"The U.S. Chess Federation disassociates itself from the remarks made by Robert J. Fischer about the terrorist actions. The U.S.C.F. Executive Board expresses the deepest sympathy for the victims of the tragedies and the strongest condemnation of the actions of the terrorists. Mr. Fischer will be informed that his membership may be revoked."
Dr. Frank Brady moved to amend by adding, "Mr. Fischer will be informed that his membership may be revoked." The amendment passed 6-0-1, McCrary abstaining. Then the main motion as amended PASSED 7-0.
I feel that this resolution was a mistake and it would be a bigger mistake to publish this in Chess Life, unless the purpose is to get worldwide publicity for the USCF.
I have played over the broadcast by Bobby Fischer many times. The broadcast can be downloaded at http://home.att.ne.jp/moon/bobby_c/F_19_1.MP3. There are several things about his broadcast which seem to be overlooked:
According to the tape, the remarks made by Robert J. Fischer were broadcast from the Philippines on September 11, the same date as the attack on the World Trade Center. However, the Philippines is 13 hours ahead of New York and Bobby was in Japan, which is 14 hours ahead of New York. The first tower of the World Trade Center to be hit was hit at 8:45 AM New York Time and did not fall down until 10:30 AM, which was 11:30 PM Philippines time. Thus, assuming that it is correct that the broadcast occurred on 9-11, it was almost impossible for Bobby to have known the extent of damage or loss of life at the time he made the broadcast.
What undoubtedly happened is that the interviewer, who had interviewed Bobby on a regular basis over the previous two years and knew his home telephone number, called him, perhaps even woke him up, informed him of the attacks and asked his reaction. The interviewer states that the attacks occurred "a few hours ago", which confirms that this interview took place immediately after the attack on the World Trade Center.
If you listen to the exact words Bobby used, you will find that he never mentions the attack on the World Trade Center. Nowhere in the interview does he say the words "World Trade Center". If you listen carefully, you will also see that the interviewer does not say that the World Trade Center has been attacked. Rather, the interviewer refers to "the attack on the White House and I think the Pentagon too". As we all know, the White House was not actually attacked, so this interview took place during the period when nobody really knew what was happening.
The interview lasted 11 minutes 58 seconds. All but the first few seconds are concerned with such historical events as the US dropping the A-Bombs on Japan, the institution of slavery in America and the conflict between the Jews and the Arabs over Israel. Bobby berates the USA for supporting Israel in the Palestinian conflict. He says that the US should withdraw its forces from all over the world. If you make a transcript of his exact words and take a street poll, asking people whether they agree or disagree with his specific statements, a significant minority and perhaps even a majority will agree with what Bobby said. As far as I am aware, no transcript of his actual words has been made.
Bobby expresses extreme views, such as when he says that white Americans should go back to Europe and Black Americans should go back to Africa and give America back to the Indians. While this is a silly idea, once again there are many who agree with it.
In summary, Bobby never says that he is happy that innocent people died. To the contrary, he expresses the hope that a war will not break out over this. At the time of the broadcast, he could not possibly have known of the extent of loss of life, because the World Trade Center had not fallen down yet.
Also, the attack on the Pentagon, which Bobby did know about, was not by definition a terrorist act. Under any reasonable definition of "terrorism", the Pentagon is a legitimate military target.
The point is being made that the interview of Bobby Fischer has been the subject of press commentary around the world and therefore the USCF should disassociate itself with Bobby's views.
However, much of this press commentary has been false and misleading. For example, on December 4, 2001 Andy Soltis published an article about Bobby in the New York Post which did not mention the attack on the World Trade Center. Another article in the same issue of the New York Post, this one not by Soltis, did mention the attack but did not make it clear that the interview of Fischer had taken place three months earlier. Almost everybody who read the Post article thought that those were recent statements by Fischer.
Similarly, on December 2, 2001, an article appeared in the London Daily Telegraph which quoted Bobby as saying: This is all wonderful news. It is time to finish off the US once and for all. . . . I was happy and could not believe what was happening. All the crimes the US has committed in the world. This just shows, what goes around comes around, even to the US. I applaud the act. The US and Israel have been slaughtering the Palestinians for years. Now it is coming back at the US."
Again, this statement is taken out of context. Fischer did not state what "the act" was that he was applauding or what "the news" was that was wonderful. Again, at the time of this statement, he did not know and could not have known that the World Trade Center had collapsed. At the time Bobby Fischer made this statement, our fearless President George W. Bush was hiding in a bunker in an unknown location. Bobby in his interview actually anticipated this, saying that "they will be hiding hundreds of feet underneath the Colorado Rocky Mountains".
Compare what Fischer said to what US religious leaders Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson said. Falwell and Robertson specifically blamed the attack on the World Trade Center on the American Civil Liberties Union. Falwell also blamed the federal courts, abortionists, lesbians, pagans and gays for the attack on the World Trade Center. On September 14, 2001, the Washington Post reported:
God Gave U.S. 'What We Deserve,' Falwell Says
By John F. Harris
Television evangelists Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, two of the most prominent voices of the religious right, said liberal civil liberties groups, feminists, homosexuals and abortion rights supporters bear responsibility for Tuesday's terrorist attacks because their actions have turned God's anger against America.
"God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve," said Falwell, appearing yesterday on the Christian Broadcasting Network's "700 Club," hosted by Robertson.
Falwell said the American Civil Liberties Union has "got to take a lot of blame for this," again winning Robertson's agreement: "Well, yes."
Please bear in mind that Falwell did not make these statements in the first hours after the attack on the World Trade Center. He said this a few days later, when the extent of the carnage was well known. Moreover, Falwell made and continues to make these statements in connection with fundraising appeals.
Falwell and his church are members of various Christian religions groups and organizations. You do not see spokesmen for those groups coming out and condemning Falwell and Robertson for their remarks or threatening to revoke their membership in those organizations. Yet, here the USCF is threatening to revoke Bobby Fischer's membership in the USCF for making statements with which many if not most Americans agree. The statements by Bobby condemning the US for dropping the A-Bomb on Hiroshima, for enslaving Blacks and for supporting Israel against the Palestinians, which constitute almost the entire thrust of Bobby's September 11 broadcast remarks, are virtually mainstream views.
In short, the USCF is going to get itself in deep water and bring a lot of negative publicity on itself if this resolution is published in Chess Life.
If this resolution is published in Chess Life, I hereby request that all or any part of my letter herein be published as a rebuttal.
Very truly yours,
Here are links: