the net of people deeply affected by political violence
Not In Our Son’s Name
Monday 18 August 2008
[(Phyllis and Orlando Rodriguezes’ son Greg was one of the World Trade Center victims. The Rodriguezes have asked that people share as widely as possible copies of this Sept. 15 letter they distributed to the media. It was written before the bombing of Afghanistan began.)]
Our son Greg is among the many missing from the World Trade Center attack. Since we first heard the news, we have shared moments of grief, comfort, hope, despair, fond memories with his wife, the two families, our friends and neighbors, his loving colleagues at Cantor Fitzgerald/ESpeed, and all the grieving families that daily meet at the Pierre Hotel.
We see our hurt and anger reflected among everybody we meet. We cannot pay attention to the daily flow of news about this disaster. But we read enough of the news to sense that our government is heading in the direction of violent revenge, with the prospect of sons, daughters, parents, friends in distant lands, dying, suffering, and nursing further grievances against us. It is not the way to go. It will not avenge our son’s death. Not in our son’s name.
Our son died a victim of an inhuman ideology. Our actions should not serve the same purpose. Let us grieve. Let us reflect and pray. Let us think about a rational response that brings real peace and justice to our world. But let us not as a nation add to the inhumanity of our times.
Discuss how Phyllis and Orlando Rodriguez would respond to the policies of the U.S. government in the weeks after they wrote this letter.
Find a newspaper letter to the editor about post-September 11th events - terrorism, the war in Afghanistan, the new anti-terrorism legislation, etc. - and write your own letter in response. If you like, write this from the Rodriguezes’ perspective.
[|Benjamin Bratt reads Orlando and Phyllis Rodriguez’s letter|]
Benjamin Bratt reads Orlando and Phyllis Rodriguez’s letter, "Not in Our Son’s Name," distributed to the media on September 15, 2001. Part of a reading of Voices of a People’s History of the United States (Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove) at All Saints Church in Pasadena, CA on February 1, 2007.
[|In Our Son’s Name - Trailer|]
The comfortable life of Phyllis and Orlando Rodríguez is shattered when their son, Greg, is killed in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Overwhelmed by grief, the couple rejects violent retaliation that will take more innocent lives. Instead, they come to terms with Greg’s murder through acts of reconciliation. Their odyssey tests the strength of their convictions as they speak out against war in Afghanistan and Iraq, oppose the death penalty for Zacarias Moussaoui, who pleads guilty of conspiracy in the attack, and befriend his mother, Aïcha el-Wafi.
Their transformational search for healing takes a surprising turn as they reach out to convicted felons who themselves seek reconciliation and redemption. As the tenth anniversary of the attack approaches, Phyllis and Orlando again speak out, against anti-Muslim actions and rhetoric that surface around the proposed construction of Park51, an Islamic community center near Ground Zero. This time they reach out to Talat Hamdani, a Muslim whose son, a New York City police cadet, was killed in the 9/11 attack. Unexpectedly, Aïcha el-Wafi joins them.
Filmed in HDV, the hour-long documentary will inter-cut verité footage and on-camera interviews with mixed media animation of family photographs and news reports of 9/11, Moussaoui’s trial, and the Park51 controversy to tell a powerful story that challenges conventional concepts of responding to violence.