We Call Ourselves the Capital of the World
New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani
October 1, 2001
Thank you, President of the General Assembly Dr. Han Seung-Soo.
Thank you, Secretary General Kofi Annan.
Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak, and for the
consideration you've shown the City in putting off your General
Session. As I explained to the Secretary General and the President
of the General Assembly, our City is now open, and any time we
can arrange it, we look forward to having your heads of state
and your foreign ministers here for that session.
On September 11th 2001, New York City - the most diverse City
in the world - was viciously attacked in an unprovoked act of
war. More than five thousand innocent men, women, and children
of every race, religion, and ethnicity are lost. Among these were
people from 80 different nations. To their representatives here
today, I offer my condolences to you as well on behalf of all
New Yorkers who share this loss with you. This was the deadliest
terrorist attack in history. It claimed more lives than Pearl
Harbor or D-Day.
This was not just an attack on the City of New York or on the
United States of America. It was an attack on the very idea of
a free, inclusive, and civil society.
It was a direct assault on the founding principles of the United
Nations itself. The Preamble to the U.N. Charter states that this
organization exists "to reaffirm faith in fundamental human
rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person...to practice
tolerance and live together in peace as good neighbors
to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security."
Indeed, this vicious attack places in jeopardy the whole purpose
of the United Nations.
Terrorism is based on the persistent and deliberate violation
of fundamental human rights. With bullets and bombs - and now
with hijacked airplanes - terrorists deny the dignity of human
life. Terrorism preys particularly on cultures and communities
that practice openness and tolerance. Their targeting of innocent
civilians mocks the efforts of those who seek to live together
in peace as neighbors. It defies the very notion of being a neighbor.
This massive attack was intended to break our spirit. It has
not done that. It has made us stronger, more determined and more
The bravery of our firefighters, our police officers, our emergency
workers, and civilians we may never learn of, in saving over 25,000
lives that day - carrying out the most effective rescue operation
in our history - inspires all of us. I am very honored to have
with me, as their representative, the Fire Commissioner of New
York City, Tom Von Essen, and the Police Commissioner of New York
City, Bernard Kerik. [Applause]
The determination, resolve, and leadership of President George
W. Bush has unified America and all decent men and women around
The response of many of your nations - your leaders and people
- spontaneously demonstrating in the days after the attack your
support for New York and America, and your understanding of what
needs to be done to remove the threat of terrorism, gives us great,
great hope that we will prevail.
The strength of America's response, please understand, flows
from the principles upon which we stand.
Americans are not a single ethnic group.
Americans are not of one race or one religion.
Americans emerge from all your nations.
We are defined as Americans by our beliefs - not by our ethnic
origins, our race or our religion. Our beliefs in religious freedom,
political freedom, and economic freedom - that's what makes an
American. Our belief in democracy, the rule of law, and respect
for human life - that's how you become an American. It is these
very principles - and the opportunities these principles give
to so many to create a better life for themselves and their families
- that make America, and New York, a "shining city on a hill."
There is no nation, and no City, in the history of the world
that has seen more immigrants, in less time, than America. People
continue to come here in large numbers to seek freedom, opportunity,
decency, and civility.
Each of your nations - I am certain - has contributed citizens
to the United States and to New York. I believe I can take every
one of you someplace in New York City, where you can find someone
from your country, someone from your village or town, that speaks
your language and practices your religion. In each of your lands
there are many who are Americans in spirit, by virtue of their
commitment to our shared principles.
It is tragic and perverse that it is because of these very principles
- particularly our religious, political and economic freedoms
- that we find ourselves under attack by terrorists.
Our freedom threatens them, because they know that if our ideas
of freedom gain a foothold among their people it will destroy
their power. So they strike out against us to keep those ideas
from reaching their people.
The best long-term deterrent to terrorism - obviously - is the
spread of our principles of freedom, democracy, the rule of law,
and respect for human life. The more that spreads around the globe,
the safer we will all be. These are very powerful ideas and once
they gain a foothold, they cannot be stopped.
In fact, the rise that we have seen in terrorism and terrorist
groups, I believe, is in no small measure a response to the spread
of these ideas of freedom and democracy to many nations, particularly
over the past 15 years.
The terrorists have no ideas or ideals with which to combat freedom
and democracy. So their only defense is to strike out against
innocent civilians, destroying human life in massive numbers and
hoping to deter all of us from our pursuit and expansion of freedom.
But the long-term deterrent of spreading our ideals throughout
the world is just not enough, and may never be realized, if we
do not act - and act together - to remove the clear and present
danger posed by terrorism and terrorists.
The United Nations must hold accountable any country that supports
or condones terrorism, otherwise you will fail in your primary
mission as peacekeeper.
It must ostracize any nation that supports terrorism.
It must isolate any nation that remains neutral in the fight
Now is the time, in the words of the UN Charter, "to unite
our strength to maintain international peace and security."
This is not a time for further study or vague directives. The
evidence of terrorism's brutality and inhumanity - of its contempt
for life and the concept of peace - is lying beneath the rubble
of the World Trade Center less than two miles from where we meet
Look at that destruction, that massive, senseless, cruel loss
of human life
and then I ask you to look in your hearts and
recognize that there is no room for neutrality on the issue of
terrorism. You're either with civilization or with terrorists.
On one side is democracy, the rule of law, and respect for human
life; on the other is tyranny, arbitrary executions, and mass
We're right and they're wrong. It's as simple as that.
And by that I mean that America and its allies are right about
democracy, about religious, political, and economic freedom.
The terrorists are wrong, and in fact evil, in their mass destruction
of human life in the name of addressing alleged injustices.
Let those who say that we must understand the reasons for terrorism
come with me to the thousands of funerals we are having in New
York City and explain those insane, maniacal reasons to the children
who will grow up without fathers and mothers, to the parents who
have had their children ripped from them for no reason at all.
Instead, I ask each of you to allow me to say at those funerals
that your nation stands with America in making a solemn promise
and pledge that we will achieve unconditional victory over terrorism
There is no excuse for mass murder, just as there is no excuse
for genocide. Those who practice terrorism - murdering or victimizing
innocent civilians - lose any right to have their cause understood
by decent people and lawful nations.
On this issue - terrorism - the United Nations must draw a line.
The era of moral relativism between those who practice or condone
terrorism, and those nations who stand up against it, must end.
Moral relativism does not have a place in this discussion and
There is no moral way to sympathize with grossly immoral actions.
And by trying to do that, unfortunately, a fertile field has been
created in which terrorism has grown.
The best and most practical way to promote peace is to stand
up to terror and intimidation. The Security Council's unanimous
passage of Resolution 1373, adopting wide ranging anti-terrorism
measures in the international community is a very good first step.
It's necessary to establish accountability for the subsidizing
As a former United States Attorney, I am particularly encouraged
that the UN has answered President Bush's call to cut terrorists
off from their money and their funding. It's enormously important.
We've done that successfully with organized crime groups in America.
By taking away their ability to mass large amounts of money, you
take away their ability to have others carry on their functioning
for them, even if they are removed, arrested, prosecuted, or eliminated
through war or through law enforcement. It cuts off the life-blood
of the organization. So I believe this is a very good first step.
But now it's up to the member states to enforce this and other
aspects of the resolution, and for the United Nations to enforce
these new mechanisms to take the financial base away from the
terrorists. Take away their money, take away their access to money,
and you reduce their ability to carry out complex missions.
Each of you is sitting in this room because of your country's
commitment to being part of the family of nations.
We need to unite as a family as never before - across all our
differences, in recognition of the fact that the United Nations
stands for the proposition that human beings we have more in common
than divides us.
If you need to be reminded of this, you don't need to look very
far. Just go outside for a walk in the streets and parks of New
York City. You can't walk a block in New York City without seeing
somebody that looks different than you, acts different than you,
talks different than you, believes different than you. If you
grow up in New York City, you learn that. And if you're an intelligent
or decent person, you learn that all those differences are nothing
in comparison to the things that unite us.
We are a City of immigrants - unlike any other City - within
a nation of immigrants. Like the victims of the World Trade Center
attack, we are of every race, religion, and ethnicity. Our diversity
has always been our greatest source of strength. It's the thing
that renews us and revives us in every generation - our openness
to new people from all over the world.
So from the first day of this attack, an attack on New York and
America, and I believe an attack on the basic principles that
underlie this organization, I have told the people of New York
that we should not allow this to divide us, because then we would
really lose what this City is all about. We have very strong and
vibrant Arab and Muslim communities in New York City. They are
an equally important part of the life of our City. We respect
their religious beliefs. We respect everybody's religious beliefs
- that's what America's about, that's what New York City is about.
I have urged New Yorkers not to engage in any form of group blame
or group hatred. This is exactly the evil that we are confronting
with these terrorists. And if we are going to prevail over terror,
our ideals, principles, and values must transcend all forms of
prejudice. This is a very important part of the struggle against
This is not a dispute between religions or ethnic groups. All
religions, all decent people, are united in their desire to achieve
peace, and understand that we have to eliminate terrorism. We're
not divided about this.
There have been many days in New York when I was running for
Mayor, and then since I've been Mayor, when I would have a weekend
in which I would go to a mosque on Friday, and a synagogue on
Saturday, and a church - sometimes two churches - on a Sunday.
And by the time I finished, I would say to myself, 'I know that
we're through to God.' We're talking to him in every language
that He understands, we're using every liturgy that exists, and
I know that we getting through to the same God, even though we
may be doing it in slightly different ways. God is known by many
different names and many different traditions, but identified
by one consistent feeling, love. Love for humanity, particularly
love for our children. Love does eventually conquer hate, but
it needs our help. Good intentions alone are not enough to conquer
Remember British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, who - armed
only with good intentions - negotiated with the Nazis and emerged
hopeful that he had achieved peace in his time. Hitler's wave
of terror was only encouraged by these attempts at appeasement.
At the cost of millions of lives, we learned that words - though
important - are not enough to guarantee peace. It is action alone
For the UN, and individual nations, decisive action is needed
to stop terrorism from ever orphaning another child.
That's for nations. For individuals, the most effective course
of action they can take to aid our recovery is to be determined
to go ahead with their lives. We can't let terrorists change the
way we live - otherwise they will have succeeded.
In some ways, the resilience of life in New York City is the
ultimate sign of defiance to terrorism. We call ourselves the
Capital of the World in large part because we are the most diverse
City in the world, home to the United Nations. The spirit of unity
amid all our diversity has never been stronger.
On Saturday Night I walked through Times Square, it was crowded,
it was bright, it was lively. Thousands of people were visiting
from all parts of the United States and all parts of the world.
And many of them came up to me and shook my hand and patted me
on the back and said, "We're here because we want to show
our support for the City of New York." And that's why there
has never been a better time to come to New York City.
I say to people across the country and around the world: if you
were planning to come to New York sometime in the future, come
here now. Come to enjoy our thousands of restaurants, museums,
theaters, sporting events, and shopping...but also come to take
a stand against terrorism.
We need to heed the words of a hymn that I, and the Police Commissioner,
and the Fire Commissioner, have heard at the many funerals and
memorial services that we've gone to in the last two weeks. The
hymn begins, "Be Not Afraid."
Freedom from Fear is a basic human right. We need to reassert
our right to live free from fear with greater confidence and determination
than ever before
here in New York City
around the World. With one clear voice, unanimously, we need to
say that we will not give in to terrorism.
Surrounded by our friends of every faith, we know that this is
not a clash of civilizations; it is a conflict between murderers
This is not a question of retaliation or revenge. It is a matter
of justice leading to peace. The only acceptable result is the
complete and total eradication of terrorism.
New Yorkers are strong and resilient. We are unified. And we
will not yield to terror. We do not let fear make our decisions
We choose to live in freedom.
Thank you, and God bless you.