Thursday, September 20, 2007

wondering: on wreath-laying (updated)

CNN is reporting that "Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Thursday that he won't push to visit the site of the destroyed World Trade Center during his visit to the United Nations next week."

Digg is "reporting" that the Iranian President will in fact visit the site of the destroyed World Trade Center. FYI, as of 10:45pm CST, this story has 801 Diggs and 394 comments, some of which make for very interesting reading.

It makes me wonder. Because I think laying a wreath is an act of honor. The act honors those whose memory is being invoked as well as those who invoke that memory.

If the Iranian President visits Ground Zero, what will it mean to him?

Will he learn something of the magnitude of our loss? Of our resilience? Of our goodness?

Or will he be greeted by jeers and curses that will blind him to learning anything?

Is he even open to learning something about us? For that matter, are we?

As I said, it makes me wonder. I know I honor the memory of my friend who died six years ago in lower Manhattan. Am I comfortable with this man honoring my friend?

I'd like to be convinced, I really would.
The tears of the world are a constant quality. --- Samuel Beckett

UPDATE1: Hizzoner won't listen to Ahmadinejad (NYT)

UPDATE2: Read the transcript of the Sept. 20, 2007 interview by 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran, Iran.

A Digg reader called out this particular exchange - read it and tell me what you think.

PELLEY: What trait do you admire in President Bush?

AHMADINEJAD: Again, I have a very frank tone. I think that President Bush needs to correct his ways.

PELLEY: What do you admire about him?

AHMADEINEJAD: He should respect the American people.

PELLEY: Is there anything? Any trait?

AHMADINEJAD: As an American citizen, tell me what trait do you admire?

PELLEY: Well, Mr. Bush is, without question, a very religious man, for example, as you are. I wonder if there's anything that you've seen in President Bush that you admire.

AHMADEINEJAD: Well, is Mr. Bush a religious man?

PELLEY: Very much so. As you are.

AHMADEINEJAD: What religion, please tell me, tells you as a follower of that religion to occupy another country and kill its people? Please tell me. Does Christianity tell its followers to do that? Judaism, for that matter? Islam, for that matter? What prophet tells you to send 160,000 troops to another country, kill men, women, and children? You just can't wear your religion on your sleeve or just go to church. You should be truthfully religious. Religion tells us all that you should respect the property, the life of different people. Respect human rights. Love your fellow man. And once you hear that a person has been killed, you should be saddened. You shouldn't sit in a room, a dark room, and hatch plots. And because of your plots, many thousands of people are killed. Having said that, we respect the American people. And because of our respect for the American people, we respectfully talk with President Bush. We have a respectful tone. But having said that, I don't think that that is a good definition of religion. Religion is love for your fellow man, brotherhood, telling the truth.


Roger L. Cauvin said...

Bob, it may seem callous in light of the memory of your friend, but I think the bigger issue here is our image and substance as a country.

No matter what the intentions of Ahmadinejad, do we want to suppress his freedom to go where he pleases?

What does it say about our tolerance?

What does it say about our strength?

Some will say that he is free to go where he pleases, but that we should not provide him the special protections we normally provide to foreign leaders if he chooses to visit Ground Zero. Does that distinction imply anything different about our tolerance and strength?

Anonymous said...

let him go down there and close off the streets. Then blow him up with an IED.