When I first joined PEN America ten years ago, I was happy to pay my membership fee to support its work in advancing literature and defending free expression. But over the years, I’ve become disillusioned with the organization–partly due to its selective human rights agenda, and more recently due to its profound lack of judgment in choosing its new executive director.
As with far too many NGOs, PEN America has elected to wear blinders when it comes to human rights violations by the United States and its militarism projected through institutions like NATO and militarily dependent states like Israel. While I was disheartened by PEN International’s former vice president Nadine Gordimer’s bias when it came to Israel, the recent choice by PEN America’s trustees to install the former U.S. State Department warmonger Suzanne Nossel as its new executive director is the final straw.
As an experienced advocate for neoliberal coercion to achieve American hegemony, Nossel has taken an aggressive pro-war stance over the last decade, including the US invasion of Iraq and the NATO bombing of Libya. When working as a Hillary wannabe at State, Nossel fought hard at the UN Human Rights Council as an apologist for Zionist crimes against humanity in Palestine. If this is the best PEN America can do, then they can do without my support.