To follow my blog click the “follow” widget above or the small red squares on the right side below.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

On Islan Nettles

It’s summer and writing doesn’t come easy.  First there was my trip to Israel in June, the beach in July, and a cruise on the Danube this month, visiting Serbia, where one can still see the remnants of NATO’s bombing in the 1999 Kosovo war, Croatia, Hungary and Austria.

From The Austrian Alps I meant to write about my meeting by chance with Sonja, a lovely teacher who I came across in the tiny town of Vordernberg, where we ate pizza in a small Turkish restaurant, and where Sonja talked to me about multi-culturalism in her beloved country.  But I procrastinated, then turned too busy to write anything as I was completely consumed with reviewing the Hebrew translation on my memoir, which I hope I can publish in Israel soon enough.

I could write about the carnage in Syria and the options the US and its allies have in punishing President Assad for his systematic murder of men, women and children, possibly with chemical weapons. But I decided to leave this subject for my Middle East class, which I will begin teaching this coming Thursday.

Then I saw the news today about the vigil in Harlem, New York, for Islan Nettles, the twenty-one year old transgender woman who died Thursday after being removed from her life support five days after she had been brutally attacked by a man who got furious after he realized that his female friend was actually born a male.

The attack on Islan was the latest in a series of disturbing hate crimes against members of the LGBT community in the city, which increased dramatically this year.

It is perhaps ironic that Islan’s vigil is taking place on the 50th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous speech on freedom and equality, and the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Ironic but not terribly surprising, given the progress the gay community has made in the US and in other countries with respect to same sex marriage, progress that must threaten those reactionaries who irrationally fear homosexuality and same sex marriage.

Like what I think is a response to the embracing of same sex marriage, history witnessed the surge of illiberal reactions to the progress minority groups had made in different parts of the world. It happened in Europe with the surge of anti Semitism after the emancipation of Jews in France and Germany in the eighteenth century, and England in the nineteenth century, when European Christians felt threatened by the granting of equal rights to Jews, like racists reacted to the emancipation of slaves in nineteenth century America, and even to the Civil Rights Movement of the twentieth century, culminating in the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

Let the fiftieth anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement and the senseless death of Islan Nettles be a reminder of what we as a civilization deserve: freedom to grow in our own skin, gender, religion, nationality and sexual orientation.


1. To comment, type your remarks in the comment box bellow (if the box is not visible, left click on "comment" or "no comment" bellow. It will open). 
2. Select from the menu under the box how you want to sign. If you have an account with one of the names on the list use it, or use name/URL to just sign your name, with or without your website address in the URL. Use anonymous if you want anonymity.
3. Click “publish.”  

4. You may sign into your account if you have one.