Monday, September 24, 2007

Ahmadinejad: Brief Initial Reactions...

There’s a bit of a lag on the ‘net, and that’s to be expected. More will be revealed in due course, but for the moment, here’s Jonah Goldberg’s response to Dr. Bollinger’s introductory remarks, in it's entirety:

Bollinger So Far [Jonah Goldberg]

I was against the invitation, I still am. I am no great fan of Bollinger's. But, I must give credit where due. His opening statement is about as hard-hitting and tough as one could hope for. This may still be a debacle, but there's a possible benefit more plausible than I imagined just minutes before this began. If the video of Bollinger's statement is distributed throughout the Middle East in general and Iran in particular it could have a very positive effect. Time will tell.

Fox News is running reactions, commentary, and clips of Ahmadinejad’s speech as I type.

Speaking of Fox News…I wonder if those on the Left will praise or pan FNC for carrying the introductions, the speech itself, and the question/answer period complete and uninterrupted. I cut to CNN, very briefly, during Ahmadinejad’s speech and saw a “talking” head” pontificating over Ahmadinejad. Not cool.

My initial reactions follow…

Most amazing revelation: “There are no homosexuals in Iran.” Followed up with words to the effect that Iran was unlike the West in this regard… “we don’t have this problem.” (I’m paraphrasing the last.) This from Ahmadinejad, in response to a question about why Iran is executing and otherwise persecuting gays. I almost fell off my chair laughing. This, unfortunately, will probably be the widest and most quoted sound bite of the entire event.

Ahmadinejad’s actual speech was a rambling, disorganized rant for the most part. He equivocated and dodged the hard questions during the Q&A period, as I expected. When asked if his government seeks the destruction of Israel, Ahmadinejad answered with a rambling non-response about how the Palestinians have been suffering for over 60 years. The moderator let him ramble on, then pointedly asked if Ahmadinejad intended to answer the question with a simple “yes” or “no.” Ahmadinejad replied that the moderator was looking for an answer he “wanted to hear.” And still refused to answer…

I was against the very idea of Ahmadinejad being invited to Columbia. I’m not so sure now, but I haven’t had enough time to reflect on this thoroughly, so take this with a grain of salt:

“Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”

And sunlight, in this case, was letting this idiot reveal himself for what he IS: a lying, equivocating, tinpot, wanna-be “Head of State.” And Dr. Bollinger’s introduction, assuming his introductory remarks get wide dissemination, took the air out of Ahmadinejad and his “remarks,” at least as far as YrHmblScrb is concerned.

Interesting times, indeed.

Update: C-SPAN has a RealPlayer video of the Ahmadinejad speech and introductory remarks posted on its website. Look for "Iranian Pres. Ahmadinejad Speech at Columbia Univ." Dr. Bollinger's remarks begin at three minutes 50 seconds and end at 19 minutes 15 seconds into the one hour 21 minute clip. I highly recommend you view Dr. Bollinger's remarks. They're very, very good. So good, in fact, that Ahmadinejad spent the first three minutes of his speech extemporaneously responding to the "insults" delivered by Dr. Bollinger. Interesting, man's truth is another man's "insult."

Update II: Gerard has a roundup of initial reactions to the Bollinger/Ahmadinejad remarks by the Big Dogs. Samples:

Not Bolllinger's first rodeo, but it certainly was his best.

"Mr. President, you exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator."

"Frankly and in all candor, Mr. President, I doubt that you will have the intellectual courage to answer these questions. But your avoiding them will have meaning for us." Bollinger Explains It All for You.

Columbias President Confronts Iranian Leader - City Room - Metro - New York Times Blog

Mr. Bollinger asked Mr. Ahmadinejad: "Mr. President, you exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator, and so I ask you, and so I ask you, why have women members of the Bahai faith, homosexuals and so many of our academic colleagues become targets of persecution in your country?"

He asked whether Mr. Ahmadinejad was using a nuclear confrontation with the West to distract from his incompetent leadership at home. He also asked to be allowed to lead a delegation of scholars to Iran to speak freely, as Mr. Ahmadinejad can do today.

He confronted Mr. Ahmadinejad over his description of the Holocaust as "a fabricated legend," calling him either "brazenly provocative or astonishingly uneducated." He called Columbia a world center of Jewish studies that since the 1930s has provided a home for Jewish refugees. He called the Holocaust "the most documented event in human history."

"Today I feel all the weight of the modern civilized world yearning to express the revulsion at what you stand for," Mr. Bollinger told Mr. Ahmadinejad. "I only wish I could do better."


I'll be looking for the wave of apologies to President Bollinger. Starting with mine for thinking ill of his motives.

UPDATE: Dean Barnett @ is straightforward: "Regardless of how stupid inviting Ahmadenijad to the Columbia was in the first place, let’s give Bollinger credit for standing face-to-face with evil and calling it out. Dean Bollinger, if you want to be fair about things, has either partly or fully rehabilitated his reputation with his speech today. Believe me, I didn’t expect to be typing those words."

Lisa Schiffren at The Corner on National Review Online with what seems to be the emerging line on Bollinger's admirable remarks: "I thought that he was being a tough guy — even though I liked the content of the rhetoric — to compensate for what he had done by inviting Ahmadinajad."


No retreat for BLACKFIVE: Ahm-a-nuttah-job speech "Bollinger represented his sorry peers in academia better than expected, but you can't fix stupid."

Charles Johnson at LGF holds his line: lgf: Ahmadinejad's Columbia Speech, Thread 2

Lots of readers seem to think Columbia president Lee Bollinger deserves credit for his opening speech. I don't. I think it was an attempt to redeem his reputation and keep the money flowing in from alumni, and does not even begin to make up for the atrocity of giving this creature a podium at one of America's most prestigious schools.

Koz Kids (which Johnson links to in the same item) agree with him, but for slightly different reasons: Daily Kos: Bollinger's Diatribe

As an American, I was stunned and embarrassed by Bollinger's harangue of Ahmedinejad. It was a craven and cowardly capitulation to political pressures, and unworthy of the academic institution that Bollinger represents.

Do go... to Gerard's place, I mean. The KosKidz are being their usual clue-free selves.


  1. G'day Buck,

    It's always interesting to flick between Fox and CNN!

  2. I was pleasantly surprised at how incensed Kyra Phillips of CNN was at the whole thing. She practically screeched at him in absentia. (I watched CNN because the sound quality was better.) They didn't do the talking heads for long and got right back to it.

    I have mixed feelings about the visit. I loved that quote about there being no homosexuals in Iran. (Who have they been hanging there then?) And women are the freest in the world? Sons kissing their mother's hands with respect is a Persian thing, but not Islamist. And that 16 year old girl who was hanged for holding hands in public with an older man certainly was denied the freedom of keeping her life.

    But I know he and the mullahs will use it the visit to their advantage somehow. I'm just glad he wasn't allowed at Ground Zero. I can only imagine how he might have used that opportunity to "slyly" spew 9/11 Truther nonsense to the whole world.

  3. Buck, I just read a good rant on this by Phleggmy (Fatale Abstraction in my links). Ooh-woo ... when she gets on a roll! I love it.

  4. Bec: I had switched to CNN for the very same reason (I think) you mentioned: the audio feed on FNC had Ahmadinejad's Farsi over-riding the translator's English, making it difficult to follow the speech. I was shocked and amazed that CNN had that Talking Head blathering on over Ahmadinejad; I immediately switched back to Fox and remained there (except for a brief foray up and down the dial to see who was and wasn't carrying the speech).

    I agree with you about Iran exploiting Ahmadinejad's appearance at Columbia, but they're going to have to be a whole helluva lot more "creative" than usual to achieve the maximum benefit. And I'm not the first to note that yesterday just may have been the first time an audience laughed in Ahmadinejad's face. That one moment was priceless, in and of itself. Ahmadinejad appeared confused (or more confused, I should say) when the audience broke into laughter and the audience reaction certainly knocked him off-stride for a moment. It was a SERIOUS loss of face...and, as you well know, "loss of face" is a Very Big Deal in Middle Eastern cultures. I simply can't think of another guy who deserves it more. Well, a couple. Maybe. ;-)

    Lin: I read your friend and agree with you: Great Rant.


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