**Guest Post by TAM Shifra**
Before the TamChat, I “belonged” to another chat room. Or, so I thought…
January 2001. I am finishing up my coursework at a Postdoctoral psychoanalytic institute in Manhattan. There is a Listserve for referrals, conferences, and so on. It has also evolved into a forum for political discussions, which seem to center around “the stolen election,” and President Bush as a “moron,” and worse. I had voted for W, but I am too busy for politics. I do not pay attention to the discussions.
September 18, 2001. It is one week since 9/11. I am eager to join my colleagues at a seminar we are taking, at the Greenwich Village apartment of an analyst at the institute. We share a bond, I think, having all been in NYC that awful day.
But something goes wrong. The discussion opens with a plaintive question: “What horrible sins has America committed to deserve this?” Everyone nods somberly. America (Amerika?) is an imperialist country. We are neo-colonialists. We meddle in the affairs of others. We have brought this upon ourselves.
I remember a conversation I had with my parents, during the Vietnam War. What’s so terrible, I wanted to know, about opposing the war? No one wants to die in a Vietnamese jungle. No, my father insisted, the anti-war movement was really about hating America. The Left was infecting a new generation of college students. One day, he said, it would come back to haunt the country.
I look around the room at these people, and suddenly, they are not my colleagues. They had come of age in the late 60’s. They are the new generation of the Left. I do not want anything to do with their discussion. I will stare at the floor for two hours. But their politico-babble irritates me. I suddenly snap at them, “No one deserved to meet their death by jumping out of the WTC windows last week.” We argue. Someone objects to my “disrespectful attitude” towards Muslims. I am called a racist.
The class ends, and as I walk out, I am angry, mostly at myself. I had been too busy for politics. I had not been paying attention. I vow that from now on, I will pay attention.
2003. I go on the Listserve. There is an announcement. Everyone must go to Washington DC to protest the Iraq War. I am curious. I click on the link. There is a picture of Palestinian flags. A sign reads ”Zionism=Nazism.” I write: “I understand that there is opposition to the war. But I would appreciate it if people would be more careful about posting vicious anti-Israel propaganda.” I am not prepared for the intensity of their anger: “How dare you!” says one. “You will not silence us!” Several scream about the “legitimate rights” of the Palestinian people for a homeland. I write back: “There already is a Palestinian state. It is called Jordan.” More join the fray. But I will not back down. Their rhetoric becomes more hateful, more preposterous. Israel stole the land from the Palestinians. Israel is committing genocide.
Several people contact me, via email. Thank you, they say, for standing up to these people. I post the following: “I appreciate all who contacted me privately, thanking me for standing up for Israel, the operative word being “privately.” It seems that people are afraid to speak up on this Listserve. I suppose that is what is meant by the Tyranny of the Left.” The attacks become personal. I am referred to as “she.” One man writes: “I find it laughable that she considers herself an analyst, with her un-modulated affect.” ( Translation: a woman with an opinion is an ‘out-of-control hysteric.’ Apparently, sexism is alive and well on the Left. Who knew?) A friend says to me, “You need to stop.” Why,” I ask, although I half-know the answer. “Are you having fun?” No,” I say, “this is not fun. I am getting ill.” And so, I stop. I will no longer be part of the Listserve.
Last weekend. My post is put on the TamBlog. Monday morning, I enter the chat room, and I am greeted warmly by the TAMS. We are Black and White, gay and straight. We are Evangelical Christians, Catholics, Jews, and atheists. We are all over the map. But we share, all of us, a bond. We all believe that America is “the last best hope for mankind.” I am asked if I saw the comments to my post. Yes, I read them all. This is very gratifying, more than anyone knows. As we say in the chat room: I love us.