28 September 2007

A million little HItlers

No sooner had the previous post come off the press than the American hawks erupted anew over the latest Super Evil Hitler to be sighted; Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. While in New York for this week's United Nations Summit, Ahmadinejad was booked to speak at Columbia University, and the outrage machine went into overdrive at the audacity of an American university to give a platform for an Enemy of the State to hypnotize our college kids with his Super Evil Voodoo spells. (Front page splash in Rupert's New York Post, "The Evil has Landed")

Glenn Greenwald (again) has a thorough collection of the ludicrous posturing that surrounded Ahmadinejad's visit, including a laughable interview on 60 Minutes, in which Scott Pelley discovers his journalistic cajones when he's not interviewing a member of the United States government. Rick Perlstein compares the reaction to Big A's visit with a different world leader many years ago who once possessed a significantly greater threat to American existence.

Ahmadinejad is certainly a bit kooky, but not much more than your average Midwestern Republican. Attempts to portray him as a murderous dictator are exaggerated on both counts; he was popularly elected, though barely, and doesn't hold the power in the Iranian government to make the kind of radical foreign policy decisions attributed to him by the hawks and the American press. That ultimately rests with the Supreme Leader. That is who the hawks want a war with, anyway; Ahmadinejad has just made enough of a fool of himself to give them a public face to make a target of hate for the American public.

While at Columbia, Ahmadinejad made the since-endlessly-riffed-upon claim that there are no homosexuals in Iraq, which has sent the hawks on a new and curious road of persuasion. While we welcome their sudden concern about equal rights for queer folks, we do have to wonder if we can't think of a nation closer to our own shores where we might agitate for this problem. Besides, in the matter of bombing the hell out of people to liberate them, I generally take the notion that it's noticeably harder to enjoy all that freedom and equality when you're fucking dead.

I dunno, just me.

At Pandagon, Amanda Marcotte wonders what's driving the Ahmadinejad Fear Machine. In light of the dismissive reaction of the Big A at Columbia she mentioned, I think it might be mistaken to categorize the censorship impulse as actual fear on the part of the hawks. At least, not fear of Ahmadinejad himself, but rather the fear that the public will see Ahmadinejad unfiltered and recognize he is small and silly rather than the bloodthirsty New Hitler they are being sold by the hawks and the media. That's not an outcome they can tolerate.