction. But the world's rich cannot be led by people who play to our short-sided selfishness and pretend that we can forever claim for ourselves what we deny to others. [APPLAUSE]
So my one sentence message is this, we live in a world without walls. We will have to defeat those who want to tear it down. We will have to do more to help everybody become a part of it. But most important, in our hearts we must make your world a home for all its children.
Thank you very much. [APPLAUSE]
**[EDITOR'S NOTE: Robert Kennedy's remarks were made 35 years ago, on Oct. 17, 1966]