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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

To Harvard Comes Mr. Khatami, Moderate

Mohammad Khatami is the former president of Iran. Mohammad Khatami is regularly described as an Iranian "moderate." Here is an example of Mohammad Khatami's moderate views about that plucky nation called Israel:
"We should mobilize the whole Islamic world for a sharp confrontation with the Zionist regime.... If we abide by the Koran, all of us should be mobilized to kill."
Mohammad Khatami this week is headed to Harvard to participate in a conference entitled (no kidding): "Ethics of Tolerance in the Age of Violence." How did this come about? Here's the background you won't get from the lovely Katie Couric. Harvard looks around the world for leaders with standing to speak on the "ethics of tolerance." Vaclav Havel? Nope. The Dalai Lama? Probably too busy. Eli Wiesel? Too familiar, and also too friendly toward Israel for contemporary Harvard. (Also "too Jewish," is how Harvard's Jewish Studies Department would probably put it.) The university concludes its global survey of tolerance advocates by issuing a formal invitation to Khatami, who is decidedly not too unfriendly toward Israel to suit Harvard in 2006. Formal, as in: "You're the guy we want." Assuming the role of skunk at picnic, Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney breaks with the general spirit of inclusiveness and ... what's that other thing Harvard's so good at? — oh, now I remember: respect for diversity. Romney calls the Harvard invitation “a disgrace to the memory of all Americans who have lost their lives at the hands of extremists.” Technically — meaning factually — Romney's right. But Harvard believes in dialogue, you see. Not dialogue with Christians; perish that thought. Not dialogue with people who believe abortion kills little humans. Not dialogue with people who think the nuclear family — one female mom, one male dad, married — still has a lot to offer. Mr. Khatami merits consideration because, as luck would have it, he represents a nation whose leaders hate George W. Bush nearly as much as most Harvard professors. Throw in a self-congratulatory dose of blame-the-West-for-everything multiculturalism, and you begin to see why Mr. Khatami achieves hands down favorite status to speak at a Harvard conference on (loud throat-clearing sound here) tolerance. Romney, meanwhile, is just getting started. Being Republican-Christian-male, which is to say irredeemably reactionary, he orders all state agencies to refuse requests to provide security for the Muslim cleric. To which most sane persons could be seen pumping fists and shouting with enthusiasm: Mittster, you the man. Right on. You rule, dude. End of story? No, it gets better. The Boston police are eager to provide Mr. Khatami full protection so that he, not coy about his desire to destroy Jews and the nation of Israel, can get on with "active and open dialogue" at Harvard. Dialogue about tolerance — did I mention that? Wait. It gets even better, this wonderfully twisted tale of abject moral myopia. The current president of Iran, in comparison with whom we are asked to recognize Mr. Khatami's moderation, says he too plans to come to the USA. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wants to debate George W. Bush in a country (yes, he said this) "without censorship." As must be evident to all by now, I very much like the thrust of these developments, but only as far as they go. This idea of conducting open-hearted dialogue with nihilist miscreants and slime-coated reprobates is beginning to make a great deal of sense. Suppose Jeffrey Dahmer were still alive. Think. Wouldn't he be more effective delivering lectures at culinary schools, rather than languishing in prison? Dahmer's cannibalism was moderate compared with others in this misunderstood field; 'lil Jeff was a mere Donner in a kitchen of voracious Idi Amins. Think further. If early in his career more people had said, "Oh, I really like your water colors, and those brush strokes, quite nice!" — if young Mr. Hitler had gotten that kind of positive reinforcement, maybe the later European unpleasantness would have been, you know, rather more subdued. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. Yes, I can say that, Yoko. Go ahead. Just try to collect royalties.

Free, Please

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has pledged to veto a California legislative bill to mandate universal health care. Supporters of the bill use a four-letter word to describe the kind of health care it would deliver: Free. Arnold says the state of California can't afford the bill's costs. How short-sighted. There are still some Rich People in California, Governor. Their taxes should just be increased and then everyone can get Free Health Care. Think about it, people. Would you rather get health care without having to pay for it, so long as Rich People (who have more money than everyone else) foot the costs? Or would you rather pay for it yourself? Me, I say: send the bill to the Rich People. Also, do you have any idea how expensive Whole Foods has gotten? Everytime I go in there, I think: Why should I have to buy my own organic food (not cheap!) when there are still Rich People in California who - get this - each year, after taxes, still have a lot of money left over. Bag my groceries, charge the Rich more when they come through the line, it will all work out in the end. Equality! As for housing, don't get me started. Why should ordinary people have to pay greedy landlords and mortgage companies, when the government could provide Free Housing? And, no, I'm not talking about that crappy public-housing kind. There are a lot of nice $800,000 for sale where I live. Why should capitalists call all the shots? Why shouldn't those houses be free? Did you know: A lot of Rich People don't even use their gazebos. How compassionate is unused gazebos? How fair is that? Don't give me that "no free lunch" crap. Keep your anti-socialist slander to yourself, thanks. The only reason socialism hasn't worked anywhere it's been tried, is because, well, I forget the exact reason but basically it's because it wasn't implemented right. It's not like economics is rocket science or something. Next time you see a really high-end roadster barreling down the freeway, remember: the owner's a Rich Person who's not paying enough taxes. Would you like to have a BMW Z4? Me too. Do you want to pay for it yourself? No way, man. I think we're on the same wavelength. Arnold, dude! Get a clue.