Letter From New York 02 16 15 A call to be better…

As the sun is setting, I am traveling on a train south to New York. After two days of brutal cold, the temperature is edging up into what feels reasonable, 24 degrees. The same brutal cold that forced me to leave the cold-water tap running for two days in my kitchen, has also hobbled train service along the Empire corridor, from New York City to Albany.

Trains were frozen this morning in Sunnyside yards and couldn’t make it into Penn Station for their appointed runs. Trains going south earlier today were delayed. Mine was on time but it is oversold and unhappy people are standing in the aisles. The conductor has suggested they call 1-800-USA-RAIL to vent their complaints rather than inflicting them upon her.

Battered Boston is in for more snow and cold; already they have had nearly double the normal amount of snowfall.

Europe is complaining about the intransigence of Greece in refusing to stick to the terms of the bailout. The Greeks are demanding new terms and Europe, so far, is unbending. Neither side has blinked. Markets have rallied but are edgy about what is happening.

In Italy, Michele Ferrero, he of the family who gave us Nutella, and Italy’s wealthiest man, has passed away. I will never again have a Nutella crepe without thinking of him.

Also, in Italy, there is talk of the Italians leading a coalition to oppose ISIS. In the video that shows the beheading of Coptic Christians in Libya, the spokesman for ISIS points across the sea, threatening to take Rome. The place where the beheadings took place is 520 miles from Italy.

Boatloads of refugees have been crossing the Mediterranean for months now, looking for a better life in Europe. What is to stop boatloads of terrorists? The UN Security Council is to take up the question of ISIS in Libya soon.

It is now a bit awkward to call them ISIS [Islamic State in Iraq and Syria] since they now claim to have a province in Libya and have demonstrated better coordination between regions than the West believed was possible.

The Egyptians, who’s Coptic Christians were slaughtered, has launched a second set of air strikes against the Islamic State in Libya. It is not waiting for the United Nations. They are taking things into their own hands for now. And they are taking steps to evacuate other Coptic Christians through Tunisia.

IS has managed to do something which has been difficult to do until now and that is to get Muslim nations to join in a chorus of horror at their actions. The burning of the Jordanian pilot and now the beheading of the Coptic Christians has solidified the anger of some Muslims against IS.

Egypt, which is rising to the defense of its Coptic Christians, has often exhibited its own oppression of them by tolerating discrimination against them.

In France, five teenagers have been arrested, suspected of defiling 300 Jewish graves. It caused a wave of fear in France and resulted in President Hollande encouraging French Jews to remain in France. One of the boys turned himself in when he saw the enormous reaction to his deeds. He claimed he had no anti-Semitic intentions.

France is very concerned; anti-Semitic acts more than doubled last year from the year before, as they are rising all over Europe.

In Denmark, thousands marched today following the deaths of two there. One man was an accomplished documentarian who was attending a seminar that was also attended by the cartoonist, Lars Vik, who has been under police protection since 2007 when his cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed was published and assumed to have been the target. The other was a young Jewish man acting as security at Copenhagen’s main synagogue during a Bat Mitzvah.

In Europe, both anti-Semitism and Islamaphobia rise. I have struggled how to end today’s post. Could I find a way to loop back to some pleasant event in my life? But I can’t; I am caught thinking of the Coptic Christians who died because they were Christian and of the young Jewish man in Copenhagen who died because he was Jewish. I think of the Shia who are killed by the Sunnis and the Sunnis who are killed by the Shia.

It would be trite to say there are no easy answers. What all this does, it seems to me, is to call us all to be better, in our lives and in our support of the oppressed, in facing the complex issues that are the background of our lives.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

2 Responses to “Letter From New York 02 16 15 A call to be better…”

  1. Bruce Thiesen Says:

    Welcome Jordan and Egypt. Stick around. Bring others.

    If Europe cannot unite around its economy and affairs, perhaps it will figure out security.

  2. tombers Says:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: