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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Who's Afraid of Ahmadinejad?

AhmadinejadMove over

That organization's ad questioning whether Gen. Petraeus might "betray us" was once the worst thing to happen in human history. But history has a way of marching on and what was an unimaginable outrage one week becomes overshadowed by outrages the next.

So, the worst thing that ever happened in human history is now Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's appearance at Columbia University. Ask the reliably histrionic Newt Gingrich.

"I think it is an outrage against civilization for Columbia University to lend its prestige and its status to a man -- to a dictator... I think that Columbia University is being very foolish to allow that kind of person to have a venue like an American university," Gingrich said. "And I do not believe that that is an appropriate invitation."

Never mind that Ahmadinejad's experience at the school was hardly pleasant or welcoming, that questions were posed to him that he'd never have had to answer (and that no one would've dared ask) in his own country, or that he generally came off as a ridiculous boob. Asked a question about his country's oppression of gays, Ahmadinejad denied that there were gays in Iran -- an incredible claim that drew hoots and ridicule from the audience.

Apparently, being shown up as a posturing ass, an intellectual lightweight, and the aforementioned ridiculous boob in front of the whole world (cable networks carried the appearance live) is a bad thing -- for America, not Ahmadinejad. I'm not really sure I'm following the reasoning here.

The newest White House front group, Freedom's Watch, was even more crazy over the visit than Gingrich. Where Gingrich merely called it "an outrage against civilization" -- as if it were a human rights abuse -- FW's busy spreading BS about Iran. A Freedom's Watch Press Release gives us the text of an ad they ran about the visit.

Columbia University is wrong to give him a platform.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threatens our nation and the freedoms we value. He has supported attacks on our soldiers and our allies.

He should be treated as the terrorist that he is.

Yet, while Columbia gives a terrorist like Ahmadinejad a platform to speak, they refuse to allow the ROTC on campus.

What has happened to this prestigious university?

People who support killing Americans are welcome. But the military that defends them is not.

Columbia should be ashamed of its actions.

Freedom's Watch knows that America and the forces of freedom are right. We know the threat of terrorism is real. And we know Democracy must prevail.

The terrorists and their appeasers are wrong.

"And God willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world without the United States and Zionism."
-- Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

There's just so much wrong with that ad. The first to jump out at me is a tremendous irony. Columbia doesn't allow groups that discriminate to organize on campus, so the military, with its "don't ask, don't tell" policy, violates campus rules. The irony here is that Ahmadinejad's denial that homosexuality exists at all in Iraq was a laugh line, yet the ROTC's pretense that there are no gays in the military isn't supposed to be freakin' ridiculous.

Second is something that I've pointed out before and I wish more people would bring up; Ahmadinejad runs Iran in much the same way that Mickey Mouse runs Disney Land. He's the face of Iran, not the voice. Iran is actually run by a council of clerics and those clerics -- specifically, Ayatollah Khamenei -- decide what's allowable. Getting bent out of shape over the things Ahmadinejad says is like arguing with a ventriloquist's dummy and ignoring the ventriloquist.

And Ahmadinejad "threatens our nation and the freedoms we value?" Really? You mean freakin' Iran is going to come over here, take over the US, and take away our freedoms? That'd be a damned good trick. These neocon dopes said the same thing about Saddam Hussein -- it was just as ridiculous then.

What really got me about this whole thing wasn't the phony panic from the right. What got me was that Ahmadinejad wasn't allowed to visit the site of 9/11. The right freaked out even more over that. According to The Gothamist, NY Daily News began an editorial about the proposed visit, "No. No. No. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad can not be allowed to defile Ground Zero, must be stopped from exploiting this hallowed landmark, this tragic product of a fanaticism cousin to the demons in Ahmadinejad's soul."

Fred Thompson's campaign called it an "insult to the memory of those who died on 9/11 at the hands of terrorists." Mitt Romney called it "shockingly audacious." Rudy Giuliani thought it was "outrageous." Even the Democrats piled on, with Hillary Clinton saying it was "unacceptable for Iranian President Ahmadinejad, who refuses to renounce and end his own country's support of terrorism, to visit the site of the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil in our nation's history."

Here's the thing; like Iraq, Iran didn't have a damned thing to do with 9/11. Yet here all these politicians are, acting -- once again -- as if a middle eastern nation were to blame for 9/11.

Middle east expert Juan Cole explains the real reason for all the hair tearing and phony outrage:

There is, in fact, remarkably little substance to the debates now raging in the United States about Ahmadinejad. His quirky personality, penchant for outrageous one-liners, and combative populism are hardly serious concerns for foreign policy. Taking potshots at a bantam cock of a populist like Ahmadinejad is actually a way of expressing another, deeper anxiety: fear of Iran's rising position as a regional power and its challenge to the American and Israeli status quo. 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.

That's what all this is about, Newt Gingrich's "outrage against civilization" is just dishonest hyperbole to excuse his call for war -- an actual outrage against civilization. It's sabre rattling by a bunch of chickenhawks for whom diplomacy is for wimps and the only foreign policy tool in the nation's toolbox is the hammer of the military.

As the drumbeat for war hastens, as the comparisons of Ahmadinejad to Hitler become more frequent, as more and more blowhard idiots tell you that Iran wants to come here and steal your freedom, remember that little fool on that stage at Columbia University. That bumbling moron who couldn't even cook up convincing lies. That powerless puppet who was forced to repeat the clerics' line that there is no homosexuality in Iran, knowing full well that his audience would find that laughable.

That's your new Hitler, your new Stalin. And that's why the right didn't want you to see him. He's a much less effective bugaboo when you know just how ridiculous he is.


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Third Rail said...

Check out the hit piece on Fred Thompson, including a few things the media never talks about. To read it go to

catagonia said...

Wisco rocks it once again -- good on ya for calling it as it is! Who wants to go to war and risk our kids for a bozo that is not really in charge of his country. And btw -- isn't freedom speech whether we like it or not a freedom we hold dear? Isn't muzzling people something our forefathers felt was so wrong that they made it one of those things in the Top Ten with a bullet? It is insulting to our intelligence! This paternalistic posturing (and my secret theory is that Hillary is a man) is such an affront. I wish there was a real candidate to vote for!! Wisco -- thought about running?