Click Here North Star Writers Group
Syndicated Content.
Eric Baerren
Lucia de Vernai
Herman Cain
Dan Calabrese
Alan Hurwitz
Paul Ibrahim
David Karki
Llewellyn King
Nathaniel Shockey
Stephen Silver
Candace Talmadge
Jessica Vozel
Feature Page
David J. Pollay - The Happiness Answer
Cindy Droog - The Working Mom
The Laughing Chef
Mike Ball - What I've Learned So Far
Bob Batz - Senior Moments
D.F. Krause - Business Ridiculous
Paul Ibrahim
  Paul's Column Archive

September 27, 2006

History’s Nicest Imperialist Power


Sometimes, while in the midst of planning the most efficient ways to warm up the globe, increase the wage gap and starve even more Africans and Latin Americans to death, my right-wing conspiratorial mind wanders off into (soon to be conquered) space. Lately I’ve been particularly distracted by the behavior of the United States toward some of our worst enemies, and it just makes me think: For an imperialist, hegemonic power led by the devil himself, we’re really not that bad.


In recent weeks, our country has hosted the Iranian and Venezuelan presidents, as well as a former Iranian president, whose independent visit we can’t even justify with the United Nations excuse. They are not particularly our best friends, after all, we are facing a possible nuclear standoff with one and a revival in Latin American socialist populism with the other. Yet despite these not-so-slight conflicts, we allow such individuals to come into our country and tell us, in some of the toughest language possible, the precise ways in which we are evil.


On the eve of the fifth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, Mohammad Khatami, the former president of Iran, spoke at Harvard University on the “Ethics of Tolerance in the Age of Violence.” Khatami also got to speak at the National Cathedral. That’s right. The former president of a country that is developing nuclear weapons in an obvious attempt to confront the United States, as well as one that is helping to sow discord and kill American troops in Iraq, was invited to come speak at the most prestigious university, as well as at the most recognizable religious landmark, in the country. And of all things, he spoke on the Ethics of Tolerance.


Whether it was the same tolerance he showed young Iranian liberals he did not say, but it was the kind of tolerance that is apparently satisfactory to Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. But really, when President Bush’s term ends in 2009, what is the likelihood that he will be invited to speak at the top university in Iran, much less the holiest Mosque in that country? Would the government provide for his protection, as we did for Khatami, or would they capture him and settle for Iranian due process/decapitation?


Soon thereafter, the United States saw Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Venezuelan boss Hugo Chavez, newfound friends united by nothing but their abhorrence of America, descend upon our nation’s favorite city, enjoying it as a podium for anti-American ideologies.


Chavez even used a New York church for his anti-Bush tirade, and repeatedly referenced academic Noam Chomsky’s book on America’s imperialist evils. Calling Bush the devil, the socialist chief had no problem using his visibility in New York to further promote his sought-after position as leader of the unlikely Venezuelan-Iranian-Syrian-Cuban axis of anti-Americanism. Upon returning home, he insisted that President Bush now wanted to kill him for calling him the “devil.”


But that’s the thing. We don’t do that. In fact, when religious leader Pat Robertson dared mention the idea of taking Chavez out, he himself got politically obliterated. What kind of empire has so strongly criticized one of its citizens for suggesting the assassination of an increasingly worrisome enemy leader?


What kind of hegemonic power hosts enemy officials, both within and without the context of diplomatic necessity? This is, of course, not to mention giving them some of the nation’s most prestigious forums and holiest podiums. What kind of state, led by a dangerous, devilish dictator, actually provides the case, rhetoric and texts that are widely used against it? Noam Chomsky’s anti-American work reached the top spot in sales following Chavez’s plug. Did we throw Chomsky in jail and burn his books?


The fact of the matter is, never has a state with so much power behaved so humbly, or nicely, toward others, including its worst enemies. The fact that the issue of how good we should be to terrorists – who spend their lives attempting to annihilate us – seriously divides our Congress is a pretty good indication that we have something new here. Empire or not, we are the most tolerant, and the most civilized superpower in history – and we are proud of it. So fine, let them speak at our best institutions, and let them try to use our country against us. Nothing can better demonstrate our superiority in the battle of ideologies. Either way, it is a battle we are going to win.


© 2006 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


Click here to talk to our writers and editors about this column and others in our discussion forum.


To e-mail feedback about this column, click here. If you enjoy this writer's work, please contact your local newspapers editors and ask them to carry it.

This is Column # PI23. Request permission to publish here.