Backlash

At the outset of Another World Is Possible, editor Jee Kim warns readers that "[t]here are things in this anthology you won't like." In fact, the book makes appallingly clear that September 11 generated a host of new cruelties: a racist backlash against Americans presumed to be of Middle Eastern descent, the bombing of an already decimated country, and the denial of emergency relief funds to undocumented immigrants who lost jobs or loved ones in the terrorist attacks. Another World Is Possibleamplifies these and other issues muffled by the mainstream media. Six twentysomething editors culled the collection of articles and essays, lacing them with quotes, poems, and e-mails. The book is published by hip-hop activist and author William "Upski" Wimsatt (and, coincidentally, shares its name with the coalition that is organizing the February 2 protest against the World Economic Forum).

Some voices in the anthology are well known: Angela Davis, Deepak Chopra, Barbara Kingsolver. In "The Theatre of Good and Evil" essayist Eduardo Galeano catalogs American hypocrisy, linking U.S. foreign policy to terrorism in its devaluation of human life. He points out that if, as Henry Kissinger said, "Those who provide support, financing, and inspiration to terrorists are as guilty as the terrorists themselves," then, reasons Galeano waggishly, it follows that "the urgent need right now is to bomb Kissinger." (Many scholars and journalists consider Kissinger responsible for murderous American incursions into Chile, East Timor, and Bangladesh.)

But of the book's cacophonous voices, the lesser-known ones—those of community organizers, artists, and widows—speak the loudest. An interview with college student Jordan Schuster details how he helped transform mass grief into public art and a cry for peace at the Union Square vigil. Writer and activist Jeff Chang describes in disturbing detail a vicious, unprovoked attack on a Bangladeshi American postal worker, opening a dialogue on hate crimes.

While initiating conversation is what the editors aim to do, they would also be content to convert you into a peace activist. (They have donated the book to peace groups for use as an organizing tool.) Contributors urge you to get off your duff and join a community organization, support the formation of a U.S. Truth Commission, or develop rhetoric-free and nuanced arguments for peace. But above all, they hope you'll venture out into the world, and as one college activist proposes, "learn that you don't know shit."


Also in This Week’s Books Section:

Joy Press on The Siege by Helen Dunmore and My Happy Life by Lydia Millet

Miles Marshall Lewis on The Dark Knight Strikes Again by Frank Miller

 
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