Michael Steinberg, “The Man from the Middle Ages”

The Man from the Middle Ages
by Michael Steinberg

Some people knew exactly what to think about the letter Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sent to U.S. President George W. Bush. Since they had already pegged Ahmadinejad as a Holocaust-denying, Israel-threatening, nuke-hungry lunatic, it was no stretch to see the letter as exactly the sort of thing a Holocaust-denying, Israel-threatening, nuke-hungry lunatic would write, even though it didn’t deny the Holocaust, threaten Israel, or announce an intention to build nuclear weapons. The White House dismissed it at once. USA Today told its readers that it was “part anti-U.S. diatribe and part religious screed,” and cited psychologists and experts who deduced — apparently on the basis of descriptions of the letter — that Ahmadinejad was “a naive leader whose beliefs stem from resentment and ignorance of the Western world.” Even the editors of the progressive web site TruthOut seem to have been uneasy about giving Ahmadinejad a platform; when they reprinted the text they added a short explanation for what they must have thought was a controversial decision.