Ahmadinejad Handed A Propaganda Win


A followup to my post on Wednesday:

What? Politeness Counts in Foreign Relations?

And just imagine how we look to the REST of the world with our clueless and crapulous performance. Not that we care a fig for what the world thinks of us, right?

(Tehran Times: Iranian universities, MPs denounce Columbia U. president; Arab News (Saudi Arabia) ‘President Ahmadinejad and the Distortions of Politics‘)

And here’s the disgusting opportunist slimy headline of the day from the Hindu Times:

Invitation to Ahmadinejad speaks of US greatness: Bush

Washington, Sept. 26 (AP): US President George W Bush Tuesday said that the speaking appearance of Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, at a US university “speaks volumes about really the greatness of America.”

And from a private email from a reader in Japan:

Thankyou for sending the sites to read what the Muslim world thought of the nuts way the US treated a man they invited to come to the US Iran’s President. Nuts. Sad, terribly wrong.

Here’s from the Los Angele Times on the aftermath:

Ahmadinejad walks away with a win
His Columbia engagement gives him what he wants — legitimacy — and his hosts look rude to Islamic eyes.
By Tim Rutten
September 29, 2007

One of the world’s truly dangerous men, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, left New York a clear winner this week, and he can thank the arrogance of the American academy and most of the U.S. news media’s studied indifference for his victory.

If the blood-drenched history of the century just past had taught American academics one thing, it should have been that the totalitarian impulse knows no accommodation with reason. You cannot change the totalitarian mind through dialogue or conversation, because totalitarianism — however ingenious the superstructure of faux ideas with which it surrounds itself — is a creature of the will and not the mind. That’s a large lesson, but what should have made Ahmadinejad’s appearance at Columbia University this week a wholly avoidable debacle was the school’s knowledge of its own, very specific history. [MORE]

The LA Times writer goes on to say:

It would be interesting to know if any consideration of these events — and all that followed a decade of engagement and dialogue with fascism — occurred before Columbia extended a speaking invitation to a man who hopes to see Israel “wiped off the face of the Earth,” has denied the Holocaust and is defying the world community in pursuit of nuclear weapons. Perhaps they did and perhaps that’s part of what motivated Lee Bollinger, Columbia’s president now, to deliver his extraordinarily ill-advised welcoming remarks to Ahmadinejad.

Bollinger clearly had an American audience in mind when he denounced the Iranian leader to his face as a “cruel” and “petty dictator” and described his Holocaust denial as designed to “fool the illiterate and the ignorant.” Bollinger’s remarks may have taken him off the hook with his domestic critics, but when it came to the international media audience that really counted, Ahmadinejad already had carried the day. The invitation to speak at Columbia already had given him something totalitarian demagogues — who are as image-conscious as Hollywood stars — always crave: legitimacy. Bollinger’s denunciation was icing on the cake, because the constituency the Iranian leader cares about is scattered across an Islamic world that values hospitality and its courtesies as core social virtues. To that audience, Bollinger looked stunningly ill-mannered; Ahmadinejad dignified and restrained.

Back in Tehran, Mohsen Mirdamadi, a leading Iranian reformer and Ahmadinejad opponent, said Bollinger’s blistering remarks “only strengthened” the president back home and “made his radical supporters more determined,” According to an Associated Press report, “Many Iranians found the comments insulting, particularly because in Iranian traditions of hospitality, a host should be polite to a guest, no matter what he thinks of him. To many, Ahmadinejad looked like the victim, and hard-liners praised the president’s calm demeanor during the event, saying Bollinger was spouting a ‘Zionist’ line.”

Just a follow-up. No commentary saying “I told you so,” or disagreeing with Rutten on some fundamental points, or anything like that. Read and ruminate as you will. Just following up, that’s all.


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About Hart Williams

Mr. Williams grew up in Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and New Mexico. He lived in Hollywood, California for many years. He has been published in The Washington Post, The Kansas City Star, The Santa Fe Sun, The Los Angeles Free Press, Oui Magazine, New West, and many, many more. A published novelist and a filmed screenwriter, Mr. Williams eschews the decadence of Hollywood for the simple, wholesome goodness of the plain, honest people of the land. He enjoys Luis Buñuel documentaries immensely.
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One Response to Ahmadinejad Handed A Propaganda Win

  1. Darrell Prows says:

    I read an announcement this morning that Ahmadinejad has now extended an open invitation for Bush to come speak at a University in Iran. I really, really yearn for a President who would say say yes to a situation like that, and then go over there and knock the ball out of the park.

    You know all of that information circulating in our country about how strong the dissent is in Iran? Well, our President said yes, and they backed down, we would sure know it was true. If he was actually allowed to go, he could have a speach expertly prepared and delivered in Farsi, and stand at the side nodding his head. No problem with bad translation that way, and he, or she could certainly deliver any message.

    Stuff like that would go a long way towards lightening the mood on this uptight old planet.