Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Just have a look at how the official Iranian news agency 'covers' President Ahmadinejad's speech at Columbia University. There is no use clicking on the Click for compelete ( sic ) news link at the bottom of the page, you will get the same article. Either the IRNA correspondent was asleep during the speech and all that preceded and followed it or maybe, just maybe, this is a slightly censored report of the event.
I still have not entirely made up my mind about the question whether it was a good idea to allow Mr Ahmadinejad to speak. I do not know if he was invited. If he was, that surely was a very bad idea. For those who have a clue about the nature of the Iranian regime and its policies, Ahmadinejad's words and performance helped to underline and confirm their misgivings and perceptions. As is so often the case with fanatic regimes, there appeared to be little that linked the dictator's words to reality. Still, people who take the speech at face value - and many listeners, viewers, and readers all over the world will probably do so, because they lack basic interest and knowledge - presumably saw an amiable, peace-loving, reasonable man. The whole circus during the weeks that led to the speech only raised the event's ratings. Of course almost every protester used the H-word. I believe that is wrong. By comparing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Adolf Hitler one turns both men into caricatures that are the personification, not the exponent, of an evil system that is ( was ) much more evil and dangerous than their personalities. That is a hazardous mistake in the case of Islamism and its shi'ite parallel, and an insult to the memory of all the victims of Nazi-Germany's policies and crimes. Besides, Ahmadinejad is not Hitler, Iran is not Nazi Germany, today thank G'd the Jews have a state and an army of their own, etc. etc. The dangers of Islamism and a nuclear Iran must be fought for what they are, not because they somehow remind some of us of evils of the past. We do not need Hitler to understand how bad and dangerous Ahmadinejad and his regime are.
The university's president scored some 'repair points' with his introduction of Mahmoud A. but Mr Bollinger's claims about free speech in the days before the event never sounded really convincing. There is a big difference between on the one hand allowing your citizens and residents to say and write whatever they want, and on the other providing a stage for a foreign dictator who has called for the annihilation of a country ( which he still refuses to recognize or name properly ), who supports Holocaust denial, and who represents a regime that is responsible for the execution of homosexuals, for the repression of women, and - let's not forget that - for the suffering and deaths of hundreds if not thousands of Americans ( here and here are only two examples of that ). And I am not even mentioning the highly probable involvement of Iran in two deadly bombings in Argentina in 1992 and 1994. After all, those bombings mainly targeted Israelis and Jews, so who cares? I was sad to notice that almost all protesters against the Iranian president appeared to be Jews or fundamentalist Christians. I am afraid that Shmuel Rosner might be right: "...the average American is not familiar with the regional complexities. He is tired of the region's fighting. To him, Ahmadinejad's idea may sound tempting."

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