Tuesday, September 25, 2007

What do Ahmadinejad, the Vatican, and George W. Bush All Have in Common?

Here is an interesting piece I came across today, about denying the reality of well-known and widely established facts:

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in New York this week, continues to question the accepted histories of the holocaust and the Sept. 11 attacks. According to the Guardian newspaper, Ahmadinejad said, in reference to the holocaust: "There's nothing known as absolute." He also appeared to doubt the accepted Sept. 11 history, saying "What caused it? What were the conditions that led to it? Who truly was involved? Who was really involved?"

Someone needs to get this guy a history book. But while Ahmadinejad has been widely condemned, and rightly so, he isn't the only world leader without a firm grasp on facts. Consider:

- For years the Vatican and the pope have denied that condoms are effective at stopping the transmission of AIDS, claiming that they have tiny holes in them that let the virus through. Respected scientists, including the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, disagree.

- Earlier this year, Japan's then-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe claimed that Japan had not forced women in conquered countries into prostitution (the so-called "comfort women"). Respected historians disagree.

- George Bush thinks that school children should be taught alternatives to the theory of evolution. He asked if global warming might be "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people?" Scientists don't think so.

- South African President Thabo Mbeki questioned whether HIV really caused AIDS, shifting government policy away from providing HIV-positive South Africans with anti-retroviral drugs. To his credit, Mbeki reversed his position last year.

You'll notice that all of these leaders use the same rhetorical style as Ahmadinejad when they are denying facts. The say things like "Who's to say what really happened?" or "I think we should study both versions of the story." But not all viewpoints carry equal weight, no matter how big their constituency. Global warming is real, HIV causes AIDS and the holocaust happened - no matter how impressive the title of the politician saying otherwise.

No comments: