Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Contrived hysteria about Ahmadinejad's visit

Militarists were cackling with glee about the visit of Iran's president to New York for a United Nations' meeting. They were ecstatic because it gave them an excuse to ratchet up their demonization of the "Hitler of the Middle East" (this week's version) to unprecedented levels.

Their incessant attacks against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, punctuated by waves of manufactured righteous indignation, are the latest effort in laying the ground work for the military attack against Iran that the militarists have for several years longed for.

Some like to disingenuously claim that progressives are in love with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It probably doesn't help that leftist icon (in some people's eyes) Hugo Chavez has gotten in bed with the Iranian leader. That an atheistic socialist can make nice with a theocratic hyperconservative says as much about the shallowness of their ideological pretenses as their egomania.

But for the most part, the moderate left recognizes that a theocrat is a theocrat and that they are all a threat to rational societies.

I hear people in this country say stuff like, "Nuke 'em all and let Allah sort 'em out." There isn't a dime's worth of difference between people with that mentality, some of whom hold high ranking positions in this administration, and Ahmadinejad's calls to wipe Israel off the map.

Make no mistake about it, Ahmadinejad is a populist demagogue. Does he bearing watching? Absolutely. Should his calls for Israel's annihilation be condemned? Without question. Is he "Hitler of the Middle East"? Give me a break.

Militarists went into full-scale contrived hysteria mode when Columbia University invited Ahmadinejad to speak there. Originally, I thought it was a good idea. President Bush can say Ahmadinejad is a loon but few people are going to believe him because few believe anything Bush says anymore.

Best let the American people hear the loon in his own words so they can draw their own conclusions. Give Ahmadinejad enough rope to hang himself.

Then I saw reports on the speech and became even more convinced that not only was Columbia right to invite Ahmadinejad, but that they should invite more autocrats.

"You are either brazenly provocative or astonishingly uneducated," one audience member taunted the Iranian leader.

The president of Columbia University denounced Ahmadinejad as a 'cruel dictator' and called him 'simply ridiculous.'

Can you imagine anyone daring to say that to Ahmadinejad's face back home? Imagine how he boiled with rage.

Here you had the head of a religious totalitarian state facing tough questions from a hostile audience. There were people calling him on his b.s. There were people jeering his ridiculous responses. There were people mocking his denial that homosexuality existed in Iran. He had to run the gauntlet of angry protesters to and from the hall. For once, he was subjected to a situation where he didn't have absolute power.

(To give him a microgram of credit, at least Ahmadinejad accepted to speak at Columbia under such circumstances. I'd like to see President Bush speak there. It would be revealing to see how he faced questions from an audience that wasn't packed with specially chosen sycophants, in sharp contrast to nearly all of his events with the public.)

Far from attacking Columbia, I think the university should invite more such leaders. Invite Mugabe. Invite Putin. Invite the head of the Burmese junta. Let them face the tough questions and scorn that they brutally repress with such cowardice at home. Allow Americans the chance to tell these megalomaniacs to go to hell.

Hitler was an evil genius. Ahmadinejad's appearance at Columbia made him look like the rambling idiot that he is.

And that's precisely what militarists were afraid of.

It's easy to whip up war hysteria against an evil genius. But selling a war of aggression against an incoherent buffoon is a much harder task.


Mark said...

You, my friend, have put up a brilliant counterpoint to a post a friend of mine put up today. Do have a look:

A Rational Egoist said...

I responded to your post and two other comments at my blog. Thanks for the interest.

As you'll see in the post, I do have to say that I agree with your analysis of the treatment of Mahmoud I'm-a-nutjob by the Columbia University audience.