Friday, September 21, 2007


I found this at, of all places, the group blog of The American Spectator:

Reports are swirling that the U.S. Secret Service will now be escorting the President of Iran to Ground Zero. Whatever happens, a look back at a similar moment in New York City history might suggest a way to handle one of the world's leading anti-Semites.

When Theodore Roosevelt was the young Police Commissioner of New York, a well-known German anti-Semitic preacher scheduled a visit to New York City to give speeches "denouncing Jews." Smugly pleased with his obvious notoriety and the controversy he brought with him, the preacher requested police protection. Many Jews were infuriated and demanded of TR that the preacher be prevented from appearing. TR later described his response: "Of course I told them (New York Jewish leaders) I could not -- that the right of free speech must be maintained unless he incited them (the crowds) to riot." Then came the wonderfully TR solution: "On thinking it over, however, it occurred to me that there was one way in which I could undo most of the mischief he was trying to do."

What did TR do? He personally selected a Jewish police sergeant as the head of the anti-Semitic preacher's protection detail. Then he assigned 40 New York City cops -- every last one of them Jewish as well -- to serve as the detail. The preacher was quickly made a laughing stock as he made his way to his events surrounded by a flying wedge of Jewish cops.

Whoever is making the decision on any protection for Mr. Ahmadinejad while he is visiting New York, they would do well to take a page from Teddy Roosevelt.

(The story is unsourced in the post, but it's told in Nathan Miller's 1994 book, Theodore Roosevelt: A Life.)

That was Teddy Roosevelt -- he pointedly surrounded the preacher with the very people he hated, but he maintained the core principle that "the right of free speech must be maintained." Which puts him to the left of Charles Schumer, Hillary Clinton, and everyone else who's weighed in on Ahmedinejad's proposed act of symbolic speech (laying a wreath a Ground Zero), not to mention the howling banshees of the right who don't want Ahmedinejad to face tough questions at Columbia University.

TR gave the anti-Semitic preacher an escort of Jewish police officers. For Ahmedinejad, I wonder if the escort could include elderly, retired cops who survived the Nazi death camps. I'm sure the rest of the escort could be filled out with descendants of Holocaust survivors. Do that and make it known. I think that would be a more effective silent witness to the truth about the Holocaust in the face of Ahmedinejad's lies than whatever necktie party Michelle Malkin is planning.

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