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SUSAN SONTAG Printer Friendly Page

Susan Sontag: A Prediction
By Roger Kimball
December 28, 2004

The Community of the Disobedient
By Steven Zak
June 6, 2003

A Soviet Dissident's "Literary River"
By Stephen Schwartz
September 20, 2004

 


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  • Well-known American writer and leftist icon
  • Anti-war and human rights activist
  • Traveled to Hanoi during the Vietnam War and praised the Communist dictatorship
  • Supports the cause of deceased anti-Israeli, pro-terrorist activist Rachel Corrie
  • Deemed the 9/11 attacks a “consequence of specific American alliances and actions”
  • Died in December 2004 at age 71



One of America’s best-known writers, Susan Sontag was born in New York City in 1933 and was raised in Tucson, Arizona. She received her B.A. degree from the College of the University of Chicago, and later pursued graduate studies in philosophy, literature, and theology at Harvard University and Saint Anne’s College, Oxford. She went on to publish numerous novels, plays, short stories, and works of nonfiction. In addition to her writing career, Sontag considered herself a “human rights activist.” She was a strong supporter of the anti-war movement and spoke out harshly against the Bush administration’s war in Iraq and the more widespread war on terror. Sontag’s anti-war sentiments had deep roots. During the Vietnam War, she visited Hanoi during a U.S. bombing campaign there. Also during that era, she candidly ascribed all of humanity’s aggressive and racist impulses to the white race, which in 1967 she characterized as “the cancer of human history.” Immediately after the 9/11 al Qaeda terrorist attacks, Sontag asserted – in the September 24, 2001 issue of The New Yorker magazine – that the hijackings and mass murders were “not a ‘cowardly’ attack on ‘civilization’ or ‘liberty’ or ‘humanity’ or ‘the free world,’ but an attack on the world’s self-proclaimed super-power, undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions.” “How many citizens are aware of the ongoing American bombing of Iraq?” she asked accusingly while the ruins of the World Trade Center still smoldered atop 3,000 corpses. “And if the word ‘cowardly’ is to be used,” she added, “it might be more aptly applied to those who kill from beyond the range of retaliation, high in the sky, than to those willing to die themselves in order to kill others. In the matter of courage (a morally neutral virtue): whatever may be said of the perpetrators of Tuesday’s slaughter, they were not cowards.”    In the summer of 2002 Sontag condemned what she called “the contemptible rhetoric of the Bush administration.” “The last thing in the world we want to do,” she said, “is cooperate with the jihadist mentality of this administration.”

In 2003 Sontag expressed, in The Nation, her support for Israeli draft resisters and Rachel Corrie, the International Solidarity Movement member who was accidentally run over by an Israeli army bulldozer in Gaza while attempting to be a “human shield” protecting the property of Palestinian terrorists. According to Sontag, Corrie was “killed by the forces of violence and oppression”—meaning Israel.

 

Sontag died on December 28, 2004, at the age of 71

 

 

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