This article by Rick Perlstein perfectly underlines what a bunch of sissies we’ve been over the entire Ahmadinejad visit. I’ve made this comparison elsewhere – why can’t be behave like we did when Nikita “We will bury you” Khrushchev visited during the height of the Cold War in 1959?
Nikita Khrushchev disembarked from his plane at Andrews Air Force Base to a 21-gun salute and a receiving line of 63 officials and bureaucrats, ending with President Eisenhower. He rode 13 miles with Ike in an open limousine to his guest quarters across from the White House. Then he met for two hours with Ike and his foreign policy team. Then came a white-tie state dinner. (The Soviets then put one on at the embassy for Ike.) He joshed with the CIA chief about pooling their intelligence data, since it probably all came from the same people?then was ushered upstairs to the East Wing for a leisurely gander at the Eisenhowers’ family quarters. Visited the Agriculture Department’s 12,000 acre research station (“If you didn’t give a turkey a passport you couldn’t tell the difference between a Communist and capitalist turkey”), spoke to the National Press Club, toured Manhattan, San Francisco (where he debated Walter Reuther on Stalin’s crimes before a retinue of AFL-CIO leaders, or in K’s words, “capitalist lackeys”), and Los Angeles (there he supped at the 20th Century Fox commissary, visited the set of the Frank Sinatra picture Can Can but to his great disappointment did not get to visit Disneyland), and sat down one more with the president, at Camp David. Mrs. K did the ladies-who-lunch circuit, with Pat Nixon as guide. Eleanor Roosevelt toured them through Hyde Park. It’s not like it was all hearts and flowers. He bellowed that America, as Time magazine reported, “must close down its worldwide deterrent bases and disarm.” Reporters asked him what he’d been doing during Stalin’s blood purges, and the 1956 invasion of Hungary. A banquet of 27 industrialists tried to impress upon him the merits of capitalism. Nelson Rockefeller rapped with him about the Bible.
Had America suddenly succumbed to a fever of weak-kneed appeasement? Had the general running the country?the man who had faced down Hitler!?proven himself what the John Birch Society claimed he was: a conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy?
No. Nikita Khrushchev simply visited a nation that had character. That was mature, well-adjusted. A nation confident we were great. We had our neuroses, to be sure?plenty of them.
But look now what we have lost. Now when a bad guy crosses our threshhold, America becomes a pants-piddling mess.
But?they sputter?Ahmadinejad has has promised to wipe Israel off the map!
Well, Khrushchev had promised to wipe the U.S. off the map. (“We will bury you.”) And, unlike Mr. A, who has but some possible stores of fissile material, Mr. K very much had the means, motive, and opportunity to do it?thousands of nuclear-tipped rockets aimed at every city in the land.
In 2004 I thought this country was full of neocon idiots. Now I realize that we are a bunch of weak-willed sissies. We are collectively terrified of Lite-Brites and tin-pot dictators on the other side of the world who can’t even control their own countries. And we’ve been made that way by the conservative scare-mongering (Perlstein points out that the John Birch Society was doing the same stuff neocons are now back then). I’m actually to the point of revulsion with all this cowardice. Cowardice hidden behind blustery bravado.
Afraid of terrorists. Afraid of people who say bad things. Afraid of homosexuals. Afraid of criminals. Afraid of atheists. Afraid of black people. Afraid of hispanics. Is this what we’ve become? A nation of people who carry concealed weapons out of fear? Who attack other nations because of fear? Who freak out because some kid has a home-made LED display on her chest out of fear it might be a bomb? Who preach hate towards homosexuals or immigrants because of an irrational fear that granting equal rights to others will somehow invalidate the rights of the privileged? Who react in terror when the bigoted President of another country requests to visit Ground Zero?
If this is what we’ve become, I’m disgusted at our national character. We used to be great.
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