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Cyber river

The Village Voice is calling it "the e-mail heard round the world."

In a recent story for the weekly paper, Joanna Smith Rakoff recounts how a message sent out to friends on Sept.12 by Tamim Ansary, an Afghan-American children's book writer, ended up on millions of computer screens around the globe.

The Independent included portions of Ansary's cyber note, which Salon first published as an opinion piece, in our immediate post-Sept. 11 coverage ("Against the Drumbeat," Sept. 19, 2001). In his message, Ansary argued that "bombing Afghanistan back to the Stone Age" was pointless, and compared the Taliban to the Nazis.

Since then, the 35-year-old San Francisco resident has appeared on talks shows and network newscasts. He's published a memoir, West of Kabul, East of New York: An Afghan American Story. The Northern Alliance even offered him a job as its official spokesperson in the West. Ansary turned it down.

How does he feel about his newfound fame?

"Somebody asked me if I felt ghoulish, because this thing that happened was so terrible and now because of it I'm more successful than I was," Ansary said to Rakoff. "I told that person, 'You can't swim in any river other than the one you're in.' This is the river I'm in."

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