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Our Al Qaeda problem.

I am writing to thank you for addressing the issue of fundamentalist violence--in this case from extremist Muslim groups--in your October issue ("Our Al Qaeda Problem," by Sasha Abramsky). While Abramsky feels strongly about this issue, having been in two cities under attack by such groups, you can imagine how strongly those with roots in communities and countries under ongoing assault by the same groups must feel. As an Algerian American, I am grateful to you for making us think about these issues.

In the wake of the London bombings, some of the Arabic language press began to discuss openly the fascist nature of some of these fundamentalist movements. It is horrifying to watch some on the left soft-pedal what is at stake here. Progressive, secular, and feminist movements in the Arab and Muslim world look to their counterparts in the West both to critique our own governments' policies and to stand in solidarity with them against their own extreme right. We have often failed to do so, falling instead for arguments that these movements are somehow "authentic" or, because they are anti-Western, not to be criticized. This is a tragic mistake.

In a world threatened by Bush and his ilk on one side and his mirror image bin Laden and his ilk on the other, our job is to offer a true progressive alternative.

Thanks for pushing forward this discussion on the left, a discussion that must continue.

Karima Bennoune

Newark, New Jersey

Sasha Abramsky's article serves as a perfect example of how we all, even on the left, are being scared into falling in line with the police-state policies of the "war on terror." His so-called analysis lacks depth and nuance throughout.

Abramsky presumes the left is defending Al Qaeda and basically spends the rest of his essay reminding us that Al Qaeda is not on our side. Al Qaeda does not support our ideals: rationalism, pluralism, women's rights. Is that news to anyone? Oddly, he also reminds us that we must defend pluralistic democratic societies, when to my knowledge, the left hasn't expressed anything to the contrary. The defense of democracy looks a lot more suspect on the right, however, which leaves me wondering why Abramsky is going after Robert Fisk and Naomi Klein and others instead of the true enemies of our civil rights.

None of the writers Abramsky mentions are defending Al Qaeda. They are merely pointing out that U.S. foreign policy is helping Al Qaeda to grow. In fact, it takes moral courage to point out that there are two sides feeding the flames.

Abramsky inaccurately states that the left is unwilling to grapple with totalitarian-think. Guess he didn't get the memo. The left is constantly grappling with it. And there is plenty of totalitarian-think to be grappled with in his shrill and thinly veiled defense of the "war on terror."

Christopher Pastor

via e-mail
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Title Annotation:Letters to the Editor
Author:Pastor, Christopher
Publication:The Progressive
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Dec 1, 2005
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