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« October 2 | Main | Desperately seeking happiness »

October 04, 2009


The number of celebrities falling over themselves in absolving Polanski reinforces what I said in my comment on Wodehouse – about icons and who of any repute would dare say anything against them? It just isn’t done. In light of Polanski’s crime his apologists appear self-serving in the extreme. Polanski and Woody Allen have been on my shit list for a long time because they presume, on the strength of their celebrity, to pass off their misdeeds as mere peccadilloes. The passage of time has apparently favored them with many people. Now all of Polanski’s supporters have fallen in my esteem by several notches for their inability to rise above their self interests, and for making specious excuses for the unpardonable. Katha Pollitt sums it up well. Perhaps if Orwell were alive he would be writing an excellent essay ‘In Defence of Polanski’.

In the Ahmadinejad post, I like the statement that ‘every family that converts into a different religion takes a new identity by condemning their old faith’. It explains why second and third generation immigrants are the loudest patriots, and most vociferous in demanding immigration ‘reform’. Ashamed as they are of their ancestral poverty, they need to distance themselves from the poor and huddled masses.

I don't know whether the 'Jewish' past is more of a framing by the Telegraph's reporters than any actual Jewish heritage, if this 2005 article in the Guardian is anything to go by.
Interestingly, in support of a contention that the family may have been overcompensating for a conversion in the not-too-distant past, the following paragraphs show a distinctively ultra-religious mindset.
"Mr Ahmadinejad's strong religious beliefs surfaced early. "He had an interest in and talent for the Qur'an as a very small child," said a cousin, Maasoumeh Saborjhian, 60, to whom he remains close."
He liked to go to classes but they threw him out because he was too young. He was only 10 or 11. But he would insist, saying, no, no, I know how to read the Qur'an."
His mother, addressed by friends and relatives as Seiyed Khanom (literally, Madam Descendent of the Prophet),dresses in an all-embracing black chador and insists on the rigid separation of the sexes. "She is very religious," Mrs Saborjhian said. "She will never sit beside a man who is not a close relative. If she is hosting any ceremonies, she separates men and women with a curtain."

I have a feeling we're discussing the character-in-a-novel Ahmedinejad here, reading his life as a fable to extract morals from. That story character Ahmedinejad only yields to psychological scrutiny derived from biography to the extent that the story is told, well, biograhically, for political-ideological reasons.

- Is his anti-Semitism "real" or is it a good political ploy to bolster his support, poke the west and retain control? To the extent that it's the latter, it's *social* anti-Semitism in Iran that matters, not Ahmedinejad's psychology, ancestry notwithstanding. Let's also not forget the extent to which he gets support from otherwise unbigoted but nationalistic Iranians by saying, for example, that Israel should have been carved out from Berlin, not Palestine.

- While we're talking about playacting, let's consider also western playacting; Juan Cole and others have pointed out that the man hasn't called for killing all Jews. He's called for wiping Israel off the face of the map, which is perhaps more closely analogous to Reagan calling for the end of the Soviet Union. (The holocaust denial does seem real).

The US and Israel lose from having a nuclear Iran period - the prospect of introducing MAD to Iranian diplomacy doesn't exactly appeal to them. By contrast China or Russia are quite okay with having a supporting counter to US puppets. Indeed, Jew-hating factors right out of all this - none of these places are known for their celebration of Jewish contributions to civilization and knowledge. Ahmedinejad's remarks aren't played up except in service of pre-existing geopolitical needs.

If we do want to consider the man's juicy childhood stories, let us at least first establish whether Ahmedinejad's anti-Semitism is even atypical or extreme in his political context. It would have to be for these biographical issues to be pertinent. I say it's not - he's a pretty run-of-the-mill figure re Jew bashing, not worse or better than others in his milieu.

"By making anti-Israeli statements he is trying to shed any suspicions about his Jewish connections. He feels vulnerable in a radical Shia society"

‘every family that converts into a different religion takes a new identity by condemning their old faith’

The fervency of the convert can indeed be understood in this way, but there's a simpler, more mundane story as well: it's basically evaporation (the hotter molecules are the ones that escape the surface). People who are strongly opposed to Judaic culture or politics are more likely to convert away than the average. Those attitudes would persist post-conversion, even without the boost from compensation for insecurity, self-hate etc.

Fix italics . Sorry.

Try again.

If this won't do it, I give up.

Let's see...

Maybe I have an unterminated italic in my post. Let's see if this fixes it.

That was it, Sujatha. I have fixed it.

I'm part Italian, and I take umbrage at all the anti-Italic rhetoric going on here.

It is not anti-Italic, just that we were trying to get a handle on the maddening "Italos."

(Moral of the story: One bad joke begets another.)

I think it's a few isolated, rotten italics, who regrettably end up giving all the reliable, efficient italics out there, the 99% of italics who just do their job, an undeserved bad name.

Here's efficiency, Cosa Nostra style: you do me a favor, I'll do you one. Tit for tat, you know what I mean? Similarly, when you open an emphasis element, don't forget to close it.

Sujatha: Hide your ass. The blogging Cosa Nostra may be after you!

I'm shocked, shocked that you used the A-word ;)
Where's the prude police?
Narayan(a), Narayan(a)!(please chime in!)
What's this age coming to?

* 'Narayana, Narayana' is a not uncommon South Indian equivalent of 'OMG'.

I'd rather, on balance, leave this thread to its rather delightful absurdity. However, on a boringly earnest note, the story than Amhadinejad is ethnically Jewish seems poorly supported, except in the broadest, all humans are related, way:

Thank goodness. My people have enough problems.

I support extradition of Polanski for reasons wholly based in equal justice before the law and that have nothing to do with his actual crime. I can't help but wish, though, that Hollywood would get its gaze out of its navel for a moment, and take up arms over the background of those in the criminal justice system here, generally: in California, nearly 1 in 10 boys who emancipate from foster care (and by legal definition suffered abuse and neglect in their youth) end up in prison.

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