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9/21/2007
THE CHASM BETWEEN US
CATEGORY: Politics

Every once and a while an issue emerges that exposes in stark relief the great chasm separating right from left - where the differences revealed are so profound that the two sides look at each other across this great divide and see not a political opponent but a strange and unfamiliar form of life whose habits of thought and moral calculus are so dissimilar as to make the gulf that separates them seem unbridgeable.

The on again-off again visit by President Ahmadinejad is such an issue. Rarely has the reaction to an event been so dichotomous. Perhaps not since the Terri Schiavo matter has the lines of understanding and perception been drawn so sharply that bewilderment mixed with outrage have been the dominant themes rather than the usual snark and spite that is hurled back and forth on a daily basis.

For instance, the normally sane lefty Josh Marshall goes off the deep end of idiocy here:

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.

See what I mean about bewilderment? It is incomprehensible to me that anyone could dismiss the visit to Ground Zero of someone who leads “Death to America” chants during nearly every speech he gives in Iran with the notion that those who are outraged at the thought are racists or ignoramuses who have a problem with enemy identification.

At least Marshall was earnest in his desire to understand what has so many people ticked off about the proposed visit. Others actually hit the nail on the head but dismissed the outrage as “childish:”

In the simplistic narrative that dominates Republican discourse, it doesn’t matter that Ahmadinejad and Iran had nothing to do with 9/11 or that Iran in fact publicly condemned the 9/11 attacks shortly after they occurred. All that matters is that Ahmadinejad is an Evil Islamofascist and that the attacks were carried out by Evil Islamofascists. Ipso facto, it would be the ultimate insult to allow him anywhere near Ground Zero.

And the later, the same author:

And as I wrote yesterday, having an important Muslim leader publicly pay respect to those who died on 9/11 would be a major public relations victory for us. Remember, the primary goal in the war on terror is to reduce the appeal of al Qaeda’s ideology among the world’s Muslim population.

First, as an aside, yes it is true that Iran “publicly condemned” the 9/11 attack - in the context that it mirrored the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The warped sense of history that could place 9/11 in the same moral framework as the wartime attacks on the two Japanese cities is exactly why Ahmadinejad’s visit would have been such an outrage.

But the real headshaker here is the inability of the writer and indeed most of the left to recognize the significance of allowing a terrorist enabler like Ahmadinejad to visit the site of a terrorist attack. For many on the left, because Iran had nothing to do with the event, their hands are clean. In this universe, Ahmadinejad is just some poor, Muslim pilgrim come to make nice with the Americans by piously laying a wreath where his co-religionists so brutally attacked us.

And yes I draw a direct line between Ahmadinejad and Atta. Why? Because despite the differences in their fanaticism (Atta’s inspiration came from Wahhabist radicalism while Ahmadinejad’s is from Shia mysticism), both are adherents of an ideology (not religion) that seeks to destroy the west and replace it with their own version of the Muslim ummah. We are not discussing whether it is possible or not. They both think it is and are therefore equal threats to the safety and security of the United States.

We can make fun of Ahmadinejad’s mystical utterances. They are a product of his extremely sheltered and deliberately closed off existence in Iran. And his obliviousness to American sensibilities about Ground Zero is telling indeed. But it is his determination to spread Islam - the same determination that animated Mohammad Atta - that would have made his trip to Ground Zero so inappropriate.

But for many on the left, a suspension of moral certitude takes place when dealing with America’s enemies. In their haste to see “both sides” in a conflict, many on the left forget (or deliberately choose to ignore) the nature of the Iranian regime and why the spread of that ideology must be opposed and stopped if possible. In fact, the left is so busy being even handed that it becomes impossible to take a moral stand at all.

This then is the real chasm. The right has moral certainty on this issue. The left, a moral relativeness.

Now before everyone gets all bent out of shape let me make a couple of observations. First, I believe criticism by the left of the right’s moral certainty about everything is well founded in some instances. It is just as idiotic to believe that everything is black and white as it is to believe that everything is shades of gray.

There are moral stands to be taken where there is little or no wiggle room. For or against a war would be one example. And then there is the idea that one can oppose terrorism but treat its perpetrators and enablers as they would anyone else. The United States government is at war with this man’s ideology. We are at war with most of what he wishes would come true for the Middle East and the west. We are at war with his notion of human rights and human decency.

We are not a perfect people nor are we infallible. But we can certainly stand up for those things that we feel are “inalienable” rights and therefore natural to the human condition. It has become unfashionable to believe that babies are not born into bondage to government diktats but rather free to live, breathe, speak, write, worship, and associate. It is government that takes these things away or doles out these rights like pieces of candy to little children. What Ahmadinejad/Atta represent is a complete anathema to the idea of natural rights - the basis of our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, and of the American way of life. There can be no more complete enemy of the United States.

There are variety of reasons the left chooses not to see the moral trap they have set for themselves by excusing Ahmadinejad’s desire to visit Ground Zero. They oppose the Iranian regime on an intellectual level but can’t make the leap to opposing them on the only level you can effectively fight them - the gut churning emotional level where you can feel something is either absolutely right or terribly wrong. Without moral certitude in fighting the Ahmadinejad/Attas of this world, we will lose. We will lose because they are certain that they are in the right .

The outrage felt by many on the right regarding Ahmadinejad’s now scuttled visit to Ground Zero and the left’s mockery and bewilderment of it open the chasm between us just a little bit wider. I have no idea how to bridge the difference between us. I hope it won’t take some cataclysmic event to make it happen.

By: Rick Moran at 3:05 pm
22 Responses to “THE CHASM BETWEEN US”
  1. 1
    E9 RET Said:
    4:17 pm 

    Is it cancelled? I heard that it was still on and the early report about the invitation being withdrawn was about the first invitiation.

    I despair of anyone who seeks to ban the U.S. military from the campus while falling over himself or herself to invite a man who’s been responsible for the death of American soldiers and who don’t see any dichotomy.

    And trust me, if he goes to ground zero and praises the “Heroes of 9/11″ he won’t be speaking about the victims, firefighters or police officers and every news outlet in the Islamic world will know it.

  2. 2
    tHePeOPle Said:
    4:59 pm 

    It’s all a distraction. Did anyone notice that our senate just passed a NON BINDING resolution about a f*cking newspaper ad? Did anyone notice that George Bush just said that Nelson Mandela is dead? We’ve elected a retard who’s managed to intimidate and bully our other elected retards to the point of absurdity and THIS is the national discourse we get? Un-f’ing-believable. When are you going to do a piece on how much the contractors are raping my country? When are you going to do a peace about Bush saying he’s upset that we’re not afraid of our own military? When are you going to do a piece about the democrats being the world’s biggest pussies?

    When are you going to do a piece that pisses me off with its substance, the way this stupid debate pisses me of with its lack thereof? These pathetic debates are a joke. A red herring. I want to know why my friend has to go through an unending amount of bulls**t from the VA just to get care from the country he was supposedly fighting for in the first place. Now THAT pisses me off way more than some Iranian douchebag visiting ground zero. It’s like people need to be taught how to care about stuff that actually matters.

  3. 3
    Rick Moran Said:
    5:19 pm 

    Why don’t I write about things that you want me to write about?

    Because you’re not me.

    And every time I do a serious piece, all I get from you is snark so drop the holier than thou prentious baloney.

    I do plenty of in-depth pieces about the war, the dems, the gop, - and I’ve written that perhaps the biggest scandal of all is the money gone missing and down a rabbit hole in Iraq.

    But for your information, I write what I goddamn well please and suggestions from the peanut gallery are not welcome. You want to write about that stuff, get your own goddamn blog.

    What an arrogant little pissant…

  4. 4
    Mark H. Said:
    6:14 pm 

    Peep says: “It’s all a distraction. Did anyone notice that our senate just passed a NON BINDING resolution about a f*cking newspaper ad?”

    You really think it was about the ad?

    Peep continues: “Did anyone notice that George Bush just said that Nelson Mandela is dead?”

    Are you sure about that? Got cites?

  5. 5
    Eric Forhan Said:
    6:41 pm 

    From Newsbusters ( http://newsbusters.org/blogs/warner-todd-huston/2007/09/21/reuters-misleads-about-bush-saying-mandelas-dead _:
    “I thought an interesting comment was made when somebody said to me, I heard somebody say, ‘now where’s Mandela?’ Well, Mandela’s dead. Because Saddam Hussein killed all the Mandela’s.”

    Typical liberal spin, and typical liberals who get their news mostly from The Daily Show (who apparently used just the one line and mocked Bush).

    Rick Moran: Thanks for your essay. Though I consider myself a Conservative but wasn’t sure about which would be best. You make some good points I hadn’t considered. The nagging thought that he might see the destruction and be moved emotionally to change his views is probably just magical thinking.

  6. 6
    WTFNow Said:
    7:46 pm 

    Actually, all he has to do is get on the subway and go down there if he really wants to go…people who don’t know anything about living in NYC, haven’t a clue-they just want to be heard to dislike the man. So basically you’re saying it’s OK that even if Iran held out an olive branch to the USA, it’s ‘No dice!’ and so let’s get ready to rumble with them - RIGHT? As if denying him the option to visit Ground Zero is going to insult him - LOL. Actually, I think he knew he would be turned down, that the reaction when he asked if he could go would be “Hell, No!”, and if he was trying to “show up” our country, he won. So rather than ignoring him, we make a big deal over him, and again, he wins…see how it works?

  7. 7
    Tim McFall Said:
    8:06 pm 

    The same leftist myopia can be said of Roosevelt declaring war on Germany after the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor in 1941. In their same arguments here we should not of course have declared war on Germany since they didn’t attack us, Japan did. In fact we according to their argument, we should have allowed Hitler to come to Hawaii and lay a wreath instead. This is the ‘nuance’ of of the left and is so dementedly enshrined into the likes of John Kerry. They just don’t get it and never will.

  8. 8
    bear1909 Said:
    9:36 pm 

    Great articulation of the divide, Rick. The moral underpinnings on both sides of the divide leave the Nation at an impasse over any kind of constructive political dialogue about the way forward in the face of Islamic fascist aggression. I am not a big fan of Newt Gingrich, the man; but, I do think he has laid out a reasonable framework for how to move Fortress America forward against the likes of Iran and Syria, and their supra-national agents such as al-Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood.

    All of this hoopla around Iran’s NutJob and his psy-ops is a distraction from some of the larger news of the day- such as Syria’s noticeable silence over Israel’s act of war against them with the latest bombstrike. And how Iran’s mullahs are freaking out while NutJob is here using rhetoric to conceal his own leaking boat in the Iranian power game inside their own borders.

    Nice work, Rick. Keep it coming.

  9. 9
    busboy33 Said:
    11:23 pm 

    So, since he’s denied the Holocaust, if he wanted to visit Auschweitz, he should be banned? Wouldn’t it make more sense to want him to go there, see it with his own eyes, stick the stink of it right in his face?

    I wqould think him going to GZ would help the Iranian situation. Make him stand there, surrounded by probably a few thousand extremely pissed off Americans, all united, all staring him straight in the eye. Let him look around and realize if he says one stupid thing about us deserving this or the hijackers were brave heroes, he’s not going to make it back to the car, let alone the UN.

  10. 10
    Lorenzo Bracy Said:
    6:03 am 

    There is a fourth generation war book, I believe the title is the Sling and the Stone. The book lays out how terrorists like to co-opt and win over academics in this country in an attempt to win the battle of wills. Please explore the thought with your readers.

  11. 11
    Chip Said:
    6:09 am 

    Speaking of going off the deep end of idiocy, surely Greenwald must be suffering a case of “the bends” by now.

    http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2007/09/20/ledeen/index.html

  12. 12
    ajmontana Said:
    6:53 am 

    This statement is lame as hell, but I say just let the SOB go wherever he wants to, just without any security.

  13. 13
    Gregdn Said:
    9:05 am 

    Rick, the moral certitude you talk about doesn’t exist- on this planet or any other.
    For example- wasn’t that Mr. Bush I just saw meeting with Sunni Chieftains you know, the guys who were killing our boys just scant weeks ago? They were terorists then. Shouldn’t we pack them off to Gitmo?
    Secondly- are you familiar with the Luis Carillo case? The man was convicted of blowing a Cuban airliner out of the sky. He’s wanted in both Cuba and Venezuela yet he’s walking around free in this country (which he entered illegally) because we refuse to extradite him. I guess one man’s ‘terrorist’ really is another’s ‘freedom fighter’.
    The only ‘certainty’ in the right wing’s moral certitude is that it will reflect whatever’s coming from a Republican White House on any given day (with the notable exception of its views on immigration).

  14. 14
    Rick Moran Said:
    9:19 am 

    Here’s my piece on Carriles:

    http://rightwingnuthouse.com/archives/2005/08/19/bring-me-the-head-of-luis-posada-carriles/

    And here’s what you didn’t read in my post:

    Now before everyone gets all bent out of shape let me make a couple of observations. First, I believe criticism by the left of the right’s moral certainty about everything is well founded in some instances. It is just as idiotic to believe that everything is black and white as it is to believe that everything is shades of gray.

    Obviously, I believe that there are times that moral certitude is required and other times where moral relativeness serves.

  15. 15
    Zbigniew Mazurak Said:
    10:38 am 

    ‘So, since he’s denied the Holocaust, if he wanted to visit Auschweitz, he should be banned? Wouldn’t it make more sense to want him to go there, see it with his own eyes, stick the stink of it right in his face?’

    Actually, the authorities of Poland have forbidden him, and all other Holocaust deniers, to come to Poland - and rightly so.

  16. 16
    johnmc Said:
    11:39 am 

    Well, I still say as I did in another post, keep him from Ground Zero, but let him speak to whoever wants to hear what he has to say. The more he speaks, the more crazier he and his ideology sound.

    Then, let the liberal appeasers take their stand. They will either see him as a threat to be dealt with or someone to be bought off as in the Clinton Era.

    As Reagan said, the average American is smart enough to figure things out on their own and the liberals will dig themselves a little more deeper in their hole with the fly-over states.

    Let him speak at Columbia, I think it will be a fun horror show to watch.

  17. 17
    kreiz Said:
    11:41 am 

    There is undeniably a great chasm between the right and the left on many issues (esp. on the inernet), but there remains a groundswell of quiet, non-idelogical moderates who intuitively understand that Ahmadinejad has forfeited his right to waltz into Ground Zero and grandstand because, among other things, he’s threatened genocide, denied the Holocaust and provided aid to our Iraqi opponents.

  18. 18
    WR Said:
    2:59 pm 

    Maybe one difference between left and right on this issue is that some of us on the left think that the “gut churning emotional level” is exactly the wrong place to make decisions that will effect the lives of millions of people. We — well, let me just speak for myself — believe that it is crucial NOT to act on emotions that spin us into self-righteous fury, but to get them under control, and then calmly consider what actions will best serve our desired outcome.

    Maybe this sounds like mental illness to you, I don’t know. But what I do know is that in the early ’60s, back when we had a different “no more complete enemey,” — one that did actually have the power to hurt or even destroy us — the “gut churning emotional level” response to the discovery that the USSR had placed missiles on Cuba was to blow them off the island — the very response that some like Curtis LeMay advocated — despite the very real probablility that doing so would start the nuclear war that would kill hundreds of millions. JFK, although undoubtedly as gut-churned as any American president would have been under the circumstances, wisely ignored that anger and worked out a solution that calmed the situation and saved untold numbers of people.

  19. 19
    Rick Moran Said:
    4:24 pm 

    WR:

    Don’t be an idiot.

    To compare relying on emotions to make a decision on whether to start a war that might end civilization with being outraged at a visit to Ground Zero by a terrorist is so far our of whack as to seriously question your mental stability.

    Of course you make life and death, war and peace decisions based on rational, reasoned analysis. I never said otherwise. I never hinted otherwise. You missed the point of the piece either because it went over your head or you don’t read very well. Read my excerpt in #14 above.

    And next time, before you comment, read the damn post.

  20. 20
    CDOR Said:
    5:50 pm 

    Excellent, thought provoking piece,Rick. When I was a young man, I fervently believed that Truth only existed in shades of gray. Now as a relatively older man of 60 years, I see a lot more black and white. Time and experience affects us all in different ways.
    Maybe President Bush could use this situation as an opportunity. You, Mr. Achmindenizad(?), are welcome to lay a reaf at Ground Zero, and thank you for your concern. I, George Bush, wish very much to set a stone on the site of our former embassy in Iran. I believe you, Mr. Achmindenizad remember that place, don’t you? If not I’ll be glad to refresh your memory…
    And, of course, you may speak at our Universities. I am certain that reciprosity will be immediate as we Americans have a number of people who would love to dialogue with your students as well.
    P.S.
    I could think of a number of better candidates than “Mr. Peeps” however.

  21. 21
    busboy33 Said:
    6:44 pm 

    @Zbigniew Mazurak :

    “Actually, the authorities of Poland have forbidden him, and all other Holocaust deniers, to come to Poland – and rightly so.”

    I’ve learned something new today — thank you. I know that deniers have visited, but perhaps they wern’t identified as deniers before their visit.

    I can understand the logic of banning them. No doubt a denier will only see what they want to see. My way of looking at it was there’s absolutely no chance of making them re-assess their views if they can’t see it for themselves, but I guess the government is taking the safer approach.

  22. 22
    WR Said:
    8:38 pm 

    Dear Rick,

    Like you, I was trying to understand the “chasm” between us. And I felt I’d understood you clearly when you wrote: “They oppose the Iranian regime on an intellectual level but can’t make the leap to opposing them on the only level you can effectively fight them – the gut churning emotional level where you can feel something is either absolutely right or terribly wrong. Without moral certitude in fighting the Ahmadinejad/Attas of this world, we will lose. We will lose because they are certain that they are in the right.”

    This to me sounds like a call to war — a call to war based on emotion. And it seems to be saying that liberals are actually inferior because they can’t whip themselves up into a berserker rage, believing everything they do is good and everything the other guy does is evil, thus allowing them to commit unspeakable atrocities.

    If I misread you, I apologize. But if you’re actually trying to bridge this “chasm,” why is it that when I respond in what I believed was a polite manner, you flew into a rage? “Don’t be an idiot.” “Read the damn post.” It’s funny, I thought that you were one of the rare right-wingers who actually liked a conversation with people who don’t simply parrot back your ideas and tell you how brilliant you are.

    Oh well. I’m sure there’s one out there somewhere.

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