Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Ahmadinejad in the U.S.

Yesterday, amid protests, the president of Iran Ahmadinejad spoke at Columbia University. For all we may think of Mr. Ahmadinejad's ideas--he was the host of the conference of holocaust deniers last December, and still holds that that the holocaust is a theory which needs to be researched. He also holds that there are no homosexuals in Iran (perhaps because they are killed if found out?). But he is the head of state of Iran and also talked about nuclear power, the Palestinian and Israeli issues.
It is for the reason,principle and practice of freedom of speech, that he should be heard--so that we may critically assess his ideas. We may throw some out, we may question the validity of some and we may take a closer look at others.
He raised the issue of the hypocrisy of some countries that have nuclear power not allowing other nations to have such power [and we must remember that nuclear power can be used for both good; nuclear power is supposed to be the cheapest energy source even though we have not the foggiest idea of how to effectively deal with its waste product; as well as for bad: nuclear bombs [of which, the U.S. is the only country that actually used said power against other peoples]. In his comments he said that "politicians who are after atomic bombs, they're backwards."

He also said that the U.S. supports terrorism. It is about perspective:
One country/person's terrorists, are another country/person's freedom fighters.

He has said before that he does not think Israel should exist. He seemingly sidestepped this issue making the point yesterday that Palestinians should be allowed to decide their own future. Which should resonate with us Americans--that is what we fought the British about, after all.

There is no freedom of speech in Iran (and in other theocracies and dictatorships); that is why allowing Ahmadinejad to speak and be questioned is so important. He made his points, and even if we do not like his answers, we still need to listen. He is seen as a very influential leader, who has stood up to the US powers.

We need to show him the real power of the US, to listen to ideas and debate them in the marketplace of ideas, to make us critically think not just to accept what someone says just because that someone has the microphone...

As for him not to be allowed to visit the WTC site while he is in NYC for the meeting at the United Nations--that is just being small minded on the part of our leaders. What was Iran's relationship to the 9/11 terrorists, I ask. As tenuous as Saddam's--who we put into power, and took out of power (see Ahmadinejad's statement of the US supporting terrorists)?

What is freedom of speech?

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