Monday, October 1, 2007

When One Speaks at Columbia.


Despite the roars, the nasty editorials and the fervent demonstrators, Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad landed in New York City where before his scheduled address at the United Nations, he was to speak at Columbia University. And speak, he did.

Spitting out a slew of rhetoric that only confirmed his reputation as a crazed man, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was a reminder that all is not well in the world. Ignorance and hate do still exist and often, they are in power. Should a prestigious institution such as Columbia have hosted this event? No. New York City has enough venues and overzealous promoters that could have handled this gig. But what was good about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s presence was the harsh reminder of the danger that lurks out there. Not only in his camouflaged hate speech while on stage but rather in the few of the attendees who secretly, shared his views. Those are the ones we need to look out for. The bad, or rather very bad side of this much mediatised appearance is that for too many onlookers, it represented their only exposure to Iran thus erroneously leading them to think that perhaps, that is all there is to Iran. It isn’t.

I’m lucky enough to have friends of Iranian origin and I can tell you that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is no reflection on everything I know and love about my Iranian friends, their families and their values. I ask that you don’t judge Iranians based on Ahmadinejad as I hope you wouldn’t judge Haitians based on Papa Doc Duvalier or Aristide, Germans based on Hitler, South Africans based on PW Botha, Americans based on Bush. People are not their leaders. They are always more compassionate and thankfully, always smarter.

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