The distasteful vs. the catastrophic: Iran edition

A reader with a very Yiddishe name and a very goyische kopf rebukes me for being enthusiastic about the prospect of Moussavi forcing Ahmadi-nejad from power. “One anti-semite replacing another,” he huffs.

Well, yes. I also recall rooting for Lech Wałęsa against Gen. Jaruzelski: or rather, for the Solidarność movement and its allies against the Communist tyranny in Poland. I didn’t actually know that Wałęsa was an anti-Semite at the time: I only learned that when his Presidential campaign used anti-Semitic themes. But it wasn’t exactly a huge surprise. And if I had known, I still would have been enthusiastic.

Of course there are degrees of anti-Semitism. Moussavi is anti-Israel; Ahmadi-nejad is a Holocaust denier. But just as what’s going on in Iran isn’t about America, it isn’t about the Jews, either. Some people seem to have a hard time remembering that.

[UPDATE/AMPLIFICATION]: I hope Mark will forgive me for appending the following classic story:

An old man was walking, deep in thought, through the Tiergarten. Suddenly a crowd of people rushed towards, and past him. One stopped, breathless, grabbed him by the shoulders, and said “Run! Run! The lion has escaped from his cage!”

The old man stood transfixed by the problem as the crowd rushed past, saying audibly to himself, “The lion has escaped! Remarkable! Now…is this good for the Jews, or bad for the Jews?”


Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: