All the furor, and media feeding frenzy over Ahmadinejad’s comments at a meeting of the United Nations on Thursday couldn’t have been better timed.
When Iran’s Machiavelli decided to vent about the U.S. exploiting the bombing of the World Trade Center as a pretext for invading and toppling sovereign states in the Middle East, members of the U.S. delegation and those of several other European nations reportedly headed for the door. This makes for good copy, but does it make for good diplomacy? More to the point, such high theatrics steal the show rendering any other news coverage impossible.
So, when Ahmadinejad told FOX News, that it was time for a "fact finding mission" to find out who the real culprits were behind 9/11 as, in his opinion, the U.S. government was behind the attack, he was clearly stoking the fire of middle America by saying "such an insane and nutty thing." He was also driving up the ratings of all the major television news networks that covered the story.
While the president might consider the Iranian leader’s comments "hateful" and "offensive," he allowed what was predictable, and won’t even wind up as a footnote in history books, to hold America’s attention captive for 48 hours.
What’s more, the president did not deny Ahmadinejad’s claim, as the Associated Press reports, that the U.S. has allocated $80 billion to upgrade our nuclear arsenal nor the hypocrisy of working with Russia, India, and Israel on their nuclear arsenals in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. He merely went along with the drama by instead focusing on the shamefulness of those remarks, especially so close to ground zero. What’s really shameful is that the claim can’t be refuted.
Nobody is defending Ahmadinejad’s statements which were, at best, wildly inappropriate, but something else is being lost in the shuffle. The Obama administration and the mainstream media enabled furor over Ahmadinejad, as well as all the hooplah over the building of a Muslim community center at ground zero, at a time when Texas has decided to limit the number of references to Islam in future history textbooks. If we treat people as enemies, do they not become enemies?
Moreover, the news that poses the greatest threat to national security was eclipsed, deliberately or otherwise, by the visit of a the man who is, and has always been, essentially the fall guy for the Ayatollah.
On Friday, when most of America was preparing itself for the weekend, and after nonstop news coverage of Ahmadinejad’s follies, it was announced that the feds have taken over three major credit unions.
It was also announced, on Friday, that Citigroup is awarding many of its executives with millions of dollars of salary raises in stocks. Citigroup, as you know, is partly owned by the government, and was the recipient, according to the AP, of $45 billion in Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) or government bailout money. So, in essence, your tax dollars are again going into the pockets of top executives with the stock market being used as a money-laundering operation.
While there is a federal pay cap on how much any chief executive can earn, one can supplement their compensation by awarding them millions in stock options which is precisely what Citigroup has done.
British deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, told the General Assembly that Ahmadinejad’s "remarks were intended to distract attention from Iran’s obligations and to generate media headlines."
The response by the United States and representatives of those other 27 other European nations who walked out of the United Nations, and those news outlets that covered the story nonstop, to Ahmadinejad’s remarks effectively deflected attention away from the fact those who have been sticking their hands into our pockets to enrich themselves are still at it.
JAYNE LYN STAHL is a widely published poet, essayist, playwright, and screenwriter, member of PEN American Center, and PEN USA.