Susan Sontag and 9/11

by Richard Brookhiser

The New York Review of Books ran an estimate of the career of the late Susan Sontag, who functioned as their Pope Joan for many years (“Notes on Susan,” August 6).

The piece mentioned Sontag’s shameful New Yorker essay, in the first issue after 9/11, which was the harbinger of the “we deserved it” school of thought that now stretches from Osama to Ron Paul. A letter to the editor in the current issue (Sept. 27) comments. “[Eliot Weinberger, author of the original piece] talks about Sontag being assailed in an atmosphere of ‘jingoism’ for writing ‘Let’s by all means grieve together. But let’s not be stupid together.’ One does not have to be a jingoist to be offended by that statement. Any intelligent reader can see that Sontag felt no grief whatsoever, and was impatient with those who did. It’s ironic that the woman who wrote the first-rate book Regarding the Pain of Others seemed so unable to sympathize or even grasp the pain of those others who were just forty blocks south of her home.” (Jane Farrell, Peoria, Arizona).

The author responds to several points raised by various correspondents; not to this one.

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