Re: An open letter to America

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Posted by Tony Zango from ( on Wednesday, September 11, 2002 at 7:35PM :

In Reply to: An open letter to America posted by andreas from ( on Wednesday, September 11, 2002 at 1:29PM :

Greed devour People and Nations.

When we put End to Greed we will End Misery and Devastation.


: An open letter to America

: You gave me, an americano from the Latino South, this language of love that
: I return to you

: Ariel Dorfman
: Sunday September 8, 2002
: The Observer


: Let me tell you, America, of the hopes I had for you.
: As the smoke was swallowing Manhattan and the buildings fell and the terror
: spread into the farthest recesses of your land and your hearts, my hopes
: for you, America.

: While around the world many of the past victims of your own terror, your
: own attacks, were thinking and often saying, saying and more often
: thinking, they deserve it, serves them right, it's about time they knew
: what it's like to be on the receiving end. Not true, I thought, I said.
: Nobody deserves terror. Justice. What we deserve, all of us, is some
: measure of justice.

: My hopes for America: not that this was good for you. No, not that. But I
: have seen suffering before, I have seen widows wandering remote streets
: with the photos of their loved ones asking if anybody knows if they are
: alive or dead, I have watched men and women and even countries turn their
: deepest sorrows into a source of strength, a form of self-knowledge, a
: chance to grow.

: A chance to grow, America, that was my hope.

: Loss turned into maturity.

: A chance to understand. Not alone, America, not alone in your grief. A
: perpetual valley of terror, that is what most of humanity is born into day
: after faraway day. Ignoring if tomorrow we will once again be assaulted and
: bombed, humiliated and tormented. America suddenly living what almost
: everyone else on this planet has experienced at some point yesterday or
: today: the precarious pit of everyday fear.

: My hope for America: empathy, compassion, the capacity to imagine that you
: are not unique. Yes, America, if this dreadful destruction were only to
: teach you that your citizens and your dead are not the only ones who matter
: on this planet, if that experience were to lead you to wage a resolute war
: on the multi ple terrors that haunt our already murderous new century.

: An awakening, America.

: Not to be. What did not happen.

: Your country, hijacked. Your panic, used to take you on a journey of
: violence from which it is hard to return, the men at the controls not
: worried about crashing America into the world.

: But not just the fault of the men who misgovern you.

: They can only do what you have allowed them, responding, those men, to some
: of your deepest desires.

: Above all, this: to be innocent again, to feel good about yourselves, after
: Vietnam. Vietnam? That country you turned into a mass graveyard?

: Innocence, handed back to you, America, on 11 September 2001. A terrible
: price to pay, but there it is. Those atrocities, that devastation, finally
: making you all into victims. No ifs, no buts, no listening to the
: naysayers, no patience for those who suggest you look at your own history,
: your own interventions across the globe, to understand why so many out
: there in the crazed world might detest you. No more self-doubt, America.

: Beware the plague of victimhood, America.

: The finger I point at you, pointed back at my own self. I know that thrill,
: I have sweetly sucked it in, I have felt the surge of self-righteousness
: that comes from being unfairly hurt. Anything we do, justified. Any
: criticism against us, dismissed.

: Beware the plague of fear and rage, America.

: Nothing more dangerous: a giant who is afraid. Projecting power and terror
: so the demons within and without will not devour him, so the traumas of the
: past will not repeat themselves.

: Beware the plague of amnesia, America.

: Or have you forgotten Chile? Not just a name. Chile? Democratic Chile?
: Demonized, destabilised by your government in 1973? Chile? That country
: misruled for 17 years by a dictator you helped to install?

: And other countries, other names. Iran, Nicaragua, the Congo, Indonesia,
: South Africa, Laos, Guatemala. Just names? Just footnotes in history books,
: your creatures?

: But I do not speak to you only from afar.

: How could I not wish you well? You gave me, an americano from the Latino
: South, this language of love that I return to you. You gave me the hot
: summer afternoons of my childhood in Queens when my starkest choice was
: whether to buy a Popsicle from the Good Humor Man or the fat driver of the
: Bungalow Bar truck. And then back to calculating Jackie Robinson's batting
: average. How could I not wish you well? You gave me refuge when I was
: barely a toddler, my family fleeing the fascist thugs in Argentina in the
: mid-Forties. One of you then. Still one of you now. How could I not wish
: you well? Years later, again it was to America I came with my own family,
: an exile from the Chile of Pinochet you helped to spawn into existence on
: precisely an 11 September, another Tuesday of doom. And yet, still wishing
: you well, America: you offered me the freedom to speak out that I did not
: have in Santiago, you gave me the opportunity to write and teach, you gave
: me a gringa grand-daughter, how could I not love the house she lives in?

: Where is that America of mine? Where is that other America? Where is the
: America of 'as I would not be a slave so would I not be a master', the
: America of this 'land is our land this land was meant for you and me', the
: America of all men, and all women, everyone of us on this ravaged, glorious
: earth of ours, all of us, created equal? Created equal: one baby in
: Afghanistan or Iraq as sacred as one baby in Minneapolis. Where is my
: America? The America that taught me tolerance of every race and every
: religion, that filled me with pioneer energy, that is generous to a fault
: when catastrophes strike?

: So was I wrong?

: When I hoped you would rise to the challenge as death visited you from the
: sky? When I believed America the just, the rebellious, the unselfish, was
: still alive? Not entirely spoiled by excessive wealth? With the courage to
: conquer its fear?

: America learning the lesson of Vietnam.

: Vietnam. More, many more than 3,000 dead. More, many more, than two cities
: bombed. More, more, more than one day of terror.

: And yet, they do not hate you, America.

: The enduring lesson of Vietnam. Not, next time obliterate the enemy. Not,
: next time satanise those who dissent.

: What the Vietnamese are whispering to you: they remember and yet they do
: not hate. Not that easy, America, to forgive the pain. Or can you forget
: your own 11 September that easily?

: Not that easy, America.

: To grow.

: Or was I wrong? Have I become contaminated myself with your innocence,
: lived too long among you? Do you need 50,000 body bags coming home before
: you start to listen to your own voices of peace and dissent?

: Am I wrong to believe that the country that gave the world jazz and
: Faulkner and Eleanor Roosevelt will be able to look at itself in the
: cracked mirror of history and join the rest of humanity, not as a city on a
: separate hill, but as one more city in the shining valleys of sorrow and
: uncertainty and hope where we all dwell?

: Ariel Dorfman has just published Exorcising Terror: The Incredible
: Unending Trial of General Augusto Pinochet (Seven Stories Press) and a book
: of poems, In Case of Fire in a Foreign Land (Duke University Press). This
: article will also appear in the next issue of the US magazine, The Nation.

-- Tony Zango
-- signature .

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