Monday, September 24, 2007

Ahmadinejad at Columbia: The Pampering of Evil

It was easy for Ahmadinejad to get cheers from his audience at Columbia. It was difficult to get them to jeer him.

In fact, it was so difficult that Ahmadinejad had to do a backward triple-somersault into the fever swamp by declaring that there were no homosexuals in Iran; "That phenomenon does not exist in our country." Only then could he get a negative reaction from the children of Korrectisch Politik.

Granted, Ahmadinejad's weird "dialogue" with Columbia was prefaced by a blistering smack-down from President Lee Bollinger. No doubt Bollinger has been feeling some heat from the alumni over the past couple of days, particularly from the School of Journalism grads who might have interpreted those Hitler remarks as a threat to invite George Bush to speak at Columbia. But I will not question Bollinger's motives; his remarks were very good and he properly set the tone by administering a good, stiff cold water douche. Ahmadinejad whined about it throughout his own speech - and got some applause for doing so.

Bollinger's introduction was aimed as much at the public and at Columbia students as it was at the little dictator. In the case of the Columbia students, results seem to be mixed, and mixed in favor of Ahmandinejad and his brutal Islamic fascist regime.

A lot people will claim that Ahmandinejad is very clever at playing to the media and the public, and that he is crazy like a fox. People always claim that in these situations, and they're usually wrong. In fact, Ahmandinejad is a bumbling mess, and if he is successful it is testament not to his cleverness but to the pathetic credulity of the people who cheer him.

It was astonishing what the man could get away with. A clever Ahmandinejad would have steered well clear of Holocaust denial; that donkey show is for Middle East racists, not the American stage. But he happily blathered on and on about it - even comparing it to the New Physics. He was canny enough to drag the Palestinians into it, and to play the victim when the questioners got too blunt with him, and in the end he scored several applause lines. But it's obvious that he could have easily dodged the whole issue and gotten away with it.

Likewise, he could have dodged the issue of Iran's execution of homosexuals, dissidents, religious minorities, and "soiled" women. He started off on the right path, by talking about drug dealers. It is standard practice for regimes like Iran to accuse their victims of being criminals. Executed gays, for example, are usually accused of being child molesters. That ploy has worked wonderfully well with the Western left, who are stunningly silent about Iran's brutality. What doesn't work wonderfully well is the claim that homosexuality only exists in the decadent West, and that's the card the fool finally played.

In short, Mr. Unpronounceable is a clod. If he is cheered for it, it is only because his audience is composed of bigger clods.

Not all of them are so stupid, though. Some of them see Ahmadinejad as a useful tool against their own enemies: Bush, Israel, and the dreaded Neocons. Or as the charmingly frank Ahmandinejad would call them, the International Jewish Conspiracy.

These apologists do not shrink from a nuclear-armed Iran; they welcome it as a counter to Israel. They will be glad to accept the full consequences of that, and when those consequences come they will blame Bush for it, or some future Bush-like object. Not themselves - not the champions of peace and justice.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Psalm for September 11th

A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.


O God, thou art my God;
early will I seek thee:
my soul thirsteth for thee,
my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land,
where no water is;

to see thy power and thy glory,
so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.

Because thy loving-kindness is better than life,
my lips shall praise thee.

Thus will I bless thee while I live:
I will lift up my hands in thy name.

My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness;
and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips:

when I remember thee upon my bed,
and meditate on thee in the night watches.

Because thou hast been my help,
therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.

My soul followeth hard after thee:
thy right hand upholdeth me.

But those that seek my soul, to destroy it,
shall go into the lower parts of the earth.

They shall fall by the sword:
they shall be a portion for jackals.

But the king shall rejoice in God;
every one that sweareth by him shall glory:
but the mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped.

Monday, September 03, 2007

THE NEW REPUBLIC DIARIST - Spiders Don't Have Lungs

IT SMELLED LIKE SLOW DEATH IN THERE. Thai take-out food. Bong water. Nightmares …

This is a senior editor’s office at The New Republic. Like all the rooms here it is small and austere; a natural habitat for amphetamine-powered liberals in white shirtsleeves – or if female, a Hillary Suit in crypto-sexual earth tones. Apart from the stacks of festering garbage, the only decoration is a bust of Pontius Pilate bearing the legend, “What is Truth?”

The senior editor himself, whom I’ll call Shifty, looks as if he has never been out of this office, perhaps having evolved out of the huge patch of oatmeal-colored mold that’s creeping up the wall. I am here to see Shifty because he has somehow gotten inserted into the long and tangled editorial chain between the writing and the publication of a piece – that is, he has been called upon to do some actual editing. Imagine Queen Elizabeth being ordered to drive up to Yorkshire and clean a septic tank.

Shifty grabs the article out of my hand and begins to read. This turns out to be a most unpleasant thing to witness, because he apparently stops breathing when he reads. By the time he gets to the third page his hands are trembling and a blue cyanotic stain is creeping up his face and down his neck. Finally he finishes and slams the piece down on his desk, then looks up and fixes me with an icy stare.

“Spiders don’t have lungs,” he says.

“What? Okay. But, uh, there’s not actually anything about spiders in that piece. It’s about the G8 Summit.”

“I know what it’s about, retard, I just read it!” He grabs the pages and throws them at my face. “My point is, spiders don’t have lungs!”

“Okay. Why are you saying that? What does that mean?”

“My God, can’t you hear them? Breathing in the walls? But I know it’s not spiders – I know there’s not a big tangled clump of bloated spiders breathing behind the walls, because spiders don’t have lungs!” His voice drops to a horrified whisper. “Do they?

“Actually I think they do.”


“Insects don’t have lungs,” I explain, “but a lot of arachnids have lungs. So if there was like a huge cluster of giant Black Widow spiders in there - with glistening, pulsating abdomens – I guess they’d all be breathing. If that’s what you were thinking of. Or if it was, like, big honking scorpions or something.”

This information seems to calm him a bit, and he settles back in his chair. “Then, I’m not crazy.”

“God, no,” I say, picking up the pages off the floor. “You’d be crazy not to worry. You want me to put something about spiders in the article? You know, to warn people?”

“Yeah, yeah, that sounds good. Spiders, and something bad about Dick Cheney. That should fix it up.”