Monday, September 24, 2007

Very Much Worth Watching: Ahmadinejad Schools Bush/60 Minutes on war (and Katrina!)

Well, as I type, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is at Columbia University. New York is in an Islamaphobic frenzy right now. Kudos to Columbia for holding their ground.

I actually tussled once with the University's President, Lee Bollinger, back when he was Prez of UMich. The issue at hand was the sweatshop conditions under which "U of M" gear was being made. We ended up occupying his office and he ended up adopting many of our demands, though he pulled underhandedness along the way and wussed out on things he didn't need to wuss out on. Thank God his backbone seems to have grown firmer since those days. And thank God many New Yorkers are insisting on the importance of free speech. But it disturbs me that even most liberals are willing to let the racist demonization of Ahmadinejad stand. The "he's a monster, but even a monster should be allowed to speak" camp.

Not that I love MA. I just don't think he's any more of a monster than Sharon or Sarkozy or Bush or Cheney or Bill Clinton or Musharraf or Blair or... You get the idea. The Leaders Of Men tend to be sleazy and violent.

Anyway, Ahmadinejad, before leaving Iran, gave an interview on 60 Minutes.* This reporter sucks. And I don't mean Anderson Cooper- or even Wolf Blitzer-level sucks. I mean Bill O'Reilly -level sucks. But Ahmadinejad's responses are cutting and hilarious. At one point, he's like "You're like the CIA here! This isn't Guatanamo! This isn't Abu Ghraib! This is Iran! I'm the President, Bitch!!"**

*Apologies, but the video link is on some cornball conservative's site. Better than making y'all sit through a commercial, though.
**OK, so I added the "Bitch", but it was there, hanging in the air, unspoken...

POSTSCRIPT: CNN has some highlights of the Columbia talk. Notable:

- U. Prez Lee Bollinger's insulting treatment of MA -- how bizarre that I sat across a bargaining table from the guy and saw that same smug wealthy white man posturing!

- MA's ominous, disturbing comment "we don't have gay people in Iran". Right, dude. Not only are there gay Iranians, there are apparently enough gay Iranians to suppot a whole webiste called!

12 comments: said...

"You have American blood on your hands...why?"

"What trait do you admire in President Bush?"

Hard hitting journalism at it's finest. Granted, the Iranian prez comes off as just another scuzzy politico, but still.

transient said...

I had never seen any person on the planet being treated like this in person, not Castro, not Khrushchev, not Saddam, not our worst enemies.

All this does is rile the masses and get them hot for another war.

Alaya said...

Did you see this item comparing his treatment of Ahmadinejad to Musharraf? Really pathetic.

And almost no one is hot for another war. I think a strike on Iran has 8% approval right now. Which I have no doubt will not deter our dear Leader in the slightest.

Saladin said...

@ alaya: Thanks, a great piece. And while I agree that the public is against another 'war' in Iran, I thnk they'd be perfectly happy with a smaller-scale, Clintonian style Death From Above campaign. Bombing and sealed borders would 'shock and awe' the Iranian people but would not cost Americans much (relative to the Iraq 'war', I mean). Maybe we'd even maintain such a campaign for a decade before going in on the ground, like in Iraq. Americans will put up with anything as long as it's not their kids dying.

karbarian said...

"Americans will put up with anything as long as it's not their kids dying."

Why don't you tell that to some of the parents that were ill informed and have lost their children in the war. See what kind of reaction you get.

Tell me, what are we supposed to do? Take up blogging?

I'm also curious to know if you count yourself as an American in your comment?

Show me an incorruptible philosophy or political system and I'm in. I don't see any that currently exists in the world. If there is no such thing and governments are only as corrupt as the people that run them, then isn't it your responsibility as a citizen to become more involved in politics since you don't like the way things are going?

Your quick to criticize others but offer no solutions.

It's back to hunting and gathering for me.

Saladin said...

@ karbarian

Your first point would seem to prove mine: it is only when their own kids start dying that Americans become critical of murderous American froeign policy.

Malcolm X once said "You're not an American, you're a victim of America". He was speaking to Black people, but it's a fairly useful concept for people of color in general.

The truth is a bit more complex than Malcolm's statement suggests, though: we are all (in differing proportions) both victims of and beneficiaries of a complex but ultimately sinister political sytem/entity called America. We get neat stuff b/c we live here. We have certain cultural reference points because we grow up here.
But for many of us, living here is also a stuggle with the hatred that white "American" culture has for us. And all of us (White people more than anyone, perhaps) are inevitably if indirectly damaged by the evils done in our name. It is not good for one's spiritual, mnetal or even physical health to be a global bloodsucking monster...

Finally: what is to be done? I disagree with you that talking about things does not change them. The recent case in Jena is a very clear example of the (mostly Black) blogosphere having a real-world impact. No, it's not my responsibility as a citizen to "become more involved in politics", since you seems to mean 'electoral politics'. Evil, kitten-and-puppy crushing machines (such as the US govt) are designed to crush kittens and puppies. You can't use them to make cotton candy, no matter who's behind the controls.


Anonymous said...

"That same smug wealthy white man posturing." Are you serious?!

While I think the president of Columbia is a grade-a fuckwit, careful how you use ethnicity in your derogations Saladin: if you are prepared to give lip service to a taxonomy of ethno-gender-class-integrity then you are equally ready to codify yourself as just the sort of stereotyping racist you seem to abhor and desire to drive out of american politics: This would make you a hypocrite I'm afraid to say. If not: grow up and reign in your tantrums with language that is reflective of your ideals, not banal stereotyping.

musingsofabittergirl said...

Well, yeah. What do you expect in the USA? The reporters are part of the problem here - they have always taken the US government claims hook line and sinker, without any physical proof they gathered on their own. They swallow whatever the US government tells them. There is no more questioning that comes from this side of things anymore - journalism is now big business and controlled by the same interests that control our government. They won't 'control' editors of papers using strong arm methods - they simply do not hire anyone who would not agree with their own point of view. Much easier.

And frankly a lot of people are tired of hearing about Sharia law, and religiously run countries - it's downright creepy (especially for women like myself who'd hate to live in a country like Iran or Afghanistan for that very reason). Or ones that say that they don't have gays (while punishing gays they do find in their country) and that the holocaust might not have really happened, and that Jews should go back to Europe to live, and get out of Israel. I would much rather have had the reporter ask him about his views on women, or gays in general to find out more about this. Or anything about the internal running of Iran - but he just could not get off the US propaganda wagon for one minute. Luckily he left lots of space for the Iranian president to mention tons of things which the Bush government have done wrong to our citizens.

I only wish reporters treated Bush like this. I really really do. But that will never happen. Bush would never sit down for such an interview - he'd first insist knowing the political leanings of the reporter before he'd talk to them. Frankly all politicians are the same.

Amazing that supposedly president Bush would insult this man this way through a reporter taking a quote - that is just incredibly low and cowardly. But he was right on in his answer about why Bush is trying to attack Iran so much - to try to make sure a Republican could win the next election by stirring up more internal fear. I'd have to say he held his own in the interview.

Saladin said...

@ musingsofabittergirl:

Thanks for your comments.

I agree that Iran is in many ways probably a scary place for women and gay people. I'd add that most of the world -- including the US and Britain -- is as well. Yes, it is probably physically more dangeorus/suicidal to be a feminist or an openly gay man in rural Iran than it is in New York City. But we should remember both that gay and female Iranians have carved out more autonomy for themselves in Iran than the west gives them credit for AND that gay/female rights are not nearly so protected in the west as we claim...

I.M.SMALL said...


Let everybody bill and coo
The perpetrators of the coup,
Whom I declare a bit cuckoo,
Arrival as by curlique
Instead of standing in a queue--
Better to have democracy
Cover the land from sea to sea,
Instead of blithely saying si
To some dictator--can´t you see?
It ought to be like ABC.
But people would not have it so,
So as they reap so shall they sow,
Shroud of democracy so sew,
So sing it Callas, Caruso,
Sing it with a beat calypso:
The sobriquet must be so-so.

Saladin said...

@ i.m. small

Um. Yes. Well. I've often said that there is not enough rhymed occassional political verse being written. I feel like I'm on a street corner in London some time before 1850...

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