Monday, September 24, 2007

And Iran So Far Away

Seriously, what is wrong with the people of this country? When did we become a nation of hypocritical, war-mongering, angry little sheep? So, Columbia University invited the current leader of Iran to speak. So, the fuck what? It's a university. A center of intellectual thought and discourse. A place where diverse ideas and perspectives are shared, and a community of scholars who seek to understand this world we live in. And, man could we use a little more understanding in this world.

I'm pretty sure that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a relatively unsavory character on the world stage....but so is George Dubya, and he's invited to speak at universities all the time. Actually, the two have an awful lot in common - they both proudly display a revolting mix of arrogance and ignorance with a smirk, and they both claim to act on God's behalf when they kill and destroy.

Every news "reporter" this evening, felt the need to introduce the story of Ahmadinejad's speech at Columbia using the words radical and extreme and the film footage showed thousands of protesters holding signs referring to Ahmadinejad the next Hitler and a terrorist. And, I had read a few days ago that the Iranian leader had been denied his request to lay a wreath at Ground Zero.

So, damn was I disappointed with, what I thought was going to be a shocking and rabid diatribe by the latest personification of evil. With the national hysteria over this man, I expected fire and demon dogs. What I got was a snoozy propaganda-filled speech peppered with inaccuracies and blatant homophobia. Not unlike Dubya's State of the Union address.

Let's briefly examine some of the main points, that according to even our local news "correspondent," were most delirious and offensive to our American hearts.

1. Regarding reports that he denies the reality of the Holocaust, Ahmadinejad said "Granted this happened, what does it have to do with the Palestinian people?" And, while I'm not particularly anti-Isreal, and certainly not anti-Jewish, I have to admit it's a valid question. He pointed out that the Holocaust was committed by Europeans and happened in Europe, and that European nations apologized by giving the Jews the land that the Palestineans had been living on for 100 generations.

2. Speaking about the 9/11 attacks, he asked "Why did this happen? What caused it? What conditions led to it? Who truly was involved? Who was really involved and put it all together?" More valid questions. I'm pretty sure that Osama Bin-Laden masterminded the attack, and extremist fundamentalism caused it. But, we certainly do have to ask what conditions led to it. How can we ever expect to lead the world towards peace if we are so blinded by our thirst for revenge that we refuse to examine the causes of such deep hatred.

3. When asked about the execution of homosexuals by the Iranian government, Ahmadinejad responded "In Iran we don't have homosexuals like in your country. In Iran we do not have this phenomenon. I don't know who's told you that we have this." I've seen the photos of public hangings of teenage boys convicted of committing homosexual acts, and my heart broke and my stomach turned. But, for this country to suddenly express its outrage at how gay people are treated in Iran is disingenuous at best. For the most part, we aren't publicly lynched, but there is a frighteningly large proportion of the population that given the chance...

More than outrage at Ahmadinejad's words, I feel fear. Fear that my country is ready and willing to go to war with any nation that Cheney, Condoleeza and Dubya decide is a "rogue nation" or "state sponsor of terrorism." I fear that America is ready to destroy itself in its quest to "get them back." I fear that the exact definition of "them" isn't important to us. I fear that the media is eager to jump back on Dubya's "we have to fight them there" wagon. I fear that it's already too late.

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