Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Clap Hands, Here Comes Deadly

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the current head of Iran, has come to New York to speak to the public. Initially, he was to simply address the United Nations on the opening of their new session, but somebody in a civilian position of authority or two thought it would be nice to allow him an opportunity to propagandize outside Turtle Bay. They invited him to speak via teleconference to the Press Conference in Washington, D.C., and, worse, to speak live and in person to the malleable students at Columbia University. I find this troubling, as it is both foolish and dangerous to give credibility to liars, murderers, and their supporters by offering them so bully a pulpit.

My own alma mater, a few years back, faced the same situation on a smaller scale, and I am still ashamed of the warm reception the students and faculty gave to a self-admitted terrorist.

But I find the response to Ahmadinejad’s appearances -- responses both online and out on the street -- even more troubling. Too many of them actively supported Ahmadinejad and were offended that anybody -- like Columbia U’s President Bollinger -- could have been rude to the nice man in the leisure suit.

I’m not going to take the patriotic position, right now, against the man who has provided support for those who kill our soldiers, or against the man who was probably at the lead of the group who declared war against us during the Carter years, by taking hostage our diplomats in the embassy in Tehran. Those issues can be set aside for a moment, since they seem to have no relevance to liberal students and leftwing professors.

But why are the leftist students and professors still supporting Ahmadinejad in the face of his behavior toward the left’s elite back home in Tehran? This man represents a regime which executes people who are accused of homosexuality. It arrests women who don’t meet a strict dress code. It has beaten to death, shot to death, burned to death students and teachers (male and female) who stood in protest of each new loss of freedom. He has threatened war against another sovereign nation.

In other words, he’s against gay rights, against women’s rights, against student/academic freedom, and against peace and tolerance.

How does one place upon an altar a man whose very existence in office negates the lives and lifestyles this group so fervently protects at home? I hate to answer my own question, but, apparently, if you hate Israel or you hate President George W. Bush, if you promise death to modern America and to Western civilization, all other “idiosyncrasies” can be overlooked. You can kill as many gays as you want. You can imprison a woman indefinitely or publicly beat her for “immodesty” -- including the immodesty of having an opinion. You can use live ammunition or flame throwers on students and teachers in peaceful protest. You can intend to -- or even, probably actually -- steal technology, build a nuclear bomb, drop it on the civilians living in the holy land, and they will support you because, well, it had to be done to show precisely how evil Bush and the “Jewish lobby” are.

After all, between Bush and the Jewish Lobby, the Western world is nothing but one giant concentration camp, isn‘t it?

The sad part of this past week’s events in New York is that, at long last, some students began to take offense at one little thing Ahmadinejad said: “We don’t have homosexuals in Iran.” Somehow, that strained credibility in a way nothing else could, even his Holocaust denial and his claims that Iranian women are the freest women in the world. And yet, according to a Daily Kos poll, 45% of participants would still prefer Ahmadinejad over Bush as US President.

Once upon a time, academia was intended to help young people develop skills at critical thinking. It would seem that, by and large, it failed at least a full generation ago. I hope it is not too late to salvage something -- before more Ahmadinejads are made welcome upon our shores.

Suggested Reading:
Jules Crittenden: Persian Sock-Puppets?
Bret Stephens at OpinionJournal: Columbia's Conceit
lgf: BBC Readers on Ahmadinejad

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