Friday, October 27, 2006

Everyone Is Someone Else’s Nazi


Nancy Snow has a piece at titled “Truth and Arrogance,” which argues for letting Alberto Fernandez go—letting him go back to doing his job, that is, because as a U.S. official who is a) a fluent Arabic speaker, b) popular because of that fluency, and c) willing to concede that the U.S. might have made a few mistakes in Iraq, he is irreplaceable in his current job. Snow writes that Fernandez should be

given just a little more elbow room than usual to explain U.S. policy to a very skeptical public that is more likely to expect propaganda and spin than truth to come out of official Washington.

Luckily, Fernandez is firing-proof because the U.S. simply hasn’t cultivated many expert Arabic speakers lo these five years since 9/11.

One of Fernandez’s first jobs when he gets back on-air in the Middle East will be to explain why Vice President Dick Cheney has implicitly endorsed torture in an interview in North Dakota. Asked by radio talk-show host Scott Hennen whether a “dunk in water is a no-brainer if it can save lives,” the vice president replies,

"Well, it's a no-brainer for me," Cheney said, "but for a while there, I was criticized as being the vice president for torture. We don't torture. That's not what we're involved in."

Asked about Cheney's comments this morning, President Bush said: "This country doesn't torture. We're not going to torture."

White House spokesman Tony Snow told reporters this morning that Cheney was not referring to waterboarding in the radio interview.

"You know as a matter of common sense that the vice president of the United States is not going to be talking about water boarding. Never would, never does, never will," Snow said, according to the Reuters news agency. "You think Dick Cheney's going to slip up on something like this? No, come on."

Then what were Hennen and the vice president talking about? “Dunking.” It sounds harmless enough, and even reminds listeners of “dunk tank.” I certainly like it better than “waterboarding.” It gives torture a pleasant County Fair, cotton-candy-and-hot-dogs-for-the-kids feel.

Finally, Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert plays the Nazi card with Iran, comparing the Islamic Republic with Nazi Germany.

Israel has identified Iran as the greatest threat to the Jewish state. Israel's concerns have heightened since the election of Iran's hard-line president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who frequently calls for the destruction of Israel and has questioned whether the Nazi genocide of 6 million Jews took place.

"We hear echoes of those very voices that started to spread across the world in the 1930s," Olmert said in his speech at the Yad Vashem [Holocaust] memorial.

Since the end of World War II, the mark of rhetorical bankruptcy has been to compare your opponent with Hitler. Olmert joins the ranks, most recently, of:

Syrian cabinet minister Bouthaina Shaaban, who compares Israel with a rising Nazi Germany;

Cartoonist Ted Rall and dozens of others who are quite, quite convinced that George W. Bush is Hitler; and

Israeli blogger Shimon Zachary Klein, who not only thinks Hamas is Nazi Germany, but sticks the dismount by comparing Mahmoud Abbas with Paul von Hindenburg!

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