R. Hell Site Forum Message

Response to "Shocked and Horrified"

Posted by:Jonathan Harrington (‘JHarrington@cahners.com’)
Posted on: 20 Nov 2001
A RESPONSE TO DR. LARRY MOSQUEDA, PhD; Evergreen State College

[the Mosqueda article being responded to is on the site at www.richardhell.com/mosqueda.html].

From: Jonathan Harrington
Poet and Novelist, Manhattan
October 5, 2001

Dr. Mosqueda—

I read with interest your statement, ”Shocked and Horrified.” I was an eyewitness to the attack on the World Trade Center and am still dealing with, as people throughout the world have had to deal with, the emotional and mental consequences of witnessing such a horrific event. First let me assure you that your opinions have not been “eliminated from the public discourse.” They are very much a part of the public discourse as evidenced by my reading of your work and my responding to it. This IS public discourse, and I’m grateful for it. Our papers and magazines in New York have published items similar to yours ever since September 11.

I share your shock and horror at the atrocities committed by our government. To your credit, you admit that “The above list is by no means complete or comprehensive.” Indeed it is not. I’m curious about why you were shocked and horrified in 1991 (as I was) when Bush attacked Baghdad, but you fail to register your shock or horror in 1988 when thousands of Muslim Kurds were gassed by Saddam Hussein creating 2 million refugees? Is this an oversight on your part?

You also mention Vietnam, a war I opposed then. Yet you again register no shock or horror at the deaths of up to 2 million persons in Cambodia at the hands of the Khmer Rouge during the 1975-79 period. That, too, can be attributed to US foreign policy since we withdrew from Southeast Asia and allowed the Khmer Rouge to carry out its bloody campaign.

How can I convince you that I am every bit as outraged by brutality as you are, perhaps even more so since I was an eyewitness to the murder of perhaps 8,000 people? I did not want to witness this slaughter and I wish I never had. It’s the selective nature of your “shock and horror” that, frankly, shocks and horrifies me.

The list of horrors committed throughout history goes well beyond your catalog. Why did you not mention the 6 million Jews murdered by Hitler? Why not mention the persecution, repression, incarceration in concentration camps and deaths of gay people under Fidel Castro?

What is it about the nature of these crimes that eludes your condemnation?

You were horrified “by U.S. military and CIA action in…Yugoslavia…” but apparently not horrified (or were you? explain, please) by the atrocities, mass rapes, mass murder, and ethnic cleansing carried out under Milosevic.

What about Timothy McVeigh? Like many of the other criminals you cite, he too had “significant training in logistics, armaments, and military training” by the US. He then murdered 168 people in Oklahoma City because of his belief that the American government is corrupt, criminal, and homicidal. Did he have “real grievances”? You’ve made it clear that you, too, consider the American government “corrupt, criminal, and homicidal.” Did McVeigh’s actions move you to “put them in a context and suggest an explanation.” Should the loved ones of McVeigh’s victims be examining "the seeds, the roots" of his murder and terror? Should they be questioning their own culpability in the deaths of their loved ones the way you have asked us who are wounded and burying our dead to examine how we brought this on ourselves?

Now the obvious oversight. Why do you NOT mention that the Taliban in Afghanistan regularly stages public executions of women who committed such offenses as going out in public without a male escort or prostitution; that homosexuals have brick walls pushed over on them and are crushed. Thieves have their hands cut off or their feet cut off. Do these documented atrocities not elicit your “shock and horror”? If they do, why do you fail to mention it in your catalog of atrocities?

Nevertheless, your list is meant to explain the motives of the alleged terrorists. If, for the sake of argument, we ascribe these attacks to Al Queda, then there is no need to grapple for motives. Their motives are clearly outlined in the “Text of Fatwah Urging Jihad Against Americans,” published in al-‘Arabi on February 23, 1998. Have you read it? I’d gladly forward a copy. It calls on “every Muslim who believes in God and wishes to be rewarded to comply with God’s order to kill the Americans..." I think that you will find that it ratifies many of your beliefs in terms of their motives. You are right. They are angry at our continued bombing of Iraq. But they express no anger toward Saddam Hussein’s crimes against Muslims. I have traveled extensively in the Arab world—a beautiful and unforgettable experience. But it is hard to ignore the fact that there is not to my knowledge a single democratic government in the Muslim world. Many of these government are oppressive. But the Taliban quarrels primarily with those who have not adopted their narrow-minded interpretation of the Koran, not because they disregard basic human rights. As Salman Rushdie writes, with the authority of those of us who have been personally victimized by terrorism, “Whatever the killers were trying to achieve, it seems improbable that building a better world was part of it.” The “Text of Fatwah” makes it clear that Islamic Fundamentalists’ reason for despising America is that they believe we are decadent and allied with “Satan and the devil.” A view that Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and some militant right wing militia groups, among others, apparently share. Do you?

A European member of an international writers organization to which I belong recently wrote to assure us that the terrorists “don’t hate Americans (presumably he meant North Americans), they hate the actions of the American government.” But it will be hard to convince any rational person that "people don't hate Americans...it's the American government they hate..." when as many as 8,000 completely innocent CIVILIANS were murdered. That was not an attack against our government. It was a calculated attack against men, women, and yes, children, the vast majority of which had no affiliation with the American government, nor were they in many cases even American citizens.

Finally, I think it is the “score-keeping” tone of your statement that shocks and horrifies me. You add up all the atrocities committed by our government and the score is 8 million killed by the US to 10,000 killed in the World Trade Center. You say that there is “a clear quantitative difference.” You even do the math on our pain. “If we multiply by 800-1000 times the amount of pain, angst, and anger being currently felt by the American public, we might begin to understand how much of the rest of the world feels as they are continually victimized.” Please, Dr. Mosqueda, please tell me that you don’t view the deaths of human beings in terms of a score. To paraphrase the rabbi who

[continued in the next post (http://www.richardhell.com/cgi-bin/forum/showmessage.asp?messageID=1566)]

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Message thread:

         Response to "Shocked and Horrified" by Jonathan Harrington, 20 Nov 2001 (47)
                 Resp. to "Shocked and Horrified" pt. 2 by Jonathan Harrington, 21 Nov 2001
                         lookin glass by J G, 22 Nov 2001
                         Dr. Mosqueda's article by Jonathan, 26 Nov 2001
                                 i understand by J G, 27 Nov 2001
                                         the antichrist will rise by Luciferick, 4 Sep 2002
                                                 You're funny by Robin Bina, 4 Sep 2002
                                 insanity by Mooby, 1 Dec 2001
                                         Re: insanity by Jonathan, 1 Dec 2001
                                         PEACE IN MIDDLE EAST by freightdog, 1 Dec 2001
                                                 war, what is it good for ? by Mooby, 1 Dec 2001
                                                         palestinians by freightdog, 2 Dec 2001
                                                                 r.e. palestinians by Mooby, 2 Dec 2001
                                                                         realpolitik by freightdog, 2 Dec 2001
                                                                                 love and peace, hate and war by Mooby, 2 Dec 2001
                                                                 In General by J G, 2 Dec 2001
                                                                 bomb attack on bus kills 16 by gr2003, 11 Jun 2003
                                                         Re: war by Jonathan, 1 Dec 2001
                                                                 Happy X-mas (War Is Not Over...) by J G, 2 Dec 2001
                                                                 WAR and PEACE by Mooby, 2 Dec 2001
                                                                         Re: War and Peace by Jonathan, 2 Dec 2001
                                                                                 'without reference to ANYTHING else' ? by Mooby, 2 Dec 2001
                                                                                         Re: "without reference..." by Jonathan, 2 Dec 2001
                                                                                                 a holy war against the U.S.? by mooby, 3 Dec 2001
                                                                                                 Yours was a rhetorical statement? by Superfly_ww, 3 Dec 2001
                                                                                                         Re: rhetorical by Jonathan, 3 Dec 2001
                                                                                                         superfly......... by freightdog, 3 Dec 2001
                                                                                                                 bomp! by J G, 4 Dec 2001
                                                                                                                         JG, if you liked that idea........ by freightdog, 4 Dec 2001
                                                                                                                                 wont get whoed again by J G, 4 Dec 2001
                                                                                                                                         Leo Davidson.............. by freightdog, 4 Dec 2001
                                                                                                                                                 heavy metal thunder by J G, 4 Dec 2001
                                                                                                 Terrorism by Haya, 3 Jun 2002
                 World Trade Center by Anwar Ul Haque, 23 Aug 2002
                         9/11 by Robin Bina, 26 Aug 2002
                         The truth! by TomGreen, 27 Dec 2003

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