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Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Wager: Can I Make Paul Krugman Lose His Liberalism in Less Than an Hour?

Here's the wager: Can I make Paul "The Conscience of a Liberal" Krugman lose his liberalism in less than an hour? Of course, there are conditions attached: I will need to transport the professor away from the ivied halls of Princeton to the wilds of Iran in order to witness the forthcoming execution of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, whose picture appears to the left. Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, convicted of adultery by the Islamic Republic of Iran, has been sentenced to death by stoning, unless Iran's benevolent judiciary decides merely to hang her or otherwise reduce her sentence as the result of world outrage. Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani confessed to this "crime" after 99 lashes, but subsequently declared her innocence.

Paul, just so you know, stonings are performed with relatively small rocks, so the victim, buried almost up to her neck, will feel prolonged pain and will not lose consciousness after being hit in the head by a single stone. Yes, there's blood, an eyeball may be detached from its socket, and often the children, who are forced to watch the execution of their mother, swoon, but if all goes as expected, it should be over within the space of an hour, after which I can drive you back to Imam Khomeini International Airport and then put you on a plane to JFK.

As I mentioned, the possibility exists that the Islamic Republic of Iran will bow to international pressure and commute the sentence, in which case allow me alternatively to suggest that we stop in Saudi Arabia, where we might be lucky enough to witness the decapitation of a person convicted of robbery and the subsequent crucifixion of his body.

Of course, there is no knowing for sure when the next armed robbery will take place in Saudi Arabia, so as a stopgap measure, we can also visit Turkey, Jordan and Gaza, where we are certain to be able to witness the aftermath of several honor killings perpetrated by family members against their mothers, sisters or daughters, who might have been foolish enough to have used a cell phone to call someone outside of the family, or have committed some other horrifying action that has forever sullied the reputation of their men folk.

And after you have partaken in one or more of these "events", I will ask you again whether you still want that mosque built in what were once the shadows of the World Trade Center ( without first asking who is financing the extravaganza and what form of Islam is to be preached there. You may know a lot about economics, Paul, but have you studied Wahhabism or some of the more radical forms of Shiite Islam? They aren't exactly Ethical Culture.

But forgive my rudeness if I ask how it is that liberals like Maureen "Loosey Goosey Saudi" Dowd (, Roger "Iran is not totalitarian" Cohen (, Nicholas "End the Siege of Gaza" Kristof ( and you haven't seen fit to write a column about poor Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani in The New York Times? Is this too unpleasant, or simply not in keeping with current liberal thought?

If it were up to me, I would say it was indeed a matter of conscience, liberal or otherwise.


  1. My understanding is Mohammadi Ashtiani is Azeri, and did not understand the Persian of her inquisitors.

    What you will also not find anywhere in the New York Times:
    The mosque is how Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf gets approval for his proselytizing Dawa mega-mission.
    The controversy is about Imam Rauf, a Sufi from Egypt, and the chair of the Cordoba Initiative. "Rauf is a key member in the Malaysian-based Perdana Global Peace Organization, the single biggest donor ($366,000 as of June 2010) to the Free Gaza Movement."
    Proof is his page at

    Rauf's book, "What's Right with Islam" was originally published in Malaysia under a different title: "A Call to Prayer from the World Trade Center Rubble: Islamic Dawa in the Heart of America Post-9/11". What's Right with Islam"

    The word "Da'wah" in Arabic simply means to invite to something. When it is used in conjunction with Islam it is understood to mean "Inviting to the Way of submission and surrender to Allah."

    Considering the actual location at 45 Park Place, Dawa will be a hard sell to the actual residents in nearby Battery Park City and Tribeca.


  2. Superb blog, Jeffrey, but PK is hopeless. Thanks for all your help in Tel Aviv. Hope to see you soon.

    George Gilder

  3. First rate. An accurate, honest and factual blog.

    It's interesting that accuracy, honesty and fact so repeatedly escape the focus of The New York Times in its coverage of Israel (so biased against) and the Middle East and Islam, both Sunni and Shia' (so inexplicably pro) in general. What has led to the adoption of this stance? What seeds or fuels it now? Is that paper in part owned by Arab or Islamic money? If not, then what is it that makes them pander to Islamic despots and regimes who so evidently despise the very democratic values which The New York Times purports to uphold.

    If they were a newspaper worth their salt, one that celebrated freedom of speech, then there would be space for them to publish such letters as yours, or invite internal debate. But an editorial gag/line protects their correspondents and columnists from such serious factual challenges as yours.
    I applaud your continuing battle.

    Ardyn Halter

  4. Hi, Jeffrey

    Did you read today editorial "Palestinians, alone"? This is a piece about history of relationship between Palestinians and other Arabs, ang it goes against "conscience of liberals". I learned some interesting facts there.

  5. Marina,

    Thanks. I have often mysteriously encountered much hostility and contempt for Palestinians in neighboring Arab countries.

  6. In Monday's NYT International news "Brazil’s President Offers Asylum to Woman Facing Stoning in Iran " By ALEXEI BARRIONUEVO:
    "SÃO PAULO, Brazil — President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has called on Iran’s president to send an Iranian woman facing execution by stoning to Brazil, where she would be granted asylum.

    “If my friendship and affection for the president of Iran matters, and if this woman is causing problems there, we will welcome her here in Brazil,” Mr. da Silva said on Saturday in Curitiba while campaigning for his former chief of staff, Dilma Rousseff. “Nothing justifies the state taking someone’s life,” he added. “Only God can do that.”

    His statement was an about-face. National and international campaigns on the Internet and via Twitter had failed to convince Mr. da Silva to intervene in the case of the woman, Sakineh Ashtiani, 43, who was convicted of adultery although she denied having had an “illicit relationship” with two men. ...Ms. Ashtiani’s case has attracted international attention from many people concerned about Iran’s human rights record.

    In Brazil, Mr. da Silva was subjected to almost a month of public protests with slogans like “And Now, Lula?” and a document that drew 114,000 signatures ..."

    [no mention how the NYT op-ed writers failed to notice the any of this]


  7. The Economist weighed in on August 2, pointing out Ms. Ashtiani's fate became a campaign issue for the presidency of Brazil because of Lula's coziness to Iran: