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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Quote of the Day

"Well the fact that you are anti-Semitic, or racist, doesn’t preclude you from being interested in survival. It doesn’t preclude you from being rational about the need to keep your economy afloat;"

President Barack Obama, as reported in The Atlantic, May 21, 2015, defending interactions with Iran.


Clovis e Adri said...

I guess Obama has read your post "In defense of racism".

Bret said...

Indeed. Note that I made absolutely no comment to go along with the quote and I've been quite amused by the Right's (overblown, in my opinion) reaction to the quote.

The only bit I question is this. In my "In Defense of Racism" post, I specifically focused on racism at the individual level ("I'm not going to try to defend any sort of institutional racism enforced by national or regional governments like slavery or Jim Crow laws. That level of racism is unconscionable. Instead, I'm going to focus on the individual, and argue that the primary person the individual racist hurts is himself;"). On the other hand, Iran's antisemitism is definitely institutional. Does that matter when the President of the country that happens to be the World's policeman defends (or at least brushes away) that institutional hatred?

Howard said...

Funny how seemingly minor distinctions can imply radically different possibilities. In one case the racist hurts themselves, in the other case ... I'll say it... it leaves the door open for major atrocities.

Clovis e Adri said...


Instead, I'm going to focus on the individual, and argue that the primary person the individual racist hurts is himself

Funny thing, for it looks like the only one country Iran really hurt up to now was itself, just as you predicted.

Bret said...


I agree with that (that Iran has hurt itself more than anyone else). I find their racism/antisemitism very odd. For example, while most Jews did leave Iran after the 1979 revolution, those that remained have been treated better than I expected. In the last decade, I've often wondered if the Iranians vitriol has been more bluster and posturing than real. Sure, if they could wave a magic wand and have all the infidels disappear from the face of the earth, they might very well do it, but I get the feeling that enough of them in power know to actually achieve that wouldn't be worth the cost. Perhaps that's what Obama meant.

Well, he's playing a dangerous game, and when Iran gets the bomb, we'll see.

Clovis e Adri said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clovis e Adri said...


I have a biased sample, but the Iranians I've met gave me another impression. They were far from this picture of 'infidel hunters'. All of them were also physicists, I must concede, so I am not arguing they are representative - only that reasonable people do exist there too.

I also think the game being played by Obama is less dangerous than it may appear. The News and Pundits give too much emphasis to the fact their reactors and centrifuges will still work, unaware of the extent to which they won't be able to actually produce fissile material for a bomb.

It is still a gamble, but the odds are better than has been ackowledged, IMHO.

Harry Eagar said...

The backup is that we could shut down all the centrifuges by bombing the power plants. Putting the centrifuges underground doesn't do anything.

Amazing that no one seems to get that. A visit to ;Oak Ridge demonstrates the point.

My experience of Iranisns matches Clovis', but then they were all out of Iran. Iran -- like Turkey and several other states in that region (including, perhaps increasingly, Israel) -- is two antagonistic nations uneasily cohabiting one state. No surprise antisemitism is political gold in the countryside (where few residents ever saw a Jew), so it's a twofer for the regime.

However, I do not suspect the mullahs of cynicism.

Barry Meislin said...

"It [anti-semitism] doesn’t preclude you from being rational..."

Indisputably true. (In fact, it may be the only truthful thing that Obama has ever said.)

And here's proof---as if any were needed:

Clovis e Adri said...


With so many examples of Iranian anti-semitism out there, did you need to link one Palestinian video made one thousand miles away from Tehran?

File under: American studies on Geography.

Harry Eagar said...

A better word than 'rational' would have been 'self-interested.' Some antisemites (and racists of other stripes) are capable of making compromises they do not believe in (Jesse Helms) and some are not (Frank Collin).

The freakout about negotiating with the Iranians demonstrates the childishness of the rightwing. It may not be possible to reach an agreement but it is just silly to limit negotiations to people you have no differences with.

Barry Meislin said...

Self-interested? Hmmm. I'm not too sure. It seems a bit too neutral a term to me. Too general.

Maybe "pragmatic" would be more accurate.

For example, when the merry mullahs declare that the USA is their number one enemy (with "Death to America" thrown in for added panache), even while they're negotiating (sorry, "negotiating") with "the Great Satan" (Inc.---or maybe that should be, "Ltd."?), they show a finely-tuned pragmatic sense, given that their "negotiating" "partners", Obama, Kerry and the rest of the gang, likely agree with those sentiments (though without the liberty to express those sentiments in precisely those terms).

Yes, I think pragmatic is more apt.

On the other hand, it could well be that the mullahs see themselves as altruistic (rather than pragmatic) or even esthetic, in the sense that if nothing else, National Socialism was an altruistic and esthetic ideology.... if, perhaps, a bit ahead of its time....

On the third hand, all of this terminology is most unnecessary for those who believe fervently that they are divinely inspired and filling a divine mission.

So they can say anything they want.

And they do, they do.

Clovis e Adri said...


So "Obama, Kerry and the rest of the gang" are all anti-semites too?

I must tell you, this "either you are with me, or against me" position sounds rather... tribal.

Interesting how I only see our friends here depart from their cold, measured, rational positions on race and racism when it comes to their own.

But that's just so human, isn't it? Coherence is for the little minds... what was that Ralpha Waldo quote again?

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — 'Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.' — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.”

erp said...

Clovis, what Bush actually said, was, you're either with us, or with the enemy and yes, the gang and the rest of the progs are anti-Semitic and racist as well.

Clovis e Adri said...


And to prove Obama and Kerry are anti-semitic and racist you show... what? That they dare to negotiate with Iran?

One may think that screaming "racist" is not exclusive to progressives looking to supress other opinions...