Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 24, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

GROUND ZERO....Ezra Klein says Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is winning the PR war against America:

To state what's implicit in my earlier commentary on the Amedinejad interview a bit more clearly, we're letting Ahmadinejad win this game. America's dodging his invitations to talk, growing hysterical over his requests to lay a wreath at Ground Zero, and interviewing him in a way that makes our press look like White House puppets. This makes us look bad, not him.

Now, I agree that we ought to talk to Iran, we ought to let Ahmadinejad speak at Columbia, and Scott Pelley probably went overboard in his 60 Minutes interview last night. We should be trying to back off the war fever, not whip it up.

Still, I guess I'm curious about something. Am I the only liberal who believes all that stuff but is still pretty queasy about letting this lunatic engage in some wreath-laying crocodile tears at Ground Zero? There's a difference between being unafraid to let someone speak and being unwilling to let him use the most venerated site in the country for a crass PR stunt, isn't there? Hell, a lot of us complain when Rudy Giuliani does this, let alone a guy who denies the Holocaust and has made a career out of chanting "Death to America." Am I off base here?

UPDATE: So far comments are running approximately 100% against me. Hmmm.

UPDATE 2: But Becks agrees with me!

Kevin Drum 1:43 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (157)

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Comments

Yes!

Thomas H. Baumgartner
LTC USAF (Retired)

Posted by: tbaum on September 24, 2007 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps the real issue is that we insist on calling it Ground Zero.

Posted by: craigie on September 24, 2007 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Do we want to let the leader of an Islamic country publicly say bin Laden and his jihadists are wrong to kill 3,000 Americans?

Gosh, that's a tough one.

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on September 24, 2007 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

What Quaker said. Don't be a tool, Mr. Drum.

Posted by: Boronx on September 24, 2007 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

James Carroll has a good opinion article in this morning's Boston Globe on this very subject. I would agree with Mr. Carroll's assessment.

Posted by: Anne on September 24, 2007 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Do you really need me to point out that there's a difference between "complaining" about someone's PR stunt and "banning" a person from going to a locale because they are using it for PR.

Regardless, the banning is counterproductive to undercutting Ahmadinejad and assisting more moderate Iranians for the reasons I pointed out here.

Posted by: Macswain on September 24, 2007 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

"has made a career out of chanting "Death to America."

I don't remember hearing him say anything like that. Are you referring to his participation in the hostage taking at the US Embassy? I thought that even the CIA claims that "they lacked the evidence to "conclude definitively" on Mr. Ahmadinejad's role."

Posted by: luci on September 24, 2007 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

The US was outplayed to begin with. There was no good way out of the situation.

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on September 24, 2007 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

Have any Saudi leaders ever been permitted to visit Ground Zero?

Posted by: Aaron S. Veenstra on September 24, 2007 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

You know, I'm just not convinced that allowing Ahmadinejad to lay a wreath at ground zero is on balance a bad thing.

I'm sure that Ahmadinejad wants to use it for some propaganda purpose. But I'm really not sure just what that purpose might be that would really be a bad one from our point of view.

Look, in the end he would be acknowledging the great tragedy of the 9/11 event. Presumably in the Muslim world such an explicit acknowledgment might be a very positive development and symbol. My guess is that this might actually be quite controversial in that world.

Maybe there's something really important that I'm missing here. But what, exactly?

Posted by: frankly0 on September 24, 2007 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

[1]Am I the only liberal who believes all that stuff but is still pretty queasy about letting this lunatic engage in some wreath-laying crocodile tears at Ground Zero? [2]There's a difference between being unafraid to let someone speak and being unwilling to let him use the most venerated site in the country for a crass PR stunt, isn't there? Hell, a lot of us complain when Rudy Giuliani does this, let alone a guy who denies the Holocaust and has made a career out of chanting "Death to America." [3]Am I off base here?

1. Hopefully, yes. 2. No. 3. Yes.

Posted by: David in NY on September 24, 2007 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Why do you think Ahmadinejab is 'evil?' What did he (or Iran) have to do with 9/11? Why do you think chanting 'death to America' is somehow unfair considering past US interference in Iran (e.g., putting the Shah in power). I haven't heard Ahmadinejab chanting this recently anyway, have you? The Holocaust denial is impossible to defend except as a sad commentary on how we humans indulge in all sorts of denials and exaggerations about those we perceive to be enemies.

Posted by: nepeta on September 24, 2007 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

Hell, a lot of us complain when Rudy Giuliani does this, let alone a guy who denies the Holocaust and has made a career out of chanting "Death to America."

I am not quite sure what you are asking here Kevin. I mean, complaining about politicians engaging in crass, low politics is one thing. Flatly refusing to allow a politician to do so on the basis of some wildly incoherent argument about State sponsorship of terrorism is quite something else. Its perhaps annoying that the Iranian President wants to use 9/11 as a political prop but seriously, who the fuck really cares or takes anything like that seriously. In Josh Marshall's words in response to all the right wing hysteria:

"If we as a country were a person, I'd say grow up. Act like a man*. Have some self-respect."

Posted by: brent on September 24, 2007 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

Look, after September 11, we were glad to see people, all sorts of people, laying wreaths for those who died. See this. Why not now?

Posted by: David in NY on September 24, 2007 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps we should resurrect Nixon to debate the Nikita Ahmedinezad, and allow the Iranian president to go and talk anywhere.

Posted by: gregor on September 24, 2007 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

..unwilling to let him use the most venerated site in the country for a crass PR stunt...

Don't we want Iran's political system to be as advanced as ours?

Posted by: Boronx on September 24, 2007 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin--What knowledge do you possess that proves that Amedinejad is insincere in paying his respects at the site of an attack on the United States by a common enemy? Don't you get hysterical, too. I don't recall there being any Iranians involved in the 9/11 attacks.

I'm not saying that he's a saint or even sincere. I'm just asking you to share what you know and to tell us why you would object to the leader of an "adversary" nation behaving in a conciliatory manner.

Posted by: Liberosity on September 24, 2007 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

My link at the 2:00 comment was to:

http://www.privilogic.com/wordsfail/

Posted by: David in NY on September 24, 2007 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Yes. You are way off base. Get away from Orange County.

Posted by: MNPundit on September 24, 2007 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Think of it this way, Kevin: don't we want the leaders of the Muslim world to acknowledge the tragedy of the attacks on the World Trade Center?

Why should we stand in their way of making that symbolic statement?

Posted by: frankly0 on September 24, 2007 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by: Al on September 24, 2007 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

Apparently, you are alone -- that's a ridiculous argument. I don't see how this can possibly compare to Giulani's constant invoking of 9/11 for personal and political gain.

A better comparison would be Bush visitng other countries and performing symbolic acts of respect, and no one I know complains when he does. Leaders of nations do this all the time.

Posted by: PapaJijo on September 24, 2007 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

Letting Ahmadinejad lay a wreath at Ground Zero is like letting Hit-ler give a prayer for the Jews at Auschwitz

Assuming this isn't a joke, I'll go ahead and point out that Ahmadinejad is responsible for exactly zero 9/11 fatalities.

Posted by: Jason C. on September 24, 2007 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote: " I agree that we ought to talk to Iran, we ought to let Ahmadinejad speak at Columbia"

It depends on which "we" is being discussed. The US government shouldn't prohibit speech. However, Columbia and New York City should exercise good judgment. NYC has done so; Columbia has not.

Would you provide a forum for a Ku Klux Klan leader if the KKK were currently bombing black people and this leader advocated their extermination? Ahmidinijad is just about as bad. His country is supplying IEDs in order to kill Americans. He advocates the extermination of Israel. Iran also tortures and kills gay people.

Columbia doesn't believe in free speech, despite their claim to do so. They ban ROTC. They allowed campus hooligans to shut down a talk from a representative of the Minutemen. Nor has Columbia gone out of its way to invite disidents who oppose Islamic terrorism. Columbia chose to give preference to Ahmidinijad, despite all the digusting things he stands for.

Why do they favor Ahmidinijad more than these others? Maybe they're more taken with power than morality. Or, perhaps Columbia is more inclined to support anti-American speech than pro-American speech.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 24, 2007 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

>"Why do you think Ahmadinejab is 'evil?"

Nepeta has it right. What do you know about him or the actual stance of the Iranian government besides the Bush/Neocon/Israeli line that the MSM has faithfully spewed out?... including some rather questionable translations of his speeches.

If you actually understand the recent history of the Mideast, it turns out that Ahmadinejad is the one telling the truth regarding the situation there... and it's the Bush cabal that is doing the lying. (The ol' Saddam has WMD redeux)

Sadly, humans don't care much for truth when it runs contrary to their own belief systems... don't seem to learn much from their mistakes either (recent or not).

Posted by: Buford on September 24, 2007 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

Add me to the list of those who (1) see the difference between (a) thinking something's wrong and (b) thinking we should forbid it, and (2) think we should be 'big' enough that we can just let Ahmaninejad do whatever he does, and not make a big deal about it.

Getting all crazy about it just gives him the win.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on September 24, 2007 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

...unwilling to let him use the most venerated site in the country for a crass PR stunt...

But what is the worst PR stunt? Laying the wreath or getting us to deny his request to lay a wreath.

The correct thing is to let him lay the wreath as long as he publicly proclaims the act of terrorism was evil and against the laws of Islam.

Posted by: Mark on September 24, 2007 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

Jesus, Kevin. You've bought into the bed-wetting, too?

You don't have to be a hard-boiled cynic to call Ahmedinejad's desire to go to the former WTC site (what craigie said - fuck calling it Ground Zero) a PR stunt. But The Manufactured GOP Outrage TM about it is a PR stunt too, isn't it?

Posted by: Stranger on September 24, 2007 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

What I don't understand is why Ahmadinejad doesn't just hop in a car, and go do it. What is the NYPD (or State Dept, or whoever) gonna do about it, arrest him?

'Cause, you know, THAT would really help the US in the PR battle.

Posted by: Robert Earle on September 24, 2007 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

So long as his security LEAVING the site is provided by the NYFD, I'd like to hear what he says.

Posted by: theAmericanist on September 24, 2007 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with you Kevin. The guy is a state sponsor of terrorism and undoubtedly stirring the pot in Iraq by flooding the place with weapons.

I don't want war with Iran, but I don't see doing the guy any favors either.

Posted by: Teresa on September 24, 2007 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

The guy is a state sponsor of terrorism and undoubtedly stirring the pot in Iraq by flooding the place with weapons.

And you know this because . . . the US govt. told you so?

Posted by: Jason C. on September 24, 2007 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

Anything that opens up what is becoming a society closed to far too much of the world should be supported. Why not let this man feel good about America for a few minutes even if his concern may be phony. To turn him away is of the same ilk as our politicians refusing to meet with him because he is "evil". He does not begin to match the evil demonstrated by our leaders.

Posted by: Irish Green on September 24, 2007 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

The same people who were certain that no Muslim ever denounced 9/11, who told us that everyone in Islamic countries danced in the streets at the news of 9/11, who assured us that every Muslim is a jihadist and all the ones in America are a fifth column are, of course, exactly the same people who are furious that Ahmadinejad wants to go lay a wreath at Ground Zero -- and as far as I can tell, they're angry precisely because he's refusing to play Evil Muslim. The nerve of him, wanting to say anything but Death to America! Because no-one has a right to say anything but them.

This is not about Ahmadinejad, who aside from some nasty remarks doesn't seem to have done much of anything (c'mon, how many people here could even spell his name before this week?). It's about his critics, who want to shout down everyone who doesn't conform to their reality and goad us into yet another disastrous war.

Posted by: Dianad on September 24, 2007 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

The American Left has been putting on the kneepads for every enemy the U.S. has had for a generation now. Why should this one be any different?

Posted by: harry on September 24, 2007 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

Since Iran had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11 I don't understand the outrage over Ahmedinijad's request. Iran even helped out with the Afghanistan invasion by closing their borders to the Taliban (something the Pakistanis seem to be unable to do).

I take it back; I do understand the outrage. The Freeper types and die-hard Bushies are using the opportunity to link 9/11 and Iran (like they did with Iraq) to help whip up more war-fever.

Posted by: A Hermit on September 24, 2007 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

Scott Pelley probably went overboard in his 60 Minutes interview last night...

To repurpose an old joke: "How do you know when Scott Pelley goes overboard? His lips are moving!"

Posted by: Grumpy on September 24, 2007 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

The most venerated site in the country? Not even close, Kevin.

Let's talk about any civil war battlefield. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Or Arlington. Or the Oklahoma City memorial.

And that's not even counting the Alamo.

Ground Zero may be the most talked about site, what with the republicans using it as a political whip, but it is not the most venerated site.

Jake

Posted by: Jake - but not the one on September 24, 2007 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

Drum: "Am I the only liberal who believes all that stuff...?"

Prolly not the only one, Kev. It's easy when you get Ahmadinnerjacket and bin Laden confused...Kinda like getting Saddam Hussein and bin Laden confused, say, about five years ago...

Posted by: grape_crush on September 24, 2007 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

Everyone here makes good points. I'd like to add that I bet if Ahmadinejad had said at some point in the past before visiting to New York, "I would never visit Ground Zero," the same people now pitching a fit because he does want to go would be pitching a fit because he doesn't want to go? It would be "How dare he not acknowledge such a venerable site, blah blah etc...?" Obviously this whole hysteria depends on subtly linking Iran to 9/11. along the lines of "they might not have done it but they're the kind of people who would." That same specious reasoning would be brought to bear if he didn't want to go: "they may not have had anything to do with 9/11, but the fact that he doesn't want to visit Ground Zero shows that they're the kind of people who support the attacks."

Also, don't you think if the Iraqi government had told Bush not to visit somewhere in the Iraq where civilians had needlessly been killed by U.S. soldiers, so that he could "pay his respects," these same shrieking harpies would be up in arms about the insensitivity, etc.?

Seriously--think this through for about half-a-second.

Posted by: Greg on September 24, 2007 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

Well, we've gutted the 4th Amendment so we might as well rid ourselves of the 1st also. Geez, this isn't exactly like yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater. Americans are a bunch of sniveling crybabies. GET A FUCKING GRIP PEOPLE! At least Ahmaninejad didn't seek out a smoldering pile of rubble and yell through a bullhorn to convey his message.

Posted by: steve duncan on September 24, 2007 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

"Am I off base here?"
Giving creedence to Ahmadinejad's rhetoric supports the, "they've been at war with us for the past 30 years" meme favored by neoconservatives. No liberals I know think thats a good idea, especially considering how thin the evidence was the last time the Administration started beating the war drums.

Posted by: Jon Karak on September 24, 2007 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, Kevin. Once again, you're totally off base.

I suppose I should praise you more often when you get something right, because lately, running you down is all I ever do here. You're okay, Kevin— but in this topic, you're totally off base.

Posted by: s9 on September 24, 2007 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

I swear, Kevin, sometimes I think you post these things just to rile us up. You gettin' paid on your comment count?

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on September 24, 2007 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Allow me to add to the 100% of rational commenters disagreeing with you. If the wreath were being placed in commemoration of the valiant hijackers then certainly there would be a basis for the outcry. Now, such an act would rightly marginalize Amedinejad and so the propaganda benefits would be fairly small, but even that kind of crass behavior should be allowed by the government. Protests against such behavior, on the other hand, would be more than welcome.

But there is no indication that his intent is to do anything worse than what the Iranian people did on September 11. Show solidarity with the victims. Were George W. Bush half the statesman this makes Amedinejad, we might not currently be arming both sides of a civil war we started.

By the way, I agree, let's stop calling it "Ground Zero." Only two cities in the world have the right to call anywhere ground zero. Both of them victims of US nuclear assaults.

To anyone making the comparison with Hitler (I realize Al is a parody, but not all of our nutcase -right contingent has spoken), the KKK, or any other such bullshit: stop. You embarrass yourself and demonstrate why no one takes you seriously.

Oh, and anyone suggesting that we should allow this man to be harmed for what he says - you are beneath contempt. I don't care if his wreath says "A Job Well Done." That is no excuse for physical violence.

Posted by: heavy on September 24, 2007 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK
Am I the only liberal who believes all that stuff but is still pretty queasy about letting this lunatic engage in some wreath-laying crocodile tears at Ground Zero?

I doubt he's any more of a lunatic than most politicians, and, whether expressing genuine emotion or not, his laying a wreath and Ground Zero sends a message to those who look up to him that is in the interests of the people of the United States.

Your probably not the only self-described "liberal" with a problem with it, but, whether or not you are, it remains utterly irrational.

Hell, a lot of us complain when Rudy Giuliani does this, let alone a guy who denies the Holocaust and has made a career out of chanting "Death to America."

When Ahmadinejad does it, he is underscoring to everyone, here and abroad, that whatever he wishes happens to America as a an outcome of the clash of ideologies in which his government stands opposed to America's, he doesn't endorse methods like that used by the 9/11 attackers. Whether honest or not, the fact that he makes such a gesture itself serves the interests of the American people and every person opposed to terrorism.

And, of course, allowing Ahmadinejad to do itself is an important demonstration of the seriousness with which we take our stated values that the way to compete with bad ideas is to let all the ideas be aired and the good will win out on the merits, where trying to muzzle him would send the opposite message.


Posted by: cmdicely on September 24, 2007 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

I think Kevin is on target. My guy-on-the-street view is that Ahmedinijad engages in hate speech and destructive demogoguery, and that our strategy should be an artful blend (perhaps impossible, especially for us) of isolating him and dealing with him. Chavez and Ahmedinijad are both blowhards and media magnets whom we should try to diminish and co-opt, rather than building them up as anti-US heroes.

Posted by: Nate Levin on September 24, 2007 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, you're not the only one. This liberal agrees with Mitt Romney of all people. Take the Holocaust-denier to the Holocaust Museum and let him tell us why he won't lay a wreath there.

As for Columbia, I remember my days at Syracuse when I protested Louis Farrakhan's coming to speak for many of the same reasons cited by ex-liberal. The experience made me a free speech absolutist. We boycotted the speech to protest and get our message out. The speech went on, no one was there to question Farrakhan's ridiculous statements, and we got labeled as a "minority of the campus". What good did that do? It would have been better to confront him and make Farrakhan reveal himself for what he is. Same with Ahmedinijad, or a KKK member, for that matter.

Posted by: Lynn on September 24, 2007 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

The real rap against A is that he's said anti-semitic things, at least that's what I've inferred from those who purport to do journalism. What this has to do with Ground Zero, I don't quite know. Are we banning anybody who's ever said something racist from our public sites? If everybody who had a racist thought or said something racist were forbidden to go near Ground Zero, downtown New York City would be pretty darn quiet. Sounds like rampant political correctness to me.

Posted by: David in NY on September 24, 2007 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

"There's a difference between being unafraid to let someone speak and being unwilling to let him use the most venerated site in the country for a crass PR stunt, isn't there?"

You talking about Guilani or Bush there?

Besides, following 9/11, the crowd in Tehran's main soccer stadium observed a minute's silence in sympathy and Iran's Ayatollah Imami Kashani said the attack should be condemned by all Muslims, adding the whole world should mobilize against terrorism. Hypocritical? Maybe, but no more so than Bush who tried to cover himself by lying and saying terrorism had been his main focus all along.

Iranians are Persians, not Arabs. Arabs attacked us, not Persians.

The fact is, Bush removed the main counterweight to Iran by eliminating Saddam, and now his neocon advisers don't know what to do other than bomb Iran. We've got a bunch of homicidal morons in charge of the nation, and what's worse, they've got their collective finger on that big red button. Do we need to keep a sharp eye on Iran? You betcha. But I don't get the rising hysteria about this whole event; it makes no sense.

Posted by: RAM on September 24, 2007 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

Ahmadinejad will start to lay the wreath, but then yank it away and start dancing around with hips wiggling in a horrifying taunt: "no wreath for you, no wreath for you, silly little piggies!".

And we will only be able to clench fists and sputter "ooooooooooo! Ah-mad-ine-jaaaaaaaaad!!!" What with all the camera rolling, choking him with our powerful muscles would be sadly impolitic (thanks, you damned liberal sissies). We'll be powerless against that cowardly assault.

Anyone who would let that happen is a monster.

Posted by: brent on September 24, 2007 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

"Am I the only liberal who believes all that stuff but is still pretty queasy about letting this lunatic engage in some wreath-laying crocodile tears at Ground Zero?"

Hopefully, yes. But is Ahmadinejad really a lunatic? To me, he seems like a Persian Huey Long. Power hungry, aggressive and inflamatory, but not crazy. Yes, he says some whacky things, but these are popular things to say in Iran. For someone who must face the voters, saying popular things is hardly irrational. And his desire for nuclear energy is a responsible energy policy (something we lack). His efforts to cozy up with Al Maliki also seem to be a rational course of action. So, just what is it about Ahmadinejad's behaviour that would lead you to believe he's insane? Maybe if he did something stupid like invade Iraq, we might question his sanity. But he didn't invade Iraq, we did. So why aren't we considered to be the crazy ones?

Posted by: fostert on September 24, 2007 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Let him do it, providing that he does the same at Auschwitz first.

Posted by: Ruck on September 24, 2007 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal: "Columbia doesn't believe in free speech, despite their claim to do so. They ban ROTC. They allowed campus hooligans to shut down a talk from a representative of the Minutemen. Nor has Columbia gone out of its way to invite disidents who oppose Islamic terrorism."

-- ROTC isn't a free speech issue;
-- the University didn't "allow" anything of the sort, and you offer no evidence to support that claim;
-- Columbia doesn't need to go out of its way to invite people who oppose Islamic terrorism. Nearly all of those scholars & lecturers already do. You're just whining because they don't parrot your Fox news talking points.

Posted by: junebug on September 24, 2007 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

Add mine to the chorus of voices opposed to your position, Kevin. Its rare that we disagree, but on this one I could not disagree with you more. By preventing his visit we granted him an enormous PR win. Had we allowed it, however, the victory would have been ours. Forget his motivations - only he can truly know them anyway. As Quaker said, imagine the symbolism of a leader of an Islamic state honoring those who were killed on that day. Imagine the symbolism of him rejecting in such a public way the actions of those who attacked us. And perhaps most importantly, imagine the ways the international discussion of the event would have differed from the ridiculous discussion we are having today.

As for the "most venerated site" comment, I must respectfully disagree. Only time can tell if that statement will be true. For now - and more importantly, for me - Arlington National Cemetery would sit atop my list. It stands not just for one conflict, but all of them, and not just one set of national sacrifices, but all of them. It is a reminder of the importance of both the distant past and the present, something that Ground Zero cannot yet do.

Posted by: Alex Whalen on September 24, 2007 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

a lot of us complain when Rudy Giuliani does this

...but none of us would BAN Giuliani from the site. Let's teach Iran what the first amendment is all about -- anyone, even a foreign leader, can go anywhere and say whatever he likes in perfect safety, because we have nothing to fear.

Posted by: Tom Veil on September 24, 2007 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, the recent comments acknowledge that the real complaint is about anti-semitism and ponder the degree to which the First Amendment rights of anti-semites should be abridged. I think the whole discussion is silly and, as Lynn ends up suggesting, counterproductive.

As far as I can see, Fox News and the New York Post are hell-bent on giving A a real propaganda victory by stifling his right to speak. So much for our self-righteous peddling of our "democracy" to the world.

Posted by: David in NY on September 24, 2007 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, you're off base. That's all we need, another "liberal" buying into the Bush administration's war mongering bs.

Posted by: Fred on September 24, 2007 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Letting Ahmadinejad lay a wreath at Ground Zero is like letting Hit-ler give a prayer for the Jews at Auschwitz. Horribly despicable.

Remind me again how many Iranians were on those planes, Al?

Which naturally leads to my next question...Have any Saudi potentates been to the site?

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 24, 2007 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

It could only help the image of the United States across the world to allow (perhaps even encourage) Mr. Ahmadinejad to pay his respects at the site of the 9/11 attacks. Iran reached out to us in the aftermath of the attacks - along with almost every other nation on earth. I remember how moving it was to read the condolences each day in the NY Times from countries like Iran that one didn't expect to have on our side.

It is tragic how Bush squandered that. However, it can only help us to have Ahmadinejad show his remorse over the attacks. It is insane that people are reacting to him with so much anger and rage. We treated Iran badly during the Cold War and they and we have come to view each other as enemies, but there is still a strong affinity for Americans as people among the Iranians. We should build on this and not lash out.

Posted by: Tim in NYC on September 24, 2007 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

I think we should have Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and George Bush duke it out -- let's have them take the SATs and see who wins. the winner gets to dictate the terms of surrender.

They are both the elected officials of their respective countries -- the embodiment of the will of their electorates. Both accurately reflect the intelligence and wisdom of their people.

I'd go one step further: both leaders are the leaders each country deserves. No two leaders seem more in touch with their fellow countrymen; no two leaders reflect the attitudes, intelligence and morality of their fellow countrymen.

Posted by: Dicksknee on September 24, 2007 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, why feel queasy? Did you feel queasy when we invited PW Botha to lay a wreath at Lincoln Memorial on MLK day? Of course not, it was wonderful to hear a fresh perspective on the issues of the day!

Posted by: Sparky on September 24, 2007 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

This liberal is 100% with you Kevin.

I have no heartburn whatsoever in granting no favors to heads of state who deny the existence of one of the worst genocides in modern history (and that's not even getting to the state-sponsorship-of-terrorism issue).

Posted by: Mike on September 24, 2007 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

Really "the most vaunted site in the country?" That, as another commenter noted, is completely ridiculous. There are all sorts of more historically important spots in DC and Boston and at civil war battle sites. (At the alamo, people revolted for the right to own slaves. Not so vaunted, IMO.)

Also, you are completely and totally wrong about Ahmenijad. If he lays a wreath and says something solemn, great. If he does something offensive, I can't quite see how that would be a PR victory since pretty much everyone else in the world would think he was a jackass.

If Iraqis can handle George Bush et al flying in for photo-ops after all we've done to wreck their country, I don't see why we should be so frightened by the idea that a guy who had zero to do with any American deaths wants to lay a wreath at the site of a terrorist attack.

Posted by: Brad on September 24, 2007 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

1. His holocaust denial is not relevant to anything.

2. Iran is no more and no less a "state sponsor of terrorism" than is the U.S.

Posted by: Jason C. on September 24, 2007 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

"being unwilling to let him use the most venerated site in the country for a crass PR stunt, isn't there?"

Part of the problem is that the crass PR stunt would be in America's interests.

Solidifying 9/11 as a universal outrage against humanity is in our interests.

Why wouldn't we be in favor of every good guy and bad guy on the globe standing with us in our outrage?

Posted by: Petey on September 24, 2007 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

How many Iranians were in the twin towers on 9/11? How many Muslims? Anybody ever break it down? Or did they all stay home that day?

Posted by: buddy66 on September 24, 2007 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

Jake, thanks for pointing out this is not the most hallowed spot in America. OKC, or Gettysburg, indeed, well outrank it.

And, I'm with the general tenor on this thread. Kevin, you've become overworked.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on September 24, 2007 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Really pushing it, aren't you ? What makes you think you're liberal instead of slightly right-of-center ? And if historical perspective is necessary, I liked this
http://scholarsandrogues.wordpress.com/2007/09/24/a-childs-guide-to-iran-us-relations/

Posted by: opit on September 24, 2007 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not sure I understand the link between Holocaust denial and the 9/11 memorial, Kevin.

Are you saying only Jews were killed in 9/11 or that Jews were the primary targets?

What are your feelings about the Chinese leader or Putin putting a wreath on the memorial?

Is it just because he's an Muslim and some Muslims did this thing?

What about Castro? Chavez?

Does Musharraf get a pass too?

The Saudi Royal family which has done as much to ignite and fund anti-American violence?

What about hate-mongering anti-Muslim Americans? Anti-black Americans? Anti-homosexual Americans? Do they get to visit the memorial or is it only Jewish-hating fanatics who are banned?

Exactly who is forbidden to visit the memorial?

Give us a list . . .

Posted by: anonymous on September 24, 2007 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, how about that guy that talked about bombing Mecca . . . uhhhm . . . now what was his name . . . Republican representative Tom Tancredo.

Does he get to visit the memorial?

Is it hate-mongering, disrepect, or what exactly that justifies the ban, Kevin?

BTW, Kevin, can you list the other sites in America that Ahmadinejad can't visit because they are venerated in a way that relates to whatever you are linking between him and the 9/11 memorial?

Enquiring minds are curious.

Posted by: anonymous on September 24, 2007 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

Ahmadinejad said that he wanted to pay his respects and "perhaps express [one's] views on the root causes of the event." Which, to me, says he was going to try to blame the victims. Botha, during his visit, was not signaling his intention to use the visit to the Lincoln Memorial to blame Lincoln's or MLK's deaths on their own "trouble-making." He was in fact trying to negotiate a peaceful end to the system he was a part of, and that visit was part of his efforts to show good faith.

Ahmadinejad appeared to be signaling his intent to, in fact, insult the dead while crying crocodile tears over their remains. Let him speak at Columbia, let us have talks with Iran as we need to do--but there's no "free speech" issue involved in not giving him a pass to Ground Zero to make a speech there. He can say whatever he wants to--elsewhere. At Columbia or at the UN, for instance. No one's stopping him.

Posted by: Lis on September 24, 2007 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

Scott Pelley was a tool last night. 60 Minutes might as well have sent a Bushbot in to do the interview. He was such a bullying idiot that Ahmadinejad presented himself as a graceful, intelligent, rational human being.

After 9/11 the Iranian people showed a spontaneous outpouring of sympathy for the Americans. Their government participated in the hunt for the Taliban. As president, Ahmadinejad would be placing the wreath on behalf of his people. Seems like a polite and diplomatic thing to me. But of course it wouldn't do when the Bushies are trying to whip up a war fever and present him as the latest Meanest Master of Evil in the Universe.

Posted by: Delia on September 24, 2007 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

"Everybody knows" Ahmadinejad is a Holocaust denier.

Which is why I doubt that he is.

The word "myth" has several meanings, one of them simply means "story."

The Holocaust was not merely the killing of 6 million Jews by German Nazis. The massacre was given a unique title, the mention of which is expected to universally induce moral revulsion and pity.

Before 1946, "Holocaust," would have meant a burnt offering to God or any mass slaughter.

What I've read of Amedinejad's "Holocaust denial" is that he said the Israel government uses the Holocaust "myth" to justify any actions it takes.

I haven't read any quotes from him saying he thinks the German murder of millions of Jews didn't really happen.

Not to defend a politician from a semi-totalitarian theocracy, but just because "everyone knows" don't make it so.


Posted by: Joey Giraud on September 24, 2007 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

"Am I the only liberal who believes all that stuff but is still pretty queasy about letting this lunatic engage in some wreath-laying crocodile tears at Ground Zero?"

We let Bush, Cheny, Guiliani engage in wreath-laying crocodile tears at Ground Zero.
And, why, yes, I do happen to sincerely believe that those three (and a good many other) Republicans are not just the equal of but substantially more lunatic than Ahmadinejad. Ahmadinejad for example, let us note, has not started any wars.

Posted by: Maynard Handley on September 24, 2007 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

So Lis, you think there are no root causes? You think that the United States has never done anything that might cause consternation among Muslims?

Root causes don't change the wrongness of the behavior. Think of someone who was mistreated as a child and goes on to be a serial killer. The mistreatment is an explanation, not an absolution. The victims aren't spat on by understanding the killer. In fact, they remain what they have always been - the victims.

Posted by: heavy on September 24, 2007 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

One root of conflict between us and most of the Middle East is our policy toward Israel. That policy partially was shaped by the holocaust. How can holocaust denial be irrevelant to this discussion?

Posted by: Lynn on September 24, 2007 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

heavy, *that* is the point I think Ahmidinejad was trying to make, applied to Israel.

If yesterdays victims become today's perpetrators, the earlier victimhood doesn't excuse the current crime.

Again, not trying to say he's a *good* guy or anything.

Posted by: Joey Giraud on September 24, 2007 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

Reading through the comments on the NY Times site covering the Ahmadinejad speech, and reading that many of the comments here, I am heartened to see so that many Americans share my total disgust for free speech.

Free speech is such a vile and corrosive concept. The idea that we can allow just anyone to say just anything gives me the willies.

If I were king of the world the first thing I would do would be to shut down Haloscan. My God, why do we need such a company that facilitates blog comments? Yuck.

(By the way, the second thing I would do is have NYC create a big concrete "Zero" at Ground Zero -- after all, if its going to be called Ground Zero there should be a zero, right?)

Anyway, getting back to free speech . . . the last thing we need is some joker like Ahmadinejad to come here and remind us of Bush's wiretaps and Abu Gharaib -- we know all about that shit and we reelected Bush because of it! We're Americans and we not afraid to have someone on the other end of the line listening to our conversations. Who the hell else would listen to us?

Posted by: Dicksknee on September 24, 2007 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

"I have no heartburn whatsoever in granting no favors to heads of state who deny the existence of one of the worst genocides in modern history ..."

OK, so
(1) Do we treat the president of Turkey in the same way?

(2) Do we treat the US govt in the same way. (They were pretty damn aggressive about telling us that Rwanda was not a genocide until it was all over; they're still kinda on the fence about Darfur.)

Posted by: Maynard Handley on September 24, 2007 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

The third visit to New York by the bombastic Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is producing predictable howls of protest. But largely lost in the build-up of the Ahmadinejad-Bush confrontation are the striking - and disturbing - similarities between the two men and their respective followers.

There are eerie parallels between presidents Bush and Ahmadinejad and their respective fundamentalist followers. Ahmadinejad's visit once highlights the alarmingly analogous views regarding religious prophecy, second comings and the End of Times for their respective Christian and Shiite faiths, parallels which may help push Ahmadinejad and Bush inexorably towards conflict.

For the details, see:
"Ahmadinejad and Bush: Parallels and Second Comings."

Posted by: Angry on September 24, 2007 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

"How can holocaust denial be irrevelant to this discussion"

It isn't. But Ahmadinejad being a genuine "Holocaust deniar" is a common notion that I doubt.

Not because it's impossible for any random Joe or Ahmed to deny the murder of 6 million Jews, but because it's not clearly substantiated and so oft repeated.

Now it's time to stop all this Holocaust talk lest Kevin invoke Godwin's Law. ;>


Posted by: Joey Giraud on September 24, 2007 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

Partly out of sympathy, I'd like to say I agree with Kevin on this one.

Ground Zero is of course part of the United States, but it is also part of New York City and State. By law, the decision as to whether to allow a foreign head of state to make a ceremonial appearance there is up to the government of New York City; by tradition, local feelings about someone like Ahmadinejad should be respected unless there is a pressing need not to.

No one would have expected P. W. Botha to be invited to lay a wreath at Martin Luther King's gravesite just because he could truthfully say he had nothing to do with Jim Crow.

I also agree that the Columbia appearance is a different matter. We can't really object to a foreign leader placing himself before an audience that hasn't been pre-screened to exclude people who might ask him awkward questions. American Presidents, sure, and at least some Presidential candidates.

Posted by: Zathras on September 24, 2007 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

Drum lets slip his closet Republicanism again. Kevin, a better argument would be would we have let aa apartheid President of South Africa lay a wreath at the MLK memorial?

Posted by: minion on September 24, 2007 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

God, if even Kevin is talking this way, the next polls are going to show that 60% of Americans think Iran was behind 9/11.

You know who is flooding Iraq with weapons? US!!

If there is hard proof he is a terorist he should not be allowed in the country at all. Until that time, let him speak and make public statements of sorrow over 9/11 all he wants.

Posted by: Dawn on September 24, 2007 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

I have no problem with encouraging ALL national leaders to visit the 9/11 site - assuming we are reassured the visit won't be used primarily for political purposes.

We should be the open, respective people that our values proclaim.

Sorry Kevin, you've got it wrong on this one.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR on September 24, 2007 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

Learning anything about your audience, Kevin?

Posted by: harry on September 24, 2007 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

For the record, Zathras and I posted within manoseconds of each other.

Posted by: minion on September 24, 2007 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

[The site of the WTC attack] is of course part of the United States, but it is also part of New York City and State. By law, the decision as to whether to allow a foreign head of state to make a ceremonial appearance there is up to the government of New York City

I'm not sure why it matters who is in charge of making the decision. The people of Skokie weren't exactly jonesing for a visit from the Nazis. The issue remains the same: do we believe in the First Amendment or do we think it is just some bullshit leftover from people who were so insufficiently patriotic that they would let just any nutcase speak out on any issue?

Posted by: heavy on September 24, 2007 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

Ahmadinejad said that he wanted to pay his respects and "perhaps express [one's] views on the root causes of the event." Which, to me, says he was going to try to blame the victims.

Look, you simply don't know what he would say in this setting, right? Why pretend that you do?

It of course would always be possible for Ahmadinejad to say something unjust or outrageous at ground zero. But then that disgrace would fall on his head alone.

And it's quite possible as well that he will acquit himself quite honorably. My guess is that he would attempt to do this, because my read is that he is seeking to cast himself as a moderate leader in the eyes of the world.

What is the downside of hoping for the best here? How would his bad behavior attach to anyone but him?

Posted by: frankly0 on September 24, 2007 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

In both his 60 Minutes interviews and his Columbia talk Ahmadinejad might well have been speaking as a US liberal Democrat. He touched upon all their talking points about Iraq: Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, US listening in to terrorist phone calls (he's against it), innocent people getting killed etc. The DNC ought to sign this guy up. Whether they like it or not Democrats (with few exceptions) have the same goals for the US in Iraq- surrender. If that happens Iran will be happy to step in and make things even worse so Democrats can concentrate on building their nanny state.

Posted by: mhr on September 24, 2007 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

If America is about freedom--what is the big deal about the President of an Islamic Nation having a photo op where he expresses condolences and regret? Every day Bin Laden strips away a little more of our soul, makes us a little more trenchant, a little more insecure, a little more hysterical. What in the hell is wrong with talking to people we disagree with, instead of reaching for our six shooters? Who are these people who just LOVE violence and destruction and believe they are the good guys. This is what our enemies think. This is what WE think. Everybody thinks they are the good guys. There is a nugget of information in the middle of this conflict that everyone is missing. Why can't we talk and get to that nugget of information? Tell me again--what problems does WAR solve...

Posted by: c4logic on September 24, 2007 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

Whatever happened to New York? When did New Yorkers become such a bunch of pansies? I wrote about this last week. In the old days New Yorkers would have said come on down. The fact that he came to them would have been counter argument enough.

Is new York afraid to show that they haven't done much to rebuild 6 years after the fact? Is that why they don't want him coming down to "ground zero." Again what happened to New York? Why are they allowing so much prime real estate remains vacant? When did New York stop being the capital of the world? When did New Yorkers stop being people with big dreams and bigger plans?

Posted by: corpus juris on September 24, 2007 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

My own guess is that the opposition to Ahmadinejad's visit is mainly fueled by uncritical supporters of Israel. Clearly, Ahmadinejad's, and Iran's, main beef has in recent years always been with Israel.

But since when are we Israel? Why should we determine who gets to lay a wreath at ground zero based on whether they are die hard enemies of Israel?

Posted by: frankly0 on September 24, 2007 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, please. Name me one wreath-laying by any official of anything anywhere anytime that wasn't a PR stunt. That's what official wreath-laying is.

Either let Ahmadinejad lay his wreath or ban it altogether for anybody who isn't a relative of a victim, most definitely including all politicians.

Feh.

Posted by: gyrfalcon on September 24, 2007 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

This small, not very powerful politician, Ahmadinejad is willing to walk in the lion's den and take direct questions.

The certifiable lunatic, suitably living in a white sanitarium, but the the most powerful and dangerous man on earth, answers to noone.

Where are the tough questions there?

I weep for the US and the complete blindness to their own double standards.

Posted by: notthere on September 24, 2007 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

The American Left has been putting on the kneepads for every enemy the U.S. has had for a generation now.

Does that mean Reagan's "secret" delivery of weapons to the Iranians is more than a generation old now? How about their delivery of weapons to Saddam (AND Bin Laden) in the 80's? Is that more than a generation out now too?

Posted by: Thumb on September 24, 2007 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

Damn, Kevin, you are so stupid sometimes...

Posted by: lmichael on September 24, 2007 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

Ahmadinejad, ever the provocative one, is testing us. He can say we don't practice our Christian ethic one facet of which is to engage your enemy. Whoops, forgot that one. Hysteria reigns as it has since 9/11. If anything, the non Christian world will think us hypocrites. Ahmadinejad's a prick but he's not stupid. He's building alliances.

Posted by: Bruce on September 24, 2007 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

Lis: Which, to me, says he was going to try to blame the victims. . . Ahmadinejad appeared to be signaling his intent to, in fact, insult the dead while crying crocodile tears over their remains.

Ahmadinejad has made it clear, whether he is to be believed or not, that the general American public is not viewed as either an enemy or to blame for circumstances in the Middle East, but the administrations that have implemented and supported freedom-denying regimes that have tortured and murdered their citizens.

Nothing in what he proposed to say, thus, would be blaming the victims of 9/11 at the WTC.

Your conclusions are based in biased reasoning.

If anyone has cried crocodile tears, it is conservative Americans and Israelis who supported, funded, and defended Saddam's regime when it was convenient, despite his butchering of many of his own citizens, as well as the citizens of neighboring countries.

If anyone has cried crocodile tears, it is conservative Americans and Israelis who claim their only goal was to "free" the Iraqis from a regime whose crimes they were quite willing to turn a blind eye to for decades.

Posted by: anonymous on September 24, 2007 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

mhr (most hypocritical Republican): In both his 60 Minutes interviews and his Columbia talk Ahmadinejad might well have been speaking as a US liberal Democrat. He touched upon all their talking points about Iraq: Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, US listening in to terrorist phone calls (he's against it), innocent people getting killed etc. The DNC ought to sign this guy up. Whether they like it or not Democrats (with few exceptions) have the same goals for the US in Iraq- surrender. If that happens Iran will be happy to step in and make things even worse so Democrats can concentrate on building their nanny state.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz . . .

Posted by: anonymous on September 24, 2007 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder if Tony Snow has this kind of trouble when he travels. At the very least, I'm sure he dreams of being seen as this significant.

Posted by: uri on September 24, 2007 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

If Mr.Drum (I don't know him well enough to call him Kevin), reads all the comments I think he'll answer his own question.
Iran wasn't involved in the attack on the WTC.
Iran has been accused before about IEDs; and then been found to be innocent.
"Most venerated site"? The Lincoln Memorial, Gettysburg, Valley Forge, and the USS Arizona qualify as venerated sites. The WTC will forever be associated with the present incumbent of the White House - and veneration is not a word I'd apply to him!

Posted by: Doug on September 24, 2007 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

Here's the AP article about Ahmadinejad's speech at Columbia.

The headline, "Ahmadinejad questions 9/11, Holocaust" is pretty badly supported by the quoted statements from Ahmadinejad.

Here's the supposed questioning of 9/11: "Why did this happen? What caused it? What conditions led to it?" he said. "Who truly was involved? Who was really involved and put it all together?"

The article says that this "appeared to question whether al-Qaida was responsible."

Oh really? How exactly is that the only sensible way to read what he said?

And here's what it says about his "Holocaust denial":

In response to one audience, Ahmadinejad denied he was questioning the existence of the Holocaust: "Granted this happened, what does it have to do with the Palestinian people?" But then he said he was defending the rights of European scholars, an apparent reference to a small number who have been prosecuted under national laws for denying or minimizing the Holocaust. "There's nothing known as absolute," he said.

Let's assume that these European scholars have in fact questioned the existence of the Holocaust, or aspects of it. How is defending their rights to make such claims the exact equivalent of denying the Holocaust? Isn't that connection simply far too indirect for such an inference to be drawn? And how is making the generic claim, "There's nothing known as absolute" the precise equivalent to denying the Holocaust?

And take a look at the sort of personal attacks Bollinger launched on Ahmadinejad. Really does the tradition of academic freedom proud, doesn't he?

Posted by: frankly0 on September 24, 2007 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

Zathras: . . . by tradition, local feelings about someone like Ahmadinejad should be respected unless there is a pressing need not to.

By tradition, the US government controls foreign policy, not New York state.

BTW, I'm still waiting for you or Kevin to state exactly what it is about Ahmadinejad that links him to 9/11, other than his claim that the root cause of that tradegy resides in America's foreign policy in the Middle East, which is truth and is hardly a controversial position to take.

Again, even assuming Ahmadinejad's comments on Israel are just politicking in the same fashion that Bush does here in America when ranting about Muslims, what does that have to do with 9/11 - unless you believe that the WTC was a sovereign part of Israel?

Posted by: anonymous on September 24, 2007 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

We should only allow the American people to hear Zionists, neoconservatives, and firebreathing Evangelical preachers.

The "Israel-is-the-51st-state" religious loonies deny Israel ever did anything to the Palestinians, so holocaust deniers are their just deserts.

Let Jewhad fight Jihad and leave Americans out of it.

Posted by: Luther on September 24, 2007 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

junebug: [Columbia's prohibition of] ROTC isn't a free speech issue

You're quibbling. Columbia is prohibiting the teaching of ROTC on campus. Teaching is done via speech.

the University didn't "allow" anything of the sort [allowing campus hooligans to shut down a talk from a representative of the Minutemen]

Read "At Columbia, Students Attack Minuteman Founder" http://www.nysun.com/article/41020

With some googling you can read about the scandal that ensued when lax punishment was applied to the thugs who shut down the speech.

Columbia doesn't need to go out of its way to invite people who oppose Islamic terrorism. Nearly all of those scholars & lecturers already do.

I'm talking about inviting dissidents who live in countries like Irana. Incidentally, although I agree that most scholars at Columbia oppose Islamic terrorism, I wonder how many speakers make that opposition the point of their speech.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 24, 2007 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal, current doofus: Columbia is prohibiting the teaching of ROTC on campus.

"ROTC" is the name of a group, not something that is taught.

You can't teach ROTC anymore than you can teach 4-H or teach Boy Scouts of America or teach SCOTUS.

With some googling you can read about the scandal that ensued when lax punishment was applied to the thugs who shut down the speech.

You can also google and read about the lax punishment Libby got.

. . . although I agree that most scholars at Columbia oppose Islamic terrorism, I wonder how many speakers make that opposition the point of their speech.

I agree that most Republicans support terrorism and torture and murder committed by Americans against foreigners and do make that the point of their speech.

BTW, when was the last time Bush made support of the rights of the accused the point of his speech?

I guess it's because conservatives only support the rights of the accused when they are the accused (see the "I'm not gay" senator from Idaho).

Posted by: anonymous on September 24, 2007 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

BTW, ex-liberal current doofus, when did Columbia invite Ahmadinejad to teach there?

You are once again comparing apples to green beens.

Posted by: anonymous on September 24, 2007 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

I think it would be a little bit harder for the Iranian President to shout Death to America! in Teheran after laying a wreath memorializing what were largely US deaths on 9/11. If the President makes belligerent comments then where the Powers That Be in Teheran stand on negotiations with the US become a little clearer. I think the wreath laying should be allowed to take place.

Posted by: zed on September 24, 2007 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

his Columbia talk Ahmadinejad might well have been speaking as a US liberal Democrat.
Yes, mhr, because most liberal Democrats believe we have no homosexuals in this country.

Incidentally, although I agree that most scholars at Columbia oppose Islamic terrorism, I wonder how many speakers make that opposition the point of their speech.
That wouldn't be within the realm of experience for most scholars, which is a shame. I'd love to see a movement toward training the 21st century equivalent of the Cold War Sovietologist. That would make more long-term progress than the Anbar Awakening.

Posted by: Lynn on September 24, 2007 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal, current doofus: Incidentally, although I agree that most scholars at Columbia oppose Islamic terrorism, I wonder how many speakers make that opposition the point of their speech.

Yes, ranting against Islamic terrorism (but not other forms of terrorism, of course, like those sponsored or practices by Repugnicans) is absolutely a point that should be made in the middle of every quantum mechanics, microbiology, or literary history lecture.

Good point, dimwit!

You've exceeded even my very high expectations about your ability to proffer inanity.

Posted by: anonymous on September 24, 2007 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal, current doofus: Incidentally, although I agree that most scholars at Columbia oppose Islamic terrorism, I wonder how many speakers make that opposition the point of their speech.

Yes, ranting against Islamic terrorism (but not other forms of terrorism, of course, like those sponsored or practices by Repugnicans) is absolutely a point that should be made in the middle of every quantum mechanics, microbiology, or literary history lecture.

Good point, dimwit!

You've exceeded even my very high expectations about your ability to proffer inanity.

Posted by: anonymous on September 24, 2007 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

In both his 60 Minutes interviews and his Columbia talk Ahmadinejad might well have been speaking as a US liberal Democrat. He touched upon all their talking points about Iraq: [torture - bad], [gulags/secret detention centers - bad], US [spying on its own citizens in violation of the law - bad] (he's against it), innocent people getting killed [very, very bad] etc. The DNC ought to sign this guy up. Whether they like it or not Democrats (with few exceptions) have the same goals for the US in Iraq: Not worth the price in blood and treasure.

If that doesn't happen the rest of the civilized world will be happy to ignor the US (save for calling in their debts) and make things even worse so Republicans can concentrate on destroying what's left of America by completing their facist state fantisies.

Posted by: Thumb on September 24, 2007 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

I'm willing to bet many on this page were up in arms over Sharon's provacative visit to the Temple Mount. He's a Muslim-hater and Muslim-killer (the latter I definately don't argue with). At the very least, the Palestinians hate him, therefore he's not welcome. Americans do and should have the same feelings about Ahmadinejad. As should all freedom-loving people mind you. The WTC site is our's, not his place to score political points.

BTW, in a fair world, the fact that he can visit the United States without problems and the fact that Bush CAN'T visit Iran without problems would be all we, the American people (not Bush), need to win the P.R. war.

Posted by: Yo! on September 24, 2007 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

Do we want to let the leader of an Islamic country publicly say bin Laden and his jihadists are wrong to kill 3,000 Americans?
Gosh, that's a tough one.
Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on September 24, 2007 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

I gotta say, the Quaker makes a damn good point.

BTW- how can you tell that a conservative is lying? A: his lips are moving.

Posted by: Northern Observer on September 24, 2007 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

Just to return to this quote from Ahmadinejad:

"Why did this happen? What caused it? What conditions led to it?" he said. "Who truly was involved? Who was really involved and put it all together?"
Isn't it perfectly consistent with this statement that Ahmadinejad had in mind merely to explore who and what al Qaeda is and represents? That is, looking to what lies behind the organization -- the motivation for its existence and the motives of its individual members?

Why act as though he's questioning whether al Qaeda was truly responsible?

Posted by: frankly0 on September 24, 2007 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

"I am not saying that it (The Holocaust) didn’t happen at all. I asked that, granted this happened, what did it have to do with the Palestinian people? Why is it that the Palestinian people are paying the price for an event that they had nothing to do with it?"

There has always been a mythology associated with The Holocaust. For example, that all concentration camps had gas chambers (only Dachau and the extermination camps); that the fat of Jewish victims was rendered down to make soap (one experimental attempt); that the Jews were numerically the largest group of victims of German genocide (Slavs with over 10 million dead); the Palestinians supported The Holocaust by not allowing Jews to settle in Palestine and because the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem supported Hitler (the British controlled Palestine and had deported the Grand Mufti who represented nobody). There are also areas which are much more controversial such as alleged Zionist support for Hitler's ethnic cleansing of Jews so long as they went to Palestine, the involvement of American companies such as IBM in The Holocaust, the extortion of money from certain European financial institutions in recent years and the direct involvement of nationalists from many European countries in The Holocaust.

You only have to look at the response of certain people to the work of Norman Finkelstein to see that the Iranian president might have a point.

Posted by: blowback on September 24, 2007 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

anonymous: Yes, ranting against Islamic terrorism (but not other forms of terrorism, of course, like those sponsored or practices by Repugnicans) is absolutely a point that should be made in the middle of every quantum mechanics, microbiology, or literary history lecture.

Although you don't seem to realize it, anon, your sarcasm precisely supports the point I was making. Junebug had excused Columbia's failure to invite speakers who oppose Islamic terrorism with the excuse that "Nearly all of those scholars & lecturers already do [oppose Islamic terrorism.] But, as you imply, those profs don't speak about Islamic terrorism. So, junebug's excuse doesn't stand up.

I'm grateful for your support, however inadvertant.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 24, 2007 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin writes:


"Still, I guess I'm curious about something. Am I the only liberal who believes all that stuff but is still pretty queasy about letting this lunatic engage in some wreath-laying crocodile tears at Ground Zero? There's a difference between being unafraid to let someone speak and being unwilling to let him use the most venerated site in the country for a crass PR stunt, isn't there?"

Kevin, this is the democratically elected leader of a country whose previously democratically elected government was overthrown by the CIA. We then installed a brutal dictator to rule over them. I think they have the PR high ground.

Perhaps we should tone down our rhetoric and engage them.

Posted by: Slideguy on September 24, 2007 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

Yo! - Sharon was not exactly visiting the Temple Mount in order to lay a wreath at the entrance to the Mosque.

Posted by: Diana on September 24, 2007 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

The key points were eloquently made by Quaker and many others toward the beginning of this thread. I'm just adding my vote to theirs, but please heed their arguments, not the fact of lots of us disagreeing with you.

Posted by: JD on September 24, 2007 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

Let him lay the wreath. What, are we at war with Iran or something?

Posted by: Rula Lenska on September 24, 2007 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

Only if he is allowed to also place a wreath at Bitburg and speak about the 49 "victims, who were Waffen SS.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 24, 2007 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry for posting before reading all the other comments.

"Am I the only liberal who believes all that stuff but is still pretty queasy about letting this lunatic engage in some wreath-laying crocodile tears at Ground Zero?"

I, too, am SO fed up with Rudi co-opting Ground Zero and 9/11.

Posted by: Cal Gal on September 24, 2007 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

So Lis, you think there are no root causes? You think that the United States has never done anything that might cause consternation among Muslims?

Root causes don't change the wrongness of the behavior. Think of someone who was mistreated as a child and goes on to be a serial killer. The mistreatment is an explanation, not an absolution. The victims aren't spat on by understanding the killer. In fact, they remain what they have always been - the victims.

Posted by: heavy on September 24, 2007 at 3:36 PM

Yes, of course it had root causes, and of course discussing those root causes is appropriate and necessary. Where did I suggest otherwise?

And his appearance at Columbia University is an appropriate forum for having, or at least starting, that discussion. US-Iranian talks would also be a good place for some of that discussion--if GWB were going to agree to such talks. (I guess that part will have to wait until we have a president who cares about the security of the nation.)

The gravesite of the victims--who were innocent victims, who were just going abou their daily lives, is not an appropriate place.

If he'd simply wanted to pay his respects to the dead, and do his speechifying elsewhere, my position would be entirely different. I'd be all for that.

Posted by: Lis on September 24, 2007 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal, current liar: Although you don't seem to realize it, anon, your sarcasm precisely supports the point I was making.

Wrong again, but nice try.

But, as you imply, those profs don't speak about Islamic terrorism. So, junebug's excuse doesn't stand up.

Not speaking in their classrooms against something does not indicate being for the thing or not being against the thing.

I'm sure there are many subjects quantum mechanics professors don't talk about in their lectures, like child pornography.

According to your "logic" that means they are not against child pornography.

Thanks for illustrating perfectly how stupid and dishonest you are.

Lis: The grave site of the victims--who were innocent victims, who were just going about their daily lives, is not an appropriate place.

What unmitigated bullshit.

Many Western politicians, including Guiliani, have made speeches at the grave sites of victims, at disaster sites, etc.

Posted by: anonymous on September 24, 2007 at 7:12 PM | PERMALINK

Demonize Ahmadinejad and you do the Cheney war on Iran crowd a big favor.

Too late now but they should have let him lay the wreath.

And you gotta figure that Columbia's Bollinger is some of rude dude for tearing into an invited guest.

All part of the grand Cheney rollout for the fall: War with Iran.

Posted by: Dr WU-the last of the big time thinkers on September 24, 2007 at 8:12 PM | PERMALINK

Lis, George W. Bush had more to do with creating the victims of 9/11 than did Ahmadinejad. Now, before you get confused, Bush did not execute, plan, or even passively sit by knowing 9/11 was going to happen. But his incompetence and lowering the profile of terrorism upon taking office contributed in its own way to the success of the mission. Certainly you aren't claiming Bush doesn't have the right to speak at the WTC site?

And before you fall back on "I didn't say he couldn't go, I just wanted to restrict his topics so that he didn't address why this happened," remember Bush used that place to tell fairy tales about the root causes. He climbed on that pile of corpses to sell the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens. Shouldn't the government prevent that kind of monster from speaking at the WTC site first? My answer is still no, for reasons I've already explained but will do again in the final paragraph.

Freedom of speech doesn't mean "you can talk, but only about approved things." It doesn't mean "you can talk about uncomfortable things, but only if you don't do it where it makes me uncomfortable." Freedom of speech is our First Amendment. Do you have any idea why those dead white guys thought it was important?

Posted by: heavy on September 24, 2007 at 8:38 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Kevin,

I happen to agree with you, and mostly because it hands him a great PR stunt on a platter. But two can play that game.

I'm thinking out loud here, but how about having 500 to 1,000 New York City Policemen and Firemen march him down there with no other protection. When he gets there, he'll be required to read out loud the names of very person that was murdered on that day. In other words, rub his nose in it. Make sure he knows the consequences of extremism, including his own statements, and then make him apologize for Iran's role in the Beirut Marine barracks bombings.

Under those conditions I'm figuring he says, "no takers". And then say fuck you buddy, that's the deal. Take it or leave it.

Just some free thinking there as it may sound kind of whacked out....

Posted by: FuzzFinger on September 24, 2007 at 9:20 PM | PERMALINK

"Bush did not execute, plan, or even passively sit by knowing 9/11 was going to happen."

Not to quibble, but incompetency only accounts for 2 of those.

I seem to recall a briefing called "Bin Laden determined to strike," soon followed by a sit down reading of "My Pet Goat."

We all know George leaves the planning and execution to Dick.


Posted by: Joey Giraud on September 24, 2007 at 9:52 PM | PERMALINK

FuzzFinger:

What did Ahmadinejad have to do with the Beirut Marine barracks bombings? They too place long before he was president of Iran, and they took place in, you know, Lebanon. Are we to hold the Canadian Prime Minister for the U.S. downing of an Iranian passenger jet?

As for "Ground Zero" and "Most Hallowed Site" the real Ground Zero -- in Hiroshima -- allows U.S. politicians and U.S. officers and enlisted men to visit all the time. The U.S.S. Arizona has hosted visits from Japanese WWII veterans, including men who bombed Pearl Harbor. It seems to me that we can survive a visit to lower Manhatten by the leader of a country that had nothing to do with 9-11.

Posted by: keith on September 24, 2007 at 10:16 PM | PERMALINK

Oops, "that took" instead of "they too". Mea culpa.

Posted by: keith on September 24, 2007 at 10:19 PM | PERMALINK

I don't have any reverence for Ahmedinijad, but my whole country now looks like a pack of asses for the way he's been treated here. The USA I signed on to defend back in 1987 was, at least in theory, fundamentally based on the principle that the government would defend to the bitter end one's inalienable right to say the indefensible. That was what supposedly differentiated us from the Soviet Union.

After tasting the twin poisons of corporate consolidation of the media and the 24-hour news cycle's distortion of what's important in the news, I no longer recognize that country. The country of my birth would NEVER have elected--much less have reelected--as poorly qualified a candidate as G. W. Bush, but by the year 2000, about half of us registered voters actually voted for him.

Posted by: Mike on September 24, 2007 at 10:43 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with you, Kevin.

Posted by: Mazurka on September 24, 2007 at 10:45 PM | PERMALINK

Moderator,
What's the problem? Did I yell "Fire!" in a crowded theatre or something?

Posted by: majarosh on September 24, 2007 at 11:49 PM | PERMALINK

"Am I the only liberal who believes all that stuff but is still pretty queasy about letting this lunatic engage in some wreath-laying crocodile tears at Ground Zero?"

Probably not.

"There's a difference between being unafraid to let someone speak and being unwilling to let him use the most venerated site in the country for a crass PR stunt, isn't there?"

Nope, same thing. (And "most venerated site in the country"? Am I the only liberal who finds this stuff maudlin and pathetic? Grow up.)

"Am I off base here?"

Yes, completely. You might want to consider spending a year abroad.

Posted by: Eric on September 25, 2007 at 12:14 AM | PERMALINK

Juan Cole's remarks:

"'Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to New York to address the United Nations General Assembly has become a media circus. But the controversy does not stem from the reasons usually cited.

The media has focused on debating whether he should be allowed to speak at Columbia University on Monday, or whether his request to visit Ground Zero, the site of the Sept. 11 attack in lower Manhattan, should have been honored. His request was rejected, even though Iran expressed sympathy with the United States in the aftermath of those attacks and Iranians held candlelight vigils for the victims. Iran felt that it and other Shiite populations had also suffered at the hands of al-Qaida, and that there might now be an opportunity for a new opening to the United States.

Instead, the U.S. State Department denounced Ahmadinejad as himself little more than a terrorist. Critics have also cited his statements about the Holocaust or his hopes that the Israeli state will collapse. He has been depicted as a Hitler figure intent on killing Israeli Jews, even though he is not commander in chief of the Iranian armed forces, has never invaded any other country, denies he is an anti-Semite, has never called for any Israeli civilians to be killed, and allows Iran's 20,000 Jews to have representation in Parliament. . .

The real reason his visit is controversial is that the American right has decided the United States needs to go to war against Iran. Ahmadinejad is therefore being configured as an enemy head of state. '

Posted by: nepeta on September 25, 2007 at 12:34 AM | PERMALINK

And on the lighter side, Dilbert has his say on the Ahmadinejad controversy. Get the title? I love it...

A Feeling I'm Being Had

Posted by: nepeta on September 25, 2007 at 12:40 AM | PERMALINK

Ahmadinejad is a politician and not very honest. However, any Muslim leader laying a wreath at Ground Zero would be a good thing. We don't have to let him give a propaganda address there- tell him that his remarks are limited to five minutes. It is a fact that the Iranians expressed much more sympathy for the US during those terrible days in 2001 than most Muslim countries. I'm with Dilbert. Ahmadinejad has killed fewer people than George W. Bush.
The advice to spend a year abroad- not in England or Europe - is valid. We are too caught up in the cathedral of American exceptionalism.

Posted by: banana man on September 25, 2007 at 1:05 AM | PERMALINK

That null post by Al was his best ever!

Posted by: Ed on September 25, 2007 at 2:55 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe this is a new view: I'm a card carrying socialist/liberal/pinky/dogooder, but it might be a good idea to recognize the possibility that eliminating Iran's nuclear capabilities by force might become necessary. Bush's war in Iraq was based on a lie and has been maintained by lies and is justified by lies, and under no circumstances should those sob's be trusted with a loaded squirt-gun, let alone supported in a new military adventure. But the next president just might need to put a lid on the maniacs in Iran.

Posted by: andhakari on September 25, 2007 at 6:56 AM | PERMALINK

"Am I the only liberal who believes all that stuff but is still pretty queasy about letting this lunatic engage in some wreath-laying crocodile tears at Ground Zero?"

I curious as to why you care one way or another. So he lays a wreath at ground zero. Iran had NOTHING to do with 911 and lest you forget, they were the one middle east country that showed massive support for the US after 911. So what difference does it make to you if the leader of Iran wants to lay a wreath at ground zero?

Posted by: Kate Henry on September 25, 2007 at 9:43 AM | PERMALINK

So what difference does it make to you if the leader of Iran wants to lay a wreath at ground zero?

Um, cause it's a PR stunt? And whereas our own politicians can get away with it, are we really obligated to let politicians from other countries do the same?

Posted by: Xanthippas on September 25, 2007 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Iranians mourned with us on 9/11. That seems to be forgotten these days. Why is it offensive to have the leader of Iran pay his respects to those who died at the hands of our real enemies? Why would we NOT want Iran as a friend, not an enemy?

Posted by: Dan on September 25, 2007 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

Lis: The grave site of the victims--who were innocent victims, who were just going about their daily lives, is not an appropriate place.

What unmitigated bullshit.

Many Western politicians, including Guiliani, have made speeches at the grave sites of victims, at disaster sites, etc.

Posted by: anonymous on September 24, 2007 at 7:12 PM

I'd have prevented Bush and Giuliani from holding their political rallies over the bodies of the dead, too. They couldn't be stopped, alas.

I'm not trying to restrict Ahmadinejad's topics; I think the forum at Columbia is a great idea, and there ought to be more of them. I want to restrict his movements--and, shockingly enough, no foreign leader visiting any country has an unrestricted right to go anywhere they want to.

I'm not sure where some people are plucking from the ether the idea that I must think that Ahmadinejad is responsible for 9/11. We know who is responsible for 9/11, and we know which country supplied most of the hijackers. That doesn't change the fact that Ahmadinejad keeps using phrases that assume doubt about that responsibility, just as he keeps using phrases that assume doubt about the reality or the extent of the Holocaust. This makes him someone I'm not prepared to trust to behave appropriately at Ground Zero--which, while nowhere near being the most hallowed site in the US, is certainly a hallowed site.

Posted by: Lis on September 25, 2007 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

A little queasy, perhaps, but using the WTC site for crassly political purposes is not something that Iranians invented.

Sure, the guy's a whack job, but as US citizens in the year 2007, we simply don't get to complain, given our own vile leadership, that other countries are led by whack jobs, incompetents and flat-out idiots.

Finally, the whole Ground Zero business has become nothing more than pandering to the scared, histrionic, self-absorbed part of the electorate. The way to demonstrate to a bunch of scruffy religious faniatics that we don't fear them would have been to rebuild the WTC ASAP and get people back to business there.

Posted by: Matt on September 25, 2007 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

Given his propensity for making ridiculous statements, I don't understand why we are in such a lather about letting him pop off here. He'd either have said the right thing at "Ground Zero" or have made himself look ridiculous once more. I can't believe this or the Media Matters ad has taken up so much of the national dialogue, except that the Republicans will do anything not to talk about the disasters their party has visited upon all of us.

The most venerated site in the country? You really have been buying the rhetoric.

Posted by: dogofthesouth on September 25, 2007 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

What interests me as an outside observer (Canadian living abroad) is that the bile and invective launched against Mr Achmadinejad stands in sharp contrast to the welcome accorded other Mid-East persons, such as the Saudi Royals. Achmadinejad is vilified and the Saudi's are invited to stay on Bush's ranch, even though many of the 9/11 perpetrators were Saudi, and none were Iranian. So too, women can drive in Iran but not Saudi Arabia but Iran is vilified on its treatment of women and Saudi Arabia gets a pass. Iran is democratic, at least when compared to Saudi Arabia. The US has captured Saudi fighters and weapons in Iraq, but that is allowed to pass like a fart in an elevator while Iran is being charged with the same activity (although no concrete evidence is presented)
It strikes me that the US war machine is largely behind this vilification. They vilify, they de-humanize, then when an all out strike is launched against Iran, the sentiment of the US people is at least somewhat behind the government.
The danger of this is that Iraq was advertised as a cakewalk (remember flowers at our feet), and a strike on Iran is being presented as surgical, taking out all of their military capabilities in one fell swoop. More Neocon (emphasis on con) wet dreams. Iraq did not exactly follow the play book and now most of the US's ground forces are pinned down by a country with less that one third the population of Iran.
What is the plan to deal with the Straits of Hormuz and the rest of the Persian Gulf? If Iran decided to retaliate by closing off the Straits to tanker and merchant ships, how could the US protect it? The shipping channel between Oman and Iran has only about a 10 mile width of navigable waters that is less that 20 miles from Iran's coast, and the gauntlet extends for almost 100 miles along the coast. All that it would take would be for Iran to sink one or 2 ships in the Straits and not only would the sunken ships interfere with navigation and create an ecological disaster, but ship owners would likely refuse to imperil their ships and crew by venturing through these waters. This would have tremendous effects on the price of oil. Is the US navy going to escort each and every ship into and out of the Persian Gulf for the next 10 years? Can they stop every missile, torpedo, gunboat, prevent the mining of the channel, guard against suicide vessel attacks, and air attacks 24/7 for the next 10 years?
However, maybe that is part of the plan too. Higher oil prices mean more profits for Exxon and more war means more profits for Halliburton and its ilk. Would the US press allow this to happen? Wait, I forgot, the US mainstream media is owned by the same corporations that make money from wars. They wouldn't be so cynical as to lie the US people into another war that lines the coffers of US corporations at the expense of the children and grand-children of the citizens of the US, the ones that are going to have to pay the bill for all this when it is due.
To quote one of your former Presidents: "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist."
Dwight D. Eisenhower

Caveat Emptor

Posted by: Shivas on September 25, 2007 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

The Holocaust denial is impossible to defend except as a sad commentary on how we humans indulge in all sorts of denials and exaggerations about those we perceive to be enemies.

No need to defend it, because it is simply not true. If you go back to the speech where Ahmadinejad was first mistranslated, you'll see that he acknowledged the historical fact of the holocaust in that very speech.

The only thing Ahmadinejad has denied is that the holocaust gives Jews the right to steal land from Palestinians. This "Ahmadinejad is a holocaust denier" meme is just contrived bullshit that the collective West is swallowing so as to avoid dealing with the real question Ahmadinejad is asking -- why should Palestinians pay for a crime that was committed by Europeans?

Posted by: Disputo on September 25, 2007 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

Several Iranian University Presidents have signed an open letter to Bollinger denouncing his insults and asking him 10 questions:

1- Why did the US media put you under so much pressure to prevent Mr. Ahmadinejad from delivering his speech at Columbia University? And why have American TV networks been broadcasting hours of news reports insulting our president while refusing to allow him the opportunity to respond? Is this not against the principle of freedom of speech?

2- Why, in 1953, did the US administration overthrow the Iran's national government under Dr Mohammad Mosaddegh and go on to support the Shah's dictatorship?

3- Why did the US support the blood-thirsty dictator Saddam Hussein during the 1980-88 Iraqi-imposed war on Iran, considering his reckless use of chemical weapons against Iranian soldiers defending their land and even against his own people?

4- Why is the US putting pressure on the government elected by the majority of Palestinians in Gaza instead of officially recognizing it? And why does it oppose Iran 's proposal to resolve the 60-year-old Palestinian issue through a general referendum?

5- Why has the US military failed to find Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden even with all its advanced equipment? How do you justify the old friendship between the Bush and Bin Laden families and their cooperation on oil deals? How can you justify the Bush administration's efforts to disrupt investigations concerning the September 11 attacks?

6- Why does the US administration support the Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) despite the fact that the group has officially and openly accepted the responsibility for numerous deadly bombings and massacres in Iran and Iraq? Why does the US refuse to allow Iran 's current government to act against the MKO's main base in Iraq?

7- Was the US invasion of Iraq based on international consensus and did international institutions support it? What was the real purpose behind the invasion which has claimed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives? Where are the weapons of mass destruction that the US claimed were being stockpiled in Iraq?

8- Why do America's closest allies in the Middle East come from extremely undemocratic governments with absolutist monarchical regimes?

9- Why did the US oppose the plan for a Middle East free of unconventional weapons in the recent session of the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors despite the fact the move won the support of all members other than Israel?

10- Why is the US displeased with Iran's agreement with the IAEA and why does it openly oppose any progress in talks between Iran and the agency to resolve the nuclear issue under international law?

Hell yeah. I'd like to hear the answers to these questions as well. It'd be a nice change from all the anti-Ahmadinejad propaganda the war pigs have been flooding the airwaves with.

Posted by: Disputo on September 25, 2007 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

One has to at least admire the guy's balls...coming here at all would seem to be dangerous to him...George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are such pussies they wouldn't dare allow....me....to come to a meeting

Posted by: doc on September 25, 2007 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

Sure, the guy's a whack job, but as US citizens in the year 2007, we simply don't get to complain, given our own vile leadership, that other countries are led by whack jobs, incompetents and flat-out idiots.

I complain about our vile leadership; I see no reason to give theirs a free pass.

Posted by: Lis on September 25, 2007 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

Disputo,

I tread carefully on the Holocaust denial, mostly because of the conference of Holocaust deniers hosted by Ahmadinejad. I agree with Ahmadinejad that Holocaust deniers should not be imprisoned but don't share his enthusiasm for 'further research' into the matter. It makes the issue sound 'undecided,' which is certainly untrue, and such an historical event cannot be researched with the same anticipation of 'new' theories or information in the same way as physics or mathematics, which seems to be what Ahmad. was suggesting. Certainly Ahmad.'s question as to why the Palestinians must pay for the crimes of Europeans is an excellent one. And I agree with you, the bullshit is flying in the US media and from most Repub AND Dem leaders, as far as I can tell. God, I'm sick of propaganda.

Posted by: nepeta on September 25, 2007 at 9:24 PM | PERMALINK

I tread carefully on the Holocaust denial, mostly because of the conference of Holocaust deniers hosted by Ahmadinejad.

Well, see, that conference too has been widely distorted and misreported in the Western media. The conference was primarily looking at the way the holocaust has been used to further the agenda of Zionists, which is why, eg, anti-Zionist Jews* were in attendance. Of course it also attracted holocaust deniers from the West, but since that is how the conference was reported in the West, that should be of no surprise. And of course Ahmadinejad plays up the holocaust deniers aspect as well, because he has learned that that is the only way he gets any coverage in Western media, when he fits the racist "let's bomb all the brown people" role that we insist on seeing him as.

It's amazing how so many progressives innately understand that the Western press lies to us about everything, accept when it comes to reporting about Israel, then certain segments of the left turn into a GWB amen-corner. Did I say amazing? I meant despicable.

* Also known as Torah True Jews, they believe that modern day Israel is a heresy at odds with God's will.

Posted by: Disputo on September 25, 2007 at 11:18 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with you, Kevin. I'm not fearful of him. But on some level, a ceremonial visit to Ground Zero lends credibility, legitimacy and endorsement to a genocide-threatener (to Israel, if to no one else) and a holocaust denier. Advocacy of these positions is antithetic to western values. He should forfeit something in the process- such as his 'right' to showboat at Ground Zero.

Posted by: kreiz on September 26, 2007 at 6:59 AM | PERMALINK

Wish we could hear from someone who has the background knowledge to tell us how his laying a wreath at Ground Zero would play in Iran and in other countries in the region.

Posted by: catherineD on September 26, 2007 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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