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Letters to the World “Series” by Jascha Kessler

Friday, October 7, 16


Editor, Letters

The Los Angeles Times


Dear Letters Editor:

OpEds have been two-faced features ever since journalism—the daily dose of information and opinion—came into existence, not too many centuries ago.  As for opinions, they are merely what their writers think they are thinking.  But their thinking ought to be subject to the critical thought of any and all readers.

A typical instance of what‘s usually the case, is the non-thinking offered by  Shadi Hamid, “Why Islam Isn’t Like Other Faiths” [11 September] on the very day! America mourns the execution of innocent thousands 15 years ago at the World Trade Center, an execution carried out by suicidal Muslim terrorists.

Here, for example, is the statement by Hamid, one of our XY fellows in Homo Sapiens’ roster of arrogants walking the world: Wearing in public the hijab and burka by “most [women who] choose to do so…[is] about their personal relationship with God.”

How is it possible for this Brookings Institution senior fellow to speak for any or all women?  What, for that matter, is the nature and meaning of a “personal relationship” to God?  As for God, I suggest Hamid study where his prophet was coming from, and start with Freud’s interesting monograph, Moses and Monotheism.  As for Moses, he is said to have lived around 3500 years ago.  Hamid’s “God” is not known, let alone personally, to condescend to a personal relationship to billions alive today on this planet.




Jascha Kessler

Emeritus Professor of Modern English & American Literature, UCLA

Santa Monica, CA


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Jascha Kessler
Born in New York City, Jascha Kessler (Ph.D., Litt.D.) has received varied research grants, prizes, and writing fellowships since 1952 when he won a Major Hopwood Award for Poetry (University of Michigan). They include the NEA Fellowship in Writing, two Senior Fulbright Awards to Italy and one to Czechoslovakia. Since 1961, he has been a Professor of English & Modern Literature at UCLA, also teaching poetry, fiction, and playwrighting. In 1979, Mr. Kessler was a Rockefeller Fellow and worked at the Bellagio Study Center, completing his translation (with Amin Banani) of the Persian poet Forugh Farrokhzad: BRIDE OF ACACIAS: THE POETRY OF FORUGH FARROKHZAD (Caravan Books, Delmar, NY: 1983). He won a California Arts Council Fellowship in Fiction Writing for 1993-1994. He reviewed fiction and poetry weekly, theater and events on the air for KUSC-FM (Los Angeles) for 5 years in the 1980s; several dozen of his reviews, both broadcast and published in magazines and papers since the 1960s, have been anthologized in CONTEMPORARY LITERARY CRITICISM (Gale Research) over the decades. His literary essays have appeared widely. He also served as Arts Commissioner for the City of Santa Monica, California, from 1990-1996. In 2001, his translation of TRAVELING LIGHT from the Finnish won the Finnish Literary Translation Centre Award. Kessler has published several collections of fiction. AN EGYPTIAN BONDAGE, & Other Stories (Harper & Row, NY: 1967); DEATH COMES FOR THE BEHAVIORIST: 4 Long Stories (Lexis Press, San Francisco, CA: 1983); CLASSICAL ILLUSIONS: 28 Stories (McPherson & Co.: Kingston, NY, 1985); and TRANSMIGRATIONS: 18 Mythologems (Jazz Press: Capitola, CA: 1985). His latest collection, SIREN SONGS & CLASSICAL ILLUSIONS: 50 Stories", was published by McPherson & Co., in December of 1992. Also a novel, RAPID TRANSIT 1948: An Unsentimental Education (Xlibris 2000) and a second edition of AN EGYPTIAN BONDAGE (Xlibris 2000). He has also published three volumes of poetry: WHATEVER LOVE DECLARES (The Plantin Press: Los Angeles, CA: 1969; AFTER THE ARMIES HAVE PASSED (NYU Press: NY: 1970); and, IN MEMORY OF THE FUTURE (Kayak Press, Santa Cruz, CA: 1976). Also, revised as COLLECTED POEMS (Xlibris 2000). In 2013 his KING SOLOMON’S SEAL: 76 AND MORE FABLES, was published (xLibris.com, in hardback, paperback, ebook versions).

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