The first time I came to New York on my own, was on or slightly after my twentieth birthday, 03/17/2003. Historians will note that on or around that date marked the beginning of the long-awaited American-led invasion of Iraq, “operation shock and awe.” It felt gratuitously horrifying, and “the war” was lavishly splashed over every television screen, including some that had been wheeled out of nowhere seemingly just to display VT of embedded reporters on the front line. I was on a short-term exchange fellowship to Sarah Lawrence College, starting around that time. My loathing for Americans and America was intense, and I didn’t know why I was there. The night our contingent of exchange students arrived in Bronxville, a day or two before the bombing campaign escalated into carnage, the college had organized an event, for some reason, entitled “Why Do They Hate Us? The Roots of Global Anti-Americanisms,” in which a French professor, a Middle Eastern Studies professor, a British studies professor, and a couple of others, offered some platitudes about the meanies around the world who did not find George Bush personally charming. Sarah Lawrence, I had been led to believe, was a left-oriented institution - while I was there, one of the faculty told me “this is the most benign place on earth, so the fact we’re all united against anti-Americanism means you
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