Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was in New York last week to address students at Columbia University and to speak at the General Assembly of the United Nations. In his remarks introducing the Iranian President, Lee Bollinger, President of Columbia University, criticized the Iranian leader saying that he “exhibits all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator.” Ballinger’s criticism was probably the result of the incredible criticism and public image problems associated with inviting Ahmadinejad to Columbia.
Mahmoud just can’t seem to keep his pie hole shut and welcomes any opportunity to flap his jaws. His most controversial remarks fall into two categories; the denial of the holocaust and the destruction of Israel.
December, 2005. “The west has given more significance to the myth of the genocide of the Jews, even more significant than God, religion, and the prophets.” Speech in the Iranian city of Zahedan. Source: Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting.
October, 2005. Quoting from remarks made by Ayatollah Khomeini, Ahmadinejad says, that Israel “must be wiped out from the map of the world.” Source: Islamic Republic News Agency.
When asked by Columbia University students whether or not he favored the destruction of Israel, Ahmadinejad refused to answer. He also replied that “If the holocaust is a reality of our time” it should be researched from “different perspectives.”
Perhaps the highlight of the one-hour session came when Ahmadinejad responded to a question about the treatment of homosexuals in Iran. His reply: “In Iran we don’t have homosexuals like in your country.” This brought a well-deserved outburst of mocking laughter from the student audience. In one instant any remaining possibility that Ahmadinejad would be considered to be even a slightly rational human being went out the window. All of a sudden it didn’t look like Columbia University had errored by inviting Ahmadinejad. It looked instead like Columbia had cleverly set a trap into which the Iranian leader had willingly entered, only to be exposed as a charlatan.
Freedom of expression has a way of exposing con men. Rational discourse soon separates those with facts from those who are illusionary. In coming to Columbia University Ahmadinejad figured he would have a worldwide stage to express his radical views; he was right. Now the entire world, including impressionable college students who are sometimes easily mislead, understand his true nature. Ahmadinejad is indeed a fool, and a dangerous one as well.