Russell Brown's HARD NEWS

17th September 2001 - Making Sense of It III: The Emails

Copyright © 2001 Russell Brown

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Hello everybody.

Well, this thing has a life of its own and the logical option seems to be to go with it. Below is a digest of some of the many emails I've received since Friday's Hard News and the subsequent follow-up yesterday. I thought that, taken as a whole, the response was fascinating, moving and instructive and that everyone would benefit from a look at it.

I'll refrain from further comment for now, save to note that the second letter, the one from my old friend Harry in New York, was what prompted me to write the follow-up.



Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Whenever we think in public, we open ourselves up for both supportive and hostile responses.

It is true that you cannot understand the climate in America at this moment. Even I, an American, in the midst of it, cannot quite grasp the changes. For the first time in my life, I sense a communalism among our people, an intimacy among strangers. On the streets and in the stores, we stop to talk to each other. We fret together, we steel ourselves together, we commiserate as we have not done since the Second World War.

We long already for a past less than a week behind us and we dread the future as we've never dreaded it before. On television and radio, we hear a non-stop national mourning. Moments of needed reflection are usurped by the President's rallying cry to war. Much of this feels like a prelude to sacrifice. In our rage we begin to sound like our declared enemy. That God is on our side. That death for a righteous cause is a form of salvation. That evil exists in the world, that it has a particularly human face, and that it must be eradicated. I fear that in the name of the holy, we will unthinkingly surrender our freedoms and that, even if this all ends less bad than I fear, we will have to fight inch by inch to recoup our losses. I fear, too, that history is passing us by as we, numbed by our grief, are unable to grasp it.

Russell...Got sent your comments on what went down this week and really have not been been impressed.

Can you please find some time to give the people who live in New York a little more sympathy. I have lived here for 13 years...have you even been here more than 13 days?

New York is comprised of 8 million people who basically are here because they are out of place wherever they grew up in the world. In short that's 8 million freaks. 8 million peaceful freaks guarded by the children of those that came before us. We are here because we don't fit in elsewhere, we like the lifestyle and we always cherished the thought that "you will never know what will happen tommorrow"

Well I never thought some crazed nutters would crash 2 jetliners into the worlds largest buildings and really screw things up like that. Nobody in the world should behave like this. It is unwarranted, unreasonable and downright fucked up. 2 jetliners into a building think about it again.

Seems really bad when you come from a place that whenever they have a problem with another country all that happens is the price of oil goes up and sheep exports drop a little. None of this fly the plane through the window of a building crap right. We will save that one for the yanks and all them freaks that live on top of each other

Well I am pissed off with this. America does not go hijacking planes and crashing them into mosques in Mecca for retaliation. We find who is responsible, catch them, try them and give them 3 squares a day until we stick a needle in their arm and wipe them off the face of humanity.

Doesn't solve fuck all...does deterrent in the world that one...

" go smash that airliner into those 2 big fuck off towers on the TV set and those nice yanks will give you the best drug's you will ever try".

America cannot do this again. We have to strike hard and fast at anyone responsible and make the action that is taken so severely major that no one will ever even think about pulling this kind of shit off ever and ever again.

Apologies if these views conflict those of yours but while I was reading your thoughts and sympathy for the guy that drove you home last night and what you will tell your son....mine were with the wife of the firefighter whose husband died when someone jumping out he building landed on top of him.

I finished last night walking up 6th Ave thanking every Police officer I could see for keeping some of us freaks left alive. I just wish I could have shared some of it with the firefighters too.

I don't think I will ever live to see another week like this one and hope and pray it will never happen again.

>Without exception, the praise came from people living outside America >and the condemnation from within; both American citizens and New >Zealanders living there.

Allow me to be an exception. I live in central Connecticut in the USA. The second plane to hit the WTC flew right over us.

The day after the tragedy, when it started to sink in, I started explaining to people many of the same things you said in your excellent article. Everyone is demanding blood without thinking any of this through. I've heard people complaining that we can't throw every Arab in America into concentration camps. I've repeatedly heard people say "Who cares if Bin Laden didn't do it? Bomb Afghanistan anyway!" I've repeatedly heard people suggest "Kill every Arab in the world" as a solution. A final solution, I suppose.

I can understand the anger. But I can't understand the nearly universal belief that we'll drop some bombs and the Bad Guys will cave in. They're *looking forward* to what they think will be another brief, one-sided slaughter like the Gulf War. The look on their face changes when I tell them "You want to know what this war will be like? It'll be like Tuesday. They have no weapon beyond killing innocent civilians. You won't be sitting in your Lay-Z-Boy with the remote and a bag of Cheetos this time. We're all on the front line."

The war is here, and we have to fight it. But this is going to last a long time, years probably, and randomly killing Arabs will only increase the odds that it'll be perceived not as "The World against Terrorism" as "America against Islam." And that will make it last that much longer, with that many more innocents dead. Whoever did this has a master plan, and America being angry enough to retaliate against the wrong people is probably just what they want.

>I don't really imagine how it must feel to be American at the moment.

I hear people cheering for genocide with a laughing confidence, thinking that they're invulnerable despite living exactly halfway between Logan Airport in Boston and the 5,000 dead in the rubble in NYC. Sometimes I don't know how it feels like, either.

You obviously don't know much about the ordinary Yank Joe, mate. This may be a very rich and powerful country, but I bet your taxi-driver would be better off here, and safer. That's why he got away from the hell-hole where he was raised.

The average American knows his country isn't perfect. He was living here last November seeing chads in Florida. But when he gets kicked in the butt by a piece of vermin, this very genuine and generous bloke becomes UNITED. There are many of us Kiwis who recall what we did, and who we lost,when Gallipoli, Pearl Harbour, Tobruk and the B of Britain took place. Where were you? This crime is even more significant. If Arnie Nordmeyer were still around, he'd dig you a hole and tell you to get in it. Think on that when you party to 4 a.m. papa!

I wanted to let you know that some Americans, namely me, found your Friday Hard News essay right on point. It was a ray of wisdom and reason in an increasingly fogbound landscape.

Ironically, I was sent your Friday piece by a New Zealand resident whom I consider a good friend, though we're only acquainted via e-mail. This NZ resident and I "met" on a website devoted to a defunct band, which nevertheless has a vigorous and active international guestbook. Usually music is the main topic, of course.

Last week, in response to a horrendous rush of jingoistic and xenophobic postings from (right-wing) American and Canadian posters, my NZ friend was moved to counter by posting a mild critique of the "doctrine of innocence" that was implicit in the string of polemics. She was indeed promptly set-upon by one of the worst ranters-- a "middle American" fellow who lives just a few miles away from me! He swatted at my NZ friend's rational and respectful comments by suggesting that she was just a pissant from a no-account little country on the other end of the Earth. To me, this unfortunate response proved the spirit of the critique.

Yes, I'm a born and bred American who's only spent a few weeks away from this country in my lifetime. I grew up in a middle-class family of Italian descent, and was not indoctrinated with any particular axes to grind. But although I'm as horrified as anyone by what's happened, I'm equally horrified by the self-righteous myopia, not to say blindness, that seems to intensify in many Americans when our relations with the rest of the world are strained and compromised.

How can you even attempt to excuse the in-excusable, or explain the un-explainable.

You cite 30 years in a lebanese prison. Sigh. The Arab nations have for 7 centuries preached the extinction of Zionism. In the last century they have added that of capitalism. These problems in the middle east can be seen as a product of that - Afghan terrorism is a symptom.

I know there is always a tendancy for liberalism to seek to moderate and to minimise, which in almost every case must be the way to go. But it should not attempt to forgive or minimise an evil act that has no underlying objective other than terror.

You article of this week offended and upset me. In so many of your articles I have agreed, but in this case you take it too far. If the Arab nations are found to be guilty, there can be no excuse, and no forgiveness of a such an act

While you or I may not agree with the approach or choices the US has made on past, current or indeed future foreign policy. Or for that matter we may not condone their almost certain 'strategic' air strikes in Afghanistan over this weekend and the months to come, they are not our enemy and we have no other credible global neighbourhood watch. That is surely why Bin Ladens group did not attack targets like the UN in Geneva or The Hague or the UN on the Eastside of New York. Each side in this struggle is using rhetoric to create a devil for its followers to hate. I know my God and I know my devil. Is this back and white? Do you put a white hat on all those individual and groups who have issues with the US?

The World Trade center housed many people from a huge array of creeds, nations, multinational companies - surely reflecting some of the good NYC and the US is respected for. This attack was as much an attack on democracy, the developed west and its notions of liberty, profit, quality of life, freedom of choice....etc, as it was as you claim an attack directed on US foreign policy. If you cannot see that then you may need to arrange for a better supplier than the one you are currently using.

Writing from the home of free speech and cultural diversity, the University of California at Berkeley, I can tell you that there is one part of America -and I fear a very small part - where there is a collective concern about Bush's hasty and irrational rhetoric of war and retaliation.

However, this seems to be the exception. Beyond Berkeley there is little introspection or examination of the bloodied hands of Uncle Sam in the Middle East, and no realization that the enemy would seem to be a just few hundred extremists, and not an entire country. Even in California, especially Sacramento and Seattle areas, American-Arabs are subject to violence, as a country panics and lashes out blindly. So Bush postures, as his approval ratings finally climb, and the country seems unified in it's willingness to wipe out some country, any goddamn country, and to suffer huge loss of American lives and that of innocent middle easterners.

Personally, after an amazing year living in the US and studying at one of the greatest academic institutions, and now on the verge of being offered a job with easily triple the salary, responsibility and opportunity that I would find back in NZ, I have a tough decision to make: To stay, or retreat to the safety of NZ. That is, if the national carrier survives long enough for me to cash in my air-miles! It is good to hear a voice of sanity from outside of this country, where as usual, an international perspective is a rare thing. Keep up the good work!

Congratulations Russell Brown,

Since Tuesday when the United States was attacked by terrorists, I have received nothing but sympathetic and comforting messages from around the world -- and especially from friends in New Zealand. No one -- especially me -- is pretending that the U. S. is totally innocent and has always done the right thing. And everyone -- especially me -- has expressed concern that the U. S. response could escalate out of control. But until tonight -- when I received your latest epistle -- no one has thought that this was a great time to dredge up every mistake this country has ever made. And no one has had the audacity to give the murder of 6,000 innocent Americans a they-finally-got-what-they deserved spin. How could you, really?

You think you've got it tough because you had to turn the TV off and speak to your very moral ten-year-old. Those of us who live here have very greater worries.

It's easy for you -- "sitting in a food basket in the South Pacific" -- to criticize, but maybe, just for once, this would have been a good time to pass your opinions through a filter of good judgment before inflicting them on already wounded people. Another alternative would have been to filter your addresses to assure that your diatribe wouldn't reach subscribers in the United States. We know too well our nation's faults. This just isn't a good time to dwell on them.

dont apologise for speaking the truth. or for your tears in grief. you write extremely well and I hope your email audience is wide spread and diverse and increases as this debate continues. we all can only pray that more knowledge of the outside world reaches the USA and its administators.

Don't worry. I'm still your friend. And I like friends who dare to disagree with me and SAY so without restraint. I, amongst many others no doubt, sent your article of Sept 14 home, got several phone-calls of relatives who thought it an eye-opener. I also read your referral to Robert Fisk, as he speaks his truth, your truths hit home harder with me.

You can chalk that one up, mate. [Don't Kiwis say that when they agree ?]

Isn't our world a funny place, we boast our "freedom to speak" but the moment you dare do so "they" will come down like a tonne of bricks on you.

And the notion arises: Isn't it nice to have disagreeing friends, they keep you standing tall, with your feet on the ground and your head in the clouds.

As for your hard news bulletins: KEEP'EM COMING, SON ! This 85-year-old laps'em up.

The events of this week are so horrific, none of us know how to respond. And perhaps when a people are still in the grips of a trauma, what they need is unqualified support - not soul searching.

But the difficulty with this trauma is that if the support is entirely unqualified, without any attempt at soul searching, the results will be even more horrific. Those of us on the periphery can see that. Of course those in the middle can't - they are surrounded by the horror and nothing else can make it through.

It strikes me that middle America has been shaken to its core - it's very right to exist as it does has been blown apart for the first time. It's whole paradigm has been shown to be false. Naturally, this has made middle America stop and think. Sadly, it appears to me that it has made it stop and think about how to regain that invincibility it had assumed, rather than to acknowledge that invincibility was a figment of its own imagination and it must learn to live in the real world - a world that is fractured and frequently brutish, in which might is not always right, and which does not always love it.

These are things that, of course, those of us outside America must discuss. Those inside America must also discuss them, but the question is when and how? I suspect there is no right answer to that one.

Hard News is often the sanest voice around - and your piece on the US tragedy no exception ... last year I returned from two years Lebanon - I worked there as a freelance journalist for the (Beirut) Daily Star - and am amazed at the little knowledge so many people have of the plight of the Palestinians, both inside the occupied territories and the refugee camps, esp. in Lebanon, and the extent to which the US backs Israel.

Of course, this does not excuse what happened, but for the US leadership to be so surprised and amazed speaks volumes.

Most people, anywhere in the world, have the same hopes and fears and I have always found a warm welcome in the various countries of the Middle East in which I have worked or visited (never been to Israel though!) and have been delighted by the generosity of spirit towards strangers. I have never felt threatened there.

Yes, I too am a fan of Robert Fisk and was pleased to discover he had made no more sense of the Lebanon civil war than I could. Here are people who were delighted to meet my children - they were safe and spoiled by strangers - yet had spent the best part of 15 years killing each other's children ...

True, the Arab mind is an enigma to most Westerners but at heart most of us are ordinary, frightened, loving, people who would rather laugh than shoot. Let's hope the "leaders of the free world" remember this.

To hear the firefighters grunting 'USA, USA' at President Bush as he addressed them in NY was very, very frightening. Don't they remember Vietnam? The Iran hostages? As the Russians discovered to their cost, fighting a war on someone else's territory when the "enemy" perceives itself as holding/in reality holds the moral high ground is a losing battle. Bush had better be ready to welcome home some body bags.

How dare you accuse the United States of "playing dirty" by equating an accidental downing of an aircraft by the United States with a deliberate murderous attack on thousands of innocent people? For your information, we United States citizens and our leaders were crushed by that awful event!

How dare you make pronouncements based on what you perceive to be right and just when you cannot even possibly know more than the barest set of facts that our leaders considered in making the decisions they have made?

How dare you insinuate that the words of people like Gore Vidal and Lewis Lapham are even relevant? For your information, these "essayists" do NOT represent the political, social, or moral convictions, nor the opinions, of the majority of people in the United States.

How dare you accuse, proclaim, criticize, opine? How dare you, whoever you are and whatever your qualifications are, even PRESUME to speak on these matters at all? If you know all of these things, and know better, then perhaps YOU should be the man in the ring and not standing outside criticizing those who are!

The United States DOES wear the white hat. It's not a fantasy, as you proclaim, it's a FACT. The United States is indeed a land of freedom. As has been said, the ills we suffer are because of that freedom. Our freedom gives rise to opportunity, and yes, even the opportunity that Osama bin Laden and his fanatical followers, if in fact they are responsible, seized to act in what you term a "deep political context"..gag....the opportunity that Timothy McVeigh seized to express his disagreement with our government.

People die to enter the United States; they don't die to leave. There are reasons for that, sir. But then, you, who knows it all, surely know this too.

A very fortunate American.

I too find America's globalist arrogance at the root of its current anguish.

It is certainly time the American people - those who style themselves upright and fair-minded and freedom-loving - take a closer interest in the activities of the spook machinery Amercia employs to keep the world the way it likes it.

No nation that can blithely bankroll a bin Laden, Qaddafi or Pol Pot can then stand aside and claim immunity from the awfulness their lackeys commission against ordinary people.

I am an American. I live in Brooklyn and up till tuesday morning was able to see the towers from my kitchen. It was words beyond devastating to watch them go down from my roof and even more so to find out it wasn't an accident. But the bloodlust here is possibly more depressing. I understand the need to punish the people responsible, but we are not going to do it methodically. I am so afraid about that. You are correct in saying that most Americans have no fucking clue as to what our government is up to. We are a people that are a very dangerous combination of ignorant and arrogant. Land of the free, my ass. I am not proud to be an American.

I am a New Yorker. That used to be like saying you're from another country. We had more freedom, art--more fun--than anywhere else in the country. Go to the middle of the US and tell people you're from NYC and they look at you all funny-like. It used to make me laugh.

Rudy changed all that. Pushed the weirdos out and did myriad other things that I'm sure you heard about. But he's the one I'm liking during all this. This normally nasty law-and-order man has found his humanity. While Bush is blowing rhetoric, Rudy has shown us tears. It means a lot. I hated the guy and never voted for him, but he's really shone.

I don't know why I'm writing. I guess I wanted to let you know that there are tons of other Americans who feel the way you do. We're not all flag-waving, bloodthirsty numbskulls. Thanks for putting all together so beautifully though.

Thank you for writing two reasoned pieces of sanity, in a media world too often dominated by anger and rage.

In Japan your article was perceived as accurate and objective. There is a sense of schadenfrued here with American arrogance.

Naturally there is sadness at the grief caused and a worry about Bush and his cowboy posturing.

It was noted that Colin Powell was the first to express grief at the loss of life of a Chinese Pilot in American spy games.

There is concern that America seeks a military alliance and and anger that Japan paid for the Gulf war.

Even General Stormin' Norman acknowledged that without Japan's timely cheque - the war would have taken a different course.

In most areas of America there are checks and balances - except in the province of foreign policy which is the president's preserve.

Remember, under present New Zealand legislation - Bush would not be allowed into New Zealand as he has a conviction for drunk driving. And this is the man rallying the world to bomb an idea .

I am In South Korea,reading your report ... I am moved to reply, just to say, Bravo. It is the only real objective piece of journalism I have witnessed over the past few days,I am surrounded here by US military on one hand and on the other hand, a race of totally indifferent people, keep up your wonderful work, reading your stuff is inspiring I wish more people worldwide could be made aware that you exist.

I sent your article to an American friend of mine whom I thought was open minded enough to appreciate a little bit of criticism on the US foreign policy, but no it went down like the proverbial lead balloon. He was extremely indignant of any suggestion that America did not create and 'own' freedom, and seemed to have conveniently forgotten all about their slanderous bigoted treatment of blacks in the past.

In reply I've been sent a number of "ra ra" America the great emails from various US people, making sure I stand corrected for sharing opinions such as yours.

I was in Western Pakistan when Clinton threw some bombs towards Bin laden. It proved difficult for me given the reaction of some Pakistani's to the bombings. I was sheltered by a man and his family for a week, when it was deemed safe to make it back to the capital etc. This was kind of strange and surreal. As a somewhat naive kiwi I couldn't quite make sense of it all. Why the bombings and the reaction? Surely everybody in NZ knew that America had just bombed Afghanistan and Pakistan? Talking and emailing to people showed that none of them in NZ had any idea that it had happened (bar one)

As I continued to travel and reached London I made an effort to understand who Bin Laden was and why America can throw bombs around and get away with killing the 5 Pakistani villagers who were killed by a stray bomb (how many Afghans?). And why people don't know these things.

I don't know if you'll get this Russell, but I just wanted to say that's the best hardnews I've ever encountered. You've articulated my feelings and thoughts over the past week exactly. keep it up.

Don't be too dismayed by the criticism. Your perspective is enormously important. It is not by any stretch of the imagination anti American or pro violence. Quite in fact the reverse. The narrowness of the debate in the American media is perhaps America's greatest weakness.

For all its faults I love America. The ideals of liberty and democracy are far from perfect in America but the best we and the world has. I hope that this tragedy can somehow shock the American people from their chronic insularity and demand that they be better served by their media.

Well, I'm with you on this one. There is an element of karma in this. The United States has for decades poured its armaments down the throats of people it could label initially as Communists, now as Terrorists, either by itself or through agent states such as Israel. And mostly to satisfy a domestic constituency. Israel has its origins in the guilt of the Western powers at failing to arrest the holocaust, and the terrorism of Ben-Gurion and others. The US has shown no interest in the concerns of dispossessed Palestinians.

Once again the language will be stretched (as it already has by W) to force distinctions between 'guerrilla' 'freedom fighter' and 'terrorist' to fit simplistic notions of 'them' and 'us'. Again villages will be bombed out of existence to save them from 'terrorism'. 'Collateral damage' will be rationalised and excused by the fictional presence of 'terrorists'. There will be more Lt Calleys, more My Lais. And countries that ought to know better (like Australia) will again line up behind today's LBJ til the body bags start coming home, then wonder how they got enmeshed in the first place.

Conspiracy theory aside, the process of manufacturing consent has begun, and I stand with Helen Clark's view that we should at least let someone identify and locate 'the enemy' before bombing Afghanistan to dust and tearing apart haystacks to find needles.

The WTC and Pentagon attacks are terrible reminders that the US can't always dictate the terms of its wars. It can no longer ensure that it will remain untouched by wars it wages abroad. And to provide the level of safety at home that Americans expect, it risks becoming a society that differs only in language from the former Soviet Union, with electronic and physical surveillance and Pinochet-style disappearances daily realities, and CIA and FBI operatives stalking the globe like the old KGB. If this is a fight for security and freedom, then George W's spin doctors may need to start redefining both 'security' and 'freedom'.

As a displaced Aucklander, currently residing in NYC, I would like to say that I thought your original piece was a fair assessment of the situation and contained many things that need to be talked about -- people here are discussing these same issues, but they are not represented in the media. You are also correct to say that NY is a great city. Last night I met up with some friends at a midtown bar to try and reestablish some sense of normality and to try and `make some sense of it'. I don't really know if we succeeded, but it was 8 people from 6 different countries sharing friendship and their experiences, and somehow that almost seemed like enough. This is what NYC is about for me, and if there is any hope for the future, then perhaps it is to be found here....

First let me say how much I enjoy Hard News. Which is why I subscribe. However.

As an American living in American (after a year in HK and 2 in Dunedin), I was somewhat taken aback by your commentary. I enjoyed it, and saved it to show others, and feel you made many valid points which I agree with, however, a few were a bit too much off point. First, who cares about how the French view the U.S.? As you note, they are (were) practioners of similar bombing craft. Second, I suspect that Hollywood has quite a role in how the U.S. is perceived. Many people in NZ (in my personal experience) and other countries (also from personal experience) have trouble believing that the U.S. consists of more than LA and NY cities, and that the vast majority live lives nothing like see in our major celluoid exports.

Whether we like it or not, America is in its global position, and has to make decisions. New Zealand is not faced with the issue of whether to support Israel (and incur terrorist wrath), or to not support them (what do you think would happen to that country absent our support?). The fact that a country somewhat forced into making large decisions manages to utterly piss off a relatively few is not surprising.

I have just read you latest "Hard News". I am one of those people who thought very highly of your first piece, and I think very highly of this one.

I wonder about the long term effect of this event on us here in New Zealand. I am alone in my office tonight writing a lecture for tomorrow morning, and I can't help thinking of my wife and son at home. What if? Even in Dunedin, in New Zealand, even in the middle of nowhere. I don't think anyone feels as safe as they did a week ago.

Should we feel safe? Millions never have, and probably never will. I am a scientist, I have always beleived that science and technology will eventually free us from ourselves. But I don't think I beleive this any more, I have a feeling that more science will just make it easier for the madmen to run the asylum.

A perspective like yours is extraordinarily important. I am sure within USA there are people who agree with what you say and take heart that they are not alone voicing their anguish about the current insane mainstream response, straight from some weird reenactment of the old testament -- "god bless us as we prepare to kill the bastards!"

Myself, I found your message so important. It gave me courage to open up. I could fwd your message as an opener to my a discussion of my own horror and fears. My own worries about the global situation have been a long slumbering nightmare which suddenly becomes real time action.

I like what you had to say the first time (I'm 100% aucklander) I've done some u.s history papers and to put it bluntly american foreign policy sux.

You reap what you sow. It seems to me that american ideology has brain washed its citizens, its a shame they don't realise there is a world out there other than the u.s.

P.S Approximately 3 million vietnamese and cambodians died in vietnam war, 17,000 americans died, and their country wasn't touched, maybe americans need a bit of kiwi perspective.

I have read your last 2 articles and I feel you have nothing to appologise for in your comments. Saying that the Americans are not angels and that a measured reponse is needed here in no way condons what was done in the last week. The issue of response needs to be looked at from the perpective of what can we do to stop this happening again, not what will rate well in American opinion polls.

It seems that last week many liberal Americans took a step toward the right.

With retrospect we often look back at events of historical importance and piece together the extraordinary chain of events that has led up something major. I can't help feeling that the cards have been stacking up on this for a while. I hope I'm wrong.

I'm a Kiwi who has been living in Montana for 16 years. I really appreciate receiving your bulletins. At the moment I'm on a project in Holland, so I can watch CNN as well as BBC TV, and get the London Times daily. I thought your first bulletin on this issue was more than justified. It was reasoned, and presented the case well.

I am also a Unitarian Universalist (we have a congregation in Auckland, too). I found a really different view of America and Americans on our association website:

I found the messages from ministers of two of our congregations in New York, the association president, and UU ministers across the US very comforting. Perhaps love, justice and peace will prevail.

I'm a New Zealander living and working in the US, and have been on and off for about a year. I thought your article was spot-on - much better than I could have put it. US foreign policy scares me, and CNN disgusts.

I work with a number of other NZers, two of whom also receive your bulletin, and agreed with it. If kiwis living in the US who agreed with your sentiments didn't respond, perhaps that's because it's all too real. A friend of mine was landing at La Guardia at the time of the bombing; another friend is a pilot for United based out of Boston. Both are ok, if somewhat shaken.

This sort of horror brings out the best and the worst in people; if enough is not said about the best, then perhaps it is because the worst is truly frightening. I'm not talking about the petty scams in NYC, the acts of opportunism. I'm talking about the Native American girl who was the victim of a hit-and-run because she looked different, and the radio station callers who want all foreigners out.

Most of the reactions have been for the better. The sheer volumes of people lining up to give blood, to give a part of themselves to help people they don't know, is staggering. And the rescue workers feverishly digging at the smouldering pile of rubble in the hopes of finding survivors; hopes that grow more distant as the days pass.

But I have to ask myself, even as much as I like the decent caring people I work with - do I really want to live here?

Just to let you know i agree with everything you have said, i studied politics and history at auckland uni, including american politics and history, and two days after my last exams in 1991 i flew to the USA and have been living here on-and-off ever since. currently i have been living in NYC since 1996 and have not been back to NZ since then.

it is truly scary how the american people know so little about the rest of the world, and about their own government. their heart is in the right place but even now i don't think they realize the full impact that their own govt has killed many many innocents for political/economic reasons. i mean we are talking about a govt that also kills it's very own citizens.

every time you see a missing poster on the streets of nyc, or a firehouse with missing firemen, it makes the tears well up, just as the tears of the people in vietnam, panama, palestine, hiroshima etc must have been flowing when innocents were killed

So many people are quick to point out American injustices and policies around the world as the reason we had this attck coming. Sure, we're not the good guys, but then who is? And what about all the good things done around the world by America?

Those people that died on September 11th were not asking for it by participating in our society. Bombing thousands of innocent Americans as well as countless others from around the world who died in the WTC destruction will NOT cause Americans to wake up and realize that we've been wrong. It'll just galvanize the majority of the population behind a massive, new kind of war.

No one is in the right here. People are just scared of what we are going to do. They are spouting all kinds of reprisals and admonitions towards America out of fear. Even those of us who support retaliation should realize what that implies for the world.

Thank you for not backing down from your original statements. Unfortunately the vast majority of media coverage here in London has been of the swallow the CIA line type. It has disgusted me and others to see people like Blair appropriate the event for political currency and an inevitable attempt to roll back civil liberties in the name of safety. I have been particularly disappointed in the coverage in the Guardian and today's Observer - I expected more from them. The Independent on Sunday has outdone itself, however, with another Fisk article and a comment piece from Joan Smith that is well worth reading. It was accompanied by a fantastic photo of a pickup truck sporting old glory and "Nuke em" spray painted across the back. No doubt the gun rack had seen some additions in recent days.

Since the death of Di 'grieving' has become a tawdry public spectacle, with people trying to validate themselves by having a more poignant reaction to events than their neighbours. It seems to me that grieving is the new opiate of the masses!

(This message first appeared on the Kiwi Club of New York newsgroup. I am not into gratuitous abuse but, with the greatest respect, I think you have your head up your ass (arse).
*************************************** This dude deserves the Robert Muldoon Medal for Crass Insensitivity.

What is it with Kiwi "journalists?" Thousands, possibly tens of thousands, of innocent Americans, and citizens of numerous other countries, perished last Tuesday.

Nowhere in the Hard News piece (perhaps more aptly named Flaccid News) is there any genuine expression of condolences. Instead, it blasts off on a wildly inaccurate shopping list of America's alleged past acts of evil with the implicit premise that somehow America got what it deserved. "We are Kiwis. If only the world would listen to us..."

I am a passionate believer in free speech. So permit me another view. An American acquaintance, stationed in Wellington for a couple of years, once characterized New Zealand as a "self-absorbed, little place full of self-absorbed, little people."

Sad but seemingly true. The worldwide outpouring of grief and respect for the dead seems to mean little in Godzone. I have not even read any expression of regret from Comrade Clark and loony tune cabinet. Maybe I just missed it on the List.

On the upside, Air New Zealand will probably not have any difficulty in meeting future US security requirements. My guess is that it will soon be on the ground and out of business...a monument to inept management and bureaucratic bungling. Probably all America's fault, of course.

I am a kiwi who has lived and worked in the States for 3 1/2 years while my husband studies at the Universiy of Michigan. I work for a local company called Shar that sells stringed instruments and supplies around the U.S. and internationally. I also have played in a local Michigan band, The Original Brothers and Sisters of Love for three years.

I was happy that you sent a follow-up to your original bulletin, because I felt it did show a lack of understanding about the depth of this tragedy, and how it affected everyday Americans, not to mention the world community. When I arrived at work on Tuesday in Ann Arbor, people were glued to the radio, and our company President gave people the right to leave whenever they needed to. One of the first things someone said to me personally was, "well, I guess the rest of the world really does hate America then". I said to her that no matter what the political differences between America, and other countries, a terrorist action anything like the size of Tuesday's tragedy is never warranted. Someone on the BBC here was quoted as saying these terrorists are not interested in affecting a peace process, they are trying to blow it up.

Which brings me to my other point - of course the hotheads are going to get on the web and the media and mouth off about blowing people up. But the National Public Radio in the States has kept a non-stop flow of validated information, and in-depth and measured interviews with an astonishing array of experts and witnesses. An on-going theme has been a heartfelt and appropriate mourning for the victims and their families, a constant call for people stand together and to be proud of their country, but to keep a cool head, and a need to make all criminal investigation necessary before any military or other retribution occurs. I think New Zealand can have a positive impact by putting political differences to one side for a moment, seeking to be part of any thorough and legitimate effort to catch the perpertrators of this terrorism, and most importantly, let average Americans know that they do not stand alone in the International community. I know this will make a difference, because when I have expressed my sorrow to my friends here, they get tears in their eyes to hear that other people, apart from Americans, actually give a damn.

It struck me that the American public could were completely bewildered why anyone would do this to them, they do not seem to have any understanding of what their foreign policy has done to the world over the last 50 years.

I was also struck by these words of MLK which seem relevant at this point, my daughter is studying the civil rights movement and we talked about what Bush was saying and compared it to this ...

"The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy...Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate is rooted in fear, and the only cure for fear-hate is love." Martin Luther King.

Go easy on yourself man, you hit the nail on the head with the first email.

The hypocrisy oozing out of nationalistic, religious fanatics like Dubya is outstanding, the lynch mob after Bin Laden is outstanding, the thought that Bush would seriously consider a second Vietnam in our lifetimes with an attack on Afghanistan is outstanding, the lack of any semblence of understanding on the behalf of the American public is outstanding, and so on and so forth.

I have long standing connexions with the US myself, lived there, have some of my best friends there, and literally, many of my exes live in Texas (well, at least some). But New York is only one tragedy among hundreds that happen every year. But 20,000 Turks died in even less than two hours and we got less than 8 hours of push footage, 800 Palestinians have died in the Infitada (sp?) and we still have Texans saying that the sand niggers deserve it.

It's better that we have a few voices of reason amongst all this screaming and baying for blood. The very first thing I did was go to an Arabic website and ask them how to say, go with peace, in Arabic, Assalamu Alaykom. And I won't have people being scared of me in the street just because I'm white. We can't afford another Vietnam. We can't afford to start detaining Arabs like the Japanese were. We can't afford to let right wingers like Bush drag us into a war in which weapons of mass destruction are ABSOLUTELY GUARANTEED to be used.

Keep writing as the voice of reason. I've read your column for almost three years now since leaving Auckland, and listened to you for two years when there. Don't compromise yourself because of a few dissenting voices that are too close this this ONE tragedy. Keep it real, because New Zealanders were among the few that tried to stand up to the US and end the madness last time. Don't let yourself be terrorised by voices from within the US.

Russell Brown                      

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