Ahmadinejad Demand for Apology Denied by President Obama

Iranian thug, bully, tyrant, probably not re-elected but still in office President Ahmadinejad issued a demand for U.S. President Barack Obama to apologize for criticism of Iran’s brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters.

Not likely.

From the Washington Post:

In Washington, President Obama Friday condemned recent violence against protesters as “outrageous” and dismissed a demand by Iran’s president that he apologize for similar previous comments. Obama suggested that it was President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who should be apologizing to Iranian victims and their families for the violent actions of security forces.

Ow! In your face, Mahmoud!

Said President Obama:

“I don’t take Mr. Ahmadinejad seriously about apologies, particularlygiven the fact that the United Stats has gone out of its way not tointerfere with the election process in Iran.” He said Ahmadinejadshould “think carefully” about his “obligations to his own people,”notably the “families of those who have been beaten, shot or detained.”

Glad to see the global Obama apology tour has its limits.

APOLOGY DEMAND: Romney Wants Huckabee Apology to … President Bush?


In the interests of equal time, we should glance over at the Republican nomination contest and see if there are any good apologies lately. Or bad apologies for that matter. Unfortunately, the best we can do at the moment is an apology demand.

The Republican candidates are, in general, an unapologetic bunch. Has Rudy Giuliani ever apologized for anything? He’s three wives in. I doubt it. John McCain? Maybe. But this is a man who did not break under years of Viet Cong torture. He’ll apologize only if he wants to. Fred Thompson will just laugh you off with some clever bit of folksy wisdom.
 
The Republican candidates do not give off an apology vibe. Meanwhile, Obama is palling around with Oprah.

That broadly fits the caricatures of both parties, doesn’t it?

So it is not that I mean to neglect the Republican candidates–they just don’t provide as much material.

Which brings us to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s demand that former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee apologize for — stay with me here — what he wrote in a recent article in Foreign Affairs.

Here is the apology demand:

At a campaign stop here on Monday, Mitt Romney continued his blunt
criticism of his Republican rival Mike Huckabee, renewing a call for
Mr. Huckabee to apologize for characterizing the Bush administration’s
foreign policy as “arrogant.”

Mr. Romney once again accused Mr. Huckabee of using “the language of a Democrat” in an article
he wrote for the January/February 2008 issue of Foreign Affairs in
which he asserts that “the Bush administration’s arrogant bunker
mentality has been counterproductive at home and abroad.”

During an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Mr. Romney
said that Mr. Huckabee should apologize to President Bush for his
comments …
(NY Times Politics blog)

And that is working out about as you might expect …

“I don’t have anything to apologize for,” Mr. Huckabee said Sunday on
CNN’s “Late Edition.” “I’ve got to show that I do have my own mind when
it comes to how this country ought to lead, not only within its own
borders but across the world.

The money quote from Huckabee’s piece is: “The Bush administration’s arrogant bunker mentality has been counterproductive at home and abroad.
Which is about all you’ll see quoted in the media. The full article is
actually a pretty good discussion of what America’s foreign policy
should look like in the coming years. But no one cares about that!


So what’s going on here? Can’t President Bush stick up for himself if he feels wronged by Huckabee’s commentary? Why does Romney feel the need to defend Bush’s reputation? (Bush himself, I am sure, couldn’t care less. At this point Huckabee’s carping is the least of the President’s worries.)

Political context time. Again courtesy of our friends at the New York Times:

Though polls show Mr. Romney leading in this early primary state [New Hampshire], Mr.
Huckabee has recently leapfrogged ahead of him as the favorite of
Republican voters in Iowa, which will hold its caucuses on Jan. 3, and
has gained in popularity in other early states. Attempting to slow his
opponent’s momentum, Mr. Romney has been increasingly critical of Mr.
Huckabee and particularly of his record as governor of Arkansas,
drawing distinctions with him on fiscal policy, immigration and his
approach to commutations and pardons of prisoners.

Translation: Romney has spent millions of dollars on his campaign, only to see Huckabee come out of nowhere in recent weeks and threaten his position. Like Hillary Clinton over on the Democratic side, Romney is running scared and lashing out at his rival. And in the Republican primary, the worst thing you can call an opponent is … a Democrat!

“The language he chose is the language you’re hearing from Barack
Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards,” Mr. Romney said. “It’s not
the language of someone who is a balanced observer, either from an
independent or Republican’s perspective.”

Sounds pretty bad. Of course, it is complete malarkey.

If you read the piece in Foreign Affairs … as I guarantee 99.999% of Americans will never do … you see that while Huckabee is critical of the tone of American foreign policy under President Bush he is generally supportive of the President’s aims. In Iraq, for example, he’s not saying we should pull out now … he says we should have gone in with more troops to start with! And that next time we invade someone, it should be done with overwhelming force. So unlike Obama (who wants to invite Castro and Ahmadabbadirkadirkajad over for milk and cookies at the White House) or Edwards (who thinks the War on Terror is a fairy tale) Huckabee is, if anything, criticizing Bush from the right.

But this is a presidential campaign … facts have little bearing! Romney is using his apology demand to try and equate Huckabee with the Democrats. Will it work? We’ll find out in a couple of week when the voters in Iowa and New Hampshire finally get around to telling those of us who live in the other 48 states who our choices for president are.

But for my money, Republican primary voters probably won’t hold Huckabee’s refusal to apologize against him: Being a Republican means never having to say you’re sorry!

APOLOGY DEMAND: Hugo Chavez Wants Apology from King for Verbal Beatdown


While we usually stick to covering actual apologies, Apology Index will sometimes take notice of an interesting demand for an apology. Often, the ensuing apology is fairly inevitable and then we get to discuss the apology too. But in this instance, don’t hold your breath.

Last weekend in Chile there was an Ibero-American Summit … basically a family reunion between Spain and her former colonies in Latin America. Venezuelan dictator and Castro-wannabe Hugo Chavez — who really should not have been seated at the grown-ups table in the first place — took the opportunity to run his mouth and hurl gratuitous insults at foreign leaders:

Mr Chavez called [former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar], a close ally of US President
George W Bush, a fascist, adding “fascists are not human. A snake is
more human.” (BBC)

Real mature, Hugo.

Current, and left-leaning, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis
Rodriguez Zapatero — a political rival of Aznar — tried to manage the brat’s outburst diplomatically.

Mr Zapatero said: “[Former Prime Minister] Aznar was
democratically elected by the Spanish people and was a legitimate
representative of the Spanish people.”

See, this is how adults do it. The Venezuelan bully boy would have none of it:

Mr Chavez repeatedly tried to interrupt, despite his
microphone being turned off.

Sometimes an unruly child just needs a time out. Enter King Juan Carlos of Spain:

The king leaned forward and said: “Why don’t you shut up?”

And this is the best part:

According to reports, the king used a familiar term normally used only for close acquaintances – or children.

Oh, snap!

Later at the Summit, Hugo was all blustery:

According to the Associated Press news agency, he said:
“I do not offend by telling the truth. The Venezuelan government
reserves the right to respond to any aggression, anywhere, in any space
and in any manner.”

… but, dude, you got owned! No way around it.

Now that he’s back home the Caracas Crybaby wants an apology.

CARACAS, Nov 14 (Reuters) – Venezuelan President Hugo
Chavez warned Spain on Wednesday he will review diplomatic and
business ties with the former colonial power, escalating a dispute that
erupted when Spain’s king told him in public to “shut up.”

Chavez, who nationalized swathes of the economy this year
on a drive to turn the major oil exporter into a socialist
state, has demanded King Juan Carlos apologize for reprimanding
him and threatened to take action against Spanish investments, especially in banking.

“We do not want to hurt ties, but right now I am conducting
a detailed review of the political, diplomatic and economic
ties with Spain,” the Cuban ally told local television.

“This means Spanish companies are going to have to show
what their businesses are doing. I am going to take a look and
see what’s happening in those companies,” he added. (Reuters)

Aw, did widdle Hugo get his widdle feeling hurt?

In Venezuela he’s a big shot. He can rewrite the constitution to make himself dictator-for-life, rig elections, shut down critical media outlets, nationalize everything in sight, suck up to Castro, give aid and comfort to Marxist rebels in neighboring Colombia, and give long rambling speeches about socialism. It’s a one-man show. All Hugo, all the time. And if Venezuelans really want that … well, it’s their country to wreck.

But when he takes his show on the road, Hugo wears thin fast. This wasn’t his first time being a complete jerk in a high-profile public setting:

It was Chavez, you might remember, who famously called President Bush “the devil” at a United Nations address last year. (USA Today)

To be sure, many people don’t like President Bush. But when American citizens insult the President it’s our First Amendment at work. Foreign dictators had best mind their manners when they venture out of their little sandboxes.

As King Juan Carlos so aptly reminded Hugo the Brat.

So will the King apologize, in the face of Hugo’s threats to hold his breath until he turns blue — and retaliate against Spanish businesses in Venezuela? Don’t count on it.

In the interest of fairness, Chavez isn’t crazy and doesn’t say these outrageous things because he doesn’t know any better. He knows exactly what he’s doing, just like Britney Spears knows what she’s doing when she “forgets” to put on underwear before going out. He’s creating a distraction and playing to the crowd back home:

the controversy
has sparked headlines around the world and eclipsed debate in
Venezuela over Chavez’s effort to win approval in a Dec. 2
referendum to expand his powers, including ending term limits.
(Reuters)

Much more important that some verbal dust-up … but much less sexy as news.

Political analysts say Chavez relishes such fights because
he uses them to fire up his support base among the majority
poor at home with blunt rhetoric that plays on their misgivings
of rich countries’ investments in Latin America.

He needs to energize his supporters this month because he
acknowledges there could be low turnout for the plebiscite.

Chavez is a canny power player … and he knows that demanding an apology is often a clever move to keep the story alive … and keep the audience distracted while he tightens his grip on power at home.

APOLOGY DEMAND: China Kung Fu Monks Seek Apology for Insult to Their Honor

As I’ve said before, I generally try to cover actually apologies on Apology Index, rather than demands for an apology. But I am willing to make exceptions … and this is one of them. From AP, via the International Herald Tribune:

Shaolin monks deny online tale of ninja that bested them, demand apology

I am not making this up!

BEIJING: China’s Shaolin Temple has demanded a
public apology from an Internet user who claimed a Japanese ninja beat
its kung fu-practicing monks in a showdown, a lawyer said Friday.

A mere barbarian ninja defeat a monk of the Shaolin Temple? Ha! It is
laughable! He who would say such a thing must drunk or a fool. Shaolin
Temple kung fu is the best! Everyone knows this!

An open letter from the temple posted on the Internet on Thursday
denied the fight ever took place and called on the person who posted
the claim under the name “Five minutes every day” to apologize to the
temple’s martial arts masters.

And what terrible fate awaits the teller of such lies? In what manner will this miscreant be dispatched? The Floating Crane Strike? The Excellent Tiger Claw Blow? The Dance of the Seven Monkey? Perhaps the Five Finger Death Punch?

Worse.

Monks from the temple, nestled in the Songshan Mountains of central
China’s Henan province, said they will consider legal action if he or
she doesn’t make a public apology.

Indeed. Shaolin law fu is the best! Everyone knows this!

Read for yourself the offensive lies that have precipitated this righteous action:

The posting last week on the “Iron Blood Bulletin Board Community”
described a ninja who challenged the monks of the Shaolin Temple to a
fight in August after practicing boxing at a Japanese mountain retreat
for five years. The Internet user claimed the monks accepted the
challenge and the ninja won, proving the monks are trained to perform
rather than fight.

Absurd! One might as well squeeze green tea from a stone as believe in such a thing!

The Shaolin Temple’s letter said the posting was “evil” and “a pure
fabrication.” It said the account of the ninja’s victory had been
widely commented on and distributed, especially in Japan.

Ninja? Ha! Mere assassins! Common criminals, lurking in shadows like timid mice or other unsavory vermin!

“This extremely irresponsible behavior not only impacts the Shaolin
temple and its monks, but also the whole martial arts community and the
Chinese people,” it said.

Sure the people of Japan do not so delude themselves as to place credence in such an obvious pack of insidious lies? Have they overindulged in their sake beverage?

Fah! Send your finest so-called ninja to us and even our most scrawny novice monk will dispose of him readily!

Shaolin kung fu is the best! Everyone knows this.

Developing …

APOLOGY DEMAND: Pakistan to UK — Unknight Salman Rushdie

It’s not quite the Punjab, but people in Pakistan are just as excitable, if not more so.

In U.S. literary circles there has been a fair bit of hand wringing lately about the decline of the column inches devoted in America’s newspapers devoted to book reviews. It seems the ubiquitous internets (UI) are eating the lunch of old time dead tree reviewers. Many are convinced this may portend the end of civilization as we know it.

Personally, I think the end of civilization, if it comes, is more likely to be triggered by book critics in Pakistan. If they don’t like your book, they don’t just give it a bad review. They encourage people to kill you. Take Salman Rusdie:


ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistan’s parliament renewed a call
on Friday for Britain to withdraw a knighthood for author
Salman Rushdie and apologize for hurting Muslim feelings.

Rushdie, whose 1988 novel “The Satanic Verses” outraged
many Muslims around the world, was awarded a knighthood for
services to literature in Queen Elizabeth’s birthday honors
list last week.

Pakistan and Iran have protested against the honor and the
Pakistani parliament condemned it in a resolution on Monday. (
ABC News.com)

Still no word on when Pakistan plans to apologize for propping up the Taliban regime pre-9/11; helping North Korea, Iran and God only knows who else with their nuclear programs; and, for all we know, putting up Osama bin Laden in a Peshawar bed & breakfast for the last six years.

Did mean old Queen Elizabeth hurt your feelings, Pakistan?

Apparently:


The National Assembly lower house of parliament passed
another resolution on Friday expressing dismay Britain had not
reversed its decision.


“The British government has not withdrawn the title which
has not only disappointed the entire Pakistani nation but has
also hurt it,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sher Afghan Niazi
told the assembly.


“This august house again calls on the British government
and its Prime Minister Tony Blair to immediately withdraw the
title… and tender an apology to the Muslim world.” (ABC News)

Okay, I do see your point. And that does seem like a polite and reasonable request for  … excuse me, what’s that you say, Pakistan Religious Affairs Minister Mohammad Ejaz-ul-Haq?

“If someone exploded a bomb on Rushdie in
response to the British government’s decision, he will be within his
right to do so unless the British government apologizes and withdraws
the ‘sir’ title.” 
(CBS News.com)

Never mind.

Oh, and in case you thought I was kidding about bin Laden:


A group of hardline Muslim clerics said on Thursday it had
bestowed a religious title “Saifullah” (Sword of Islam) on
Osama bin Laden in response to the knighthood for Rushdie. (ABC News.com)

So just to recap the Pakistani position: Honoring a guy who wrote a book you don’t like? Grounds for death threats. Honoring a terrorist mastermind responsible for plotting and causing the deaths of thousands of innocent people? That’s a great idea.

This one goes beyond the apology demand as political leverage to an apology demand as intimidation, extortion and, dare I say, terroristic threats. Implicit … well, explicit really … in the Pakistani national assembly’s resolution and their Religious Affairs Minister’s remarks is the threat that if the British government doesn’t do what they say, then there’s gonna be trouble.

Granted, much of the trouble will be deranged Pakistanis burning, looting and tearing down their own neighborhoods. Have you ever noticed that? Yeah! Burn down Islamabad! That’ll show the infidel dogs of the West who’s boss!

Or at least save them the trouble of doing themselves later.

But, I digress. There has been a troubling trend in recent years of angry Muslim mobs — or mobs of angry Muslims, take your pick — backed by their governments demanding all kinds of ridiculous things. They riot over cartoons. They riot over books they don’t like. They riot over the Miss Universe pageant. Any excuse for a riot.

And that’s fine. It’s their town. Let’s call it Crazytown. They want to keep burning it down and rebuilding it, I don’t care. What frightens me is not these paroxysms of rage but the fact that, to some extent, the intimidation seems to work.

Recall the recent apology demand by the Church of England directed at Sony over their video game. Remember the Bishop of Manchester saying that, had Sony set their fictional gun battle inside a mosque rather than a cathedral, there would have been questions raised in Parliament, an official investigation and the game would have been  withdrawn?

The sad thing is, he’s probably right.

Remember the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad? Riots and death threats ensued … and many media outlets, in reporting on the story, refused to reproduce the cartoons.

Gosh, we wouldn’t want to offend the Muslim world.

Or, rather, the more excitable elements thereof. I haven’t conducted a survey, but my guess is that the vast majority of Muslims around the world have too much sense and better things to do than riot over cartoons and books. They may well take offense at such things but are grown up enough to realize that it’s a big world and, you know, sometimes things will offend you.

In our present media culture it is trendy, chic even, to print, say and do things offensive to Christians. Because no one is terribly scared of Presbyterians. Or Catholics for that matter. Salman Rushdie wrote a novel called The Satanic Verses that many Muslims found offensive, even blasphemous. I forget exactly why, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that the Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa urging Muslims to kill Rushdie, who spent nine years in hiding.

Dan Brown wrote a novel called The DaVinci Code that many Christians found offensive, even blasphemous. The Pope did not declare a fatwa against Dan Brown. Brown is not, to the best of my knowledge, in hiding. There have been protests and complaints but no riots that I’m aware of. No one has burned down Cleveland over Brown’s book. For the most part, Christian religious leaders have been content to refute those elements of The DaVinci Code that they consider erroneous.

Which is as it should be. That is how civilized people respond to being offended. Turn the other cheek, as it were.

So what happens? Offending Christians is cool. Offending Muslims is a no-no. Bad behavior is rewarded. Which only encourages the mobs of Crazytown to become even more demanding. It takes less and less to offend them. As the Minister of Religious Affairs reminds us, we wouldn’t want any trouble, now, would we?

So now comes this latest demand for an apology.

The British government, to their credit, has diplomatically told Pakistan to get stuffed.

Reacting to the reported passage of the resolution by Pakistan’s
parliament on Monday, demanding the withdrawal of the title, a
spokesman for the British Foreign Office said, “The honour was ‘richly
deserved’ and the reasons for it were ‘self-explanatory’.”
(TheNews.com)

Translation:  Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will knight any of her subjects she damn well pleases.

Which is precisely the response this demand for an apology deserves.

APOLOGY DEMAND: Church of England vs. Sony

So far I’ve avoided demands for apologies to focus on apologies actually made. But this one is too odd and colorful to pass up. Officials of the Church of England are demanding an apology from Sony Corporation for what the good reverends say are offensive graphics in Sony’s PlayStation3 video game Resistance: Fall of Man. And that’s not all they want. First, some background from Wikipedia:

Resistance: Fall of Man is a science fiction / first-person shooter video game for the Playstation 3 developed by Insomniac Games, creators of popular series’ such as the Spyro the Dragon and Ratchet & Clank. The game follows in the footsteps of Nathan Hale as he and the human resistance forces attempt to drive out of Britain a mysterious alien invasion.

Science-fiction military-themed shooting game. Got it. Why does the Church of England care?

The Church of England is considering legal action
against entertainment firm Sony for featuring Manchester Cathedral in a
violent PlayStation video game.

The Church says Sony did not obtain permission to use the interior in the war game Resistance: Fall of Man.

The game, which has sold more than one million copies,
shows a virtual shoot-out in the cathedral’s nave in which hundreds of
enemies are killed.
(“Cathedral row over video war game,” BBC)

Okay … I feel pretty certain no actual cathedrals were harmed in the game, just pixels. But let’s run with it. Sony, what do you have to say for yourself?

The company said in a statement: “Sony Computer
Entertainment Europe is aware of the concerns expressed by the Bishop
of Manchester and the cathedral authorities… and we naturally take
the concerns very seriously.

“Resistance: Fall of Man is a fantasy science fiction game and is not based on reality.

“We believe we have sought and received all permissions necessary for the creation of the game.” (BBC)

Sounds reasonable. Church of England, have you been tippling the communion wine or what?

The Bishop of Manchester, the Right Reverend Nigel McCulloch,
described the decision to feature the city’s cathedral as “highly
irresponsible” – especially in the light of Manchester’s history of gun
crime.

“It is well known that Manchester has a gun crime problem,” he said.


“For a global manufacturer to re-create one of our great cathedrals
with photo-realistic quality and then encourage people to have guns
battles in the building is beyond belief and highly irresponsible.

First of all, I thought the United Kingdom banned handguns a few years ago. Not working out so well, huh?

The Dean of Manchester Cathedral, the Very Reverend Rogers Govender, added the game was “undermining” the work of the church.

“We are shocked to see a place of learning, prayer and
heritage being presented to the youth market as a location where guns
can be fired.”

Yes … never mind that a large proportion of video gamers these days are not part of the youth market, I find it unlikely that young players of this game will thereby be influenced to trot down to Manchester Cathedral to fire some guns. Particularly given that 99.9% of them don’t live in the UK and probably couldn’t find Manchester on a map.

So what do you want, Right Reverend?

The cathedral’s David Marshall said Church leaders would meet on Monday to draft a letter and discuss what other action to take.

He said the letter would make four demands:

  • An apology for using the cathedral
  • Withdrawal of the game, or modification of the section of the game to remove the cathedral interior
  • Sony to make a substantial donation from the
    games’ profits allowing the cathedral’s education department to target
    more effectively those aged 18 to 30
  • Sony to support other groups in Manchester fighting against gun crime.

(“Cathedral to demand Sony apology,” BBC)

This is where it gets interesting. The Church of England has issued a list of demands. And they don’t just want an apology — they want a payoff! This is practically a ransom note they’re drafting. Sony to donate game profist to the cathedral’s education department? Sony to support local anti-gun groups?

As the Brits might say — cheeky. Collection plate must be a bit light these days.

And, naturally, the politicians are piling on, along with the usual do-gooders:

Community groups and MPs have expressed support for the
Church’s stance against the game, which has sold more than one million
copies so far.
(BBC)

Sony is sticking with the “It’s not real” defense for now:

For its part Sony Computer Entertainment Europe pointed out that the
enemies in the game are not human and that the game takes place in an
alternate universe. “It is game-created footage, it is not video or
photography,” said spokesman David Wilson of the Cathedral in the game.
“It is entertainment, like Doctor Who or any other science fiction. It
is not based on reality at all. (
“Church of England threatens to sue Sony,” GameDailyBiz)

BUT they could still cave: Sony said it would contact the cathedral authorities on Monday “to understand their concerns in more detail”. (BBC)

This one bears watching. When the inevitable apology comes, it will be interesting to see just how far Sony give in to the good Bishop’s demands.

PS: This does all seem a bit forward for the Church of England, though, doesn’t it? I wonder where they got the nerve?

Defending his position on a BBC radio show, “the bishop claimed that had the fictional setting for the alien versus
human battle taken place in a mosque, “questions would have been asked
in the House (of Commons)” and the game would have been withdrawn.”

Yes, if only the Church of England would behave more like bomb-loving Muslim extremists, people wouldn’t go around setting small portions imaginary games in fictional digitized representations of cathedrals…