A Lost Opportunity

to Helen Rosenthal, New York City Council member, regarding a community forum she organized on December 8, 2016 at the John Jay College, Upper West Side:

Dear Helen:

I don’t want to come across as ungrateful — I very much appreciate your initiative in organizing this event — but I walked out of it after 2 hours and 10 minutes, tired (since I had a whole workday behind me) and, well, dispirited.

This could have been an event to energize people into action, people who are despairing right now, but it was a lost opportunity since 2 hours were consumed by sermons of panelists of existing organizations before any real question from the audience could be addressed to them. The first speaker made the point I’d like to make: these are extraordinary times, and we have to brace ourselves for extraordinary events threatening everything that is dear to us. It calls for a new mass movement, for pointed and precise actions, and not just for joining or volunteering for this or that organization.

As someone immigrated from Germany, I see the specter of brown shirts, marches in lockstep, proliferation of hate crimes, perversion of an existing system of law on every level. The appointments of imbeciles, racists and opportunists shows that Trump is serious in his intent to dismantle the fabric of this society. Americans, having never been confronted with this kind of movement, have a lack of imagination for evil.

I very much hope the next such event gets right down to business.

Best regards,



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