The Spectacle Blog

Escorting Ahmadinejad

By on 9.20.07 | 4:31PM

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.

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