September 24 is the anniversary of Ahmadinejad comical and fatuous performance at Columbia University. Ahmadinejad was invited by Columbia University, perhaps with encouragement of Mr. Dabashi a Columbia faculty member, to deliver a lecture as part of Columbia’s long history of inviting guests to freely express their opinion and engage in no string attached debate and Q &A. On September 24, 2007 Ahmadinejaad delivers his infamous “We don’t have any Homosexuals in Iran” and by implications we do not hang young boys because of that! The text of his talk and Q & A session is available to all. After reading it you must find new definition for distortion, outright blatant lies, misinformation, and propaganda. These words understate the turbid nature of his confabulation. The skullduggery of character and his inscrutable theories and assertions is outright insult to any intelligent person. Columbia gave this evil man opportunity the express himself, which is called respect for Freedom of Speech!
Ahmadinejad fell into the same rhetoric, questioning the official version of the September 11 attacks and defending the right to deny the Holocaust. He also said that the Iranian women are among the most free in the world and are involved in all walks of life in Iran.
I am not aware if Mr. Dabashi has written anything or had said anything in his many interviews challenging this total hogwash? Did Mr. Dabashi directly challenged any of these fatuous claims made by Ahmadinejad? Not in “theory” not indirect references, but direct and clear response to what was said? Of course Ahmadinejad has people for and against him, his friend and close supporter Hugo Chaves called him after speech and later said “I congratulate him, in the name of the Venezuelan people, before a new aggression of the U.S. Empire,” Chaves by saying this at least makes his position clear and he is honest.
There was a public paroxysm of anger and disgust toward the farcical and wildly distorted presentation by Ahmadinejad. Lee Bollinger President of Columbia at the time called him a “petty and cruel dictator.” Bollinger lambasted Ahmadinejad for calling for the annihilation of Israel, denying the Holocaust and supporting the execution of many people. Bollinger added “You are either brazenly provocative or astonishingly uneducated,” and told Ahmadinejad in reference to his Holocaust denial “Will you cease this outrage?” This is exactly what Bollinger said: ” Mr. President, you exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator, and so I ask you, why have women, members of the Bahá’í Faith, homosexuals and so many of our academic colleagues become targets of persecution in your country?” “Why do you support well-documented terrorist organizations that continue to strike at peace and democracy in the Middle East, destroying lives and the civil society of the region? Frankly, and in all candors Mr. President, I doubt that you will have the intellectual courage to answer these questions, but your avoiding them will in itself be meaningful to us. I do expect you to exhibit the fanatical mind-set that characterizes what you say and do.
Mr. Dabashi in his subsequent writings blasted Columbia President for “his way” of treating a “head of State” and accusing him of unacceptable academic behavior, lack of hospitality and respect for the “guest.” There were others who also criticized of Mr. Bollinger’s comment, several presidents of Iranian universities at the time by writing an open letter stated that Bollinger conduct was not acceptable and Iranian custom of hospitality requires respect for the guest regardless what he may say! And I believe Trita Parsi organization (NIAC) where apparently Mr. Dabashi is affiliated as a board member got into the act by criticizing Columbia and Bollinger. Mr. Dabashi , the host of ” The Week in Green” program, being a faculty at Columbia appeared to be most vocal and critical of Columbia President’s dealing with Ahmadinejad’s flagitious deception and dishonesty. Apparently a large number of Columbia faculty, of course accused as being Zionists and part of Israel lobby, did support Bollinger, Mr. Dabashi was the prominent critic in minority.
There is a post at IC as follows in reference to Mr. Dabashi’s article titled “Dire Straits” :
To Dabashi’s credit, AN’s appearance at Columbia University was cancelled, mainly due to Columbia U’s Iranian community’s (Iranian students, staff and faculty) vociferous protest. Rest assure Hamid was a significant part of that protest. By Zendanian on Tue Aug 21, 2012 08:37 AM PDT
Clearly this is not true. Mr. Dabashi may have been instrumental in cancelling the “second” invitation of Ahmadinejad by Columbia IF Ahmadinejad was invited for the second time to do the same thing?! I am however not sure if there was a second invitation for delivering speech after the first fiasco. Knowing what we don’t know, and knowing who is who always helps of optimize our decisions, make a better one, and certainly not repeating the same mistake.