An Inclusive Litany

10/8/01

Katha Pollitt in the Nation, October 8, 2001:
My daughter, who goes to Stuyvesant High School only blocks from the World Trade Center, thinks we should fly an American flag out our window. Definitely not, I say: The flag stands for jingoism and vengeance and war. She tells me I'm wrong—the flag means standing together and honoring the dead and saying no to terrorism. In a way we're both right: The Stars and Stripes is the only available symbol right now.... It has to bear a wide range of meanings, from simple, dignified sorrow to the violent anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bigotry that has already resulted in murder, vandalism and arson around the country and harassment on New York City streets and campuses.

[Ed.: Pollitt told her 13-year-old daughter she could buy a flag with her own money and fly it out of her bedroom window, but the living room is off-limits. There is much more. "I've never been one to blame the United States for every bad thing that happens in the Third World," says Pollitt, and proceeds to blame America for creating the Taliban by aiding Muslim rebels during prior Soviet occupation. Pollitt says: "There's a story in here about the attraction Afghan hypermasculinity holds for desk-bound modern men. How lovely not to pay lip service to women's equality! It's cowboys and Indians, with harems thrown in." She wonders: "What would happen if the West took seriously the forces in the Muslim world who call for education, social justice, women's rights, democracy, civil liberties and secularism?" But Pollitt does not identify who, what, or where these forces are.]

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