Monica Hesse

Posted by Monica Hesse on October 20, 2010 in News Clips

In the early days after 9/11, employees of the Arab American Institute huddled in their modest K Street offices, afraid to leave the building. Police downstairs guarded the entrance, serving as protection from those who might deliver on the death threats sent to the nonprofit's founder and president, James Zogby. Raghead, they had said. I'll slit your throat.

This is not the story that Zogby likes to tell. He prefers the one that happened next, the one where, in the middle of the threats and the police and the fact that the world had suddenly gone pear-shaped, he heard a timid knock.

"I looked through the door, and I saw the woman from the office next door," he says. He didn't know her name. They had never spoken. "She was holding a platter of brownies. And she said, 'I know you are frightened. I wanted to bring you this.' " He shakes his head at the memory, which honors his belief that violent actions prompt kind reactions and that progress progresses.

He saw the brownies and, he recalls, "I wept."

Zogby, who is of Lebanese descent, is Catholic but...


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