Tuesday, September 25th, 2007...11:39 pm

What’s The Deal With Ahmadinejad?

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I follow current events and world news mostly through skimming through Time, Business Week and the Sunday edition of the New York Times. If I miss something that I feel is important I usually get the scoop from my dad. He watches the nightly news programs on Fox, MSN and CNN. I don’t have the patience or trust the media enough to watch that crap. But over the last two days I have found myself eagerly tuning in because I’m interested in Ahmadinejad.

For those who aren’t following the story, the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is in New York City this week to address the UN during the opening of the General Assembly. Interestingly, Columbia University invited him to speak at their school. Furthermore, Ahmadinejad wants to visit Ground Zero to “pay his respects”. This is all controversial because Ahmadinejad is widely regarded as a crazy and cruel dictator. He brazenly disregards UN policies on nuclear programs, promised to bomb Israel, openly questions the validity of the Holocaust, and refuses to accept the state of Israel or the concept of homosexuality.

Columbia President Lee Bollinger invited the Iranian President as a symbol of American free speech. Bollinger was the President at the University of Michigan when I was at school there. When a prestigious Ivy League school came calling he bailed on Ann Arbor quicker than Drew Henson. So it doesn’t surprise me that he is a character in this debate. I imagine he moved to Columbia to be in the political and educational spotlight…He sure didn’t go for football Saturdays!.

Bollinger decision to invite Ahmadinejad is a questionable one. By inviting him to speak, Columbia is providing him with instant creditability and allows him a platform to spread his backwards views. I have no idea as to the amount of “evil” running through Ahmadinejad blood. It seems like he was invited because of the radical and outlandish nature of his views. This does not seem to be a good reason to invite one to speak.

To make the event truly bizarre Bollinger opened the session by aggressively attacking Ahmadinejad by calling him a petty and cruel dictator and hinted that he might be astonishingly uneducated. Ahmadinejad himself pointed out that Bollinger seemed to be contradicting himself with the harsh introduction. He then went on to rant about his nuclear ambitions, claimed that there is not a single homosexual in all of Iran, and threw in a few jabs at the US and Israel. Throughout his speech a vocal minority of the audience actually cheered and applauded.

Today Ahmadinejad spoke at the UN. The American delegation walked out of the room before he began his speech. Obviously, they don’t share the same views as Bollinger.

It seems like Ahmadinejad’s little trip to NYC was wildly successful in helping him further his own agenda. He was given multiple platforms to present and share his views to the world. He was legitimized by the world even as he blatantly disregards world policy. I imagine his supporters in the Middle East interpret this as a powerful display of leadership and defiance.

Again, I’m not exactly sure what’s up with this guy. I’m not sure if his regime has the support of his people and his region and I’m not sure of his true motivations. From what I hear and read he is an awfully scary and dangerous leader who is looking to destroy the world. He should be taken extremely seriously even if his beige jacket seems permanently attached to his body. But if Ahmadinejad is in fact an agent of terror and a serious threat to world peace and humanity than I’m afraid this week’s events are incredibly dangerous and irresponsible.

Here’s to hoping this somehow works itself out peacefully. I’ll be following it.