Albert Stark never planned to be the elder statesman he has become. A

child of the 1960s, he has described his younger self as "a hippie."

He graduated from hippie to prosecutor in due time, but quit that job

when his wife, Ellen, a microbiologist – and also a social activist –

"all but forced" him to leave what she considered to be, in the

turbulent years when civil rights leaders were being persecuted and

killed, "the enemy camp."

Stark eventually, and reluctantly, set out to build a law firm at the

urging of his father, the late Sidney Stark, with whom he practiced

law after leaving the prosecutor’s office. In the subsequent years

Stark has built Stark & Stark, with headquarters on Lenox Drive, into

a prominent full service law firm with offices in Marlton,

Philadephia, and New York.

While building his firm, and concentrating his own practice on

representing accident victims with brain injuries, Stark has continued

to give back to Trenton, the city where he grew up. After working in

his firm for more than 40 years, he has been able to free up some time

to work at the craft that was his first love.

"I always wanted to be a writer," he said in a U.S. 1 interview soon

after his first book, "Beyond the Bar: Challenges in a Lawyer’s Life,"

was published several years ago. He has now combined his generosity

toward Trenton with his drive to chronicle his times by writing "A War

Against Terrorism Through My Lens" and donating all proceeds to the

College of New Jersey’s Center for Social Justice. On Thursday,

October 19, at 5 p.m. he is holding a book signing at the College of

New Jersey. The event is free, and signed copies of the new book are

available to anyone who makes a contribution in any amount to the

college. Call 609-771-2393 for more information.

His book is a commentary on social and political events occurring

between 1991 and 2005, a period he sees as beginning on note of

optimism and ending in greed, intolerance, and geopolitical insanity.

Here is an excerpt, beginning with a reflection on Bill Clinton’s

second term as president:

by Albert Stark

An African American singer, a Jewish female justice, and an evangelist

set the tone for his second term. Jessye Norman, cloaked in crimson,

sang an American medley of "God Bless America," her full mane of hair

waving as she blasted refrains. Ruth Bader Ginsburg became the first

woman justice of the Supreme Court to swear in a president of the

United States. Billy Graham gave the invocation.

In his second inaugural address, Clinton took his own ideas, the best

of the Democratic platform and the best of the Republican platform and

wove them together into a centrist fabric. The boy from Hope tried to

sell Democratic ideals inculcated in the party’s platform for over

fifty years.

Tired of the "L" word, a brand as scorned as the scarlet "A" at the

time of the Salem witches, Clinton abandoned liberal principles. He

spoke about the twentieth century and about building a bridge to the

twenty-first. Sermonizing, he painted Utopia with a broad brush. In

his "land of new promises," Eden would be created. Polite applause

echoed skepticism. Was his speech a wish or promise?

Madeline Albright became the first female secretary of state. As

spring arrived in 1997, one thousand days remained until the

millennium. The Dow Jones Industrial Average had reached 7,000. A

sense of relief spread across the country when, in early June, a jury

found Timothy McVeigh guilty and sentenced him to death. A leap of

faith infused the justice system. The stock market jumped to 7,400.

The burgeoning "computer industry." the Chicago Bulls basketball team,

and Tiger Woods, a young golf phenomenon, dominated the headlines. The

United States was on a roll.

Little did I know that a mere four years later the lessons taught by

the Romans, Christians and Jews would be forgotten.

Then 1998 brought us the Clinton sex scandal with Monica Lewinsky. The

scandal took on a life of its own and became a scandal not just of the

president but also of the press and prosecutor. To divert focus,

Clinton created a crisis with Iraq which almost brought the United

States to war. At the last minute, Saddam Hussein agreed to weapons

inspections. Meanwhile, the United States spent billions to move ships

and airplanes.

To farther switch the focus from his improprieties, missiles attacked

terrorist camps in Sudan and Afghanistan. Seventy-five cruise missiles

worth one million dollars apiece were fired at an individual, Osama

bin Laden, not at a country. For the first time, the United States was

at war against an individual, not a nation. The world had not only

superpowers and supermarkets but now also superpeople.

Bin Laden retaliated with an attack on the USS Cole and on embassies

abroad. An escalating religious war, a war between two civilizations,

between the rich and the poor, had begun; and I wondered to myself

where it would end. Reading the newspapers was a horror. The United

States was using terrorist tactics against Muslims bent on destroying

the United States. Would civil rights be a thing of the past in a few

years?

Who were the terrorists? Muslims, the media proclaimed.

I imagined how angry a Muslim felt when he walked into a mosque in

Cordoba, Spain, seeing the desecration and the transformation of a

holy

Muslim place to a Christian cathedral. Wouldn’t it be the same feeling

a Jew had when the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem was under Muslim control?

Or how Judah Maccabee felt when he found idols in a synagogue?

There was a war going on where the aristocracy was trying to bespeak a

moral superiority to protect itself and put down all others that did

not agree with them. Was this not the same cleansing philosophy of

Queen Isabella in the Inquisition and Hitler with the Holocaust?

I saw my Jewish heritage as an opportunity to understand the suffering

of others and wanted to learn more about why the establishment did not

see the long-term value of lifting up the poor who, if not lifted up,

would be the source of their destruction.

In December, 1998, I had the opportunity to visit North Vietnam. A

woman in her mid-thirties told me, "My father went to war. I was about

two years old. My brother was six. One night we left our home in Hanoi

about midnight. My mother loaded what we had on a bicycle. My brother

pushed another. My mother was carrying me. We walked and walked in the

dark. One of the bicycles broke. We went into the countryside to live.

My brother went to school in tunnels. My father was lucky. He wasn’t

killed. He came home after four years. He worked for the government.

We had rations. We were very poor. Since 1990, with the open market,

things are better now." She pointed to two boys. "Those boys make

about $12 a month. They work six days a week from morning until dark."

I had been in the jungles of Laos with its bomb craters two years

before, where I hiked up a rocky trail that still showed signs of

Agent Orange’s destruction and wondered how an American infantryman

could have survived in the environment. I was sad for the 3.5 to 5

million Vietnamese who were killed in ten years of fighting, but even

more pathetically sorry for the Vietnam veterans and the families of

fifty thousand young Americans who would have been my age if they had

not lost their lives. I had been too embarrassed to call myself an

American.

How, I asked myself could intelligent men send B52s laden with napalm

and helicopters with machine guns to burn and shoot those brave souls

who could not read or write and who had not traveled more than thirty

miles from their birthplaces? How could the United States talk about

human rights when, in reality, one human error after another made by

men who did not or would not understand escalated a needless, useless

war? Richard Nixon, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon Johnson had never been

to Vietnam. George H. W. Bush had never been to Iran or Iraq. Bill

Clinton had never been to Hanoi, North Korea, or Baghdad.

Was that the problem? The leader had never met the "enemy." Worse yet,

he didn’t try to understand them.

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