Osama's U.S. Tour
Osama bin laden is finally captured alive and brought to America to face justice. He's found guilty by a military tribunal and sentenced to death. There are cameras in the "courtroom," and CNN's audience ratings are triple those of the O.J. Simpson trial.
Before the sentence is carried out, bin Laden is put on a tour of major population centres for public pillory. Millions file by the hapless terrorist kingpin, just out of spitting and pissing range, in football stadiums and parks across the land.
They chant and scream hatred and retribution. A coffee-table book of photographs of this tour, Bin Laden In America, is a best-seller that Christmas season.
Execution day. The long-awaited "E-Day." September 11, 2002. Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. More than 60,000 pony up $1,000 each to witness the event.
Millions across the country have paid $500 to watch live on closed-circuit television. Images of the crumbling World Trade Center twin towers flicker on the stadium Jumbotron. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld gives the ceremonial "first pitch," a grave incantation against terrorism that includes a warning to Saddam Hussein.
Rudolph Giuliani, no longer mayor of New York City but still "Mayor of America," and President George W. Bush jointly trip the lever that sends bin Laden to his death. The moment is greeted by a 30-minute non-stop standing ovation, causing Joe DiMaggio to stir in his grave with envy. Within weeks, a video of the proceedings, Present At The Execution, sets record sales. America's new war continues.
Name withheld by request, Toronto
Penance for September 11
i admit that i felt quite unaffected emotionally by the attacks on the World Trade Center.
Actually, I admit that my anti-American sentiment led me to suggest that I thought it unfortunate that the terrorists didn't succeed in getting the White House. I've come to grips with this now and have forgiven myself for my hateful, insensitive thoughts.
I've also realized the deeper sense of my reaction. You see, I was extremely upset by the Gulf War. I was telling my fellow students at Laval University that we should be in the streets protesting.
I actually was more touched by the hijackers, who went so far as to act on their beliefs. I think I needed to heal myself.
Duane King, Toronto
Fat Girl, interrupted
A few months ago i presented a paper at a great conference called Wider Boundaries Of Daring: The Modernist Impulse In Canadian Women's Poetry at the University of Windsor. It was two weeks after the September 11 attacks and a week and a half after the film festival screened Catherine Breillat's A Ma Soeur, released in Canada as Fat Girl.
I was meant to talk about my connections as a contemporary feminist poet to the women writers best known from the era of the 40s and 50s. Instead, I challenged the notion that we should expect any easy matrilineal relationship with our precursors, and referred to Breillat's film for its depiction of the complex silences and competitions among women.
The Detroit skyline loomed across the river; none of us regarded the present order as immune, which is dreadfully frightening but potentially exhilarating as well. Fixed images are in motion now.
This film, which I saw at the festival, was a work of shattering brilliance, of deep and extremely daring feminist critique. Its banning by the Ontario Film Review Board was predictable; so why was the critical film community not prepared?
Margaret Christakos, Toronto
Fired for helping homeless
around this time last year, amid the cold and snow, I worked at a trendy coffee shop in Rosedale.
At the end of the night there were a lot of pastries that would be thrown in the garbage. Often I would put them in a brown paper bag and give them to homeless people out on the street.
I was caught by one of the supervisors. She said I wasn't allowed to do it, they had to go in the garbage. I told her there were people who didn't have a job or shelter who were happy to have them.
She replied that she would have to report me to the manager.
The next day the manager of the store told me that what I was doing was against the company's "culture" -- a coffee shop is not a charity.
He said I would be let go from my job if I was caught giving out pastries again. One night in December, close to Christmas, I put some pastries that were destined for the garbage in a plastic bag.
One week later, a manager from another coffee shop told me some money had gone missing from the till. "I'm not saying it was you," he said. The next day I was fired.
Name withheld by request Toronto
Cape Town remembered
your article trapped in jo'burg (NOW, September 6-12, 2001) was music to my ears. I've been to Jo'burg twice, in 1994 and 1998, and did part of my law degree at the U of Cape Town.
Last time I was there, I remember vividly the experience I had walking back and forth from downtown to the University of Witwatersrand. On one trip I was stopped five times by very polite "tourist guides/security," all black and decked out in their yellow uniforms, who asked me, "Excuse me, sir, but where are you going?" Then they told me it was much too dangerous to walk.
In the end, I made it back and forth in one piece. From that incident and other experiences, I'll never forget the twilight zone that most white South Africans live in behind the razor wire and "armed response" signs.
Richard Warman, Ottawa
No rights for non-believers
i have kept quiet about this for some time. However, the incessant repetition of making nice with all Canadians, of all religions, colours, etc, by our prime minister, has once again reminded me of an exclusionary and offensive section in our Constitution.
Our Charter blatantly declares in its preamble that Canada is founded on principles that recognize the supremacy of God.
This seemingly innocent addition to the Constitution Act effectively removes any non-believer from the protection of the rights and freedoms guaranteed to all other Canadians.
So when the prime minister goes on and on about the virtues of Canada, I always feel a little left out, for I belong to the only religiously identifiable group that is officially discriminated against in our own constitution.
Rolf Stiefel, Aurora
And so this is Christmas
merry christmas, son. we will be hearing the Beatles song about Christmas. Also, last night I heard Charlotte Church on PBS sing Imagine, a song that actually cancels out Christmas -- you know, "and no religion, too."
At the Peace Awards founding, former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney sang "Freedom." Trouble is, we all have our own ideas of freedom.
Merry Christmas -- that's if you believe in Christmas. Peace. Shalom. Cheerio. God bless us all, whether we all deserve it or not, and may 2002 be good to you.
joseph william lea, Etobicoke
How we forget the old
re lou, where did you go? (NOW, November 15-21). Can't Enzo Di Matteo visit him in the nursing home?
I'm sure he'd be happy to see him. Too many people who go into nursing homes get no visitors, and unfortunately, staff tend to abuse them. People don't have much respect for those who are elderly. In this day and age, people are having a hard time even finding a job when they are over 45, let alone dealing with the elder years.
Sandra Alexander, Toronto