Re: Getting it exactly right.

1

Hunter's pretty funny. (Someone should probably point out to him that Columbia doesn't grant entry visas.)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 8:43 AM
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Interestingly, my mom was sure that Ahmadinejad (of whom she's not a fan) was helped internationally by what happened yesterday because it's so extraordinarily rude to invite someone as a guest and then attack him. We'll see, I guess.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 9:10 AM
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This is a rare occasion where I think Apo is exactly wrong. The demonization of Ahmadinejad simply lowers the bar; when he then exceeds it (by getting off shots at Bollinger's awful form, for example) he looks better only because we've been primed to expect Frothing Hitler. Columbia and Bollinger look terrible for (a) having extended a stupid invitation (here I agree with baa) and (b) then turning this event into a rhetorical pile-on. Seriously, Ahmadinejad at least did something Bush would never do, namely, face a hostile crowd.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 9:18 AM
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Bollinger's awful form

Oh, I'll agree that Bollinger came off looking bad.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 9:20 AM
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Wouldn't you say that Ahmadinejad might have come out of this looking, on some level, personally more appealing but sillier? I mean, he handled the hostile introduction with aplomb, but he stood up there and just said goofy, and in some cases repugnant, shit for an hour.

It moves him further away from an image of being an inhuman killing machine, slavering for the blood of the innocent, maybe, but it also made him look like a clown.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 9:24 AM
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There are no gays in Iran because ogged lives here now, right?

[Ducks and runs away]


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 9:24 AM
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The Duncan Hunter interview was on the TV in the school cafeteria when I was getting some lunch yesterday. I was only half paying attention, so I didn't catch that he was a politician and presidential candidate. He just looked like another fox hysteria-clown to me.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 9:26 AM
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There are no gays in Iran because ogged lives here now, right?

I really doubt the force of my attraction is that strong, helpy-chalk, but I'm flattered nonetheless. Then again, a lot of gays do seem to have moved to San Francisco while I've been here.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 9:27 AM
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6 was probably another joke that Apo considered making, but decided it would be inappropriate.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 9:27 AM
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And America seemed bigger for not having cowered before him, as so many wanted to.

This is heartening. I thought I was the only one who wanted President Bush to apologize to Ahmedinijad and give him the Congressional Medal of Freedom, but apparently we are many.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 9:37 AM
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I assume the "cowering" referred to was the "we can't let him speak here because he's eeeeevil".


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 9:41 AM
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I agree with ogged's mother. And with FL (3).

Inviting someone in order to laugh at him does not make America seem bigger. It makes America look like Nelson Muntz.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 9:44 AM
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How did San Francisco become the gay city it is today? I'm asking seriously. Why SF?


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 9:44 AM
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Hippies? There was such a concentration of hippies that it was a safe place to be weird, and then when the hippies dissipated a bit in the 70s, the gay population was left as the largest group needing a safe place to be weird? I'm making this up, but I don't think SF was particularly gay before the hippie era.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 9:47 AM
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I don't believe he was invited for the purpose of laughing at him. But when somebody says something hilarious, laughter is still the proper response.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 9:49 AM
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Hippies?

Seems to have been far earlier than that.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 9:51 AM
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If I remember correctly SF had a number of gay social organizations before the hippie era. There's an interesting paper called "Elegy for the Valley of Kings: AIDS and the Leather Community in San Francisco" that discusses some of the disruption of social rituals caused by HIV, and in the set-up (again this is based on old memories) the author discusses motorcycle clubs going back to the early 60s.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 9:52 AM
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Inviting someone for the purpose of laughing at them is rude, and being rude is, other things equal, bad. But other things aren't equal and it seems to me that the outcome Ahmadinejad invited to speak and then addressed very harshly by his host and laughed at over absurd claims is a better outcome than one where he wasn't invited at all. I also think the people proposing that the invitation should have been paired with a request for a reciprocal invitation for a human rights campaigner to speak in Iran are non-crazy.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 9:54 AM
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Kenneth Rexroth says that in 1955 SF was a very provincial town (seemingly about like Boise or Wichita today, but bigger), albeit with an interesting history. Ginsberg, Kerouac, and the others settled there, possibly because of cheap rent, or maybe because of escapism. It then became Greenwich Village West (GV also was originally cheap rent).

At that time everywhere west of the Mississippi except LA was regarded as the end of the world. No interstates, airlines were expensive. LA was the land of craziness and Hollywood, and it still was a bit undeveloped. The Beats travelled to all of the end-of-the-world places (New Orleans, Denver, Mexico, Tangier, Japan). Partly they were just working out the consequences of the interstate system.

People go west because the west is looser and more fun. NYC had that neurotic, ambitious energy.

The gay thing was partly a spinoff of that. I imagine that there was some independent gay migration going on too, but I don't know about it.



Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 9:55 AM
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San Francisco depicted in Vertigo (1958) doesn't seem that provincial.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 9:57 AM
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The story I've always heard about SF becoming a gay mecca involved WWII and the Pacific Fleet. Gay sailors staying put when discharged rather than going home to Topeka. But clearly that's not the whole story.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 9:57 AM
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Wikipedia seems to agree with LB. saying that the Castro came of age as the gay center following the Summer of Love in 67 in the Haight.

I could have sworn that I saw a PBS documentary about the Castro saying that it started earlier than that. Wikipedia also says the opening of Harvey Milk's camera store in 1975 was a pivotal date, because that's when he started to promote the area as "a gay destination."


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 9:57 AM
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A book.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 9:58 AM
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Ahmadinejad at least did something Bush would never do, namely, face a hostile crowd.

Labs hates America!!11!


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 9:59 AM
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I think SF was sort of Vegas before Vegas, because of the Gold Rush, no? If homosexuality is a sin, you go where sin is either licensed or at least tolerated.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 10:00 AM
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Damn, I hate being pwned so easily. I started typing, and I was quickly beaten.

Smart, but slow = dumb, I think.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 10:01 AM
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Maybe not necessarily just post-hippie, but SF as Emerson describes it in 19, as a looser place to be weird generally? That would explain how the hippies got there, and in parallel how it got to be gay.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 10:02 AM
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Ogged's link was the answer.

Rexroth argued that SF, along with New Orleans, was one of the few American cities not founded on Protestant-ethic principles. The Gold Rush, the Spanish influence, the maritime influence. Portland and Seattle were very buttoned up and honky then. So the beats went there because something was already there.

The "provincial culture" of SF Rexroth spoke of was actually a gay-friendly provincial culture. New York's establishment wasn't very gay-friendly at all, with plicemen patrolling the hotels and so one.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 10:02 AM
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My gay great-uncle migrated from Utah to the West Coast because of the Navy. He ended up settling in the south, but I think he bopped around SF for awhile. SF is better for people who want what an urban environment offers; LA has always been weirdly spread out.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 10:03 AM
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29: My sense is that LA was long much more conservative, as well.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 10:04 AM
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"And so on". Since I started posting on the internet all the time, my fingers have learned a number of automatic subroutines, and a number of them have spelling errors in them.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 10:06 AM
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I'm tempted to continue my lonely defense of Ahmadinejad. Saying that the holocaust is "a theory" and "worthy of further study" is in the same epistemological ballpark as saying similar things about evolution, isn't it?


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 10:10 AM
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My family moved to SF in 1971. At that time Polk Street was the center of gay activity. Pretty openly gay too. One would often observe two guys macking while crossing the street or whatever.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 10:11 AM
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I think I generally agree with the substance of this post, but it's quite a stretch, to my mind, to suggest that not inviting someone to speak on the grounds of his ideological disgustingness and human rights abuses is substantively the same as "cowering before him."


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 10:13 AM
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I'll go along with 32.

On gays in SF, it's obvious, people. It's a gorgeous city filled with gorgeous Victorian houses. Hello?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 10:13 AM
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Saying that the holocaust is "a theory" and "worthy of further study" is in the same epistemological ballpark as saying similar things about evolution, isn't it?

But if you said similar things about evolution, I'd tag you for an ID shill, and the ID people use it as a wedge issue for creationism. If you said what Ahmadinejad said, I'd imagine you were looking for a "respectable" denialism. Unless he's simply incredibly ignorant, which remains possible.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 10:18 AM
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re: 32 - the epistemological ballpark would have to be very very big, I think. Evolution may be understandable as an endless series of discreet events, I guess, but it's much more of a way of systematizing knowledge/data, no? To put a discreet historical event in the same ballpark seems a stretch.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 10:20 AM
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32: Am I missing some subtle humor about 32? Because otherwise, um, no.

Another perspective on responding to the visit from D@nny P0stel. When Breznhev was invited to France in 1977:

A group of French intellectuals, however - Michel Foucault and Jean-Paul Sartre among them - decided to hold an alternative or shadow reception. They invited Soviet dissidents living in Paris to gather at the same time that Brezhnev was being feted in the corridors of state power.

As the headlines and the hubbub this week swirl around Ahmadinejad, maybe we on the left should reach out to certain other Iranians who are our friends.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 10:23 AM
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not inviting someone to speak on the grounds of his ideological disgustingness and human rights abuses

The folks screaming the loudest have no problems with disgusting ideologies or human rights abuses; this has been demonstrated time and again. They are just trying to convince the country that Iran has been waging war on us for twenty years and that the guy who holds a largely ceremonial post over there is going to trick us into establishing an American caliphate with his wily Persian misdirections.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 10:23 AM
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Didn't he pretty much grant the Holocaust as a fact yesterday, instead asking why Palestinians are paying for it now? (I've only read summaries, not a transcript.)


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 10:24 AM
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Ogged, he sort-of did, in the literal utterances, but he used the language of "all historical events are open to further study," as far as I can tell. The point about the Holocaust and the justification of various actions of the Israeli state is certainly within the realm of non-ridiculous conversation, by my lights.

My point is only that many people on the American political scene are at least as ridiculous as Ahmadinejad.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 10:27 AM
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39: Regardless of why people are screaming, he is, in fact ideologically disgusting and a gross human rights violator. I am disinclined to believe this doesn't come up in most circles of discussion at one point or another.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 10:28 AM
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My point is only that many people on the American political scene are at least as ridiculous as Ahmadinejad.

No argument here. And I fully support pointing and laughing at them.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 10:31 AM
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My point is only that many people on the American political scene are at least as ridiculous as Ahmadinejad.

Yeah, it was pissing me off that Ahmadinejad is described everywhere as nutty, loony, crazy, etc., for saying the same kinds of things that people here say all the time, or for just making implausible claims for the sake of political positioning. He said Iranian women are free! He's crazy! Bush says that Iraq is on the road to freedom. Uhhh.... It's all part of the demonization that takes us down the road to war, but the people doing it think they're just holding on to their place in polite society.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 10:31 AM
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many people on the American political scene are at least as ridiculous as Ahmadinejad

I wish people were willing to put the same kind of questions to them as Bollinger to Ahmadinejad. They can refuse to answer them publicly, but they should still be asked in every interview and press conference and the fact of their refusal should be part of the reporting. Yes, I know, I'm living in dreamville.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 10:32 AM
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Maybe we on the left should reach out to certain other Iranians who are our friends.

Ogged is a wonderful, wonderful person who runs a fun website, but I'm not sure that he would be a good choice as a national spokesman. The Iranians ("Persians") need to approach full personhood gradually while they prepaer themselves for actual political participation. Going too fast would destroy all their gains so far.

For now, probably Bill Kristol should be the spokesman for the oppressed Iranians.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 10:32 AM
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I thought we'd settled on Andre Agassi.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 10:34 AM
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44: That's why I think Ahmadinejad's visit was on balance, a good thing. Bollinger, having extended the invitation, had to be very critical or else we'd be hearing about the liberal academy fellating Xerxes more than we already do. And it may not play well in Iran or abroad.

But I'm less worried about what the average Iranian might think about it than what the average American thinks of Iran, because it's the opinion of the latter that is likely to cause us to blow things up. Ahmadinejad ended up being a badly-dressed guy who was sort of incoherent... and I'm hoping mostly for the reaction that's the enemy?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 10:35 AM
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I reached out to some Iranians just last night. Bastard fell asleep on me.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 10:35 AM
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Michael Ledeen has a similar complaint, if I'm not mistaken.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 10:36 AM
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50->49?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 10:38 AM
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Maybe we on the left should reach out to around certain other Iranians who are our friends.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 10:38 AM
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Cala, I think that's very optimistic. People will more likely continue to see Iranians as very different, not quite human, and untroubling bombing targets.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 10:40 AM
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53: Well, sure, if you keep making the "What's Family Circle?"comments.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 10:43 AM
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I'd like to see the record on speeches by the murderous American puppets in Latin America (especially Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Guatemala, and El Salvador). I'm confident that if they were shunned, they were far from shunned by most of the people who are so npoisliy indignant about Ahmedinijad.

The demonization of Ahmedinijad is part of an orchestrated attempt to pump up another bogus war fever. His importance is exaggerated, and so is his relative evil.

For a point of comparison, Saudi Arabia. Prince Bandar and Prince Turki are trusted allies, and Bandar actually is intimately involved with the Bush family. regardless of their public statements, the Saudi treatment of women is certainly much wore than Iran's, and their treatment of gays is at least as bad. And these two guys are too cool to deny the Holocaust, but they've tolerated and sponsored a tremendous amount of anti-Israel activity over the years.

"Putting things in context" is a weenie liberal thing to do, but you really have to do it. There's something else going on here besides a cool evaluation of Ahmedinijad's policy positions and beliefs, or Iran's treatment of gays.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 10:43 AM
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C'mon, apo: Ledeen, rousing the revolution, slumbering giant? You know? Too condensed? Never mind, then.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 10:45 AM
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Jacob T. Levy has a good post (which I don't think I agree with) taking an FL-like point of view. I wonder if I'm being inconsistent with my position that the student who asked Scalia if he has anal sex with his wife was wrong to do so.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 10:48 AM
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Sorry, I was up most of the night with a 2-year-old who has decided sleep is for wusses and I'm having trouble getting the ol' cerebrum out of second gear.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 10:48 AM
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Good parents have bad kids, Apo. I had a wonderful kid.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 10:50 AM
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It's very difficult for me to find an inhabitable position on this matter. We (where we is understood as some sort of monolithic Left) want the war-with-Iran rhetoric deflated; to this end, the Iranian leader's looking like a bumbling ass, a clown rather than a danger, is a good thing. But I feel uncomfortable evacuating all suggestion of danger from a person who leads a regime that routinely stones women and gays. I am also way squeamish about the ANALOGY that denying the Holocaust is somehow functionally equivalent to denying evolution, thereby putting M.A. on the same plane of "ridiculousness" as Mitt Romney. I mean, people, really? This dictator, he traffics in the same sort of thing as random ideologues with no criminal record? The implicit extension that somehow the danger posed is equitable is patently absurd.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 10:50 AM
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Good parents have bad kids, Apo.

I've had one extraordinarily easy one and one extraordinarily challenging one. Too soon to tell with the baby.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 10:51 AM
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Ahmadinejad's not a dictator, Sybil. The domestic situation in Iran is much more complicated than that.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 10:55 AM
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Sybil, I can't agree with that at all; it seems like more American exceptionalism to me. In what sense, anyway, is Ahmadinehad a "dictator?" He'll be out of office after the next election, and answers to Khamenei right now. In what sense is he dangerous? How is he possibly more dangerous than a president of the United States? Again, this talk just makes war possible.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 10:57 AM
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As always, Ogged's mom has got it goin' on:

Iranians on Tuesday called the combative introduction of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by the head of Columbia University "shameful" and said the harsh words only added to their image of the United States as a bully.
In a region where the tradition of hospitality outweighs personal opinions about people, many here thought Columbia University President Lee Bollinger's aggressive tone -- including telling Ahmadinejad that he exhibited the signs of a "petty and cruel dictator" -- was over the top.

Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 10:59 AM
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In what sense, anyway, is Ahmadinehad a "dictator?"

Given the very limited powers of the Iranian presidency, it's not even clear to me how he can be branded a human rights violator.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 11:01 AM
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Given the very limited powers of the Iranian presidency, it's not even clear to me how he can be branded a human rights violator.

And as I said: Bandar and Turki. The Latin American murderers.

Enormous staged indignation, enormous double standard.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 11:04 AM
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"Given the very limited powers of the Iranian presidency, it's not even clear to me how he can be branded a human rights violator."

He appoints the Minister of Information & the Minister of the Interior. See HRW on the guys he picked, and on human rights violations in Iran generally. They clearly think he has some influence, though he's not exactly running the show by himself.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 11:15 AM
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Ahmadinejad is the goofiest looking Satan ever. I worked with a (non-brown) guy who looked very similiar to him, and the guy's nickname was "Hobbit".


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 11:15 AM
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(the contrast between Bollinger's treatment of Ahmadinejad & the Turkmenistan guy has me out of whatever sympathy I was feeling for his approach yesterday.

I do think that "we can't mention the gays & the jailed dissidents, that would be ever so uncivil" rules of the game are screwed up, but there's a line between not mentioning these things and argument-by-adjective lines like "petty and cruel dictator." Pointed factual questions are actually more effective. And mentioning them only with regard to gov'ts that your own regime has branded part of the "Axis of Evil" isn't real cool either.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 11:21 AM
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I take the HRW and Amnesty International at their word on the deterioration of human rights, treatment of dissidents and detainees since Ahmadinejad took power. Ok, likely the Ayatollah is pulling the strings, but I find that a rather weak defense of him. I don't think that a critique or objection to him/policies under him is really tantamount to equating his power with the American's president; I likely don't have the understanding of the domestic situation that I should, and I am playing fast and loose with dictator; so I'm wrong there. But it seems absurd to me that any critique of him as dangerous, especially within his country, si somehow complicit in a run-up to war.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 11:24 AM
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67: Fair enough.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 11:26 AM
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They're also not truly free elections, but they are still more meaningfully competitive than most in the regions, & Ahmadinejad has a better claim on being elected than most of our allies in the Middle East.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 11:27 AM
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Pinochet never travelled to the U.S., as far as I know. Of course, if Ahmedinejad orchestrates a car bombing in Washington, D.C. to kill a dissident, he probably won't be welcome either.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 11:28 AM
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HRW also says that executions etc. are on the rise since he took power, but they also say that the courts answer to Khamenei. It may be that Ahmadinejad exerts some pull on the courts just as Khamenei must on the cabinet--it may be that Khamenei sees the ascendance of Ahmadinejad over someone like Khatami as a sign that he doesn't risk a public outcry by tightening the screws. I don't really know.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 11:30 AM
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But it seems absurd to me that any critique of him as dangerous, especially within his country, is somehow complicit in a run-up to war.

This is a staged media circus. HRW is routinely ignored or ridiculed by the Bush administration and its supporters. This one time they're being listened to. How astonishing! I never heard of such a thing!

Like I said, context. The run-up to war is happening right now.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 11:34 AM
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Emerson is right. This is why I don't blog about Iran, or about Ganji's letter, or any of that: anything even remotely uncomplimentary about Iran right now is part of the war machine.

Off to swim...


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 11:37 AM
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And anything uncomplimentary about the administration is part of the terrorists' machine, right?


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 11:40 AM
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If I read HA's words about the Holocaust correctly, they correspond to thoughts or conflicts I have had myself. The Nazis killed Slaves, gays, the retarded, Commies, Gypsies, whatever, and Jews. The Japanese had similar, if perhaps not as extreme, an attitude toward Chinese, Koreans, etc. The Holocaust from one perspective is about xenophobia and eliminating the "Other". From the Jewish perpective, the Holocaust was about killing Jews, and the Jew as the archetypical and historical "Other" may be critical. See Arendt, Hannah. It is complicated and obviously very sensitive, and not something I talk about often.

Islam may or may not have in principle and/or practice a shade more universalism than Christianity, but I think Muslims like to think they are more universal. I could see how Zionism, and even Judaism to the extent the ethnicity & religion are intertwined, could be spiritually offensive to Muslims.

I could in a longer piece, connect the first paragraph to the 2nd, connect ethical interpretations of the Holocaust to idealistic conceptions of the Umma, thereby making some sense, even if a hypocritical position, of HA's positions. If I ever get around to reading all those books.

I have probably screwed this up horribly, and should not have even tried.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 11:47 AM
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I agree with 77. Ganji's letter explicitly opposes the war, & not just in passing.

It may not be a bad thing for HRW's agenda that Bush cites it against Iran AND Iran cites it against Bush, even if they're both obvious hypocrites about it. Obviously, it's a lot worse than gov'ts actually paying attention to human rights. But it enhances their credibility at the expense of both Bush's and Ahmadinejafd's.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 11:48 AM
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The ogged/Emerson position seems way too restricted, but I think SV is not taking into account things like relative power and the motivations of people pushing for denouncement.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 11:50 AM
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Agreed, there are lots of unsavory motivations catalyzing denouncements of Ahmadinejad. What I'm saying is that I would like to be able to denounce him and to not have to be squishy and relativistic about it in order to not appear to support a war. In this discursive space, really, must one be so very careful? I cannot believe how uncannily this rhetoric mirrors the exact rhetoric used to silence the left's dissent.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 11:58 AM
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77: Sybil, I've been fearing war with Iran for a year, and I think that I've been right. It's really Bush's only possible move; otherwise he's lost. People like Josh Micah Marshall are thinking somewhat the same way as Kotsko and McManus and I on this topic, and that's especially frightening. I'm used to being in a more isolated, paranoid position.

If you want to look at everything piecemeal, one issue at a time, or if you want to prioritize ineffectual peeping about Iranian human rights (an issue which will be forgotten once the war starts) over preventing the war, OK. I am not an admirer of Ahmadinijad, but I absolutely refuse to join in on this particular dog and pony show.

The attack on Iran may or may not be stoppable. It's possible that it isn't. But this particular hooplah is oart of the propaganda for that war, and we can opt out.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 12:01 PM
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81: In this discursive space, really, must one be so very careful?

No. I don't think you need to be careful in any space, frankly. You just need to end any denouncement with something like the following: "And, by the way, the neocons and Southern conservatives are almost universally assholes and are a much greater threat to American society than Iran has the potential to be. As the last six years have shown."


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 12:03 PM
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What I'm saying is that I would like to be able to denounce him and to not have to be squishy and relativistic about it in order to not appear to support a war.

You live in the US, lady. Get used to it.

No one is supporting Ahmadinejad.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 12:04 PM
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It may be that Ahmadinejad exerts some pull on the courts just as Khamenei must on the cabinet--it may be that Khamenei sees the ascendance of Ahmadinejad over someone like Khatami as a sign that he doesn't risk a public outcry by tightening the screws.

I know that Ahmadinejad was, until his party's defeat at elections last year, trying to outmanoeuver Khamenei's influence within the government. Khamenei was seen as having stealthily won that bout. There are a lot of weird moving parts inside the Iranian government; it's really hard for an outsider to follow which faction is behind what action.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 12:05 PM
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I think the Ganji letter is an active attempt to convey the following message: "hi, I'm an Iranian dissident & these are all my human-rights supporter friends, I'm not Kanin Makiya & this isn't Iraq, leave us the fuck out of your case for war."


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 12:11 PM
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There have been Holocaust deniers and ex-Nazis in the Austrian government, and people quite properly made an issue of it. But we never were toying with the idea of nuking Austria. You really have to keep your eyes open and prioritize a bit.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 12:13 PM
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No one is selling I heart Ahmaidenijad shirts or anything, but Ogged's mom and others find him more sympathetic after yesterday's staged media circus, and people are suggesting that his habitual Holocaust denial, a position that comes from someone who has endorsed wiping Israel off the map, is basically the same thing as questioning evolution. This is some serious equivocation. Well-intentioned I'm sure, and from people who, like myself, are very opposed to war with Iran. But what I'm saying is I shouldn't have to pretend like he's some intellectual interlocutor just because I'd rather we didn't bomb his country.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 12:20 PM
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Sybil's 60:

We (where we is understood as some sort of monolithic Left) want the war-with-Iran rhetoric deflated; to this end, the Iranian leader's looking like a bumbling ass, a clown rather than a danger, is a good thing.

This might be one source of the disagreement here: some are contending that portraying him as a bumbling ass (most rudely!) sets the stage for just the reverse of what We (understood as .. monolithic Left, etc.) might prefer as a solution to difficulties between Iran, the rest of the region, and the US, namely diplomatic negotiation.

To the extent that Ahmadinejad is viewed as a head of state, his treatment at Columbia was a bit shocking. Despite our hatred of Bush, we'd be stunned to see him received in such a way elsewhere.

There is the important matter that A. is *not* actually head of state; but if he is not to be treated as a dignitary, we'd do well to be clear about why.

As it stands, ridiculing him in such a drastically public manner does not advance what should be the goals of diplomacy. As others have pointed out, it 'otherizes' him, makes him one step above the animal -- a non-rational actor.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 12:20 PM
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82:"The attack on Iran may or may not be stoppable"

Last night Pat Lang:"The die is cast."

Steve Clemons:"Look at this long list of people ho agree with me that there will be no attack. We must help the Bush resist the Cheney DarkSide."

I paraphrase Clemons. Both of these people have sources. I couldn't even guess at odds.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 12:21 PM
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No one is selling I heart Ahmaidenijad shirts or anything, but Ogged's mom and others find him more sympathetic after yesterday's staged media circus, and people are suggesting that his habitual Holocaust denial, a position that comes from someone who has endorsed wiping Israel off the map, is basically the same thing as questioning evolution. This is some serious equivocation. Well-intentioned I'm sure, and from people who, like myself, are very opposed to war with Iran. But what I'm saying is I shouldn't have to pretend like he's some intellectual interlocutor just because I'd rather we didn't bomb his country.

I have to prioritize in a comment thread? What does that even mean? I need to redirect all threads to the Austrians or to the anti-Semite in my graduate program? It's seriously a zero sum game anymore, apparently.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 12:21 PM
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If that's an answer to me, it's not responsive. I am not saying that denunciation of Ahmadinejad's human rights record is more important than opposing an invasion. I am saying that rather than answering criticisms of Ahmadinejad with "eh, he's not so bad, Bush is worse," a public position of "of course he's an asshole, they both are. Don't start a war. Even the threat war is making things worse for the Iranians you claim to support & they've told you so" is a better strategy for opposing the war.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 12:22 PM
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Sorry about the doubling; my connection is sort of fucked up today. I blame Ahmadinejad.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 12:22 PM
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closing italics tags. Sorry.

92 to 87.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 12:24 PM
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84: I'ma pull that comment out of the bag next time you want to bitch about HRC, John.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 12:26 PM
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I didn't think this clarification would be necessary, but PLEASE NOTE that when I said

in the same epistemological ballpark

I meant EPISTEMOLOGICAL ballpark. This is not to say that the two are morally or "functionally" equivalent.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 12:27 PM
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someone who has endorsed wiping Israel off the map

That's a misrepresentation of what he said, though.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 12:27 PM
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89 makes sense to me.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 12:28 PM
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...and my point in saying that is: people have been talking as though Ahmadinejad is completely loony and beyond the pale, rationally speaking because he says what he says about the Holocaust. Fine, deride his "only a theory" talk if you will, but be consistent in saying that people who drag out "only a theory" in other cases when the evidence does not warrant it are completely loony and beyond the pale, rationally speaking.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 12:29 PM
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Agree with Katherine in #92. I think perhaps ogged and Emerson and misreading the public a little.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 12:30 PM
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Sybil, I overall agree with your position but, as far as I know, you're getting his statements on Israel not entirely right.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 12:31 PM
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99: okay! Let's bring global warming deniers on in, too!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 12:31 PM
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Right, I replaced 'epistemological' with 'functional' which is misrepresentative.

What makes an epistemological ballpark, exactly? Maybe I exchanged the words because I am not sure what it says to suggest that denying the Holocaust and denying evolution are epistemologically similar, except insofar as the operative verb is "deny" and the object is something non-crazy people agree on. Is denying the Holocaust epistemologically similar to denying that Barry Bonds used steroids?


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 12:32 PM
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100: I don't. I think O and E are exactly right that all this argument about Ahmadinejad is completely part of the lead-up to war; it's exactly like the Saddam is an evil crazy dictator talk before the Iraq war. We've also had stories about women's rights in Iran suddenly leaking into the mainstream press over the last year or so, and I've blogged a couple of them--with specific disavowal that doing so means I support war, and along with pointing out that we don't really give a shit about women's rights in Iraq (which have gotten worse) or Afghanistan (which are about on par with what they were before the war) now that those wars have happened.

But still, I feel wary about blogging that stuff, because it all contributes to the anti-Iraq noise. Which one or two voices piping up and saying "however, I do not intend this to constitute support for war!" are just not going to get heard. What gets noticed is the media storm.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 12:34 PM
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Sybil, here is what I take to be true: the evidence that the Holocaust happened is quite overwhelming, and to deny that it happened* is to be guilty of a pretty serious intellectual failing. The same point applies to evolutionary theory. To the same degree? Hard to say, but close, I think. Reason this irks: I have to pretend that the people running for president who think that evolution is false are very serious and not insane. Meanwhile we're being told that we'd better bomb Iran because MA, he's so crazy and irrational, see, he denied the Holocaust.

You played the following trick:

1. FL says that two things are epistemologically equivalent
2. SV misreads this as equivalent in some other sense
3. SV scoffs at the ridiculousness of saying that these two things are equivalent in some other (implicitly moral) sense.

That is not good.

*It's not clear just what MA said, from what I've seen.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 12:38 PM
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I thought Sybil had a good point in 37 about the Holocaust being more easily understood as series of discrete events while evolution is a theory which correctly explains and predicts certain events. The conditions for believing that events happened and believing in a theory which explains events might be relevantly different such that even if there is as much and as good evidence for each it would be reasonable to tolerate greater deviation from belief in the theory than from belief in the fact of the events.

But I'm pulling this out of my ass.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 12:43 PM
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103: You've got it. Ahmadinejad denies the Holocaust in spite of the fact that there is an enormous consensus that it happened; creationists deny evolution occurred despite the scientific consensus.

If your evidence for Ahmadinejad, or probably more properly, the right's only evidence for Ahmadinejad is that he is obviously crazy and a loony because he denies something that an overwhelming majority of knowledgeable people recognize, you should hold everyone else to the same standard of knowledge, and think the same of the creationist.

Moral equivalence is another thing entirely.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 12:44 PM
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Events that happen include events correctly described by the e-theory, wd.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 12:47 PM
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Or, on the more general point, I'm not the only one who noticed a weird contrast between the "he's so crazy!" rhetoric and Ahmadinejad's actual remarks, which, though bad in many ways, fell far short of the level of craziness attributed to him. What an embarrassing nation this can be.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 12:49 PM
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"epistemologically equivalent" means to view with skepticism/deny something that is overwhelmingly evidenced to be true. Ok, that's fair. And it's fair, I guess to suggest that the intellectual failing is structurally same, regardless of the cultural significance of the epistemological object. What's wrong is to say that both versions of intellectual failing should reflect in the same way on the intellectually failed person. Evolution simply does not have anything close to the cultural valence of the Holocaust. Further, persons who deny evolution do not regularly pair that denial with the claim that Darwin invented evolution in order to oppress creationists and control the world economy, nor does the advocation of Intelligent Design frequently accompany the suggestion that all evolutionists should be killed. Holocaust denial, on the other hand, has a rich history of communion with anti-Semitism. It's a rhetorical trick of your own to invoke a structural similarity that evacuates this context.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 12:49 PM
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What's funny is that there's very little in 110 that I'm committed to disagreeing with. I'm not saying anything about cultural valence; nor am I denying that Holocaust denial has a moral component that evolution denial lacks. Yes, denying the Holocaust is both an epistemic and moral failing. That's not at issue. 32 was intended to point out that we've gravely inconsistent in attributing irrationality. This matters because the alleged irrationality of the Iranian regime is part of the rationale for military action.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 12:54 PM
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100: B, have you read the Ganji letter?

Quotations:

"The people of Iran are experiencing difficult times both internationally and domestically. Internationally, they face the threat of a military attack from the US"

...

"Far from helping the development of democracy, US policy over the past 50 years has consistently been to the detriment of the proponents of freedom and democracy in Iran. The 1953 coup against the nationalist government of Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq and the unwavering support for the despotic regime of the Shah, who acted as America's gendarme in the Persian Gulf, are just two examples of these flawed policies. More recently the confrontation between various US Administrations and the Iranian state over the past three decades has made internal conditions very difficult for the proponents of freedom and human rights in Iran. Exploiting the danger posed by the US, the Iranian regime has put military-security forces in charge of the government, shut down all independent domestic media, and is imprisoning human rights activists on the pretext that they are all agents of a foreign enemy. The Bush Administration, for its part, by approving a fund for democracy assistance in Iran, which has in fact being largely spent on official institutions and media affiliated with the US government, has made it easy for the Iranian regime to describe its opponents as mercenaries of the US and to crush them with impunity. At the same time, even speaking about "the possibility" of a military attack on Iran makes things extremely difficult for human rights and pro-democracy activists in Iran. No Iranian wants to see what happened to Iraq or Afghanistan repeated in Iran. Iranian democrats also watch with deep concern the support in some American circles for separatist movements in Iran. Preserving Iran's territorial integrity is important to all those who struggle for democracy and human rights in Iran. We want democracy for Iran and for all Iranians. We also believe that the dismemberment of Middle Eastern countries will fuel widespread and prolonged conflict in the region."

...

"The people of Iran and Iranian advocates for freedom and democracy are experiencing difficult days. They need the moral support of the proponents of freedom throughout the world and effective intervention by the United Nations. We categorically reject a military attack on Iran. "

Published in the Nation, signed by a bunch of lefties (including Michael Lerner, Juan Cole, Noam Chomsky, Isabel Allende, Cornel West, Tony Judt, Howard Zinn, Michael Berube, Katha Pollitt, Mariam Said (who I think is Edward Said's widow), etc. etc. etc.) It is not a part of the case for war. It is an attempt--perhaps an unsuccessful one--to carve out a public "you're all assholes" position.

Not that I know Ganji or his motivations. But I assume that's a big part of why it's gotten so many high profile signatures.

Human Rights Watch & Amnesty continuing to put out reports on Iran is likewise not a part of the case for war. Administration officials' citation of those reports is, & the level of press coverage probably is. But that's no better an argument for human rights group stopping that work, than the fact that Al Qaeda uses reports on GTMO, Abu Ghraib, & CIA prison for recruiting person is an argument for stopping THAT work.

Of course, we're Americans--meaning the denunciations of human rights abuses are less likely to be effective & more likely to be seen as an argument for a war. But a "he's an asshole, so are you, DON'T BOMB IRAN" message is simple enough to understand. If it gets ignored, that's a reason to make the case against war more forcefully (is someone making contingency plans for giant protests if & when it starts?), not to pretend that the regime isn't bad.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 12:59 PM
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And my point is that it is, in fact, possible that we attribute irrationality more readily when a particularly intellectual position is both a grave epistemological and a grave moral failing.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 12:59 PM
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The topic is the speech at Columbia. When the speech was scheduled, the hawks and know-nothings and demagogues went into one of their staged hissy fits, like they always do. Then the University president did the opportunistic thing, trying to make everyone happy the way University presidents almost always do, and 1.) allowed the speech but 2.) gave the speaker an insulting introduction, something which really is quite unusual when dealing with national leaders (or any other public figure, really.)

All this is in the context of a propaganda campaign for war in Iran.

Now, it is true that there have been valid criticisms of Iran's human rights record all along. Suddenly these valid criticisms are being trumpeted everywhere. Isn't this a good thing?

No. The people making the noise on this, and the US government, have a completely opportunistic attitude toward human rights (Remember RAWA?)


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 1:05 PM
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Evolution simply does not have anything close to the cultural valence of the Holocaust.

Is it important here to distinguish between valences in the West and elsewhere? My sense--largely ex recto--is that here the Holocaust is about our failings and the horrors that ensued, while elsewhere (perhaps particularly in the ME) it at least includes a component in which it is a means by which someone else is made to pay for Western sins.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 1:08 PM
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No one is selling I heart Ahmaidenijad shirts or anything

I bet you could get hipsters to totally buy those.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 1:10 PM
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I'm wearing one now.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 1:11 PM
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Sybil, your point seems to be drifting: what's at stake here? That we reserve the right to call MA irrational? Or that we reserve the right to condemn his regime?

I'd venture that the latter is fine with the majority of people participating in this thread. The only argument there is about the appropriate settings in which to engage in such condemnation.

It seems that with the insistence that we may also call the man and his followers irrational loony nutjobs, you're entering into entirely different territory. Chiefly just digging in your heels.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 1:13 PM
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113: this is interesting-- true as a claim about what we do, but I'm suspicious of whether we should. I guess my worry is that the moral badness gets in the way of seeing that this guy is basically means-end rational in a way we really need to recognize to have a sane Iran policy.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 1:13 PM
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117: If you were really hardcore, like me, you would have gotten the tattoo.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 1:14 PM
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117: the front has a stencilled Ahmadenijad smiling with the words "Mahmoud, dude!" and the back has "Gayatollah" and the number 1.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 1:14 PM
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to have a sane Iran policy

Given the stubborn persistence of our insane Cuba policy, I'm not optimistic.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 1:15 PM
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112: I hadn't; I was talking more about the blogging/blog comment end of things.

Though I'd argue that to some extent, even the Ganji letter is evidence of the run up to war. It's not a coincidence that we as a nation *or* we as the Concerned Left are talking about Iranian human rights lately a lot more than we were a few years ago, as John's saying in 114.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 1:15 PM
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I guess my worry is that the moral badness gets in the way of seeing that this guy is basically means-end rational in a way we really need to recognize to have a sane Iran policy.

This is, I think, a huge and valid worry. I remember conversations before the Iraq war with people insisting that we had to take Saddam out because he had WMD and he was crazy!!1!11!! The fact that he'd successfully remained in control of a country for twenty-five years didn't convince them that he was probably pretty sane (albeit a bad person) in terms of rationally pursuing his goals. But once you accept that argument, then there's nothing to do but obliterate the guy.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 1:17 PM
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"No. The people making the noise on this, and the US government, have a completely opportunistic attitude toward human rights (Remember RAWA?) "

Most of them, yeah. Some of them are either doing it as part of an anti-war effort, or just doing what they always did. If human rights organizations are supposed to shut up based on the cynical misuse of their work by bad people, they might as well close up shop.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 1:17 PM
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"even the Ganji letter is evidence of the run up to war"

no kidding--it's a direct RESPONSE in OPPOSITIOn to it, but yes, it's evidence that it exists, just as the pre-Iraq war protests were evidence that we were planning to bomb Iraq.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 1:18 PM
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125: Not human rights organizations, no. But the broad general public whose interest in x or y issue tends largely to be shaped by the newspapers of record ought maybe to think about who's leading them to that water before they start drinking it.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 1:19 PM
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118 is right, there's some drifting. When one parents, dissertates, and comments all at the same time, something has to go. I think my point is both of the former, though; but more specifically, that my condemnation of both MA and the regime is simply not tantamount to supporting the war drum. I'm not putting signs in my yard condemning him, and I take Oggeds, JE's points that the war drum is sounding so one should do what one can to not chime in. But it seems liek quite a stretch to start congratulating MA for appearing before a hostile crowd and noting how this makes him more admirable than Bush in certain respects.

My point re: FL was basically that denying the Holocaust sucks in its own special way.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 1:20 PM
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B, in 123 you just switched from things being part of the run-up to war to things being evidence that the run-up is otherwise happening.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 1:21 PM
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On Bollinger, I've basically come around: I do not like the general policy that you can't ask or criticize heads of state about their human rights violations because it's rude. (It is undiplomatic, sure, but university presidents are not diplomats--and if we're going to offer people speaking engagements on the basis of contributing to debate, well then.) But still less do I like leaving that general policy in place, & making unusual exceptions for heads of state whose countries we want to invade and/or whose invitiations were criticized in the right wing press.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 1:22 PM
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124: It's even worse, the argument is what you say plus the 1% doctrine. That is, the argument goes that if there's a 1% chance that the people running Iran are irrational to the extent that they don't care about national or personal survival and will have a nuclear bomb, then we have to go to war.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 1:25 PM
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I'm not criticizing HRW. But they are not getting attention now because suddenly the US care about human rights. I'm glad the Nation people did what they did. I probably endorse what they say. But no one's listened to the bunch of us since about 1975, and no one's listening now.

In the Iran-US confrontation, Bush is the actually dangerous, crazy, adventurist one, not Ahmadinejad. The Nation people know this, but the people making the most noise are crazier than Bush.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 1:27 PM
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129: I did. But what I'm trying to say is that in terms of the noise machine, even good responsible statements to the effect of "yes, Iran has human rights issues, and so do we, NO WAR!" are pretty easily folded into the pro-war argument. "See, even The Nation agrees that the human rights situation in Iran is deplorable! We must go free those people!"

Which I'm not saying that what the anti-war left "should" do is just say nothing, or that the Ganji letter is regrettable. I'm just talking about the difficulty of acknowledging a bad state of affairs in the context of war propaganda; the "solution's" on the table, and trying to argue for alternative solutions is not going to get heard as loudly as the acknowledgment that a problem exists. I mean, even the phrase "effective intervention by the United Nations" can sound a lot like "get troops in there now!" and then the argument simply becomes whether we wage war unilaterally or whether we try to get England to go along.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 1:28 PM
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131: Exactly. The Iraq version of this argument I remember was smallpox. I would ask things like "So, Iraq has smallpox. They release it, there's a worldwide epidemic, we have an incredible industrial machine devoted to making vaccine, providing medical care, and enforcing quarantines -- they've got nothing. An unacceptable number of Americans die, and four times the percentage of Iraqis die. Why do you think Saddam would do this on purpose again?"

And the answer was "He's crazy -- you can't predict his behavior presuming he's going to be rational!" Feh, I say.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 1:28 PM
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Also, I remember part of what is at stake for me - I don't need to be continually reminded in this thread that we are in a run-up to war. I believe it. Similarly I believe it when the president notes that terrorists would like to kill more Americans. But I reject the claim that if I critique the Iraq war, the terrorists are emboldened. This is the same thing, structurally, that Ogged, JE, B, are saying about MA? That when I critique him, the administration/war machine is emboldened? So i had best find a way to feel better about him or zip it?


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 1:28 PM
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BTW, people do you remember RAWA? (Katherine, I assume that you do.)


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 1:29 PM
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Yes.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 1:32 PM
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yep.

The 1% Doctrine--now there's a sign that your leader is a lunatic. I think Khamenei's more of a rational actor than Bush & Cheney.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 1:33 PM
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136: Are you kidding? Yes, of course. I knew about them before 9/11, even.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 1:33 PM
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I'll admit that I am too young to *remember* RAWA. But I know it.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 1:34 PM
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I will further clarify that what I am too young to remember is the founding and assassination in the mid-80s. But I learned about its existence as an undergrad, before 9/11.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 1:37 PM
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denying the Holocaust sucks in its own special way.

Comity: denying the Holocaust sucks in its own special way because of the way it sucks epistemologically and also sucks morally.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 1:55 PM
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I wouldn't comity on that, you AIPAC lackeys, but I'll comity that it sucks worse than denying evolution, because of the moral failing it evidences and perpetuates.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 1:58 PM
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Sybil, 128:

But it seems liek quite a stretch to start congratulating MA for appearing before a hostile crowd and noting how this makes him more admirable than Bush in certain respects.

The goal is a resumption of diplomatic relations between Iran and the US (and the relevant middle east players). MA attempts to serve that goal in some fashion by speaking here. It's more than we can say for the Bush administration's diplomatic efforts.

So, sorry, yes, MA is admirable in this respect. We are talking about foreign policy here.

134:

That when I critique him [MA], the administration/war machine is emboldened? So i had best find a way to feel better about him or zip it?

Insofar as the buildup to war here feels increasingly serious, yes, be aware of how you sound, and most especially of who your audience might be. It contributes to a general tone, and the public in this country is very responsive to tone; it does not think for itself, but relies on media reportage. Sorry.

Katherine, B and others are already talking about the ways in which observation of human rights violations can be used and misused as a justification for war. It's a fraught issue. Don't confuse it by fantasizing that anyone asks you to like MA.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 2:00 PM
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Yeah, I find it to be a useful exercise to imagine how holocaust rhetoric sounds to people outside of Europe and the Americas. "And this is my problem how, exactly?"


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 2:00 PM
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"And this is my problem how, exactly?"

Which is why I was very briefly tempted to argue that the moral failings involved in advocacy of Intelligent Design, or in anti-Darwinism in general, might be comparable.

But nah.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 2:11 PM
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143: You realize that wasn't what we were arguing about, right?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 2:14 PM
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Whether Iran is an evil repressive regime with a horrible human rights record isn't really the question, is it. The question is what that evil repressive immoral regime will do if they have a nuclear weapon, and one argument is that they're so irrational that they'll just start a nuclear war for fun. So we must, I think, have some air strikes.

This seems to me to be wrong both not only because evidence for the Iranian regime's insanity seems to be political rhetoric, and because trying to get a nuclear weapon seems like the most rational course of action any regional power could undertake.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 2:20 PM
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148: That's not the question here, though, as I'm not sure there's a single person who posts on this site who thinks air strikes are a good idea.

But this whole thread is a good illustration--if we feel pressured into not wanting to say bad things about the Iranian gov't because of the context of the war drums, imagine the level of pressure in Iran.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 2:26 PM
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So a basic underlying premise here is that the tone of discussion re: Iran in communities such as this blog readership or, say, my general compatriot, is likely to impact whether or not/when we drop bombs on Iran?


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 3:49 PM
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Likely to impact it much? Eh, probably not. Is still worth digging in our heels against any possibility of aiding the process? Kind of. (Damn, I've got that Rumsfeld thing going again.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 3:53 PM
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1. There's some level of public opposition to bombing Iran at which Bush wouldn't do it
2. Some people you currently talk to don't oppose bombing Iran
3. Things you say to people have an effect on their views

If you accept all of these, then the answer is yes.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 3:55 PM
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He doesn't want to write things that are going to be ideologically misused. This doesn't mean he has to believe that without his writings the ideology is more likely to fail.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 4:00 PM
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I don't think that blog posts here, or much of anything else we do either, will affect what happens. Bush is Commander in Chief dor another 15 months and we have no leverage on him at all.

It just annoys me to be sitting and wondering whether they'll really use nuclear weapons or not, and then find myself involved in a discussion of how bad a guy Ahmadinijad really is.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 4:07 PM
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There's a bit of having both ways here: the run-up to war with Iran is deeply entrenched, has been going on for such a while with such insidious efficacy that everything gets absorbed into it's inevitable conclusion, and yet watch what you say and to whom you say it, as the wrong sentiment could push public opinion far enough that the administration reads a mandate to bomb.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 4:09 PM
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Oh, it's not as if when Bush bombs Iran, you're going to receive a chorus of accusatory emails saying it's all your fault -- any individual effect is going to be tiny. Still, there's some pointless satisfaction in trying not to do harm, however tiny.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 4:14 PM
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Well, if I was going to put a lot of energy into this, I wouldn't put it into trying to get the evaluation of Ahmedinijad exactly right, or congratulating the US on how spunkily we defied the bastard. So yeah, I'm both fatalistic and pessimistic, and my annoyance isn't specifically directed at the effects of what you're saying. To me it's like your house is on fire but you're fussing with the floorwax.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 4:14 PM
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The only thing I can think to do is go to the antiwar protest in Chicago on Oct. 27 (again I ask: meetup anyone? & note that they're having them in a bunch of other cities too). It's the wrong Ira-, of course, but a big turnout would still be a signal in the right direction about public sentiment about starting a NEW war instead of ending the current one.

I agree that if people are going to ignore us when we say "don't bomb Iran" they will probably also ignore us when we say "Ahmadinejad is a bad person." But even if my influence is teeny, I would prefer that whatever effect it has be in the right direction.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 4:20 PM
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We should probably also call Congress about this, unless they already passed the thing.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 4:30 PM
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I'd meet New Yorkers on the 27th to march.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 4:44 PM
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I'll email you about it.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 5:01 PM
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BigLaw for peace!


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 5:01 PM
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When you lecture foreigners about human rights violations in their own country, you are taking an implicit stance of moral superiority, and implicitly claiming that your own country respects human rights. The U.S. no longer has the right to that stance, and as American citizens, neither do we. We need to tend to the beam in our own eye before the mote in others.


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 6:57 PM
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I wouldn't be surprised if Lee Bollinger genuinely respects human rights.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 6:59 PM
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Bostonians could march too, at that.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 7:02 PM
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I'd do the New York march.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 7:26 PM
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speaking of law, may I just say that it's all a lot easier at "courts" where you can just ignore the Federal Rules of Evidence whenever it's convenient?


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 7:49 PM
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{indignation}Your kids lie?!?{/indignation}


Posted by: froz gobo | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 8:00 PM
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Shit, froz...did I ever email you Holly's contact info? Or did you find it somehow yourself?


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 10:41 PM
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I can show up at Boston Common on 8/27.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 10:47 PM
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I ate at Boston Market on 8/27.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 10:47 PM
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I marked a basset boson on 8/27. You all know what I mean. The fact that I can't tell October and August apart doesn't mean I'm not a relatively informed citizen.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 09-25-07 11:14 PM
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169: No and no.


Posted by: froz gobo | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 1:22 AM
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See a tongue-in-cheek graphic titled "Mahmoud Dearest", which has a little fun with the Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his unbelievable comments at Columbia University...particularly the one whereby he asserts that there aren't any gays in Iran...here:

www.thoughttheater.com


Posted by: Daniel DiRito | Link to this comment | 09-26-07 5:24 PM
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No one has a right to a particular platform, but I disagree with Wesley Clark that it's a good idea (or even an acceptable one) to take evil scumbag Rush Limbaugh off of Armed Forces Radio due to his disgusting political speech.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 10- 2-07 3:31 PM
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I don't know, 175. Saying that some troops deserve to be considered soldiers, and some don't?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 10- 2-07 3:40 PM
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Saying that some troops deserve to be considered soldiers, and some don't is disgusting.

Saying that some troops deserve to be considered soldiers, and some don't is not a good reason for Congress to change one's burdens or benefits from whatever they were prior to the point when one said that.

But I repeat myself. On the other hand, I have no idea how programming is currently selected for Armed Forces Radio, and new guidelines which don't either on paper or in reality target a particular individual due to their political speech might be a good idea.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 10- 2-07 3:51 PM
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177: Armed Forces Radio isn't something I know much about, but obviously it's not content neutral -- whoever runs it picks programming on the base of the content. Given that, I'm not sure that expressing hateful opinions about a significant percentage of the audience (that is, that soldiers who disapprove of the war are 'phony soldiers') should be out of bounds as a basis for making programming decisions. I'm not certain of myself, but can you tell me why you think it should be out of bounds?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10- 2-07 4:00 PM
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I just accidentally deleted a long comment, but the most important part of it was that this would seem like a valid precedent for Congress to, e.g. order PBS to take Bill Moyers off the air because of his poltical speech. A government employee whose job it is to express their own political opinions shouldn't have to worry about how Congress is going to react to those opinions. To the extent that it's naïve to think such an employee won't worry about it, we should be trying to minimize the degree to which they do.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 10- 2-07 4:50 PM
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