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The new Mussolini?

October 12, 2001 | Page 6

ULTRA RIGHT-wing Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has his own theories about the cause of the September 11 terrorist attacks. To hear him tell it, it's a problem with "inferior" cultures.

"We must be aware of the superiority of our civilization, a system that has guaranteed well-being, respect for human rights and--in contrast with Islamic countries--respect for religious and political rights, a system that has as its values understanding of diversity and tolerance," he said during a press conference in Berlin.

"The West will continue to conquer peoples, like it conquered Communism," he continued on, even if it means a confrontation with "another civilization, the Islamic one, stuck where it was 1,400 years ago."

He added that the terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center are similar to recent global justice demonstrators. Both, he said, are enemies of "Western civilization."

Western civilization, he said, is superior because it "has at its core, as its greatest value, freedom, which is not the heritage of Islamic culture."

Maybe he should try telling Carlo Giuliani about "freedom." Giuliani was the 23-year-old Italian protester who was shot twice in the head and then run over by Italian police in July while protesting against the Group of Eight summit in Genoa, Italy.

His crime? Fighting for a world without poverty. Now, that's civilized.

--Associated Press, September 27, 2001

Can I get reimbursed for my coffee, too?

IN A sane world, no one would have to buy water. Try telling that to Starbucks.

On September 11, rescue workers ran to a Starbucks near the World Trade Center for water to treat shock victims. But they were told they'd have to pay for it. The ambulance workers ended up shelling out $130 of their own money to pay for three cases of bottled water.

"It's totally inconsistent with the kind of behavior we would have expected from our people, so it has been very upsetting to learn of this," said Starbucks president Orin Smith. Only after receiving a ton of negative publicity did Smith reimburse the ambulance workers.

--Associated Press, September 25, 2001

White House proves stupidity contagious

GEORGE W. Bush may be the dumbest guy in the White House, but he's not alone. White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said the president was meeting with religious leaders "to talk about the importance of tolerism, er, tolerance."

Later, when Fleischer repeated the nonword--"tolerism"--he started to sweat. Fleischer rushed to defend the president's vocabulary and quell any speculation.

"Don't think what you all are thinking," squealed Fleischer. "That was my word. Stop it!"

--Washington Post, September 20, 2001

Heard it through the grapevine

"WE SHOULD invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity."
--National Review columnist ANN COULTER

"WE ARE going to disrupt these people through preemptive attack. We will deceive them, we will run psyops on them, at selected points and times they will be killed suddenly, in significant numbers, and without warning."
--Retired Army General BARRY McCAFFERY

"TOMAHAWK MISSILES, 2,000-pound laser-guided weapons dropped from B2's or F22's at very high altitude, remote-control booby traps, blackmail and, at places, small groups of soldiers…will appear in total darkness, blow down the doors and kill them at close range with automatic weapons and hand grenades."

"WE SHOULD require passports to fly domestically. Passports can be forged, but they can also be checked with the home country in case of any suspicious-looking swarthy males."
--National Review columnist ANN COULTER

"IF OSAMA Bin Laden were hiding in the jungles of Colombia instead of Afghanistan, whose help would we enlist to find him? U.S. army special forces? The Colombian army? I don't think so. We would enlist the drug cartels. They know how to operate as a covert network. They can be bought, and they know how to buy others. And they understand that when we say we want someone 'dead or alive,' we mean dead or dead."
--New York Times columnist THOMAS FRIEDMAN

"THIS IS a very primitive country. And taking out their ability to exist day-to-day will not be hard. Remember, the people of any country are ultimately responsible for the government they have…We should not target civilians. But if they don't rise up against this criminal government, they starve, period."
--Fox News blowhard BILL O'REILLY

"[THE IRAQI] infrastructure must be destroyed, and the population made to endure yet another round of intense pain…Maybe then the people will finally overthrow Saddam."

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