Thoughts and Reflections on Harry Fisher                     

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Letter from Berlin to New York, September 2001

From: Victor Grossman
Date: Sept 2001


LETTER FROM BERLIN TO NEW YORK Although you were not directly at the central scene your descriptions of New York on September 11th were indeed great; moving and more dramatic than most of what one reads, hears or sees. Thank you! Here in Berlin we watched the events live on TV almost from the start and were, as everyone else, overwhelmed by what we saw. I did not answer sooner in part because I have been Emailing everyone I know in the Boston, NY or DC areas, just checking on their survival, etc. (as I guess everyone else has been doing), but also because it all has to sink in a bit, and be thought over. Deeply tragic as this has been for all those directly hit, and traumatic as it has been for the USA and the world (a huge crowd gathered at Brandenburg Gate the other night to hear speeches and very movingly, "Amazing Grace" sung by Leontyne Price) my feelings are still extremely mixed and very depressed. Somehow I cannot watch those terrible crashes and all that followed without thinking back to the past and trying to recollect. How much outcry was there 28 years ago (to the day) when Allende was overthrown and thousands imprisoned, horribly tortured and murdered (with the assistance if not direction by Henry Kissinger and the CIA)? How many mourned on Christmas Eve in 1974 when the hospital in Hanoi was bombed to ruins? Or when that bunker full of women and children in Baghdad was destroyed by bombers and missiles from soldiers who were high or far enough to be completely safe? And what about the TV tower in Belgrade, bombed deliberately though it was known to be inhabited? Or the maternity wards, the bridge filled with market-goers, the train and the bus in Serbia (to mention a few)? Of course there were always explanations, rationalizations and fine words like "collateral damage", but I can not forget the triumphant grins of a press speaker named Shea. Who has protested at the ongoing bombing of Iraq, from so high up that no-one is endangered - except civilians on the ground? Or the calculated destruction of the water system there and the death of a half million children in the ten years since? There are too many examples, even without returning to the greatest horrors, Hiroshima and Nagasaki (not to mention Dresden). They were all very necessary, of course, often for "hitting back" words possibly used by the fanatics who crashed those airplanes in New York and Washington. All these pictures return to my mind's eye when I see those terrible video scenes of September 11th. I must weep for all of the earlier deaths as well, for they all involved innocents, killed without real reason or human regard, and often enough without mourning. Was the only real difference that - they were not Americans? I should also add the Palestinians being bulldozed out of their homes, starved without work, jobs, hope or often drinking water in the Gaza and West Bank areas, and now subjected to one helicopter or tank or artillery attack after another. Yes, the Jewish Israelis as well, who die as a result of the almost systematically produced desperation. But how many mourn when Arab women, babies and children are killed and buildings blasted? None of these bitter recollections diminish the feeling of tragic loss and grief for the innocent victims in New York (I'm not so sure of the innocence of everyone in the Pentagon like those who have spoken almost enthusiastically in past months and years of coming wars). But then when I see what purposes are being pursued by Bush, Powell, Rumsfield and the rest: bowing their heads and using dubious patriotic and religious phrases phony patriotism while utilizing the inevitable (but clearly encouraged) desire for revenge to establish themselves even more strongly as kings of the universe, with their threatening pressures on other governments, their plans for even more rearmament than ever before (including their mad space war projects) and preparing for war, Against whom? They don't even know if bin Laden was really involved but are seemingly planning to smash at Afghanistan, as if that country had not been ruined enough, thanks to no small degree to US and Saudi backing of these same fanatic, feudal and bloodthirsty types like bin Laden and Taleban, who, after accomplishing their expected task of throwing the Soviets out (and with them the first attempts in Afghan history to give girls, women and the poorest peasants a chance) later turned to strike out with terror against new enemies -Algerian peasants, tourists in Egypt, presumed Balkan foes - and now, finally, against their own former supporters and suppliers in the Pentagon (and not quite so directly, the WTC). And now the new lynching atmosphere, most primitively against Muslims and Arabs (or anyone vaguely resembling them) but basically against any and all opposition - not only in the USA! All this worries me and increases my own mourning for those poor five thousand secretaries, business people, cleaning people, elevator operators, firemen and all the rest in the WTC towers. I fear we are in for tough times in this unipolar world. There seems no choice but to continue opposing injustice and, above all, war. Some sane voices are being lifted in this regard. Even President Rau , unlike Schroeder, warned against hasty and rash steps. Praise be for all those with the courage and strength. It may take guts! Victor Grossman, Berlin

Last changed: 05/01/03