An exchange with Dragan Klaic, founder of NewOp

The following is a private e-mail response to an essay written by Dragan Klaic.

New York intellectuals are used to being Cassandras. After all, this was an "Attack on America," not on New York, and the country is simultaneously paying lip service to New Yorkers (but mainly to our firefighters and policemen, you know, Giuliani's minions who keep New Yorkers under control) while encouraging everyone to leave, cancelling their vacations, labelling us "Ground Zero," etc. Is there really some non-subtle line between a police action and a war? After all, these attacks included an attempted destruction of the Pentagon and an attempted assassination of the President. If the US Government hadn't used the rhetoric it did, would Pakistan have backed down so quickly?

The US has not formally declared war, and the goal is to disrupt terrorist training camps and bring the aiders and abetters of civilian terror "to justice." Branding all of Western civilization as murderous imperialists and playing at moral equivalence will be a quick way of getting yourself ignored in the current climate. In an ideal world we do not live in, we could issue warrants for people's arrest, have them turn themselves in, have a full and fair public trial and trust in the law of man.

Europe is scared that the nationalism it continues to promote (including the large blind spot it has for its own immigrant population) has come back to haunt it in a big way. What's more important - anti-war rhetoric or truly embracing your large Muslim population? At least in America (and in New York City) we are culturally prepared to consider Arab-Americans as Americans. What voices are being heard in your country? "Calls for revenge and mass retaliation"? "Western civilization"? You are projecting - this is not the rhetoric of America's leaders, its media, its people or its commentators. Or do you know better what we mean than we do?

There is no "reason" that 6 million Jews were slaughtered in gas chambers. There is no "reason" why 6 thousand New Yorkers were incinerated on September 11. If there is a "reason", then "reason" itself is suspect, as I think the previous century has proven. I can't apply human logic to crimes against humanity. Maybe there are others who think that they've invented a new system of logic and reason and goodness that tells society how to deal with such horror. But I fear it will end up being just another ideology with its own horrors. If we've learned anything from the atrocities of the last 100 years, it is that. I'm trying desparately to find some shred of hope somewhere, but no one has offered a plan, solution or way that convinces me. People who commit suicide as a way to God are as foreign to me as can be. I am powerless in all of this.

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Last Updated: September 12, 2007