Ariel Dorfman: I was not in a cage, but was scarred for life

Many questions swirl around Donald Trump’s executive order that supposedly reverses his policy of breaking up families at the border, but one thing is certain amid so much confusion, hypocrisy and ineptitude: permanent damage has already been done, and more is to come. Damage to the children and their parents, and damage to the United States and what it stands for.  

Ariel Dorfman

I think of them in the dark, when their keepers have turned off the lights, when the children sob themselves to sleep. I think of when they awake and neither mamá or papá are there, just other kids and unknown adults hovering nearby, strangers charged with caring for their basic needs. I think of the toddlers, above all, eating their American breakfast, old enough to be asking a question in Spanish — dónde está mi mami?

Martin Luther King Marches On

[Editor’s note: I was there at MLKjr.’s speech in D.C. in the summer of 1963 and that March on Washington changed my life. When I met personally with MLKjr. in 1968, a month before he was murdered, as a representative of the Peace and Freedom Party,  I tried to convince him to run for President that year.  There is a chance that had he accepted he might have had Secret Service protection, though others believe that there were elements of our government that would not have wanted that protection to be too effective. We at Tikkun continue our commitment to the nonviolence that King preached, and to the goal of ending poverty and inequality and racism in all its forms. So it an honor for us to print this piece from another great fighter for peace and justice, Ariel Dorfman.–Rabbi Michael Lerner ]
by Ariel Dorfman

Faraway, I was faraway from Washington D.C. that hot day in August of 1963 when Martin Luther King delivered his famous words from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, I was faraway in Chile. Twenty-one years old at the time and entangled, like so many of my generation, in the struggle to liberate Latin America, the speech by King that was to influence my life so deeply did not even register with me, I cannot even recall having noticed its existence. What I can remember with ferocious precision, however, is the place and the date, and even the hour, when many years later I had occasion to listen for the first time to those “I have a dream” words, heard that melodious baritone, those incantations, that emotional certainty of victory.

Walden on the Rocks

Editor’s note: Ariel Dorfman is one of the greatest living writers. Read and enjoy his reflections, inspired in part by the 200th anniversary of the birth of Thoreau. Walden on the Rocks

Ariel Dorfman

Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection/Bridgeman Images

J.M.W. Turner: Wreckers—Coast of Northumberland, with a Steam-Boat Assisting a Ship off Shore, 1834


THE bodies are strewn everywhere along the beach. Burials are complicated because nobody knows the names of the dead—mostly women and children fleeing famine and poverty, trying to reach the land of plenty that has been promised to them but finding, instead, an early end in turbulent waters. Spectators gape at the debris from the recent shipwreck “cracked up like an eggshell on the rocks,” while others go about their business.

How to Read Donald Trump

(Editor’s Note: Ariel Dorfman has been sharing his writing with Tikkun for several decades, so it is a joy to share this latest article, via our media . Dorfman was one of those profound thinkers who worked with the democratically elected Salvador Allende regime in Chile till the U.S. managed to support a coup by vicious military leaders whose subsequent murder of thousands of progressive Chileans Dorfman managed to escape. Please read his insights on Donald Trump below. For those of you who just received our latest issue of Tikkun magazine in the mail with its focus on Trump Trauma, consider Dorfman’s piece a fitting addition to the analyses put forward there, including the article on Leonard Cohen’s music as a way to help get through some of the worst of the Trump regime. Though not yet as murderous as the Chilean dictatorship, the Trump regime has the same instinctive hate-oriented and “power-over-others” orientation that is the cultural foundation for every variant of fascistic regimes.

A Time for Literary Diplomacy

Now that recent Senate votes have guaranteed that the agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program will go into effect, what more can America do, beyond the strictest vigilance, to build on this historic breakthrough for peace? Perhaps it is time for the citizens of the United States to experience a breakthrough of their own, to go beyond past prejudices against their enemy and use the occasion to gently plunge into the deepest wells of Persian identity that originate in a civilization preceding ours by many centuries. We can do so by connecting with Rumi, a Sufi master born in 1207, whose luminous, salacious, mystical verses written in Farsi are carried by all Iranians in their hearts, as we do the words of Shakespeare. To read even a small selection of Rumi’s witty poems to his beloved can help shatter the blinding stereotypes that separate us from ordinary men and women in Tehran today, the very clichés of mistrust that the negotiators in Geneva had to overcome in order to reach a solution to what seemed an intractable problem. Indeed, those negotiators may have been listening to Rumi when their positions seemed most conflicting and conflictive.