Fear, Hope, and Everything In Between

This has been an exceedingly bloody and difficult week. In order to make sense of it, I did what I always do: I wrote. First was an op-ed in The Nation magazine. Here’s how it begins:

What happened in Paris on November 13 has happened before, in a shopping district of Beirut on November 12, in the skies over Egypt on October 31, at a cultural center in Turkey on July 20, a beach resort in Tunisia on June 26—and nearly every day in Syria for the last four years.

The scenario is by now familiar to all of us. News of the killings will appear on television and radio. There will be cries of horror and sorrow, a few hashtags on Twitter, perhaps even a change of avatars on Facebook. Our leaders will make staunch promises to bring the terrorists to justice, while also claiming greater power of surveillance over their citizens. And then life will resume exactly as before.

Except for the victims’ families. For them, time will split into a Before and After.

The piece was reprinted in Internazionale in Italy, and in The Age in Australia. Thank you to all who have written me or shared this piece online. I also wrote a personal essay for The New York Times Magazine, this time about ISIS’s goal of eliminating “the gray zone” of coexistence. Here’s an excerpt:

As part of its efforts to spread its message outside the territory it controls, ISIS puts out an English-language magazine, Dabiq, which can be found online. In February, Dabiq featured a 12-page article, complete with high-resolution photos and multiple footnotes, cheering the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 and claiming that they made manifest for the world two camps: the camp of Islam under the caliphate and the camp of the West under the crusaders. The article ran under the title “The Extinction of the Grayzone.” The gray zone is the space inhabited by any Muslim who has not joined the ranks of either ISIS or the crusaders. Throughout the article, these Muslims are called “the grayish,” “the hypocrites” and, for variety, “the grayish hypocrites.”

You can read the essay in full here. I’m thrilled to see it find so many readers.

Lastly, I should mention that I’m one of the signatories of this open letter to Congress on the refugee crisis: Do Not Cede to Fear. Please share. Please sign.

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