Monday, September 24, 2007

Ahmadinejad at Columbia University
Part 1

I don't speak Persian, which I assume was the language being used by the Iranian president. I trust that the translator was being accurate.

I'm trying to make this post 'on the fly,' as this speaker at Columbia's World Leaders Forum addresses the forum.

President Ahmadinejad opened by saying that many of the claims made by Bollinger were incorrect.

He went on to compliment the professors at Columbia, identifying them with religious scholars. "Academics and relgious scholars who are torches" who spread light in the ignorant darkness that surround us. Quoting Moses ('peace be upon him'), Ahmadinejad asserted that the Creator was interested in delivering humanity from ignorance.

The had good words for science, too. According to him, science goes beyond physical and experimental sciences. It seems that he thinks that science illumiates all the nooks and crannies of reality. I think he's relating true science, purity of human spirit, and an enlightened view of the physical and spritual reality.

He said that realities of the world are not limited to the matieral. Also that science and wisdom can be misused, and that selfishness does not allow some to accept reality. And that material desires place humans against realities.

Sounds good, so far.

A little vague, though.

Ah, here we go. The unwise and selfish leaders use wiretapping and invasion of privacy to justify their warmongering against innocent nations.

That's not the best paraphrase, but it's close.

Nuclear and biological weapons are the result of big powers using selfish scientists. Now Ahmadinejad's line is becomming clear.

And, right on schedule, Hiroshima and Nagasaki are mentioned.

Yep. Making WMD weapons of Mass Destruction is misuse of science by big powers. Right on, as the relevant said, back in the day.

As an aside, I wish I could type fast enough to keep up with the translation. Even taken out of its original linguistic setting, Ahmadinejad is doing a very good job. This is, from a technical point of view, excellent rhetoric.

Ahmadinejad stated that his main job was as a university instructor, and sees himself as an academician. Trying to be academic, he said, all he got was a wave of insults. He said this calmly, to be fair.

"For sixty years, children ... are being tortured." That's what Israel has been doing to the Palestinians, Ahmadinejad said. "I am awaiting logical answers...."

And, about the Holocaust, Ahmadinejad said that academics in Europe have been imprisoned for discussing it, and that research on the Holocaust is not being done. And that, if the Holocaust is real, why should the Palestinian people pay for it?

As far as I can tell, Israel is torturing children and oppressing the Palestinians because of the Holocaust.

Well, how can anyone argue with that? And please, don't blame me: I'm just paraphrasing what the Iranian president said.

About Iran's nuclear program, he says that it's peaceful, and it's unfair for

After Ahmadinejad was through, Columbia's audio feed failed, momentary, as boos started leaking through the applause and cheers.

The Q & A was interesting.

Asked about his view on whether or not he wanted to destroy Israel, he spoke eloquently and passionately that the Palestinians deserved self-determination. That was followed by appause.

Bollinger asked for a "yes" or "no" answer to the question.

Ahmadinejad didn't give a "yes" or "no" answer, again, at length.

Will Iran stop funding terrorists?

Ahmadinejad posed a question right back ("Socratic method," I'm told this is). How would you react if someone attacked you? Iran is a victim of terrorism, he says. That's true, as far as it goes.

In that part of the world, it's hard to shake the impression that their politicians use car bombs like American politicians use mud-slinging.

Apparently the unnamed terrorists attacking Iran is being supported by America. That would carry more weight, if the group was named. Quite a few sentences later, Ahmadinejad still hadn't named the group. It was quite obvious that he wanted America to be at fault, though.

I've noticed something about Ahmadinejad's speaking technique. He's got a habit of starting with a slow and measured pace, speeding up and using a higher vocal pitch as he goes along. It's a rhetorical technique used by a German leader a few decades back, and seems to remain effective today.

As to the Holocaust, another question resulted in another go at Ahmadinejad's stand. He says that he's upholding the right of European scholars to research the Holocaust (certain aspects of it, more than others). He might have a point. I haven't kept up with European academia.

Oh, blast. An electrical storm is here. I'll post this, and be back later. I hope.

Before I go: Ahmadinejad says that Americans can't criticize Iran because capital punishment is legal in some cases, in some places.

Related posts, on censorship, propaganda, and freedom of speech.
Related posts, on Individuals and the War on Terror.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.