Subject: Letter to Pickles
First Lady, The White House
Dear Mrs. Bush,
I am writing to let you know why I am not
able to accept your kind
invitation to give a presentation at the
National Book Festival on
September 24, or to attend your dinner
at the Library of Congress or
the breakfast at the White House.
I tried to see my way clear to attend the
festival in order to bear
witness -- as an American who loves her
country and its principles
and its writing -- against this undeclared
and devastating war.
But I could not face the idea of breaking
bread with you. I knew that
if I sat down to eat with you, it would
feel to me as if I were condoning
what I see to be the wild, high-handed
actions of the Bush Administration.
What kept coming to the fore of my mind
was that I would be taking
food from the hand of the First Lady who
represents the Administration
that unleashed this war and that wills its continuation,
even to the extent
of permitting "extraordinary rendition":
flying people to other countries
where they will be tortured for us.
So many Americans who had felt pride in our country
now feel anguish
and shame, for the current regime of blood, wounds
and fire. I thought of
the clean linens at your table, the shining knives
and the flames of the candles,
and I could not stomach it.
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