I woke up this afternoon to find, in the comments section of my previous post, an ongoing debate about whether or not I was being serious when I praised the President of Iran for his resoluteness and conviction. For those who couldn’t figure it out, the answer is: of course I was being serious. In fact, right after I finished blogging, I telephoned Mahmoud to ask whether the Iranian army could use the services of a 24-year-old male who speaks fluent English, can do up to two push-ups per day, once fired an actual rifle, loves Persian food, and believes himself able to prove quantum lower bounds under combat conditions.
Mahmoud mulled it over for a while, and then replied that, while my qualifications were certainly impressive, unfortunately I did not meet his needs at the present time. I was devastated — and, I confess, I even started to wonder whether anti-Semitism might be at play. Except … how could he know? Throw in an extra “s,” and “Scott Aaronsson” could almost pass for Scandanavian. Then it hit me: like everyone else I’ve talked to over the past couple weeks, Mahmoud must be reading my weblog!
OK, look: is it “immature” to joke about these things, as several posters argued? Yes, it is immature. The mature response is to deplore evil, to be shocked by it — not to make a movie with Nazis dancing to the tune of “Springtime for Hitler in Germany,” or Woody Allen standing behind Hitler on a podium as part of his ongoing struggle to fit in. It’s just that all that deploring gets monotonous eventually. After a millennium or two, there’s nothing else to do except joke. As the story goes:
In 1936 in Berlin, a Jew is sitting in a cafe, reading Der Stürmer. His friend runs over to him: “Herschel, what are you doing? Don’t you realize that’s a Nazi paper?”
“Yeah, but in the Jewish papers, the news is always so depressing. Here it’s phenomenal: we control the banks, we control the media…”