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 Our Worst Enemy 

October 3, 2007 
paragraph indent-worst enemyWhen Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s president, or dictator, or tyrant, or whatever he is (his constitutional and actual practical authority is rarely defined for us), arrived in New York, it was to tremendous media excitement. The intensity of the furor is suggested by the fact that he knocked O.J. Simpson clean off the front pages of the city’s identical-twin tabloids. After all, O.J. has never denied the Holocaust or called for Israel to be wiped off the map.

Today's column is "Our Worst Enemy" -- Read Joe's columns the day he writes them.paragraph indent-worst enemyAhmadinejad, whose name is nearly as hard to spell as Condoleezza, is now the main selection of the Hitler-of-the-Month Club, following such luminaries as Louis Farrakhan, Manuel Noriega, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, Kim Jong Il, Saddam Hussein again, Mel Gibson, and Don Imus. In a long and (I think it’s safe to say) unfavorable editorial, the Washington Times not only mentioned his Holocaust denial three times, but pointed out that Iranian soldiers goose-step. Draw your own conclusions.

paragraph indent-worst 
enemyThe hostile coverage was monotonously repetitious: “brutal dictator,” “sponsor of terror,” “developing nuclear weapons,” and so forth. If these sound familiar, they are exactly the same phrases — verbatim! — we used to hear about Saddam Hussein five years ago, but without the specific details. The War Party is up to its old tricks.

paragraph indent-worst 
enemyThe Iranian “leader” was invited to speak at Columbia University, whose president explained that this would be the best way to expose him for what he is, to wit, a bad apple. He faced some hostile questions from the student body, but he also won applause several times. That figures. He may be a Hitler; on the other hand, he’s not President Bush.

paragraph indent-worst 
enemyOne Wall Street Journal column about the Iranian’s visit mentioned Hitler exactly twelve times (next to a drawing of his face); in the pro-war press there were countless hysterical references to Nazis, the Holocaust, terrorism, the 9/11 attacks, and so forth. (Curiously, Mussolini was mentioned only once.) Little of the verbiage had any factual relation to Iran or its regime. Reading it, you’d never guess that none of the 9/11 hijackers was Iranian. It was all naked propaganda, sheer denunciation, designed solely to stupefy.

[Breaker quote for Our Worst Enemy: He may not be in Tehran.]paragraph indent-worst enemyColumbia’s president, Lee Bollinger, feeling compelled to insult his guest, called him “astonishingly uneducated.” Well, that would seem to make him a fit match for Bush, one of the most ignorant of all U.S. presidents. Listen to ordinary Americans discussing presidential powers the next time you’re in, say, McDonald’s: they take for granted that the president has virtually absolute power, never mind what the Constitution says. They’d heatedly deny that he’s a dictator, of course, since he has to be elected, this being a democracy. But when it comes to limits on his authority, they are imbecilic. Besides, dictators are bad, and our presidents are good. It comes down to that.

paragraph indent-worst 
enemyWe are horrified at the idea that dictators may have nuclear weapons, but it’s fine for democratic leaders to have them — even though the only two nukes ever used on populated areas were dropped by order of an American president. (Thank heaven Hitler didn’t get them first! He might have abused them; whereas the United States used them to “shorten the war.”)

paragraph indent-worst 
enemyAhmadinejad did excite raucous laughter when he said there are no homosexuals in Iran, an assertion that suggests he thinks we are as gullible as Bush does. As for the Holocaust, a note of skepticism would have been more plausible than flat denial: surely it’s an extraordinary fact that the war memoirs of Churchill, De Gaulle, and Eisenhower don’t discuss it, but this is not the same thing as saying it didn’t happen. It merely invites the inference that whatever actually occurred during World War II, there has been a lot of subsequent embellishment, as usually happens with history, an omelet in which fact, propaganda, and legend are hopelessly scrambled by the victors.

paragraph indent-worst 
enemyAt any rate, Ahmadenijad has so far done little to justify the lurid Hitler parallels. He seems to be more a figurehead for the regime than a strongman in full command of it; hardly a totalitarian dictator. Where are his victims? Compared with Saddam, he seems almost humanitarian. And even Saddam, truly grisly as his record was, posed no threat to the United States.

paragraph indent-worst 
enemyAt the moment, the worst enemy we Americans have seems to be George Walker Bush. Who else has done this country so much harm?

Joseph Sobran

Copyright © 2007 by the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation.
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