Josh Marshall has a really good post up about the hysteria that's been going on over Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's request to visit Ground Zero:
Am I the only one embarrassed by the dingbat brouhaha over Iranian President Ahmadinejad's attempt to visit Ground Zero to lay a wreath? Given relations between our countries I could see denying him a visa, but as long as we're hosting the UN that's not an option. Ahmadinejad now says he's "amazed" that such a visit would be insulting to Americans. Sen. McCain said that Ahmadinejad should be "physically restrained if necessary" from visiting the site. The National Review's Kathryn Lopez got worked up in such a lather that she begged Rudy Giuliani to "lead a human blockade keeping Ahmadinejad from getting to Ground Zero" -- thus demonstrating once and for all Rudy's true calling as the surrogate id of right-wing nerds everywhere.
So what's the problem exactly? Presumably we can be frank enough to acknowledge that the real issue here is that while Ahmadinejad is not Arab to most of us he looks pretty Arab. And he is Muslim certainly -- and pretty up in arms about it at that. And we officially don't like him. And we classify the country he runs as a state sponsor of terrorism. So even though he has absolutely nothing to do with 9/11, when you put all these key facts together, he might as well have done it himself. And what business does anyone with the blood of the victims of 9/11 on his hands have going to Ground Zero?
That's basically it and don't tell me it's not.
Alternatively I guess it's that he's a very mean guy, said bad things about Israel or questioned the Holocaust? Is this man any worse than the various Soviet dignitaries who we feted and hosted around our country? Or is it simply that we've grown increasingly infantile as a country since the end of the Cold War, more and more obsessed and histrionic about minor powers like Iran and Iraq?
A president with some dignity and sense of the greatness of his country would say, good he should go there. Maybe he'll learn something about us and our loss.
If we as a country were a person, I'd say grow up. Act like a man*. Have some self-respect.
* Yes, outdated language. But I know no non-gendered language that conveys the same meaning.
No, Josh, you are not the only one. I have been, frankly, as amazed as Ahmadinejad claims to be that Ahmadinejad's wish to visit Ground Zero would be seen as a monstrous insult.
A few days ago, Clifford May shared with us in a post at The Corner on National Review Online the most offensive thing he had seen all day:
The Palestinian Authority celebrates the 9/11/01 attacks on the U.S. – most recently with a cartoon showing Osama bin Laden raising his index and middle fingers in the V for Victory sign, except his fingers are the burning World Trade Center Towers.
That was not my choice for the most offensive thing I had seen all day (this was) -- but I would agree that the cartoon May describes is offensive. Quite offensive. But now we are told that a request by the president of Iran to visit the site of the 9/11 attacks is also offensive. So if it's offensive for our enemies to celebrate 9/11, but it's also offensive for our enemies to see what really happened on 9/11 by visiting Ground Zero, accompanied by U.S. officials, then what space is left open for any outcome but continued and perpetual hatred and war? Ahmadinejad has been invited to the United States to speak at the United Nations, and while he is here, he tells us he wants to show respect to Americans by visiting a site that has enormous historic and emotional significance for Americans. No harm can be done by such a visit (except possibly to his own physical safety), so why question his motives when there is an opportunity for him to come away with a greater understanding of what that site means to us? And if we reject his request with such contempt, saying the mere request is offensive, then what could Iran, or any other nation we consider an enemy, possibly ever do to demonstrate good will or good faith?