Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Ahmadinejad-Mania Continues

I don't know if everyone read the article in Time Magazine by Joe Klein entitled "Inflating a Little Man," but I have to say it was pretty on-point. Think about it this way: when a person teases someone, they do it to get a rise out of the person. If the target of this teasing just sat there and did not react, then the teaser would gain no satisfaction from teasing. Thus it is with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. What do you think would have pissed Ahmadinejad off more: no media coverage of his speech at Columbia and a half-empty room in Roone Arledge Auditorium to hear him speak or the shitshow that was/continues to be "Ahmadinejad-mania." He loves being protested and hated, and he especially loves to get ridiculous amounts of air-time on the major news networks. What gives him more legitimacy: a university president allowing him to speak at Columbia or the hours upon hours of news footage regarding his visit to New York and the U.N. and Columbia and how it is such a big deal? As Klein says, "Of course, Ahmadinejad is no simpleton. He knows precisely how to exploit one of the few powers he does possess, the power to offend. He gains status in Iran and in the Islamic world by sticking his thumb in the giant's eye. His Holocaust denial is a flagrant ploy--the easiest way to get a rise out of the Jewish community and, inevitably, U.S. politicians. Clearly, he benefits from his falsely inflated prominence."

So why do we give him so much legitimacy by saying he is so dangerous? After his speech at Columbia I think that everyone should realize how ridiculous the man really is (no gays in Iran? Really?), something Bollinger was probably well aware of before inviting him to speak; he just had to let us see it for ourselves. So one would think that with Ahmadinejad back in Iran, where apparently he is not even the god that the American media make him out to be, all of the whining and complaining about him coming to Columbia to speak would be over, right?

Wrong. Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-California) has introduced a bill into legislation that would cut off all federal funds to Columbia University - the only institution named in the bill. His main reason - as he attempts to say he is a staunch supporter of free speech - is that Iran continues to provide Iraqi insurgents with munitions that eventually kill American soldiers. However, according to Wikipedia (sorry, but no other website described the role of the Iranian president), Ahmadinejad would not have control over the armed forces (presumably the ones creating the weapons going to Iraq) as it is the role of the Supreme Leader. Besides, I find the fact that Blackwater is running rampant in Iraq, shooting first and asking questions later, as well as paying families of killed Iraqis $15,000 (is that all the life of an Iraqi is worth to America?), a little more pressing than cutting off funds to Columbia. If I were a serviceman in Iraq, I would be insulted that Duncan Hunter is focusing on pointless legislation due to a grudge against a university president rather than the fact that the average Blackwater contractor "between six and nine times the pay and allowances of an Army sergeant." That's just downright wrong.

Now to the whole "Columbia let Ahmadinejad on campus but not ROTC," argument. First of all, Columbia students are allowed to be in ROTC and the University even gives the program a positive review in the website it has for it. The university simply does not expend the time and resources needed to have a chapter at the school due to the armed forces' exclusion of openly gay Americans. The university has no problem with its students participating in ROTC and, quite frankly, I fail to see the connection between Ahmadinejad's visit and the campus' ROTC policy. As far as I know, the university received no monetary incentives for the Iranian president's visit, we did not allow Ahmadinejad to recruit for the Iranian army, nor did we set up a program for him to do so. So comparing the two (the ROTC program versus Ahmadinejad's visit) seems a bit strained. Besides, it hurts one's argument when the major figurehead of ROTC on campus is a former gay porn star/prostitute who is praised by Ann Coulter and the website for the Columbia Advocates for ROTC blatantly plagiarizes portions of their website from Columbia's ROTC website with no credit.

So let's go over this one more time: Ahmadinejad most likely loves the fact that he's hated here and his reception of protesters and pissed-off media types probably bumped up his ego more than it hurt it. Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-California) thinks that cutting off funds to one of the more prestigious universities in the country is more important than fixing the Blackwater scandal and the modern-day Vietnam that is Iraq. ROTC is, in fact, allowed at Columbia, the administration simply refuses to put the time and effort into housing a chapter of it here due to its anti-gay stance and the proponents of ROTC on campus do not seem to be helping matters much. Hopefully Ahmadinejad-mania is over, but with the likes of people like Duncan Hunter serving in Congress, I have a feeling the president of Iran has a worthy soapbox in the American media and Congress to voice his grievances. Peace.

Photos (from top to bottom): Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (www.time.com), Duncan Hunter (www.wikipedia.com), Columbia NROTC members marching on 116th street in 1947 (www.columbia.edu)

1 comment:

  1. "the website for the Columbia Advocates for ROTC blatantly plagiarizes portions of their website from Columbia's ROTC website with no credit."

    That's because the same people are behind both websites. Columbia ROTC advocates include students, alumni, professors, trustees, and administrators.