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Ahmadinejad should be criticized, but let it be about things he has actually said

posted by dru Geography: Middle East Iran Topics: Ahmadinejad

September 25, 2007

Ahmadinejad should be criticized, but let it be about things he has actually said


Ahmadinejad was in New York today, as some of you may have noticed. I'm sure many Iranians (as well as the entire US elite) will tell you that he is pure evil. But as of the last election, they are still in the minority. This may have something to do with his blend of appealing to Islamic "values voters" and the poor ("putting the petroleum income on people's tables" was apparently one of his campaign slogans).

He's a religious nut, but not much more so than George W, as far as I can tell. There's plenty to dislike about the Islamic Revolution--violence, suppression of rights, theocracy, and so on. (That said, the revolution was a reaction to the Shah, who killed his way to power with US help, replacing a democratic, secular government that wanted control over their own oil.) To an extent, Ahmadinejad can be said to represent the results of this theocracy.

That said, let's be serious.

Maybe, just maybe we can put to rest the references to "Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who denies the Holocaust ever happened and seems quite happy at the thought of unleashing nukes against the Jews" (as Margaret Wente put it in her absurdly high-profile Globe column on Saturday).

Hopefully the fact that Ahmadinejad repudiated claims that he said these things (not that there was a lack of evidence before) will put this line of thinking to rest.

The truth, unfortunately, is that Ahmadinejad is not the source of fabrications like this. The source has always been the need to demonize Iran in order to justify attacking it.

This, I think, is fairly transparent at this point. The claim that he called for "wiping Israel off the map" has been repeated ad nauseum, long after it was established that he was calling for regime change, not genocide.

Similarly, he never (to my knowledge) rejected the existence of the holocaust, but questioned why "alternate theories" of the holocaust are criminalized. He did host holocaust deniers, along with some anti-Zionist Orthodox Jewish groups, at a conference that he held for the purpose of making the west look bad. Hardly commendable, and downright damnable in some respects, but it's not, we can agree, the same thing as saying that the holocaust didn't happen.

And there is not likely to be a shortage--in the Globe and Mail or elsewhere--of pundits willing to sacrifice their own credibility to whip up racist fear and loathing in the service of war and imperialist adventures.

All that said, I have to say that this guy is, in some ways, one tenacious character (that, or he's nuts). The most powerful military force in the world is whipping itself into a bipartisan fervour, promising missile attacks and more, and he shows up in their biggest city and gives a speech at one of their elite universities.

Hard to imagine any other world leader doing that in that particular situation. I'm curious: are there any precedents?

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Good stuff! Thought you might also be interested with this here and especially with this discussion. Cheers!