Ahmadinejad at Columbia: The Pampering of Evil
In fact, it was so difficult that Ahmadinejad had to do a backward triple-somersault into the fever swamp by declaring that there were no homosexuals in Iran; "That phenomenon does not exist in our country." Only then could he get a negative reaction from the children of Korrectisch Politik.
Granted, Ahmadinejad's weird "dialogue" with Columbia was prefaced by a blistering smack-down from President Lee Bollinger. No doubt Bollinger has been feeling some heat from the alumni over the past couple of days, particularly from the School of Journalism grads who might have interpreted those Hitler remarks as a threat to invite George Bush to speak at Columbia. But I will not question Bollinger's motives; his remarks were very good and he properly set the tone by administering a good, stiff cold water douche. Ahmadinejad whined about it throughout his own speech - and got some applause for doing so.
Bollinger's introduction was aimed as much at the public and at Columbia students as it was at the little dictator. In the case of the Columbia students, results seem to be mixed, and mixed in favor of Ahmandinejad and his brutal Islamic fascist regime.
A lot people will claim that Ahmandinejad is very clever at playing to the media and the public, and that he is crazy like a fox. People always claim that in these situations, and they're usually wrong. In fact, Ahmandinejad is a bumbling mess, and if he is successful it is testament not to his cleverness but to the pathetic credulity of the people who cheer him.
It was astonishing what the man could get away with. A clever Ahmandinejad would have steered well clear of Holocaust denial; that donkey show is for Middle East racists, not the American stage. But he happily blathered on and on about it - even comparing it to the New Physics. He was canny enough to drag the Palestinians into it, and to play the victim when the questioners got too blunt with him, and in the end he scored several applause lines. But it's obvious that he could have easily dodged the whole issue and gotten away with it.
Likewise, he could have dodged the issue of Iran's execution of homosexuals, dissidents, religious minorities, and "soiled" women. He started off on the right path, by talking about drug dealers. It is standard practice for regimes like Iran to accuse their victims of being criminals. Executed gays, for example, are usually accused of being child molesters. That ploy has worked wonderfully well with the Western left, who are stunningly silent about Iran's brutality. What doesn't work wonderfully well is the claim that homosexuality only exists in the decadent West, and that's the card the fool finally played.
In short, Mr. Unpronounceable is a clod. If he is cheered for it, it is only because his audience is composed of bigger clods.
Not all of them are so stupid, though. Some of them see Ahmadinejad as a useful tool against their own enemies: Bush, Israel, and the dreaded Neocons. Or as the charmingly frank Ahmandinejad would call them, the International Jewish Conspiracy.
These apologists do not shrink from a nuclear-armed Iran; they welcome it as a counter to Israel. They will be glad to accept the full consequences of that, and when those consequences come they will blame Bush for it, or some future Bush-like object. Not themselves - not the champions of peace and justice.