Much cyber-ink was spilled today about Ahmadinejad’s insistence that he visit Ground Zero. The upset, of course, was that we knew he wanted to go there, not to mourn, but to gloat. As it is, the matter was a tempest in a teapot, since his request was denied. (But see the update, below.)
Next time the matter arises, though (and it will), I do have a suggestion for how to handle the visit. My idea comes from a story I heard about Teddy Roosevelt’s tenure as president of the board of New York City Police Commissioners. I don’t know if it’s a true story or not, but if it isn’t, it should be.
The story goes that, while Teddy occupied this position, a famous German anti-Semite came to speak in New York. Because he was such an incendiary speaker, and because he was journeying to a City that already had a huge Jewish population, the German man demanded police protection. Despite the outcry from people who would rather have seen the man stopped at the border, or left to his own devices on New York’s hostile streets, Teddy agreed to the man’s request. The German and his followers were convinced they had emerged victorious, until the morning when the German’s police protection appeared. It turned out that each of the armed men surrounding him was a Jewish police officer. The story ends there, but one has to assume that the man spent his entire visit haunted by the fear that, if someone were to attack him, his guard would be slow, very slow, to protect him.
So, perhaps, if Bloomberg eventually feels compelled to allow Ahmadinejad to visit the site, the mayor should make sure the assembled guard is composed of Jewish police officers or officers who are refugees from the Iranian revolution.
UPDATE: Whoops. Seems it’s back on again, so apparently my idea is still in play. Anyone in government listening?