Dear Dispatches,

I am at the moment in Singapore. In a few weeks I will go to Kolkata for the publication of the the special Bengali issue where both Michael’s and my work will appear. As necessity, at this moment,
my response will be brief.
I have know Linh personally for years. As both of you, I have been an admirer of Linh’s poetry, prose and photography for years. Several times we walked the street of New York and Philadelphia for hours discussing poetry and dire condition of the United States. In his last books of poetry and photographs of shut down and abandoned factories and people across America, his apocalyptic, searing vision is apparent. I have been familiar with it for years.
I must say, from what you are saying, Linh seems to have taken one step beyond that. It also deeply disturbs me because it means losing a friend whom I deeply admire and have affection for.
I have not had time to read Linh’s articles that both you and Mike are referring, so I can not comment in detail on them. But one part of what he writes in your e-mail exchanges having to do with Zionism and “Jewish power” disturbs me greatly. Linh starts with a historical specificity, the state of Israel “and its power”, and its destructive effect on the neighbors around it. So far so good. Israel has done that, and it is deeply disturbing to any one with a sense of justice, non-Jewish or Jewish. Then he asks for its “elimination” ( that may be the exact word he is using, but I am not sure). Linh here is already entering ambiguous, slippery ground. Elimination of what? Is it the elimination of the Israeli state or all the Jews in it by their being driven, as the expression goes, “into the sea.” Linh is very unclear on that. What does he mean by that? Nevertheless, both alternatives are held with deep conviction in the Middle East; therefore, one can say they represent views within public discourse, different political views. Where Linh, unless I misunderstand him, goes into mythological la la land in the second step he takes when he says: “… and “Jewish Power” that destroyed many countries; it should also be eliminated.” Which countries are those that Jewish Power also destroyed. Could Linh list them? And what is more ominous is the elimination part: since no countries are being listed, who is being eliminated in this second part and from where? Since we are not talking about Israel being abolished (or Zionism per se) here, are we talking about people (i.e. Jews) here? They are eliminated to where, to Gulags, to ghettos, or, in a more “purist” way, to concentration camps?
Kent, Michael, you gently suggested that in his writings Linh is entering The Protocol of the Elders of Zion here. He is doing more than that. He is entering the National Socialist Nazi territory here in the talk of the elimination of Jewish Power. Of course, it is possible that I misunderstood or misread him. If so, he only has clarify himself. As a friend who has deep affection and admiration for him, such an outcome would only delight me.
Kent, Michael. affectionately,