August 4, 2008 - July 28, 2008
Monday, September 24, 2007
Advance Text of Bollinger's
Questions for Ahdumjihad
Why is this man smiling? Read on.
Unnamed sources inside the Columbia administration have leaked the list
of questions President Lee Bollinger will be asking the Iranian
during his controversial visit to the university this afternoon. The
be a deliberate ploy
to blunt some of the severe criticism
Bollinger has been receiving in the media. It's clear the questions are
frank, direct, and unambiguous. See for yourselves if you think they
will help restore Columbia's somewhat battered reputation.
Mr. President, you may have heard that
there's been quite a kerfuffle
about your visit here today, and the name Hitler keeps coming up in all
the press coverage. Speaking as president of this great university, I
can assure you we'd all be grateful if you could explain to us why and
how George W. Bush came to be so much like Hitler that educated persons
like ourselves can no longer tell the difference between them.
Moving on, Mr. President, there are embarrassingly large numbers of
Jews in the Columbia student body and alumni ranks. Could you please
explain to them how sick and tired the rest of us are of hearing them
whine about the so-called holocaust in Europe 50 or 80 years ago or
whenever it supposedly happened?
As you may know, Mr. President, Columbia University also has a
considerable faculty and student population that specializes in the
natural sciences. I'm sure they'd welcome it if you could summarize
recent Iranian biological research -- which has, of course, been
suppressed here in the Great Satan -- demonstrating the direct genetic
link that exists between Jews and pigs.
Speaking of pigs, could you explain to us the redevelopment plans you
have for Israel after it has been wiped off the map? I mean, how do you
clean, disinfect, and sterilize an area as large as a whole country so
that it doesn't, you know, reek permanently of smoked fish and pickels
and the baby blood they use in all their filthy rituals? Would a
technology that can accomplish such a cleanup have any application in
our great global war against climate change?
On a more humanistic note, Mr. President, could you tell us all what it
feels like -- to you personally -- when you read in the news that one
of your state-of-the-art Iranian IEDs has killed and/or dismembered a
bunch of U.S. imperialist occupiers of Iraq? The capitalist running dog
media in this country usually censor the really juicy details, so maybe
you could also give us some of the more gratifying inside specifics
that only a great world leader like yourself has access to -- the blood
and guts and gore and screaming and dying and all that....
Finally, Mr. President, I'm sure you know how committed we all are here
to ending the century of oppression which has been perpetrated by the
United States on the rest of the world. Please tell us what we can do
-- each and every one of us -- to support you in your efforts to reduce
this country to rubble in the shortest possible time.
Oh, and one more thing. Tell Columbia's student and alumni Jews what
they can do...
Thank you, Mr. President. I know my
questions have been challenging and
sometimes unpleasant, but please believe me when I tell you how much we
all admire you and hope for your success in every endeavor.
Our sources tell us President Bollinger is also open to other
questions, if anyone cares to submit them.
McNabb and Westbrook: Dressed to kill but joined at the hip.
The world of NFL football was quite the comedy yesterday.
Perhaps most amazingly, the day's events provided Keith
with an opportunity to be right about something. He
declared -- in the pity assignment he's been given on NBC's Sunday
Night Football broadcast -- that "the Worst Person in the NFL" this
week is the man or woman who picked out yesterday's blue and yellow
nightmare of a retro uniform for the Philadelphia Eagles. What can we
say? He was absolutely correct, which ended a streak of 0-for-8 years
or so. That's more than you can say about all the experts and pundits
who opined about the Eagles and their fans before, during, and after
their game with the Detroit Lions.
The wizards of Fox's weekly pre-game circus -- Terry, Howie, Jimmy,
and, uh, Frank -- all picked Detroit to win the game, and Terry
Bradshaw also threw in a lecture to Donovan McNabb advising him to shut
up and play football or get ready to be benched.
Then came the blowout: 42 Eagle points in the first half, 56 in the
game, 500+ yards of offense, 4 touchdown passes, zero interceptions,
and 8 sacks by the Eagle defense.
Of course, this didn't much change the views of the experts and
pundits. Bradshaw not only refused to eat crow; he repeated his lecture
to McNabb in the post game recap, conceding only that McNabb had bought
himself another week.
In the NBC Sunday night game between the Cowboys and the Bears (excuse
me, the Vaqueros
and the Osos
in honor of the NFL's "Let's
Pander to Hispanics" month), Al Michaels made multiple snide references
to McNabb's PR troubles of the past week. In fact, his final words
before signing off were addressed to McNabb, inviting him to look at
Chicago during the next seven days to see what criticism of a
quarterback really looks like.
Of course, all the frowning on McNabb didn't stop any of the parties
involved from also slamming Philadelphia fans, who are repeatedly
singled out as the most obnoxious and unforgiving in the NFL. The
sportscasters don't see any contradiction. McNabb is a spoiled whiner,
and Eagles fans are nevertheless ungrateful louts who wouldn't know a
good deal if it hit them in the face. It's kind of like being able to
piss on your cake and throw it up, too.
The print press is equally quick to stomp on Philadelphia. My favorite
of today's post-game reportage is Tom Monkovic of The
New York Times
, who transforms McNabb's ill-timed HBO interview
into an indictment of both the team and the whole city. He builds
on the foundation of this funny quote from The
to suggest that it's actually accurate reporting:
PHILADELPHIA — Frustrated with the
Eagles’ last-second 16-13 loss to the Green Bay Packers last Sunday,
and with quarterback Donovan McNabb’s failure to single-handedly score
three touchdowns, prevent two of his teammates from muffing punts, or
block any of Green Bay’s field goals, thousands of Philadelphia fans
demanded that McNabb win an NFL championship for Philadelphia sometime
within the next three weeks.
It's a great line. Thing is, Philadelphia fans would be the first to
laugh and they'd laugh the hardest of anybody. Everybody else would
somehow miss the joke because they're busy turning it into something
Consider the absurdities:
TV sportscasters were dissing Eagles
fans for greeting McNabb with some boos among the cheers yesterday
while they were broadcasting a Giants-Redskins game and a Bears-Cowboys
game in which the home fans were booing their teams in the first and
The fearless pundits and experts were criticizing McNabb for answering
a direct question put to him a month ago, but they never mentioned the
name of Michael Vick or the possible impacts his scandal might have had
on black NFL players generally, let alone on black NFL quarterbacks.
Not. One. Mention.
A New York Times reporter -- from New
York, mind you -- had the nerve to look down on Philadelphia for being unfair to
one if its star athletes???!!!
Phooey. None of these clowns understands anything about the City of
Philadelphia and its relations with the Eagles and McNabb. They also
don't understand much about McNabb, who is, despite any and all
evidence to the contrary, beloved
in Philadelphia. Why? Because he's such a perfect symbol of the city
itself. I am so confident of this that I'll bet even McNabb's harshest
critics would agree with me after reading this post.
Philadelphia is a complicated place. It's an incredibly long-running
contradiction that feels deep pride in its history and a nagging
inferiority complex (which it hates in itself) due to the proximity of
New York and the superior self-promotional performance of Boston (and
Virginia-cum-DC) in portraying themselves as the birthplace of the
nation. If you did a nationwide survey, what percentage of Americans
would correctly identify Philadelphia as the birthplace of the United
States? 30 percent? 40 percent? 50 percent? It should be 100 percent.
The poll results would never come close. It's a kind of Super Bowl they
never get to win.
But in the truest sense of names, Philadelphia is
the Eagles, and the Eagles are
Philadelphia. At this deepest
level, it's not even about winning and losing. It's a matter of being
, pure and simple. The
citizens, the fans, the team are truly one in this, with no sectarian
divisions. The actuating principles are pride, the abiding need for
respect, and family. But it's family in the broad, brawling, expansive
sense, like an extended Italian family where there's bound to be lots
and frightening outbursts and then hugs
all around when the
storm inevitably passes. The City of Philadelphia will never
turn its back on this team,
no matter what. The Eagles could go 0 and 16 for a decade, and the
stands would still be full -- full of furious, booing, outraged cousins
and aunts and grandfathers and sons and mothers demanding better.
I can already hear the fans of other cities bellowing in my ear about
how their fidelity and their sense of identity with their teams are
equally strong. I understand. But they're just wrong. The New England Patriots
. Same thing. Not at all. I
lived in Boston when they were the Boston Patriots and didn't even have
a home. They played at Harvard Stadium, which was only full when a star
like Namath was on hand. The Patriots have become a great football
team, but they're just a football team. All the old AFL teams are johnny-come-latelys, and all the old NFL expansion teams,
including the Dallas Cowboys, the same. Only a handful of the oldest
NFL teams have any claim to stake in this regard, and in all but one
case their claims are flawed.
The Cleveland Browns? They should be close, but the real Cleveland
Browns are now playing in Baltimore under a fictitious coat of arms. The
Dog-Pounders are cheering for a fraud. (It's also been said that
Philadelphia has no respect for the Dog Pound because in Cleveland it's
a section; in Philadelphia it's the whole stadium.) Baltimore may love
the Browns-turned-Ravens, but the Colts of Johnny
are playing in
Indianapolis, who also love their Colts, the same way St. Louis loves
their Rams, with the fierce denial of the jilted. Who's left? Detroit?
Their loyalties are understandably more divided than Philadelphia's --
Tigers, Pistons, Red Wings -- not to mention a city that has itself
devolved into exile neighborhoods, so that those who can afford tickets live in the
suburban donut that grew up around the decaying cemetery of old
Detroit. The Steelers? Another dead city repopulated by yuppies who
cheer for a great football team which is exactly that and nothing more.
The Redskins? The nation's most transient city. How many umpteenth
generation fans at RFK every week? Count them on your fingers and toes.
Only two contenders, really. Chicago and New York. Of these, New York
is easily disposed of. Sports in New York -- all sports in New York --
is more a function of media coverage than anything else. Too many words
and images overwhelm fundamental truths. New Yorkers drive their teams
away (Dodgers, baseball Giants), they can be manipulated into dividing
their loyalties and creating brand new ones (Jets, Mets). They have
more hunger for sensational stories about their teams than they have
regard for the teams themselves (Yankees, football Giants). They are
fundamentally inhospitable: the New York Giants play in New Jersey, and
they are booed and derided even more than they think the Eagles are.
Which leaves only Da Bearz. I won't make a case against them. It's
close. It really is. But here's my personal opinion. Philadelphia is
older and more used to symbols that are alive in the heart. The Liberty
Bell. Valley Forge. Independence Hall. William Penn's hat deterring
for many generations the rise of skyscrapers. The past living on so
concretely into the present. And so, I submit, also the Eagles.
How does Donovan McNabb fit into this picture as a symbol and adopted
member of the family? He is the greatest black quarterback who has ever
played in the NFL. You could look it up. He has demonstrated the
ability to be a pure and deadly passer, to win championships, to
overcome injuries and setbacks, to survive in the league as a superstar
for a decade (or will, come next fall). He is therefore, like
Philadelphia, a first, a milestone in his own right. And just like
Philadelphia, he has always struggled to receive the respect that
should be automatically due him. A first round draft choice, a good
citizen with a lovely wife and parents and no personal scandals, a
hardworking and usually charming but complex and sometimes
contradictory figure, who is for these reasons just like the city he
plays for. He has doubts, insecurities, and odd quirks, he frequently
feels unloved and misunderstood, yet it is impossible to travel
anywhere in the whole Delaware Valley without seeing the Number 5
McNabb jersey -- in green, white, black, pink, and now yellow and neon
blue -- on toddlers, grandmas, dudes, chicks, accountants, and
stevedores of every possible ethnic origin.
These are the same people who voted him the greatest Eagle quarterback
in the team's 75-year history, a result announced Sunday at the same
game he began to a smattering of boos mixed with a great many more
He has mixed feelings. The family understands that. The family also
doesn't want him to mouth off to total strangers about it. We have
enough problems getting any respect as it is. And I'm sure that's
exactly how the McNabb family feel about any disagreements they
have internally. But we'll get
over it. Like all insecure people (and cities) Donovan thinks that if
everyone doesn't love him all the time, maybe nobody loved him ever.
Like the Italians of South Philly, he sounds off about such feelings
when he has them. That doesn't mean he's going to quit being dutiful
and hard-working and loyal himself. It just hurts, you know? Like when
some shallow uppity city like New York trashes a whole other city
because they happened to overhear a private argument.
Regardless of what the boos sound like, Donovan McNabb has as long as
he needs in this city to play out his destiny. He's always had that.
Philadelphians don't need to hear more than a few lines about his
childhood experiences of racism to get it. Everybody else in
Philadelphia has his own tale of woe to tell, and they'll scowl and
carp at Donovan's right up to the moment when they see the next glimpse
of that heart and that smile which they will never cease to recognize
as their own.
All the other cities don't have this deep down, rough-hewn, well, love.
The constant trashing of Philadelphia fans is actually a kind of envy.
Unlike Terry Bradshaw, Donovan McNabb will not be alone when he is
inducted into the Football Hall of Fame. In this city, once an Eagle,
always an Eagle. Jaworski, Cunningham, Garcia, and so many others are
family, regardless of what other uniforms they wore and regardless of
how much they got booed. Period.
(Yes, there will be Philadelphians present even when T.O. goes into the
Hall of Fame. You can see his jersey when you hit the road, too.)
In Philly, your own mother can boo you. She loves you enough to know
you can do better. How else do you think those frozen, starving sons of
the American Revolution stormed out of Valley Forge to beat the British
at Trenton? They were so afraid they'd fail, humiliated and scorned,
that they forced themselves to do the impossible.
Eagles 56. Lions 21. All the rest of you can go suck eggs.
But if anyone suggests wearing those retro uniforms again, there's
going to be a fight. Yelling. Name-calling. Booing. The works.
In a Nutshell
Let's hear it for the babies. Sometimes their crayon work really does
turn up a gem. Here's a cubic zirconium identified via Drudge
Protesters also assembled at Columbia.
Dozens stood near the lecture hall where Ahmadinejad was scheduled to
speak, linking arms and singing traditional Jewish folk songs about
peace and brotherhood, while nearby a two-person band played "You Are
Signs in the crowd displayed a range of messages, including one that
read "We refuse to choose between Islamic fundamentalism and American
Gosh. It seems like a perfect bumper sticker for a Honda hybrid. But
it's actually the grain of sand that begins an avalanche of questions
on which our lives and future depend:
Do you, in fact, know how to choose? Between any
alternatives. If you don't, you're not conscious and not really alive
If you know how but really do refuse to choose, does that mean you
think no choice will be made at all? That no one will ultimately choose
Do you think the alternatives fail to differ? That Sharia Law is
somehow identical with the state of American imperialism that compels
you to do whatever you want, whenever you want to do it, however you
want to do it, wherever you want to do it, via cellphone, laptop,
MySpace, YouTube, and Moveon.org, and miscellaneous party drugs until
your gonads fall out from sheer exhaustion or your brain suddenly farts
into a coma?
Do you believe that any differences which do exist are immaterial to
your advanced spirituality? That you are equally comfortable with a
tube top or a burkha, a BMW convertible or a donkey, electricity or
lamps fueled by camel urine, a divorce attorney or a public stoning,
a rave or a sudden disembowelment by suicide bomber, a promiscuous
Spring Break from college or lifelong imprisonment until your brother
strangles you for catching and returning the gaze of his friend?
Are you so enervated and purposeless that you don't care if you live or
die under any circumstances?
Have you somehow assimilated the lesson of the self-hating geniuses who
superintended your education so thoroughly that you would find more meaning in dying
a painful, pointless death at the hands of passionate enemies than you
would in existing for even one more day in a world where you face the
responsibility of discovering your own reason for living?
Or do you somehow imagine
that you, being you, really are immune from all consequences, good or
ill, through the perfect virtue of being you? I guess that's what John
Lennon thought. How well did it work for him? Then again, he wasn't
you, and you are special. Right?
If your answer to any of these questions is yes, then move to Saudi
Arabia now. Start the dying process you desire before any worthwhile
life is wasted defending yours. Throwing value after trash is not
sacrifice, but waste. There is nothing about you that is worth