Monday, September 24, 2007

What is truth, part III

Nothing is true, all things are permitted

-dubiously attributed to Hassan bin Sabbah - but who knows?

"There's nothing known as absolute,"
said Iranian president Ahmadinejad. That's an uncharacteristic statement for a religious man, but quite characteristic for someone trying to eat his words without swallowing them. It all depends on what "thing" means and what knowledge means and what absolute means you see -- and if you're adept at that sort of rebarbate rhetoric you're adept at saying you didn't have sex with that woman or that Hitler didn't kill all those Jews or that there are no homosexuals in Iran without leaving enough of a handle for anyone to call you to account for the apparent ambiguity.

Insinuating that the Jury is still out on something as massively documented as the Nazi genocide by talking about the rights of "Scholars" is a ploy all too reminiscent of Bush's assertion that the jury was still out on the equally massively documented subject of evolution. Neither jury exists. There is really no Debate concerning geology or cosmology or any number of things that people want to deny by insinuating one. There is not much of a debate about who hired the hijackers in 2001 and one has to suspect the motives for insinuating that perhaps it was the same "Columbian drug lords" who slashed Mrs. Simpson to pieces. I won't argue the inherent uncertainty in all things, nor would Doctor Heisenberg, but I will suggest that some things are close enough. There are Homosexuals in Iran and I think the pictures of teenagers swinging from ropes are real.

Perhaps though, the undoubtedly embarrassed president was forced to offer something more like a debate than the snarky "it never happened" crap that's been attributed to him elsewhere.
"Granted this happened, what does it have to do with the Palestinian people?"
That's a debate and a stunning opening for further debate that may never have happened during a long distance propaganda battle.

Does the Ahmadinajad shuffle indicate that the man regrets his statements and is trying to wriggle around them while not antagonizing the supporters who were just fine with holocaust denial? I'd like to think so and I'm sure that like any politician, he has to please people he doesn't agree with. I would also like to think that he's being forthcoming when he says Iran doesn't need a nuclear weapon and thinks Israel should not be attacked militarily. But as he says: nothing is absolute and of all those things not absolute, trust is near the top of the list. There is in fact a debate about Iranian nuclear progress and its aims and there are contradictory assertions about its policy toward Israel and toward the US occupation of Iraq. That's a debate where all parties have a credibility problem and where we all desperately want and need to know the answers.

Unfortunately I doubt there will be any step toward dialog taken by our horseless cowboy but one can hope that nothing blows up until we - and perhaps they have another administration.


Intellectual Insurgent said...

Neither jury exists. There is really no Debate concerning geology or cosmology or any number of things that people want to deny by insinuating one. There is not much of a debate about who hired the hijackers in 2001 and one has to suspect the motives for insinuating that perhaps it was the same "Columbian drug lords" who slashed Mrs. Simpson to pieces.

Perhaps the lack of debate on all these topics and more is the problem in this country. We've declared certain topics off limits and created an alternative orthodoxy.

Last I checked, harassing heretics who raise questions that the majority deem beyond doubt is the province of religious lunatics. Not so-called educated people.

Capt. Fogg said...

Real debate about things which are in question are one thing, but insinuating that there is active debate in order to call things into question that are not in question is just trickery.

There is no legitimate debate about the Nazi actions against European Gypsies and Jews and other undesirables. There is certainly no legitimate case to be made that it was all invented to gain sympathy.

It's hard to have even the most rudimentary respect for people who would make such a case and more so for those who make it for political reasons. No I don't think that makes the man Hitler, but he created that trap for himself by mirroring a neo-Nazi position.

That fake debate of course is a cover for the discussion of whether the government of Israel is legitimate and Ahmedinajad as much as admitted yesterday that such has been the gambit.

So maybe here we have a leader willing to lie and pander to bigotry so as to cause his people to line up in anger behind a position rather than to argue it rationally. That puts him, in my opinion, in the same monkey house as George Bush, if not in the same cage.

Intellectual Insurgent said...

His "fake debate" was attended primarily by non-Iranians, including ultra-Orthodox Jews who do not believe in the legitimacy of the State of Israel. So the debate is "real" to someone. There are more absurd "debates" going on in universities throughout the world.

Real debate about things which are in question are one thing, but insinuating that there is active debate in order to call things into question that are not in question is just trickery.

This sounds like Fox News talk. Who gets to define "real debate"? If 2 people or 10 people want to debate whether the sky is blue, then why should anyone care?

If things that are "established" are outside the realm of debate, at least half the majors at universities should be shut down. There's no need for professors to publish papers. Everything's been said. What need is there for a PhD program if everything is already definitive? How on earth could someone write a PhD thesis paper in geology if the topic is holy and untouchable? I would bet that there are Jewish studies PhD's out there writing about the Holocaust. Are they merely plagiarizing what has been established as 100% pure fact in 60 years?

Intellectual Insurgent said...

There is really no Debate concerning geology or cosmology

Wasn't it just a few months ago when Pluto was demoted from a planet to a planetoid? Apparently, even the solar system is still up for debate.

Capt. Fogg said...

I think you're misreading everything I write here. That some idiot will contest the Pythagorean theorem doesn't mean there is a debate about the validity of mathematics or doubt about the relationship of the sides of a right triangle. That's the trick Fox uses to pretend that creationism is a rational theory of equal standing and Geology is "just a theory."

Sure, let him blabber about how it never happened, but I know people who liberated those camps, know people who were in them and I know where the millions of photos documents and films are. I know which family members died in them, which towns disappeared into the fires. I've been there and seen the ashes. I've read the descriptions by the guilty, the confessions, the results of the experiments, the records still in existence of how many died each day, the accountings of how much soap was made from the corpses, how much dental gold extracted, read the discussions of whether cyanide or monoxide was the fastest way to kill children. I've seen the gas chambers and the crematoria and the ashes. There were millions of surviving witnesses and it's not the guilty denying the guilt, it's just Jew-haters with a new agenda of their own to get rid of Israel and this smiling little guy who says there is a debate as to whether it happened. I'm supposed to take him seriously?

6 million Jews were murdered by Europeans. at least a million and a half Armenians were murdered by the Turks, untold numbers of Chinese and Korean and other Asians were murdered by the Japanese and millions by the Khmer Rouge and all of it has it's own pack of denial dogs: smiling and snickering and making jokes and citing "the debate" to justify further evil.

I'm supposed to ask "what is truth" and say maybe it's all a trick by the Cambodeans or the Koreans or the Chinese to gain sympathy so they can control the banking system?

He has simply been trading on Jew-hate and lies for political purposes, reprinting and re-treading ancient calumnies and lies and soliciting vicious cartoons and now he's trying to whitewash the statement by saying "well that's not really the question."

As to respecting him as a world leader - maybe he's better than the bastards who run Burma - maybe not, but he's not Nelson Mandela and he's no Gandhi and if Saudi Arabia is a nasty country too, what of it?
Am I supposed to believe his assertions about weapons when I know he's a liar?

I have nothing against the Iranian people and I think the US owes them an apology for meddling in their affairs, but allowing their president to speak here is respect enough for him. Perhaps I even speak for some Iranians when I make fun of his antics and am doing them a favor because they'd be shot for it at home.

Intellectual Insurgent said...

Has Ahmadinejad ever actually stated his views on the Holocaust?

If so, I haven't heard them. I only heard him question why people are not allowed to ask questions or research it. He has asked why several European scholars are in prison for pointing out inconsistencies in the official story.

Intellectual Insurgent said...

There is an interesting problem with selling the “Iran as Nazi Germany” line. If Ahmadinejad really is Hitler, ready to commit genocide against Israel’s Jews as soon as he can get his hands on a nuclear weapon, why are some 25,000 Jews living peacefully in Iran and more than reluctant to leave despite repeated enticements from Israel and American Jews?

Capt. Fogg said...

I've never compared him to Hitler - only to himself as a man who stirs up the hate pot to piss off the world.

The German Government, the British Government, the French government and the European Union - even the the frickin' Pope have condemned him for his mock "debates" on whether it happened. Who knows what he believes, but it's Jew-baiting and international hate mongering and provocation.

Tally this up with statements that they don't have gays in Iran (even though they hang them publicly, that women have more freedom there than anywhere in the world even though the law says they're less valuable than men and they can't choose their own clothes and are subject to honor killings and is there any doubt about the games he plays?

Sure, there is a Jewish community who have been there longer than the Muslims and consider themselves Iranians. Most Jews didn't want to leave Germany or Poland or Hungary or any of those places - so what? Iranians are leaving the country in large numbers - the educated more than anyone else. If he's rounding up dissident students and firing professors, what makes you think I would have freedom of speech?

According to the BBC, there was massive protest when Ahmadinejad went to Amir Kabir University last year. Pictures shot on a mobile phone and broadcast here showed angry students chanting against the president, accusing him of being a fascist and a puppet of the hardliners. Were they plants from Fox News?

They held portraits of Ahmadinejad upside down to mock him and then set them on fire. The day before the president visited, the university was in turmoil with students shouting "Death to the dictator".

Ask Iran's Nobel Peace Prize winner and human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi about the state of freedom in Iran, if you don't believe me, but although there is argument about Columbia giving him the microphone, there won't be disappearances and mass purges there this week.

Why do we owe him more respect than he gets from people who risk everything to protest in his own country?

Intellectual Insurgent said...

From what I understand about the "gays" who were hung, they were hung because they were paedophiles.

In any event, I don't think the status of gays is the defining feature of whether a country is "free" (whatever the hell free means these days).

That those students protested at the university and felt emboldened to do so completely belies the assertion that people can't oppose their leaders. Shoot, they voted for Ahmedinejad. In far higher numbers than those who "voted" for Bush.

Capt. Fogg said...

That's the official story from the same mouth that tells us there is no homosexuality in Iran. Did you see the gentleman from Iran last night on CNN? He gave an entirely different picture.

Yes there was protest at the university and there were reprisals and the stories told by those escaping seem too similar to be a CNN fabrication.

Can we be sure that those elections were on the up and up? is not the function of a democracy to ensure the rights of the minority and not to enforce the will of religious leaders?

I find it very hard to discount everything I hear from Iranians.

I'm not automatically buying into the Bush hype and again because I don't believe people who can be shown to be lying, but the idea that Iran is a free country is too far over the top.

Intellectual Insurgent said...

Whether there is or is not homosexuality in Iran is beside the point. Is that really what the guy is going to be demonized over and the nation bombed for? Score another one for the neocons using the liberals to do their bidding.

Their elections probably are no more on the up and up than ours. How's Florida these days?

is not the function of a democracy to ensure the rights of the minority and not to enforce the will of religious leaders?

Kinda like in America?

Capt. Fogg said...

The point is that, like Cheney or Bush, he will say anything and deny anything that suits the moment. I believe his own country has turned against him and he's being deliberately provocative for internal political reasons.

I'm sure you realize I don't advocate attacking Iran and favor dialog as I do with virtually any country that isn't attacking us, but I still think it's a corrupt and repressive country some orders of magnitude more so than the US.

For what it's worth I criticize our own leaders far more harshly.

Intellectual Insurgent said...

I know you do. That's why I like reading your blog.

It's really just amazing to me how well the media have demonized this guy, called him Hitler (which he's not) and is doing a con job to dilute the anti-war constituency in this country. They have divided the anti-war group into small pieces, women, Jews, gays, etc. and then appealed to each of their singular-focus issues. Now, who of those groups is going to have the same anti-war fervor and risk being accused of supporting the allegedly Holocaust-denying, persecutor of gays and women.

Getting the liberals to do to Iran what the neocons accomplished in Iraq.

Works like a charm everytime.