What follows is a letter I sent today to the Central Recorder, the student newspaper at Central Connecticut State University, in New Britain CT., where I teach history.
The letter was written in response to an article in the paper describing the dinner in New York last month, hosted by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran, to which twelve CCSU students, and their professor, Ghassan El-Eid, of the CCSU political science department, had been invited. The sentiments expressed in the article reminded me of the famous statement ascribed to George Orwell — and here I paraphrase — that some ideas are so ridiculous only intellectuals would think of them. In any event, I seriously doubt that any professor at CCSU, or at any other college or university in America, would arrange a dinner for students with a kleagle of the KKK. And yet dining with a genocidal bigot is unexceptionable.
To the Editors of The Recorder:
I was astonished to read in the October 24 issue of The Recorder that a CCSU professor brought twelve CCSU students to New York City last month to attend a dinner with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran. In the article he was described by students as “very smart,” “not as radical as the western media portray him,” “inclusive,” “kind to everyone who asked a question,” “very genuine,” and someone who “really wants everyone to get along, be respected, and learn.” The professor accompanying the students is quoted as characterizing Ahmadinejad as “a pretty rational leader” whose views may be “controversial” but who is “very careful to support his arguments with facts.”
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is an anti-semitic bigot who has denied the Holocaust while making clear his intention to carry out a second one:
“Today, they [Europeans] have created a myth in the name of Holocaust (December 14, 2005).”
“Israel must be wiped off the map (October 26, 2005).”
“The Zionists are the true manifestation of Satan (February 28, 2007).”
“I warn you to abandon the filthy Zionist entity, which has reached the end of the line. It has lost its reason to be and will sooner or later fall. The ones who still support the criminal Zionists should know that the occupiers’ days are numbered. … Accept that the life of Zionists will sooner or later come to an end (January 30, 2008).”
“They (the Western powers) launched the myth of the Holocaust. They lied, they put on a show and then they support the Jews (September 18, 2009).”
No “Zionists” were killed in the World Trade Center, because “one day earlier they were told not to go to their workplace (August 7, 2010).”
“The Zionist regime and the Zionists are a cancerous tumor (August 17, 2012).”
On February 4, 2012 Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, claimed “jurisprudential justification TO KILL ALL THE JEWS and annihilate Israel. In that, the Islamic government of Iran must take the helm.” [my capitals]
The government of Iran savagely persecutes Bahai’s and Christians. It tortures and executes homosexuals. It has killed Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan. It has harassed, arrested, tried and barred from travel Iranian women’s rights activists. And in 2009 it ruthlessly suppressed the so-called Green Revolution, in which millions of Iranians demanded the same freedoms Americans enjoy.
It is appalling that CCSU students were used as props in a public relations campaign to legitimize one of the most murderous regimes in the world today and the genocidal bigot who heads it.
Professor of History