In his attempt to cast me as a foolish dove, Charles Taylor misrepresented my recent piece in the Village Voice. I never equated "Ashcroft's attempts to hold secret trials of captured Taliban fighters with the atrocity of the terrorist attacks," as Taylor contends. My piece did not discuss captured Taliban fighters. Nor did I say, "the menace of an America that vows to track down the people who are determined to destroy us should be considered 'as ominous as the threat posed by terrorists.'" I live a mile from ground zero; I'm fully aware of the threat al-Qaida represents. I was writing about the economic and political effect on America of being caught in a perpetual state of war. This is what should be considered "as ominous as the threat posed by terrorists."
Read my piece and decide for yourself whether this is a small cavil on my part or an attempt by Taylor to delegitimize dissent. There is an alternative to the current war on terror, one that focuses on precise strikes against concrete threats while rejecting an imperial course that entails invading nations with no known connection to al-Qaida. My piece was an attempt to remind neo-hawks of the blunderous and often brutal American policy in the Middle East over the past 50 years. That isn't an excuse for what happened on 9/11, but it's an important part of the explanation. Islamic fascists arise out of a geopolitical matrix. If we ignore that context, as many neo-hawks seem prone to, we will never be able to defeat them.
Taylor can argue with this interpretation, but he ought to describe it accurately. And then, let's tangle!
-- Richard Goldstein