Yesterday, Iranian President Mahmouhd Ahmenajad spoke at Columbia University. His appearance was met with controversy and intrigue around our country. Everyone was so upset that Columbia would let a known dictator speak at their University. None seem to respect the fact that he is a President of a country which is critical to the future of our foreign policy.
As a Nation we condemned what were certainly archaic statements regarding the Holocaust and plainly idiotic statements about homosexuals in his country. Without a doubt Ahmenajad is a dictator with bad ideas and a horrible human rights record.
It bothers me that we point fingers at Iran for the human right violations there and never look to our own human rights record.
Even if we refuse to look in our own backyard why was the same media frenzy not given to American University when we hosted the leaders from Saudi Arabia. No doubt a country, like Saudi Arabia with well known violations of human rights would have garnered the same media attention; that is, if human rights and holocaust denial were why he was such a controversy. But it did not.
Now, what about his nuclear weapons? We don’t know anything about his nuclear capabilities, because we have never actually sat down and worked with him directly. The Bush administration continues to accuse Iran of developing nuclear weapons, but we know how accurate his intelligence on WMD’s is.
So, what did Ahmenajad come to Columbia for? He came to provide another perspective perhaps not one we agree with – but isn’t it time we learned to listen to, debate, and confront the views of other nations with diplomacy and intelligence. I condemn human right violations, nuclear weapons, preemptive strikes and unresponsive non-democratic governments. I know how hard it is to live under these conditions – because I have been living that way since Bush took office. We have documented nuclear weapons that we proudly wave in the face of other states. We have been waging war for a little over half a decade in a country that never attacked us. I cannot make either statement about Iran. Before we point fingers at Ahmenajad, let’s hold Bush accountable.