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Never happened, that’s the ticket

Matt Zalaznick

If there’s anything the maniac running Iran has taught the world is what a useful tool denial can be. If there’s a reason for the international community to have sympathy for your enemy – like the guilt the most of the world still feels toward Israel for the Holocaust – just insist the genocide never happened. That way, when Iran points its nuclear missiles at Israeli cities, the Persian leaders won’t seem like such meanies. And when Israel launches air strikes to respond to Iran’s threats of annihilation, the ayatollahs, because there never was a Holocaust, can play the victim. Too bad for Hitler that he didn’t think of the PR gain to be had from denying the bondage of the Jews in Egypt. But Teheran is hardly the world’s only source of strategic denial, though it’s hard to tell what the leadership of the Democratic Party hopes to gain from continuing to deny that even ardent liberals find them phony, shrill and devoid of ideas. Take Ted Kennedy – he’s so adept at self-denial he internally denied his own connections to exclusive Harvard men’s clubs long enough to try to burn Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito for his links to some less-than-tolerant Princeton chauvinists. In the clumsy hands of the Democrats, of course, Teddy’s double-reverse of denial blew up in their faces. W. and his henchmen, on the other hand, are masters of denial. W. was praising Brownie’s performance even as Americans were drowning and starving in New Orleans. George Tenet got an award after the biggest intelligence lapse in American history. W. was pinning medals on Paul Bremmer’s chest even as the Iraqi insurgency was picking up its body count. Of course, to mention the insurgents is a moot point because they’re a bunch of bumbling also-rans about whom Uncle Dickie and Rummy remain in denial. This group is even so sharp they can deny the existence of things that don’t exist. To hear them talk these days, it’s like Saddam’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction never existed, after all.Maybe all this denial is just a way for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Karl Rove and Harry Reid to make themselves feel better in the face of troubling realties. Americans should try it, too. Worried about global warming? If we’re able to deny that it’s getting hotter, we won’t have to feel guilty about the carbon monoxide our SUVs are pumping into the sky. We won’t have to get angry at the Bush administration for scuttling a NASA project that had potential to help us understand why the planet’s heating up and what it means. Apparently, one of the shortcomings on the plan (as far as the Bushies were concerned) was that it was Al Gore’s idea. But admitting that will only make you angrier, so forget I said it. Upset that neither the government nor the West’s major energy companies seem bothered by the predictions that oil and other sources of energy are going to start running out this century? Just let your giant pickup truck run 24 hours a day and pretend it’s not true. Then you won’t have to feel helpless about there being nothing you – just one small earthling who does not sit on the board of directors of Exxon or Shell and isn’t in Congress – can do about it outside of recycling your newspapers and Coke bottles. Hey, denial even works here in the mountains. Check it out: Some folks think a developer who wants to build a private ski resort in the forest south of Minturn has gone too far. Wait, don’t flip out because that will be really easy to deny. The developer insists even drivers on Highway 24 right below the mansions won’t be able to see the massive and exclusive sequel to Beaver Creek. It will be hidden by the forests that aren’t being bulldozed. What about the arrival of big-box stores? Isn’t this the intrusion of the rampant capitalist sprawl that drove us out of the cities and suburbs? Well, the only trace of these stores if you’re not in the parking lot is that silly overgrown flagpole, so just try to ignore Wal-Mart and Home Depot and their coming neighbors. Of course, that might be hard when you launch off Avon’s old paragliding training hill and slam into the side of the valley’s third Marble Slab ice cream shop in a space of about 15 miles. Unfortunately, paragliding away your concerns about sprawl by wishing the giant retailers out of existence may also be difficult when there are developers, county commissioners and town council members who don’t seem to think open space exists. City Editor Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14620, or mzalaznick@vaildaily.comVail, Colorado


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