Are we without sin?
Dear town of Aspen: We, the city of Bariloche, thank you for your kind invitation to be your Sister City, but we must respectfully decline the offer. Upon deeper investigation, we have found too many questionable items about your town to allow us to have your name associated with ours.
From your earliest history, your town has engaged in morally ambiguous activities. In fact, we note that you have even changed the name of your city from its original to hide the sad fact that you stole the land and forcibly relocated the original inhabitants, whom you then named the town after.
But we are not concerned with ancient history; all that can be forgiven, since it was your ancestors and not you who committed those crimes. We see, also, that several people with German and Austrian names emigrated to your fair city in the early 1950s. But we suppose we should assume that none of those people, despite being in the age range for military service, had been members of the German military.
No, that also we can overlook. What we cannot overlook is your current harboring of criminals. For instance, you have accepted large bribes (or perhaps you would rather refer to them as contributions) from a member of the ruling family of Saudi Arabia as payment for allowing him to build an oversized mansion in your city.
It is common knowledge that this ruling monarchy brutally represses any attempt at creating democracy in their own country, treat their women as slaves, and harbor and nurture terrorists. (Most of the terrorists who died flying planes into American buildings on Sept. 11 were Saudi Arabians, as is terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.)
Further, we note that a current resident of your city is the notorious Kenneth Lay, ex-CEO of Enron, a company which has already had several of its executive officers sentenced to prison for acts of fraud. While Mr. Lay has not yet been formally charged, it is with some suspicion we note the convenient suicide of the man who would have been the best witness against him.
Finally, it is with some irony that we note your city’s small but vocal group of supporters of the terrorist state of Israel. You castigate us for having had in the past inhabitants who were Nazi war criminals, yet you support a state headed by a man who has been charged with the 1982 massacre of civilians in the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatilla, a state that has murdered over 2,500 Palestinians in just the past three years, and a state that is currently building a wall around Palestinian cities. (It is with more irony that we note how the Jews of Israel apparently did learn something from how they were treated during Word War II; unlike in Warsaw, though, this time they will be on the other side of the wall.)
OK, I’m not really the city of Bariloche, or even an official representative of theirs. But I remember the words of the prophet Yeshua, who said (roughly translated), “Let he among you who is without sin cast the first stone” and “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” Or perhaps the city of Bariloche just needs to ask for your forgiveness three times?