Thursday, September 20, 2007

Ahmadinejad denied access to Ground Zero

I pulled the headline off Carpetbagger, and it just boggles my mind here. The original source story is through The New York Times:

A remark by Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly that the Police Department was considering a request by Iran that its president visit ground zero set off complaints yesterday before the department corrected itself.

Late in the day, it said, the request had already been turned down.

Iran asked this month that its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, be permitted to visit ground zero when he attends the opening of the United Nations General Assembly next week.

Paul Browne, the chief spokesman for Commissioner Kelly, said the request — that Mr. Ahmadinejad be allowed to lay a wreath at the former site of the World Trade Center — had been made by Iranian officials earlier this month in a meeting that was also attended by officials of the United States Secret Service and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Mr. Browne said the request was rejected because the Iranians wanted Mr. Ahmadinejad to visit the area of ground zero where construction is under way, but he said that any additional request that he appear near the site of the 9/11 terrorist attack would also be denied out of concerns about security. Although relatives of the victims were allowed to visit the site briefly on the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, members of the public are not allowed into the area.

Now I don't know what Ahmadinejad's political motivations are for visiting Ground Zero, but it feels like the U.S. is responding like a petty child here for refusing this request. President Ahmadinejad is certainly going to politically look good in the world view by laying a wreath at Ground Zero of the September 11th terrorist attacks. The problem here is that Ahmadinejad is going to politically look good in the world view even if his request is rejected by the United States, and by its own head of state, King George The Deciderer. Ahmadinejad, and Iran, had no connection to the September 11th terrorist attacks. For all I know, Iranians died in the attack, and Ahmadinejad wanted to pay his own respects to the victims of the attack. But by refusing to allow Ahmadinejad, who is a Muslim head of state, to participate in acknowledging the horrors of this September 11th attacks, the United States makes itself look very childish and petty in the view of the Muslim world, where the U.S. is currently embroiled in its disastrous war in Iraq. If Ahmadinejad were allowed to lay his wreath at Ground Zero, it may have been viewed in the world as a positive sign for the U.S. here. But then again, we're stuck with some fairly incompetent leaders in our country:

The possibility of a visit to ground zero, as suggested by Mr. Kelly yesterday, provoked a cool response from the White House.

“This is a matter for the City of New York, but ground zero would be an odd place for the president of a country that is a state sponsor of terror to visit,” said Gordon Johndroe, a White House spokesman.

Before the department’s clarification, the presidential candidates condemned the prospect of Mr. Ahmadinejad’s visiting ground zero.

“It is unacceptable,” said Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. “Under no circumstances,” said Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York. “Ahmadinejad’s shockingly audacious request should be met with a vehement no,” said the former Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney.

There is a big problem with the leadership of our presidential candidates here. The Republican presidential candidates are responding to this Ahmadinejad controversy in simplistic terms--Ahmadinejad is an “Islamofascist” nutcase, who should not be allowed to lay a wreath at Ground Zero. Ahmadinejad hates the U.S. and is developing Iranian nukes to give to terrorists--mushroom clouds in New York. It makes great anti-Iranian slogans that can be used for a Bush PR-campaign to go to war in Iran. But what I find even more amazing is that the Clinton campaign is also jumping on this simplistic GOP bandwagon. The Clinton campaign cannot allow Ahmadinejad to visit Ground Zero, because then the Clinton campaign would be targeted by the GOP as being "weak" against terrorists and Iran--even as the Republicans continue to target the Democrats as being "weak." By pandering to this self-serving Republican PR, Hillary Clinton shows her campaign as being "weak" towards agreeing to these simplistic GOP views. And it is not that simplistic as the Republicans want it to be--it is a complicated, nuanced problem that cannot be answered in a simplistic, macho term. There are ways to allow Ahmadinejad to lay his wreath at Ground Zero, and also to provide a "cool" U>S. response to Ahmadinejad's ceremony. One of Carpetbagger's commentators, Swan, suggested that Ahmadinejad should be allowed to lay his wreath at Ground Zero, but also allow the entire NYPD and NYFD to show up and watch Ahmadinejad at Ground Zero. There is a strong political and psychological statement that the U.S. could give to Ahmadinejad--we accept that you want to pay your respects to the victims of the September 11th tragedy, but we're also watching you. Unfortunately, the Republican Party does not understand nuance, and have been successful at forcing the Democrats to play this simplistic game.

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