Monday, September 24, 2007

Iran's President on Gays, Women, and 9/11

According to a piece in the NY Times today, "President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, facing a hostile reception at Columbia University this afternoon, said that Palestinians were suffering because of the Holocaust, proclaimed that there are no homosexuals in his country and said he wanted to visit the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan during his trip to New York 'to show my respect.'"

Only in America. Here are Ahmadinejad's pearls of wisdom regarding gays, women, and the World Trade Center. Pardon my language, please, but I have only one word in response to all three of his assertions: bullshit.

In answer to criticism Mr. Bollinger had made about Iran’s treatment of women and gays, Mr. Ahmadinejad had much to say.

“In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals like in your country. We don’t have that in our country,” he said to boos and hisses and even some laughter from the audience.

“In Iran, we do not have this phenomenon,” Mr. Ahmadinejad continued, undeterred. “I do not know who has told you that we have it. But as for women, maybe you think that maybe being a woman is a crime.

“It’s not a crime to be a woman. Women are the best creatures created by God. They represent the kindness, the beauty that God instills in them. Women are respected in Iran.”

Mr. Ahmadinejad also said he hoped to visit the site of the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan, although police had forbidden him to do so. Mr. Ahmadinejad said he wanted to “show my respect.”


Adam Shprintzen said...

Amazingly to my was the amount of applause that Ahmadinejad received during his speech at Columbia. Putting aside the issue of the ethical implications of inviting a murderous/mysogynst/racist/homophobe to speak at a university, the claims that A. made surrounding Israel were actually not far off from those made by writers like Chomsky.

The local "Socialist" organization stood outside with a banner that read:


My own dislike of the President aside, in a way, that summarizes the current state of leftist criticism in the academy today. Frankly, it frightens and saddens me.

myshkin2 said...

Yes, we all agree that Ahmadinejad is a terrible, dangerous sleaze, and that nothing he says has any authority. In this case, we might even agree with the neo-cons & Bush. And yet the question is not whether he has any validity or not--it's what to do about it. And also, I think that some of his Holocaust denial statements (I may be getting this wrong) have to do with what he calls the "myth of the Holocaust"--which doesn't mean that the actual historical events didn't occur, but, in his mind, the way that the European Holocaust should necessarily mean that Europe's problem should be foisted on the Middle East and the Palestinians. I think (though again I might be wrong here) that the "myth" is that the one (Europe's evil) necessarily means that the Jews can therefore do anything they want in the Israel. Of course this goes back to the founding of the state of Israel, which is certainly a settled debate in the West--but one that is far from settled in the Middle East. I do wish, that the more honest & astute outlets (such as this blog) would address that issue. Remember how, just recently, Jimmy Carter was raked over the public and media coals (and virtually marginalized) for questioning that same myth--not the one of "origins" but the one regarding current behavior.

Adam Shprintzen said...


This is one of the dangers of the Ahmadinejad speech; clearly he was not going to say the same things in the United States that he says while speaking in Iran. Here is A.'s exact quote from December 2005:

"They have invented a myth that Jews were massacred and place this above God, religions and the prophets. "It deals very severely with those who deny this myth but does not do anything to those who deny God, religion, and the prophet."

In this sense, I think you are giving A. far too much intellectual credit (I mean, really...he did claim there was no homosexuality in all of Iran. Of course since he has seen to it that many were tortured and killed, perhaps he is now right).

The point is that those who support a Jewish state have an understanding of the deep, unending connection between the Jewish people and the state of Israel. Those like Ahmadinejad, and those who would deny that connection, often deny the historical and cultural links between the Jewish people and that land (many extremist Islamic leaders in the Middle East have claimed that the Jewish temple was not located in Jerusalem, but perhaps in places like Yemen), which is just simply ahistorical.

Adam Shprintzen said...

Just to clarify, my point is that Ahmadinejad (not Carter, the objections to his arguments are more scholarly-based) and other anti-Zionists does not even accept the fundamental right of Jews to live in that area. Unfortunately such an attitude still pervades significantly throughout the region.

Monica said...


That's crazy about the Socialist organization's banner; I can understand saying that Bush is bad, but to draw him into that kind of comparison is really disturbing.

Myshkin2 --

Thanks for commenting. That's an interesting distinction that I hadn't heard. What do you make of Adam's response?