Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Dear Josef,

Keeping an open dialog is a good way to arrive at solutions. By all means take care of the pressing issues for you and then give the issues I raised the time they deserve.

There seemed to be only one question in your email, the others were accusations with question marks after them. In the interest of civil discourse I will turn them into questions:

Q 1: Do you defend the Palestinian terrorists?
A: No.

Q 2: Do you justify what Osama bin Laden has done?
A: No.

Q 3: What, you deny 11 September was anything less than an atrocity?
A: No, it was an atrocity. Thank God it was not worse, which is what I was expecting. I was familiar with the background and of course only someone ignorant of recent history did not know about the 1993 attack. I remember in the years leading up to 2001 I thought about how we would get attacked again. I remember telling an Israeli I was friendly with that the US was going to get hit and it could be big. He said he knew and his Jewish friend agreed. I had been fearing a nuclear bomb the size of the "nuclear suitcases" would be set off in downtown Manhattan, the direction my window faced (I could see the downtown sky from my courtyard level window but not any of the buildings.) Sometimes I thought about how a white light could fill my room extremely rapidly and then it would be over. I was in my apartment on 8th street when the attack happened but I didn't know it had happened since I was asleep at that time in the morning. I awoke to my sister calling to me urgently through the answering machine telling me to wake up. I got on the phone and she blurted out that the World Trade Center had been destroyed. She worked downtown and was one of the many people running scared across the Brooklyn Bridge crying. The instant she told me the WTC had been destroyed, I knew what it was about. Another attack that I had been dreading had happened and I knew why. I went outside and walked to the corner to see that where the Twin Towers once stood they no longer did. My sister had told me two planes had crashed into them so I also knew how it happened.

You can't make the claim that justice is served when you kill and injure innocent civilians. I think you should agree that terrorism is unjust and by definition that it is not justified. Some people don't apply this rule universally. Some make the claim that terrorism can be sometimes justified, I say that justice is not served when innocents are killed or injured.

This isn't the first terrorist attack on Americans. In 1831, Nat Turner and his fellow terrorists killed some 60 white people. The terrorist attacks involved killing men, women and children. According to one account I read that was written at the time, all the victims were decapitated. Other accounts don't mention this but do detail horrific acts such as the insurrectionists knocking the brains out of the white children's heads. We can see that this is another case of two wrongs. What Nat Turner and his followers did was wrong and so too was slavery. Not a difficult concept really. Interestingly, this point did not register with the newspaper man I mentioned. I sent him an email in which I explicitly stated that what Nat Turner did was wrong and yet his next response to me accused me of thinking Nat Turner's terrorism was justified! Apparently it is extremely difficult for some people to get out of certain ways of thinking. I did not find him particularly sympathetic to the plight of the slaves and I personally think that accounted for his view. He clearly had a chip on his shoulder and was eager to pigeon hole me as someone that thought Nat Turner's actions were justified. A woman that I mentioned the 1831 attack to and who I found to be very sympathetic to the plight of the slaves could not accept my characterization of Nat Turner's acts as terrorism. She was outraged that I called Nat Turner and his followers "terrorists." And by the way, Patriotic Americans reacted in a rather piss-poor fashion to the terrorist outrages of 1831 too.

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