Friday, September 28, 2007

The aftermath:

Some interesting reactions to Ahmadinejad's NY visit:

From the official news agency of the Iranian regime:

Strong, scientific and accurate answers of the President of Iran to the questions raised by the academicians in Columbia University made them applause and showed that they are not affected by the propaganda of the American Media. They officially asserted in a poll that they agreed with Ahmadinejad’s statements. The American televisions, which thought tricky questions will surprise the president, showed the program live. These sources, some of which are controlled by the Zionists, were shocked after the results of the poll came out.
According to the poll, the majority of the participants agreed that Columbia’s invitation of Ahmadinejad was a good decision…. Many Americans called the network to emphasize on the importance of freedom of speech in America…

A few people, some of whom were connected to the Zionists, protested against Ahmadinejad’s speech, but the poll showed that these were only a minority in the American society.

Lee Bollinger’s Illusory Idealism

Bollinger’s performance, however skillful, was illusory and narcissistic, precisely because he and his admirers forget that human ideals require the force of political and military institutions to guarantee their relevance. He prefers to think, no doubt, that it is his own idealism—and his knack for projecting it—that is defeating his victim. If Bollinger had to live as Iranian citizens do, he would know that idealism alone does not suffice. Any number of Iran’s jailed pro-democracy dissidents might be just as eloquent as Bollinger, but we can’t hear their voices. They lack the comfort of his illusions.

At Columbia, Bollinger was in the position of an effete mob boss in any number of gangster movies: slapping his victim around while the poor guy’s arms are pinned back. Ahmadinejad is no hero, and he deserves no sympathy. But that shouldn’t stop us from regarding Bollinger as a weakling, and being rather disgusted by the entire spectacle.

TNR's Marty Peretz:

In any case, Columbia is really reeling; and its wobbliness about what it stands for has been magnified since Lee Bollinger became president. He is simply scared out of his wits by Edward Said's less bright heirs on Morningside Heights. I have posted on this matter before. Actually, I am sure that Said would never have condoned an invitation to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a lower class thug and a Shi'a besides, both an offense to Said's elitism and to his ill-fated Christian maneuvering to make Arab nationalism safely secular. I note that, with his usual discretion and allergy to street fights, Rashid Khalidi has not been heard from on the A'jad matter. He has bigger fish to fry: making sure that that vulgar practitioner of critical theory and deconstructor and rewriter of narratives, Joseph Massud, gets tenure. And that the Barnard tenure aspirant, Nadia Abu El-Haj, who believes that archeology proves there were never any Hebrews in the Holy Land, also is tenured. My guess is that, this time, the gang loses.

Unfortunately, Peretz gets it wrong. Rashid Khalidi did pronounce his criticism of Bollinger's comments. And it is my opinion that Edward Said would not have reacted as Marty Peretz suggests he would. In his 1994 book "Representations of the Intellectual: The Reith Lectures" in which he he promotes his ideas about the West's intellectual treatment of the Middle East, he talked about an Iranian friend of his, a person who had shared his political positions perfectly. That Iranian friend, who supported the Iranian Revolution , became disillusioned with it as soon as he witnessed the brutality and fanaticism of the Ayatollahs, like many others, Foucault (Said's intellectual model) included. He then went to Europe and talked to whoever would listen about the terror of this regime. Said considered this person, who remains nameless in his book, a turncoat, someone who betrayed the idea that nourished his "Orientalism" theory. To me, this suggests that Edward Said not only would not object to Ahmadinejad's appearance but would even encourage it. The man's ideas are exactly the kind of ideas that Said was promoting, whether regarding Israel, the Palestinians or American power.

"I burn the toga you gave to me"

An operatic gesture meriting its own Puccini aria:

Ex-Italian President Returns Columbia Doctorate: "I burn the toga you gave to me"

The former president writes to " old-fashioned racialists" Rome, Italy - September:

In protest against the invitation of the president of Iran Mahmuda Ahmadineżada on the New York University Columbia the former president Italian Francesco Cossiga gave back the title of the doctor Honoris Causa of this University. Senator Cossiga wrote that he was indignant organizing the lecture of the Iranian leader by the chancellor of UC , whose he called "a threatening neonazi and a Islamic terrorist".

The former Italian president reminded in the sharp letter to the rector of the University Columbia that Ahmadinejad expressed the thirst of the destruction of Israel. .
"Regardfully for six millions of murdered Jews whose you - racialists old-fashioned, and today also advocates of Islamic terrorists I - catholic , return admitted me the title of Honoris Cause and I burn the toga which you gave to me" - declared Cossiga.

Its own letter finished with words: "without no respect. Francesco Cossiga".

Feted by Chavez: A perspective from Normblog

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gets a warm reception in South America - as the Guardian's reporter puts it, 'underlining how much influence Washington has lost over a region it once considered its backyard'. It underlines one or two other things as well:

In contrast to the insults heaped on him in New
York, the visitor was feted as a strategic ally in the struggle against gringo
imperialism. Cuba and Nicaragua echoed the rhetoric.
Mr Ahmadinejad was
received late on Thursday by Venezuela's president, Hugo Chávez, in a
pomp-filled ceremony in Caracas. Mr Chávez, who is using oil revenues to
challenge US influence, saluted "one of the greatest anti-imperialist

He praised Mr Ahmadinejad's speeches this week
at the UN general assembly and at Columbia University, New York, where he faced
hostility from students and the university president. "An imperial spokesman
tried to disrespect you, calling you a cruel little tyrant," said Mr Chávez.
"You responded with the greatness of a revolutionary. We felt like you were our

The Iranian, appearing cheerful and relaxed,
responded in kind. "Together we are surely growing stronger, and in truth no one
can defeat us. Imperialism has no other option: Respect the peoples [of the
world] or accept defeat."What this underlines is that, so long as you're an
'anti-imperialist', in a certain quarter it will wash away all your sins.
Holocaust-denier? No worries. Denier of the very existence of gay people in
Iran? Stick to the point, will you; the man's a 'fighter'. See, he respects the
peoples of the world.
And this guy - Chavez, I mean - is the darling of certain 'British left-wingers'. Some lessons take a very long time to learn.


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