Nine years ago my cousin Karen Klitzman was murdered in her workplace when a handful of Muslim fanatics crashed two airplanes into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. Karen, along with her twin sister Donna with whom she was extraordinarily close, shared the same birthday as mine, though she was several years younger. She loved life and believed in social justice.
So it makes my blood boil when Fox News and right-wing politicians like Newt Gingrich invoke the names of those who died on 9/11 and the "sensitivities" of their family members to gin up bigotry against all Muslims for political gain. How dare they presume to speak for all those who died on 9/11 and their families?
It made Karen's sister Susan Klitizman, a Professor of Public Health at Hunter College in New York, so mad that she dashed off a letter to the editors of the New York Times while riding the subway home from work. Much to her surprise, it was published in the Times last Saturday. For readers of The Huffington Post who might have missed it, I'd like to share that letter with you:
To the Editor:
As a 9/11 family member, I applaud your Sept. 3 editorial "Mistrust and the Mosque." I didn't get a chance to say goodbye to my sister, Karen Klitzman, as she took her last breath on the 104th floor of Tower 1. Nor did I get a chance to ask her how she felt about the proposed Islamic cultural center and mosque, or the ensuing controversy.
But I do know that she would have been deeply offended, as I have been, by the growing number of public figures (many of whom I otherwise respect) who are invoking her memory, along with those of 9/11 victims en masse, to promote ignorance, prejudice, and religious and ethnic discrimination.
Rather, as we approach the ninth anniversary of 9/11, I know she would have wanted us to remember how much she valued freedom, tolerance and understanding.
New York, Sept. 3, 2010