Five years ago, on September 24, 2007, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was also in New York. Also spewing vile at the United Nations. Also preaching death to Jews and homosexuals. Also playing the mainstream news media for fools.
Well, he’s back, prepared to once again defecate on the UN and Manhattan tomorrow – this time selecting Yom Kippur – the holiest day on the Jewish calendar – to stand before his admiring peers at the United Nations General Assembly – those esteemed paragons of virtue (and hypocrisy) – and condemn all that is good and right and just in the world.
That the UN puts up with Ahmadinejad’s annual farce is insult enough. As former Canadian minister of justice and attorney-general Irwin Cotler wrote earlier this month, Ahmadinejad belongs “in the docket of the accused” rather than honored on the world stage.
“Let there be no mistake about it: A person who pursues the most destructive of weaponry in violation of UN Security Council Resolutions, who incites to genocide, who is complicit in crimes against humanity, who is engaged in a massive repression of the human rights of his own citizens, who assaults the basic tenets of the UN charter – such a person should be the object of an indictment by this international body, rather than the beneficiary of its respected podium,” Colter wrote.
That said, however, it is easier for me to accept the UN’s annual invitation to the blood-stained Ahmadinejad. After all, the UN is populated by war criminals, dictators, those who spit on law and justice, and those who fund and represent terrorist organizations. The UN is a den of gnats.
But Columbia University, the oldest institution of higher learning in the State of New York and a molder of future global leaders, what can we say about it hosting Ahmadinejad in 2007 and greeting the brutal leader with sustained applause?
Five years later the echoes of that acclamation by students, faculty and administrators still disgust all decent people here on earth, and – I believe – peeve heaven above.
The names Bollinger, Bulliet and Coatsworth will in time, I trust, come to be reviled much like the name Haman, another (ancient) Persian leader who sought to exterminate all Jews and licked his lips at the thought.
Every year, we recall the story of Haman during the Jewish holiday of Purim. As recorded in the Book of Esther, Haman was royal vizier to the King of Persia. Haman’s plot to murder all the Jews was thwarted by Mordechai and his niece, Queen Esther. To this day, whenever Haman is mentioned during the Purim celebrations of his defeat, members of the congregation stamp their feet or use noisemakers to blur out his name.
So I believe it will be (and should be) one day with Ahmadinejad and his troika of lackeys at Columbia University.
Though their names are already obscure to most people, Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger, Provost John H. Coatsworth and history professor Richard W. Bulliet only merit mention to remind them – and those would follow in their misguided footsteps – that there is no stature of limitation on evil. None.
Bollinger, Coatsworth and Bulliet paved the way for Ahmadinejad to permanently despoil the Columbia University campus and reputation. They did so in the so-called name of academic freedom and enlightenment. But all their hospitality really accomplished – in their own warped minds at least – was to puff up their reputation as academic innovators and superstars.
It is five years later. The 2007 Columbia University freshman have graduated. The promised “dialogue” that Bollinger said Ahmadinejad’s presentation would foster never did materialize (surprise, surprise). Most alumni and Columbia University alumni and boosters have long-ago moved on. But not all of us.
The souls of all who have already perished because of Ahmadinejad’s genocidal ways – and the souls of those who I deeply fear will yet perish due to the Iranian thug, cry out as clearly and loudly as ever for all of us to never forget.
Tonight begins Yom Kippur, the Jewish high holiday of atonement. You don’t have to be Jewish to recognize the need to seek cleansing and forgiveness for our sins. There are some sins, we are taught, that man can forgive. Others fall only to God’s providence.
I seriously doubt that in this life Bollinger, Coatsworth and Bulliet will ever recognize their sins – much less atone for them.
As for Ahmadinejad, if he can’t receive justice here on earth, I will be praying fervently during the next 24 hours for eternal, heaven-prescribed justice for him and his ilk.
Five years. Five decades. Five centuries. Time doesn’t matter. Let us never forget and let us never accept such human depravity.