By Albert Samaha
By Darwin BondGraham
By Keegan Hamilton
By Anna Merlan
By Anna Merlan
By Tessa Stuart
By Tessa Stuart
By Albert Samaha
This week's letters section is devoted entirely to mail about the terrorist acts of September 11, which occurred just as the last issue of the Voice was preparing to go to press. The cover of the Voice was changed to a photo of the World Trade Center towers engulfed in smoke and flames, and a last-minute article by Alisa Solomon was included. The letters below respond to Solomon's article and also to several early pieces posted on the Voice Web site by James Ridgeway, Erik Baard, and Laura Conaway. Some of these articles have since been updated.
A DAY OF RECKONING
The Voicehas done a public service by publishing Alisa Solomon's article "Terror Attack" [September 18]. What she describes about New York's tragic and horrible terrorist events is akin to the daily terror one encounters in Israel. Today, no American journalist hesitates to refer to "terrorists" as the cause of this tragedy. But when similar violence occurs in Israel, many mediaespecially CNN and BBCrefer to "militants." Perhaps Americans have learned a valuable, albeit costly and tragic, lesson about the "peaceful intentions" of the Palestinians and their supporters.
I understand Alisa Solomon's fear and outrage at the attack on the United States. Her implicit indictment of the Palestinians, however, is uninformed and ultimately saddens my heart. If we fall into equating this violence with the suicide bombers in Israel, we must be fair and note that Palestinians also live in "perpetual anxiety." The only way we can rise above this violence in our country is to absorb its profundity and refrain from lashing out. In fact, such terror is what the Palestinians have lived with under the Israeli government since 1948.
Having lived in New York back in 1975, I knew that I could find a human touch at the Voice. Thanks for Alisa Solomon's article.
HEADLINES AND DEADLINES
I found "Terror Attack" to be extremely biased and sensational. And to title a Voice cover of this magnitude "The Bastards!"? That and Solomon's use of a witness's gory description show little sensitivity to this tragedy.
Erik Baard's article "Arabs of New York" raised some pressing questions for me. I am a well-educated, bleeding-heart liberal and still, even I have extreme feelings of prejudice right now. I understand there are probably loads of Muslims here who are appalled at what happened. But I wonder how many of them out there are secretly or overtly pleased with the September 11 attacks?
I'm just confusedand I question whether Muslims in this city will be safe from those whose emotions are not as tempered as mine.
PRAYER FOR PEACE
Although I can understand the grief and pain of the American people, please show the world that you are wiser than those who organized this terror. May there be no war that will certainly kill even more innocent people than were killed on September 11. I cry and pray for you and those who committed this crime.
CALL FOR HELP
Why did the terrorists select 9-11-01 as the date of their attack? The obvious answer is 9-1-1! The crew who pulled off this far too efficient maneuver had a sense of the American telephone system.
The sick irony with which this plot has been soaked is far too close to the bone to be completely foreign. The attacks took place with all the calculation of a contrived screenplay, only this time there was no John McClane from Die Hard to stop the planes from crashing by crying, "Yippee kiyee motherfucker."
Laura Conaway's "The Wailing Wall" on New Yorkers looking for their loved ones may be the most moving of all the articles I have read on the tragedy.
A LOAD OF KABUL
I was wondering how long it would take for some bonehead to start criticizing President Bush, even in the middle of the worst domestic crisis this country has ever experienced. Someone should point out to James Ridgeway ["Team Bush Swamped by Crisis"] that the Secret Service was responsible for Bush's "scurrying around the country in a transparent attempt to keep from being killed by terrorists."
Ridgeway just doesn't get it: There's no room for petty partisanship during a time of war. The object is to unify against a common enemy, and Bush is not the enemy. Terrorism is. If Ridgeway doubts that, perhaps he'd be happier in Afghanistan.
MISSING IN ACTION
Jim Ridgeway's Web article on President Bush was absolutely right. I was amazed by the disingenuousness of the press reporting that the Secret Service wouldn't let him go to Washington. The country needed to see the president, and he hightailed it to Louisiana and Nebraska. The danger was past and he didn't race home.
Then, when it came time to speak out, we got this "We are a beacon of light" speech. For the entire day there wasn't a sign of his administration anywhere, except in the form of contrails heading west. We saw Ronald Reagan's former secretary of state, George Stephanapoulos, and even Tom Clancy, but we didn't see Bush Jr., Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, or Donald Rumsfeld. Where the hell were these guys?
THE COST OF LOSS
I find Jim Ridgeway's assertion that these terrorist attacks could perhaps have been preventable simplistic. How, exactly? How much would that have cost? In an overtly capitalistic society, whose job should it really be to protect the clients of publicly held corporations such as airlines?
As for the Pentagon, how could the nation have ensured absolute impenetrability of such a facility, especially when its history has been nearly devoid of large-scale terrorism? If such untold government expenditure were in place (and no disaster had occurred on either front), the outcry about the "wasted billions" would have been shrill. Now we see how grisly it is to even think of money over human life.
PEACE BY PEACE
The terrorists could have done it this way the first time in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Clinton got the message. Bush has not. It's not a coincidence that there were no terrorist attacks on American soil when the Mideast peace process was in full swing.
It's nice to see that in this time of grave crisis and national danger, with thousands dead and maimed, James Ridgeway has not lost sight of what is truly importantattacking Bush. I can only salute his bold refusal to be swayed by the press of events, the horror of the moment, and the demands of fact. He marches forward with the clarity of his vision: Bush must and shall be maligned! If the slaughter of thousands of innocents must be used to this end, let not "propriety" or "taste" or "truth" sway us from it.
TIT FOR TAT
I've been in New York City nine times in recent years. I love the city. I hope the families of the victims get all the help they need and that your government finds the right answer. Certainly it is necessary to judge the guilty partiesbut it's equally necessary to find political solutions for political problems.
The recent terrorist attacks are the price we pay for ignoring the wisdom of the founders of this country as expressed by Thomas Jefferson: "Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliance with none." The international hegemony of the United States federal government has been irritating people throughout the world for decades. End all subsidies, particularly foreign aid, terminate all treaties, terminate the CIA, and end all trade restrictions except for military technology developed with federal funding. Stop making enemies and we won't have to worry about terrorism.
The Oklahoma bombing was initially blamed on Arab fanatics, but turned out to be the work of American fanatics. I hope fervently that these attacks don't cause anyone to be prejudiced against people because of the color of their skin, their accent, or where they come from. We don't know who did thiscould be some mad Serbians, mad Arabs, mad Communists, who knows? If the West is to be respected as a land of freedom and rights, we can't start treating people badly because they resemble some criminals. My condolences to those who suffered on that tragic day.
THE PLUCK OF THE IRISH
I am one of millions of concerned persons around the world wanting to reach out and exclaim I am sorry, I am so sorry, can I help. Like many people in Northern Ireland who are not caught up in perpetuating bigotry and terrorist ideology, I want to see the end of terrorism. You are in my thoughts. I am mourning your family and your friends. I send you my love; it's yours for months and years to come.
L'ESPRIT DE LA VILLE
I would like to extend my deepest sympathy to all New Yorkers. I was on my way to becoming a Manhattan resident when the attack occurred. My flight was booked for Friday, and I was to have moved into my apartment last Sunday. These plans have been postponed, but the events of September 11 have not deterred me.
The twin towers may no longer punctuate the skyline, but the spirit of the city will always draw progressive, imaginative, and open people toward it.
CHANGING OF THE GUARD
I am a British journalist and often in New York City. Like many Brits, I have family in the U.S. My daughter-in-law is American and my two young grandchildren have dual U.S./British citizenship.
I feel compelled to tell you of my sympathy for all those injured and for those who lost loved ones in the terrible attacks. I hope there will be no rush to judgment, but that when it is positively known exactly who perpetrated those atrocities, retribution will be total and devastating.
Sometimes you have to fight back. Do it now and do it hard. Until September 11 I was ardently opposed to the death penalty. Now I'm no longer so sure.
Martyn Richard Warwick
FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE
I send my condolences for what's happened. In Moscow we have experienced several terrorist attacks. I know what it's like to be a hostage of circumstances. I don't understand the people who are trying to attain their goals at the expense of innocent people. I am shocked at the news and photos. I would not wish this to happen even to my worst enemy. God bless you.
Igor V. Shumov
To all New Yorkers: We love every one of you, from CEOs to dumpster divers. You always show the world what citizenship is about. May God bless all of you. Canadians are your best friends. We will always be there for you.