Kian Tajbakhsh in kian.substack,com:
Twenty years ago, precisely on 9-11-2001, I was booked to fly out from NYC to Tehran. All flights were cancelled, so I witnessed the aftermath of the gruesome attack here in Manhattan. I wrote about what I saw and what I felt, drawing on what I then understood about the world. It was hardly a deep understanding especially about the Middle East, Iran, or Islamism, I admit. (That I was woefully unprepared to navigate the tumultuous waters of Middle Eastern geopolitics – which after 9-11 began churning with a new intensity – was something I would learn the hard way in the decade to come.) My essay “September 11: An Iranian In New York” was published in English in November after reaching Tehran. It was then published in Persian in one of Tehran’s main newspaper’s magazine edition. I have appended the Persian at the end this post.
I ended the essay with an expression of hope, Langston Hughes’ poem Let America be America Again. Today I know more than I did then about both the contradictions and the unfulfilled promises of America in that part of the world; I would certainly qualify some of the somewhat naively critical assessments of America’s international role, if I was to write it today. Despite the passage of two decades and much hard-won experience, I still feel the power and hope expressed in the poem, which captures, unflinchingly but in the end lovingly, the unfulfilled promise of America. A promise which I feel even more strongly today is worth striving for. I share the essay here to remember that grim day and its victims.