Letter to America

By Dorfman, Ariel | The Nation, September 30, 2002 | Go to article overview

Letter to America


Dorfman, Ariel, The Nation


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 multiple 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 September 11, 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, destabilized by your government in 1973? …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Letter to America
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.