Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Recapping Ahmadinejad's Columbia Lecture

Let me recap Ahmadinejad's adventure at Columbia University yesterday. Bollinger's introduction was certainly not the kind of experience that Ahmadinejad was used to. Ahmadinejad isn't comfortable in a room unless he knows full well that his thugs can take anyone who looks at him crosseyes and deal with them accordingly - preferably never to be seen again.

This event was billed as dialog, but it was nothing of the sort. It was a lecture - a painful one at that. Ahmadinejad claims to be a professor and lecturer, and yet it was painful to listen to - notwithstanding the awful translator used. When pressed to answer direct questions, he refused to do so because the answer would expose Iran's true intentions, even though he's repeatedly made similar statements in the media.

Still, he was mixing religion and science to demonstrate Iran's inalienable right to do whatever it damn well pleases - including obtaining nuclear technology and to undermine the West's claim to the same because it isn't done in the name of Islam. He was making a theological argument to support his regime's actions, and I suspect that most of the observers failed to catch that point, instead focusing on his ramblings (heck - they were ramblings).

The media's fascination about the gay comment was appropriate, but it misses the bigger picture - namely the theological support of his regime's pursuit of nuclear technology.

The issue of Israel's existence is also one of note - if only because he refused to even utter Israel's name. Instead, he would refer only to the Palestinians, and his calls for referrendum to deal with the issue ignores decades of war and violence perpetrated by Israel's neighbors to wipe Israel out and those countries' cynical use of the Palestinians as a pawn to be used as a club against Israel. It also ignores the fact that the Arabs living in Israel are afforded greater religious and civil rights than anywhere else in the Middle East - greater freedoms and rights, and yet many seek Israel's destruction only to realize later that their Palestinian brethren are even worse - see Gaza under Hamas and West Bank under Fatah. Tying together Holocaust denial and Israel's right to exist is a way to deflect Arab responsibility for the situation - and to deflect attention from Ahmadinejad's own statements calling for Israel's destruction and to complete Hitler's job.

John Wilson of the NY Post also takes apart Ahmadinejad's theological argument, and posits that Ahmadinejad was looking at science as relativist - suggesting that the facts can't be discerned on things like the Holocaust until the right people look at the event.

Arthur Herman slams Columbia for allowing the show to go on and allow Ahmadinejad a platform from which to lecture. Bret Stephens wonders what was gained from having Ahmadinejad lecture.

Did Ahmadinejad really squirm during his speech, or did he accomplish precisely what he set out to do? I think he accomplished what he needed to do, especially if you note how the incident was written up in the Iranian media.

No Submission has a photo survey of yesterday's protests against Ahmadinejad from around New York City.

Meanwhile, Prof. Volokh suggests that Columbia was right to invite Ahmadinejad as part of the World Leaders Forum. Volokh notes that "A university should not honor the dishonorable." but carves out an exception because this was done as part of the World Leaders Forum. Sorry, but that's a distinction without a difference. By granting Ahmadinejad the honor of speaking - and it is indeed a honor to speak at Columbia, Bollinger dishonored the university - notwithstanding his introduction that slammed Iran's human rights violations and Ahmadinejad's holocaust denials and threats to Israel's existence.

Cox and Forkum skewer Ahmadinejad's comments about gays and that they simply don't exist in Iran. Still, there are gays and lesbians on the left who think that the greater threat is President Bush, and not the likes of Ahmadinejad.

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