Albert Russo
"Art is but a moment of happiness, it is like a lightning of bliss cleaving the never-ending horrors of our world."

Open Letter to American Writers’ Associations

This essay follows my article America and the epidemic of political correctness which was recently published in The Times of Israel.

One of the numerous Writers’ associations I belong to in the US responded to a comment contained in the above-mentioned article, in this manner, to my utter dismay:

“Hi Albert, The post was flagged by multiple members of the community. The problematic content was that it used abusive language toward a group of people by conflating the Muslim population with terrorists.  In the future, please refrain from targeting specific individuals or whole groups of people with defamatory language.”

I have never said or written that all or most Muslims are terrorists, but rather pointed out that — for whatever reasons — Islamic terrorism is a painful factum that has negatively impacted persons on most countries outside of the «protectionist» US adversely and often… both now, and earlier in history.  Everyone has a right to his or her own opinions and artistic expression; my own opinions are not driven by hatred or racism or malice, but rather out of love and respect for human rights and dignity.  Just read my novels which are studied in several universities on the five continents, including in Africa.

I feel indignant, inasmuch as my loved ones have been «driven out» and harassed for several decades … by the Nazis, by anti-Semites, by Holocaust-deniers and by Islamist hoodlums terrorizing Jews and gays on the streets of France and Belgium – among them, myself, members of my own family, friends and acquaintances.  All of the viewpoints in my essay have been previously expressed in my published books — which have been the foundation of my membership in Writers’ associations around the world and of my artistic reputation for several decades.  To be censored by an organization that supposedly supports artistic free speech is in itself essentially an act of artistic terrorism.

There is Muslim terrorism happening everywhere, also against persons of color in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe, the Americas and Australia, but the majority of victims are innocent Muslims.  Shielded from the terrorism from which European countries suffer — yet, who can forget the atrocious events of 9/11? — by geography and protectionism, US authors are privileged, yet many of them are politically and culturally ignorant of what is happening outside their borders. As ‘authors’ they should promote discussion and dialogue—not censure fellow authors.

As a writer and as a member of an oppressed minority who has lived all over The World, who reads international news in several languages and who has friends and colleagues of many races, religions and cultures I take offense — personally and professionally—at the artistic censorship now inflicted upon me.

History is full of stories of artists, authors and statesmen and women who have had the Courage to stand up against institutional prejudice and censorship — and yes, thinly veiled racism against Jews, gays, women (especially Muslim women) and other minorities who find the courage to speak their mind.

I have sadly come to the realization that some of the writers’ associations I belong to are perhaps not the freedom of speech havens I had thought and needed all these years.  So what is next?  Will they now boycott Israel’s authors and scientists, just as has been promised by others whose intolerance of viewpoints not in harmony with their own leads them into the very cycle of hatred and xenophobia that they profess to fight against?  Just because Americans decide that Muslim terrorism is not an issue in the US it is still a huge problem elsewhere.

And yet, In a statement, the National Coalition Against Censorship and other organizations dedicated to defending free expression voiced concern over calls to boycott Simon & Schuster because one of its imprints – Threshold Editions – was publishing a book by the controversial conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos. The statement was endorsed by American Booksellers Association, Association of American Publishers, Authors Guild, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Freedom to Read Foundation, Index on Censorship, and the National Council of Teachers of English.  For the details, please go to the following link:

Free Speech Groups Release Statement in Support of Publisher of Milo Yiannopoulos’ Book; UPDATE: NCAC Responds to Cancellation of Milo’s Book

In Europe Houellebecq, the controversial French author, won his legal case about voicing his views on Islamization.

I also urge you to get acquainted with the human rights UN WATCH organization
https://www.unwatch.org/en/

Finally, I would like to add the links of a few Arab journalists and commentators who write or say things about their religion and their countries’ politics that could send them to the gallows.  I should stress the fact that I do not agree with some of their sweeping assertions.  What I wanted to show here is that these people have the guts to express what many Americans find offensive and defamatory.  Would the latter want to shut them up if they emigrated to America and voiced these same opinions???

https://www.memri.org/reports/lebanese-journalist-100-years-after-balfour-declaration-arabs-have-failed-where-israel-has

https://www.memri.org/reports/iraqi-writer-arab-muslims-are-racist-and-expansionist-%E2%80%93-and-attribute-these-evil-traits

Youssef Al-Husseini, An Egyptian commentator talking about Muslims (on Egyptian TV 19/6/2017):

About the Author
Albert Russo who has published worldwide over 85 books of poetry, fiction and essays (35) and photography (50), in both English and French, his two mother tongues, and sometimes in Italian, (Italian being his 'paternal' tongue) - he also speaks Spanish and German and still has notions of Swahili -, is the recipient of many awards,such as The New York Poetry Forum and Amelia (CA) Awards, The American Society of Writers Fiction Award, The British Diversity Short Story Award, The AZsacra International Poetry Award (Taj Mahal Review - US$ 500), the Books & Authors Award, several Writer’s Digest poetry and fiction Awards (winner and finalist), aquillrelle Awards, the Prix Colette and the Prix de la Liberté, among others. His work has been translated into about 15 languages in 25 countries, on the five continents. He has co-published Gaytude with Adam Donaldson Powell, which won Best Gay Book in the USA. Albert Russo’s major books are the AFRICAN QUATUOR (AQ), his memoir CALL ME CHAMELEON (CMC), his humorous ZAPINETTE Series (Zapy), GOSH ZAPINETTE, the first ever series of global Jewish humor, his books of stories and of poetry encompassing 40 years of writing, entitled: THE CROWDED WORLD OF SOLITUDE, vol. 1 -CWS1 (the stories and essays) and THE CROWDED WORLD OF SOLITUDE, vol. 2 (the poems) CWS2 + the two big books dedicated to his beloved mother Sarah Russo (SR) + about 50 books of photos. His definitive biography penned by the Norwegian African-American writer, poet and artist Adam Donaldson Powell, UNDER THE SHIRTTAILS OF ALBERT RUSSO was released by l’Aleph (November 2017), Wisehouse Publishing. A humanist with roots in Central, Southern Africa, and the Mediterranean, he has been acclaimed by James Baldwin, Edmund White, Martin Tucker, Douglas Parmee of Oxford University, Joseph Kessel, Pierre Emmanuel, both of the Académie Française, among many other literary authorities, as well as by his African peers, Chinua Achebe among them. Albert Russo was also a member of the 1996 jury for the Neustadt International Prize for Literature which often leads to the Nobel Prize of Literature. Latest Prize: Best 2013 Unicef Short Story award in defense of childhood worldwide, for Revenge by proxy / Vengeance par procuration.  His 50-odd books of photography have garnered awards in the USA, UK, Russia, France, etc. Some of his work has been exhibited in the Louvre Museum, at the Espace Pierre Cardin, both in Paris, in Times Square, New York, at the Museum of Photography in Lausanne, Switzerland, in Art Berlin, in Tokyo, in Moscow, etc. The former Mayor of the Big Apple, Mr Bloomberg, has lauded his two photo books on Paris and New York. Some of his novels and memoirs have also been filmed in English, with videos 90 and 100 minutes long. Latest award: I have just received the following award. "Dear Albert, It is with great pleasure to announce that you have been selected as a Book Excellence Award Finalist for the following book: 'GOSH ZAPINETTE! the first ever series of global humor’ (770 pages). There were hundreds of entries from around the world and 'GOSH ZAPINETTE! the first ever series of global humor' was selected for its high-quality writing, design and market appeal. Congratulations. The Book Excellence Award Committee.” The Book Excellence Awards Advantage. More than just an awards competition, the Book Excellence Awards provides authors and publishers with extended support and resources on topics such as publishing, marketing, writing, publicity and social media. The Book Excellence Awards is a smart investment on your publishing journey and the results and benefits will last a lifetime! Literary website: www.albertrusso.com - "Art is but a moment of happiness, it is like a lightning of bliss cleaving the never-ending horrors of our world." Albert Russo “Inspiration is like delicious food that your taste buds remember, or a perfume you have long forgotten and whose whiff suddenly brushes your nostrils again, giving you pangs of nostalgia.” Albert Russo
Comments