Russell Coker & Debian: September 11 Islamist sympathy

One of the more unusual discussions on the debian-private (leaked) gossip network are the numerous flame wars that errupted after the September 11 attacks in New York and the Pentagon.

Some developers wanted to express sympathy, others wanted to condemn and some even demanded revenge.

At a high level, this is the type of discussion that thought police have sought to banish by carpet-bombing free software organizations with codes of conduct/obedience. Today we will sneak into the time machine and listen to the forbidden music.

At the time Russell Coker sent the email about Palestine, news reports were telling us about Palestinians celebrating the attacks. Was Coker inspired by that or was his email a mere coincidence? The controversial video is available here.

The attacks were on the morning of 11 September. The news report appears at 10:13am. A fake news check asserts it was both filmed and broadcast on 11 September. Coker sent his email with references to Palestine the following day, 12 September. At least some people claim the celebrations were real and took offense at this.

Anybody writing a message like this today would be expelled/banned/censored immediately by the thought police.

Subject: Re: Comdemn or sympathize?
Date: Wed, 12 Sep 2001 11:08:01 +0200
From: Russell Coker <>
Reply-To: Russell Coker <>
To: Nils Lohner <>,

On Wed, 12 Sep 2001 09:29, Nils Lohner wrote:
> The discussion regarding condemning the bombing have two sides, people
> for and people against.  But the sentiments are the same, here's why:
> Sympathy means 'inclination to think or feel alike : emotional or
> intellectual accord'.  This I think we all feel, and this I think is
> fine to express by having the debian pages black for a day or so to
> express our sympathy.  This is NOT a political statement.  I would like
> Debian to express sympathy.

Fine, then let's also express sympathy for people on the other side.  Palestinean police officers killed or injured in attacks on police buildings, Columbian cocoa farmers who are getting royally screwed by the US government intervention (if they are to stop producing cocoa they should be protected from attack by the drug barons), Iraqi civilians who suffer from lack of food and medical treatment due to ongoing US bombing raids against their country, etc.

I oppose expressing sympathy for only one side in a conflict, I believe that would have to be considered a political act.

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Video allegedly shows Palestinians dancing in the streets

Russell Coker speaking about NSA Security Enhanced Linux at Linux.Conf.Au 2022

Russell Coker, Debian, Linux, SE, NSA

2001-09-11 scenes from New York City

September 11, plane September 11, firefighters