Posted by: Nick Poma | November 1, 2007

Ahmadinejad at Columbia University

            Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made his much-anticipated appearance at Columbia University today amidst much protest and angst. The President of the University, Lee Bollinger, has been sharply criticized over the invitation of the Iranian President to speak at the University. Much to the surprise of those watching the heavily televised appearance, Mr. Bollinger led off the discussion with railing accusations against the Iranian President.

            It seemed almost comical that the President of the University laid into his guest for much of an hour before the discussion had even begun. Obviously, Mr. Bollinger was under intense pressure to appear not to be too sympathetic to the United States’ new number one enemy. This was evident by the quaking and quivering voice that the University President spoke in for the entirety of his opening remarks.

            To be fair, there are not many that would disagree with the assessment posed by Mr. Bollinger, however, it did seem forced and unnatural. The only positive issues were the ones put forth by President Ahmadinejad himself as he skirted the issues throughout the entire question answer session. In the true fashion of politicians, the Iranian President managed to answer questions without really answering them at all.

            With the apparent bias towards the Iranian Dictator, I almost expected to see him leave in a huff after muttering some obscure Arab curse, but that did not happen, and the President held his ground. Some of the questions posed to Ahmadinejad were such things as human rights issues, and the denial of the Holocaust. In true form, the Iranian President was trying to play to a crowd that he believed would except him as an academic equal. While in some small part this may be true, I believe that there were those that left with the same biases they had, and then there are those that were easily swayed by the charm of the man, such as that may be.

            When asked about his statement in which he says, “Israel should be wiped off of the face of the map,” the Iranian President could only say that, “He wishes to see the Palestinian people be the masters of their own destiny.” This can only be interpreted to mean that Israel should be removed from their land and that the Palestinian people should inherit it. This is not a denial of his previous statement, although he does state that his country does not want to go to war with anybody and he wants to be a friend to the world. Nevertheless, this does not include recanting his previous statement against Israel.

            The Iranian President went on to say, in one of his propaganda speeches, I mean answers, that the Iranians themselves are victims of terror, and the underlying suggestion is that the United States and Israel are behind it. While Ahmadinejad did not come out and flatly deny the Holocaust when pressed upon, he simply hid behind the guise of academia to wiggle his way out of the topic. The highlight of the session was when he was asked about how homosexuals were executed in his country. The President stated that, “We do not have that phenomenon in our country.” This was immediately interpreted by the audience as an absolute denial that homosexuality exist at all in Iran. This drew immediate laughter from the crowd and a look of dismay on the face of the Iranian President.

            It may be that he meant that people are not so open about their homosexuality, or perhaps it is because when they are found out, they are hanged, therefore, they do not exist in his country. When all was said and done, the whole discussion only served to portray the Iranian President as disingenuous. He left the University wearing the grin of a Cheshire cat, believing himself to have swayed the American public to become a bit more sympathetic to his cause, although it is not the likely outcome.

Sources

Fox News televised appearance – September 24, 2007

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