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Monday, September 24, 2007

Notes on a (fake) Scandal

If you turned on the news for more than two minutes in the last two days, you probably heard that Hitler had been resurrected and was receiving an honorary degreee from Columbia.

Reality, as it were, is much less sensational. The president of Iran addressed the UN and then spoke at Columbia, answering questions from both the university president and from students. I watched most of it, and it was pretty interesting.

The news coverage was atrocious, however. Norah O'Donnell was in typical form, regurgitating dishonest right-wing talking points over and over. I can't even tell you how many times I heard that Ahmadinejad wanted to "wipe Israel off the face of the map." Click "There's More.." for my brief breakdown.

  • Glenn Greenwald has a great summary of this whole fake fiasco. Seriously, go read it. Don't even bother reading my crap, go read Greenwald. Why are you still here?

  • On Sunday CBS aired a 60 Minutes interview (pre-taped in Iran) of Ahmadinejad by "reporter" Scott Pelley. Pelley was an embarressment, and managed to make Ahmadinejad look reasonable by comparison. Pelley is apparently a fan of Stephen Colbert, but lacks the sophistication to realize that Colbert is joking. I would need an entire post to dismantle Pelley's piss poor reporting, so I'll point you to the much more capable Ezra Klein instead (and Greenwald).

  • I repeatedly heard that Ahmadinejad has called for the "destruction of Israel." I would like somebody to point me to where he said that, because as far as I can tell, it's an inflammatory description of his belief that there should be no Israeli nation. The difference of course, is that while he (like many middle-easterners) believes that Israel has no right to exist where it does, "destruction" has violent connotations that Ahmadinejad has denied. In the talk today, he said that what he wanted Israel to do is allow all of the inhabitants of Israel and the occupied territories (Christian, Jew, and Muslim) to have a vote in a representative government. The problem with that of course is that the Muslims so outnumber the Jews that it would effectively end Israel as a Jewish state. This is very different from calling for the physical destruction of Israel.

  • The questions from Columbia were interesting, and Ahmadinejad certainly ducked and dodged a few. One question aout the horrible persecution of gays in Iran prompted the ridiculous response that there are no gays in Iran. It would be comical if people weren't actually being murdered by a repressive society.

  • Ezra Klein has what I think is the best "last word" about this topic. Bottom line is that the incompetence of the US government and the desire (yes, desire) for war with Iran by America's neo-cons and bed-wetting right wingers is allowing the two-bit figurehead of a repressive society play the US like a fiddle on the world stage. It's worth remembering that Ahmadinejad has little actual power in Iran, including no control over the armed forces.

So that's where we stand. That screenshot from Fox News is disturbing on so many levels. The right wingers are desparate for war with Iran while Bush is still in office, a war that I for one would like to avoid.

As always, please add to the discussion in the comments.