A small model of civility. A robust correspondence between WestView
reader Jake Hollinger and WestView contributor Kambiz Shekdar.
Hi Mr. Capsis,
I hope you are well. I have to say, as a longtime West Village resident (although not quite as long as you, our household has maintained a WestView News subscription for some time 🙂 , it’s been painful to watch the saga play out between the WestView News and the “New WestView” challenger that seems to have resorted to underhanded tactics; I wish everyone would just get along, and hope that this playacting situation is resolved in short order!
However, as a longtime reader I must say after reading the front-page article titled “From Oil to Medicine,” I see why the New Westview Staff defected. The article is absolutely correct in stating that UAE governmental support for tech abounds, the UAE is a great place to do business, and that Dr. Shekdar has been very successful. All very true (although the latter point is an assumption). However, I would consider this article grossly negligent in failing to mention the abundance of human rights violations that occur on a daily basis still today in the UAE.
Is this the type of country that you want to highlight for New Yorkers do business in? They will detain and kill people for speaking freely, practicing different religions, or simply being from a country that the UAE deems as inferior. Tax dollars generated from earnings in the UAE directly subsidize human rights violations from the government. I have absolutely no problem with your publication promoting business in the UAE, it’s not illegal and it certainly can be monetarily accretive; I take extreme exception to the fact that the article you agreed to publish makes no mention of the constant terror and horrific punishments faced by disadvantaged people in the UAE, subsidized by oil money and tax dollars.
That said, I do enjoy reading your paper, and would appreciate a response.
All the best, Jake Hollinger
I am so grateful for your thoughtful response, and for your time and care in laying it out. Thank you for reaching out.
As an Iranian born openly gay man, I appreciate the points you raise very much. My next door neighbor is ACLU director Anthony Romero. Via Anthony I have had some discussions with persons who are expert in the matters you raise, but my trips to the UAE are purely focused on the biotech sector, which is what the subject of my firsthand account. New York State leads the nation in out-migration for two years running. I hope business factors like the ones that can sway New Yorkers like myself may not only be relevant for individual readers, but also for us to understand as a city and state, if we are to be vibrant in the global economy.
While this does not directly address your points, would you be open to waiting until I get back for us to meet and discuss in person? Currently I am in Dubai and will be in the UAE through the rest of February. I hope and would be grateful to meet you in person.
Above all, thank you for your support of George and the paper and for taking the time to share your well considered and important questions and thoughts.
Thank you so much for your thoughtful, concise, and good-natured response; I’ve found the number of people who are willing to have actual conversations about sensitive topics dwindling rapidly.
This is helpful context, I very much appreciate your point of view, and I found the highlighted section I’ve highlighted in your email particularly impactful. I cannot even imagine what incredible experiences your travels and background have engendered. I wholeheartedly agree that waning globalism and the NYC exodus are things that can potentially be combated with overseas investment opportunities from the USA’s economic capital.
As I’m sure you can surmise, my email was sent not with malice, but with the hope that people examine both the pros and cons of investing abroad (and domestically, frankly) not just from an economical lens, but looking past the ROI to examine the impact on humanity, too. I’m certain you are acutely aware of the tacit implication of looking solely at economic and business benefits while ignoring some of the more macro-level issues facing not just the UAE, but many countries in the region including, tragically, your home country. The Westview news is read by wealthy and powerful people (unfortunately I fall into neither category) that can make a difference in the world, both positive and negative — presenting readers with a comprehensive (as comprehensive as feasible within the context of a twopage article) set of facts is paramount. That said, I want to again reiterate that I respect your POV from your experiences, and find your Biotech work fascinating.
Happy to meet at a later date and discuss further, but I am deeply appreciative of your response.