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Default Ahmadinejad at Columbia University

September 24th, 2007, 21:59
I listened today as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addressed a large group of Columbia University students. A bold move by the university, Columbia has been criticized by some for providing Ahmadinejad an opportunity to enjoy a right he denies his own people: Freedom of Speech.

Smart and well educated, Ahmadinejad seemed confident except for moments when his audience erupted into laughter in response to a few of his serious comments. Myself, I wasn't particularly surprised. I see Ahmadinejad as a peculiar kind of intellectual who was likely to greatly underestimate his audience and its ability to think.

Ahmadinejad is a snake oil salesman. His is intellectualism for unsophisticated thinkers, and it sells when customers are effected, somehow, and not at their best. The desperate are big-time buyers. So are the deeply opinionated. The hateful are prime customers.

How do you explain to a man like Ahmadinejad, who teaches at the doctorate level, that some of his ideas are just plain stupid? You don't. Folks like Ahmadinejad will invite you to engage them and their ideas. They have to figure it out for themselves. They are to be ignored and pitied.

Unfortunately, Ahmadinejad can’t be simply ignored. He’s in a position of great influence in the Middle East, and his government is working hard to develop nuclear power. It's definitely a worrisome situation.
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September 24th, 2007, 22:05
I need to see if I can catch any of the talk before I comment but I was wondering how that visit would go. Have they decided whether he will be allowed to "pay his respects" at the Trade Center?

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September 24th, 2007, 22:11
I'm not certain, but I think not. He explained and defended his purpose for visiting the site, and it sounded like he wasn't going to be allowed.
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September 24th, 2007, 22:19
I would think the security issues would make a for a complete nightmare. I for one wouldn't want to go anywhere in New York where the New Yorkers didn't want me.

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September 24th, 2007, 22:20
Last I heard, his "ticket" was revoked. It's guilt by association at best, but I think it would be in very poor taste to let him visit the site.

I'd be interested to hear the left wing rationale of the person/group that extended the invitation. I imagine there are some factions in our government that are wetting themselves over the un-take-able opportunity to remove a crackpot from the world.

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September 24th, 2007, 23:36
You're making a big mistake if you believe Ahmadinejad to be just a snake-oil salesman or crackpot. Empires have fallen from underestimating their enemies. "Ha ha, come on — that little guy with a furry hat riding a pony? Get real!"

Ahmadinejad is genuinely nasty, and genuinely dangerous. Also worth listening to. Very carefully, and with a lot of consideration about who he is really addressing.

Hints for parsing him:

(1) He's a populist. His power base is 18-25-year-old men with a limited education, limited prospects, a strong sense of grievance, and a strong sense of patriotism. That means that his first consideration about anything he says — *anything* — will be how it will play with the homies.

(2) He's religious. Genuinely religious. The same way George W. Bush is religious. Meaning, he looks for guidance in scripture.

(3) He is, as you noticed, quite intelligent. He's also cunning, and very good at manipulating people. What's more, he understands you much, much better than you understand him. That means that after point (1), whatever he says will be calculated to manipulate *you* — and almost certainly not simply by reasoned argument.

And finally, about the Ground Zero thing — he's going to be laughing all the way to the bank. You guys are *so* easy to manipulate it isn't even funny.

I'll leave it up to the readers to figure that one out.
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September 25th, 2007, 00:32
I agree with almost every word of Prime Junta, a rare case, by the way.

Especially point (1) is worrysome, because from exactly THIS group he and all radical sects recruit their kamikaze bombers from, especially the Taliban.

Young men with no prospect because they have learned too little to take a good job, because in Afghanistan, all good schools are destroyed already and replaced by religious ones, no prospect because the land's industry isn't properlöy working anymore - that's why tourism is so often attcked, because it generates most of the country's cash - directly to the people ! - no prospects, because it's a patriarchalic system in which more boys are born than girls, which leads into a bigger number of young men who can't find a job because of what I've said above and because in a patriachalic system they are trained/educated to be the heads of everything, not the workers. The real work, they are taught - as far as I see it - is done by women, who are often better organized and educated somehow.

In an article and in a book I heard from, the authors said that this situation is similar here within Europe, France, for example. Because the young men are not well educated enough because they are trained within a patriarchalic system, which says to them that they don't need to do the "dirty work" - meanwhile the girls move out and get educated much better because they DO have to do the work - and be good trained for that.

So, the real intellectual "class" of them lies with the young women, at least here, these two writings said.

It's a bit difficult or me to explain what i really mean, but I hope you get it.

By the way, I'd just like to point you out to the Lebanon, where a whole state and country is currently undermined by Syria - assassins kill any politicians who are against Syria - thus they are "making facts", because only pro-Syria politicians are actually left.

Plus, some military groups are attacking and thus undermining the Lebanon in such a way that it looks as if they just had been fully contzrolled by Syria.

If Syria succeeds with their plan to completely destroy the Lebanon - and Israel eventually helps them by destroying the parts of that country where dangerous military groups are located - then doom comes over Isreal, because I have no doubt at all that Iran and Syria want to collaborate - or I'm rather sure they do it already.

I can only say that this world's politicians are nothing but fools, because they don't do anything tzo protect and stabilize the Lebanon. And I'm quite sure they do it despite their knowledge of this danger.

If and when the Lebanon collapses, then the WHOLE middle east collapses !

Within a big BOOOM !

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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September 25th, 2007, 02:15
Prime Junta wrote
And finally, about the Ground Zero thing — he's going to be laughing all the way to the bank. You guys are *so* easy to manipulate it isn't even funny.
Yes, and we rise to the bait every time, too, don't we?

I assume you're saying he really had no true desire to visit the site and leave a wreath or whatever because he knew he would not be allowed to.

That shows a definite streak of the aforementioned manipulativeness because the request really was a difficult one to call well. If you say yes- security nightmare, riots, possible assassination attempts and general bad press all round if anything goes wrong; if you say no, he has his low opinions of the U.S. validated for the folks back home, thusly proving his point. I think they made the right decision, unless proving his point at home and perhaps in the world press is a bigger deal than I think it is.

I'm not quite sure what point that is, though. That we are restrictors of freedom, not protectors, we're irrationally lumping him/his country with the terrorists? Or that if we weren't planning on invading Iran, we'd let him go *mourn our fallen*?

I think he already has plenty of ammo on most of those issues anyway, true or not. Anyway, even if it feeds his propaganda machine, I'm glad he didn't go. I'd just as soon not see what the conservative right, survivor's groups and assorted New York crazies would have had to say about him meditating over the ruins of the WTC, or watch him get his small polyester-clad rear blown away——here.

I caught a bit of the address on nightly news. I would say he turned the whole thing to his own purposes pretty well. AFA calling him a snake-oil salesman, it isn't all that dismissive a term; I think the old time snake oil salesmen were very dangerous to others by definition—purveyors of poison that purports to heal. And they took your money for it.

We may make fun of Ahmadinejad's ingenuous remarks about homosexuals, or his backpedaling on the Holocaust, (first it never happened, now it happened but it isn't pertinent ) but I have no doubt he did indeed say what his primary audience wanted to hear and that to them he did not come off the worse. And then Bollinger gives him a perfect excuse to appear the injured party by lambasting him before he's said a word. He might have been feeding him lines in his earnest desire to ask all those "difficult questions" in the name of free speech. Ego or principles, it doesn't seem to me like it was a brilliant plan.

As Squeek said, it's troubling, to say the least.

Where there's smoke, there's mirrors.
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September 25th, 2007, 10:37
I caught a clip on CNN of what the president of Iran said at the university, he said to the effect that there are no gays in Iran. The audience laughed when he said that. I think they knew it was not true and he just did not want to admit that some number of gay men and women exist in Iran, but keep it quiet for fear of being harshly punished and even put to death. Later on CNN, Anderson Cooper talked about a recent case where 2 gays were publicly hanged in Iran(not by vigilantes, but by authorities from what I understood).
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September 25th, 2007, 12:14
Originally Posted by Alrik Fassbauer View Post
By the way, I'd just like to point you out to the Lebanon, where a whole state and country is currently undermined by Syria - assassins kill any politicians who are against Syria - thus they are "making facts", because only pro-Syria politicians are actually left.
Yup, being anti-Syrian in Lebanon is a bit of a risky career move. One man, one bomb.

Plus, some military groups are attacking and thus undermining the Lebanon in such a way that it looks as if they just had been fully contzrolled by Syria.
You're referring to the Nahr-el-Bared mini-war?

If Syria succeeds with their plan to completely destroy the Lebanon - and Israel eventually helps them by destroying the parts of that country where dangerous military groups are located - then doom comes over Isreal, because I have no doubt at all that Iran and Syria want to collaborate - or I'm rather sure they do it already.
I doubt that very much. Israel has the Bomb, remember — if it ever came to a genuine existential war, they would not hesitate to use it. Iran and Syria acting in concert can certainly cause a quite a bit of grief to Israel, especially if they can use Hezbollah as a proxy; however, the Syrian military is a mess (badly trained, badly motivated, badly equipped), so the only thing it can contribute is a base of operations.

Second, the Syrian-Iranian axis is very, very much a marriage of convenience. Syria is a secular, Ba'athist, authoritarian, Arab Socialist country, mostly Sunni, with an Alawite ruling clique and seven separate intelligence services stabbing each other in the back when they're not blowing up Lebanese politicians. Iran is a Shi'ite, Islamist, Persian country with a much more open society and political system, several distinct power centers, and a completely different agenda. They're only playing together because nobody wants to play with either of them.

It totally baffles me why the US hasn't tried to drive a wedge between them. It would be about as easy as:

"Hi, Syria/Iran. We'll drop the sanctions on you and start treating you like a civilized country if you'll get out of bed with Iran/Syria."
"Done."

Iran is too far away, too big, and too well defended to be seriously threatened by any military action Israel can take (short of nuclear attack). Syria, however, is just like Saddam's Iraq, only more so — a pushover in its conventional military capabilities, but even better at being a low-key pain in the proverbial, and would be even more of a pain to occupy.

IOW, Israel isn't attacking Syria because the only thing it would get is Gaza on a much, much larger scale; Syria isn't attacking Israel because it can't, and Iran isn't attacking Israel because it's too far.

I can only say that this world's politicians are nothing but fools, because they don't do anything tzo protect and stabilize the Lebanon. And I'm quite sure they do it despite their knowledge of this danger.

If and when the Lebanon collapses, then the WHOLE middle east collapses !

Within a big BOOOM !
Lebanon isn't quite that important — it only looks like it to us because it's the only Arab country with a significant Christian component, a large part of the population is very Western-minded, and it's sorta kinda democratic, or would be without those pesky bombs and if people voted for policies rather than feudal leaders. (And a fat lot of good it did them.)

But the Middle East is pretty certain to go BOOM anyway, and pretty much everybody will get hit by the shrapnel — especially us in the West. Serves us right too; we're the ones who cooked up that particular soup.
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September 25th, 2007, 12:24
Originally Posted by magerette View Post
Prime Junta wrote

Yes, and we rise to the bait every time, too, don't we?

I assume you're saying he really had no true desire to visit the site and leave a wreath or whatever because he knew he would not be allowed to.

That shows a definite streak of the aforementioned manipulativeness because the request really was a difficult one to call well. If you say yes- security nightmare, riots, possible assassination attempts and general bad press all round if anything goes wrong; if you say no, he has his low opinions of the U.S. validated for the folks back home, thusly proving his point. I think they made the right decision, unless proving his point at home and perhaps in the world press is a bigger deal than I think it is.
Bingo.

I'm not quite sure what point that is, though. That we are restrictors of freedom, not protectors, we're irrationally lumping him/his country with the terrorists? Or that if we weren't planning on invading Iran, we'd let him go *mourn our fallen*?
Oh, all of that, certainly. Also that you demonstrate once more that any brown guy with a beard is the same to you (i.e., you can't tell the difference between a Sa'udi Sunni Wahhabi and an Iranian shi'ite Islamist), that your response to a gesture of peace and respect is to slap it away and scream "murderer," "terrorist," and "go to hell" and so on. I'm not saying that isn't the case — but you can bet your life that's *exactly* how it'll play in the audience that matters (to him) — the folks back home, as well as every single disaffected Muslim youth anywhere (as well as a quite a few non-Muslims).

IOW, he managed to ratchet up the level of anti-Americanism all over the world several notches with that caper, not to mention polish his image at home. Gotta admire the little monkey-face.

Of course, if you *had* let him lay his wreath at Ground Zero, and you *had* treated him with politeness and respect with reasoned, calm critique of what he has to say, *he* would've been the one who looks like a foolish hothead.

But, of course, that was never going to happen, since you folks take everything at face value.

We may make fun of Ahmadinejad's ingenuous remarks about homosexuals, or his backpedaling on the Holocaust, (first it never happened, now it happened but it isn't pertinent )
I looked up what he actually said about the Holocaust, by the way. As far as I can tell (and it's not that easy to tell; I don't speak Farsi so I have to rely on translations which are very often inaccurate or downright misleading), he never actually said it never happened.

What he did say is something along these lines: that it has become the founding myth for Israel; something with which it justifies its existence and any violent action it takes against anyone — and that this is not defensible. He's arguing that the holocaust is not or should not be pertinent to the actions or even existence of Israel — both should be justifiable through other, more concrete and more immediate arguments. Or, put another way, it's wrong to keep the Palestinians under occupation now because Germans gassed Jews in 1943.

I happen to agree with that, by the way.
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September 25th, 2007, 15:59
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
Oh, all of that, certainly. Also that you demonstrate once more that any brown guy with a beard is the same to you (i.e., you can't tell the difference between a Sa'udi Sunni Wahhabi and an Iranian shi'ite Islamist), that your response to a gesture of peace and respect is to slap it away and scream "murderer," "terrorist," and "go to hell" and so on. I'm not saying that isn't the case — but you can bet your life that's *exactly* how it'll play in the audience that matters (to him) — the folks back home, as well as every single disaffected Muslim youth anywhere (as well as a quite a few non-Muslims).
Thanks, I see more clearly now what he had in mind. I was really puzzled about how it was so significantly to his advantage to be denied the visit.

IOW, he managed to ratchet up the level of anti-Americanism all over the world several notches with that caper, not to mention polish his image at home. Gotta admire the little monkey-face.
Forgive me if I sound cynical, but anti-Americanism is inevitable in this scenario. You find what you're looking for. If we'd let him visit, it could just as easily have been interpreted as the weakness of our apathetic, fat regime…


Of course, if you *had* let him lay his wreath at Ground Zero, and you *had* treated him with politeness and respect with reasoned, calm critique of what he has to say, *he* would've been the one who looks like a foolish hothead.
I agree, especially with the way the address itself was handled.

However to expect that to happen is just unrealistic. Here, and especially in New York, Ground Zero carries a very heavy symbolic load that apparently doesn't translate well. It's a contemporary Pearl Harbor in many ways, and that he was allowed to visit and protected from harm while here is about as close to politeness and respect as there's going to be. Can you imagine a Japanese or Nazi political figure being invited here to speak during WWII? (Just a parallel analogy—I'm not equating this mess with the clearcut issues of WWII)

But, of course, that was never going to happen, since you folks take everything at face value.
You lost me with that one. We're not talking about a diplomatic dance, but populist sentiment.

I looked up what he actually said about the Holocaust, by the way. As far as I can tell (and it's not that easy to tell; I don't speak Farsi so I have to rely on translations which are very often inaccurate or downright misleading), he never actually said it never happened.
I am pretty sure he said several times that it was "a myth" but I could be wrong, and he may have meant something short of outright denial.

What he did say is something along these lines: that it has become the founding myth for Israel; something with which it justifies its existence and any violent action it takes against anyone — and that this is not defensible. He's arguing that the holocaust is not or should not be pertinent to the actions or even existence of Israel — both should be justifiable through other, more concrete and more immediate arguments. Or, put another way, it's wrong to keep the Palestinians under occupation now because Germans gassed Jews in 1943.

I happen to agree with that, by the way.
It's a great exercise in logic and seems to have right on its side. I agree with the logic, but the motivation behind the logic denies any need for raprochement with Israel and pretty much is just a tool for shifting blame. Guilt is a poor choice of motivators in world affairs, whether its for the Holocaust or for the plight of the Palestinians. I agree that what happened in 1943 needs to be understood, resolved and not mythologized(?)—and that what's happening now is indeed more pertinent.

Where there's smoke, there's mirrors.
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September 25th, 2007, 16:57
Originally Posted by magerette View Post
Forgive me if I sound cynical, but anti-Americanism is inevitable in this scenario. You find what you're looking for. If we'd let him visit, it could just as easily have been interpreted as the weakness of our apathetic, fat regime…
Certainly. It was a win-win play for him. However, you made sure he hit the jackpot, not just the pair of cherries.
However to expect that to happen is just unrealistic. Here, and especially in New York, Ground Zero carries a very heavy symbolic load that apparently doesn't translate well. It's a contemporary Pearl Harbor in many ways, and that he was allowed to visit and protected from harm while here is about as close to politeness and respect as there's going to be. Can you imagine a Japanese or Nazi political figure being invited here to speak during WWII? (Just a parallel analogy—I'm not equating this mess with the clearcut issues of WWII)
There you go — exactly what I meant about the "brown guys with beards" thing.

Ahmadinejad is to bin Laden what Stalin is to Hitler, not what Hirohito was to Hitler. The two hate each other more than either hates you, and that's a lot. The fact that several years after 9/11 you *still* conflate the two — even you, individually, who's way better informed than most — says a great deal about why your country is going to hell in a handbasket.
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September 25th, 2007, 17:00
Originally Posted by magerette View Post
You lost me with that one. We're not talking about a diplomatic dance, but populist sentiment.
I meant both — on the diplomatic, national level and on the popular sentiment level. You guys are terribly bad at seeing hidden agendas — you always appear to take what somebody says at face value. That makes you terribly easy to manipulate — whether it's by a presidential candidate, a foreign enemy, or someone on a message board looking to persuade the hard-core red-blooded true-blue patriots in your midst that attacking Iran is a really bad idea.
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September 25th, 2007, 17:21
You mistake me. I'm not conflating the two. Nor do I see all brown guys as identical, though I don't know all the cultural nuances for sure. I was using an analogy to paint a sentiment, not assert a fact.

You certainly are a confrontational type, Prime J. Cut me some slack. The majority of ANY population fits your description. People do not sit back analytically(except on debate teams and message boards) and use reason to define emotion.

You keep thinking that emotion can be drawn out of a charged issue like poison from a snakebite. I don't think it can anywhere in the world, not just here. It's part of the contradictory and frustrating human package that things which should be faced with cold logic are invariably the same things that stoke an emotional response.

Where there's smoke, there's mirrors.
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September 25th, 2007, 18:38
Originally Posted by magerette View Post
You mistake me. I'm not conflating the two. Nor do I see all brown guys as identical, though I don't know all the cultural nuances for sure. I was using an analogy to paint a sentiment, not assert a fact.
You most certainly were, with your Pearl Harbor/Nazi/Japanese official analogy — it's only an analogy if Ahmadinejad represents the people responsible for 9/11 the same way that a Nazi or Japanese official would have represented the people responsible for Pearl Harbor.

You certainly are a confrontational type, Prime J. Cut me some slack.
No, I won't cut you some slack. I respect you — you've shown the rare ability to re-examine your positions when presented with new evidence. I'm not going to stop pointing out your unconscious assumptions when I see them because of that. You're tough; you can take it.

The majority of ANY population fits your description. People do not sit back analytically(except on debate teams and message boards) and use reason to define emotion.

You keep thinking that emotion can be drawn out of a charged issue like poison from a snakebite. I don't think it can anywhere in the world, not just here. It's part of the contradictory and frustrating human package that things which should be faced with cold logic are invariably the same things that stoke an emotional response.
Oh, I don't believe that at all. However, I do believe that individuals are capable of behaving rationally, and that people in positions of power have the moral obligation to do so, to the best of their ability and within the bounds of possibility.

What's more, the sentiment you're describing didn't appear from thin air: it's been very consciously built up through manipulation by *your* political machine. They could have taken an entirely different approach, but they didn't — and ol' Mahmoud is playing you guys like a violin.
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September 25th, 2007, 18:57
Originally Posted by Squeek View Post
A bold move by the university, Columbia has been criticized by some for providing Ahmadinejad an opportunity to enjoy a right he denies his own people: Freedom of Speech.
Oh, by the way — check out what the real state of freedom of political discourse is in Iran. I think you'll be surprised.
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September 25th, 2007, 19:23
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
What he did say is something along these lines: that it has become the founding myth for Israel; something with which it justifies its existence and any violent action it takes against anyone — and that this is not defensible…I happen to agree with that, by the way.
Wow. What do you say to someone who doubts and challenges facts that are the most understood and acknowledged in the world?

In a master-disciple relationship, the master might severely scold his student and explain to him the proper way to think. A psychologist might suggest to his patient that his realities are out of order. As a Christian, I would say it's a flaw in the design, a facet of human nature that sometimes rears its ugly head.

On the one hand everyone is entitled to their own point of view, and there's nothing at all wrong with discussing that particular opinion. On the other, it's an exercise in futility trying to make headway with anyone that is so stuck.
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September 25th, 2007, 19:37
Originally Posted by Squeek View Post
Wow. What do you say to someone who doubts and challenges facts that are the most understood and acknowledged in the world?
Which facts are you referring to?
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September 25th, 2007, 19:38
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
Which facts are you referring to?
That's my point exactly.
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