Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to New York has shown just how fucking batshit insane U.S. political culture currently is. The hysteria preceding his arrival was amplified to a fever pitch by the time Ahmadinejad appeared at Columbia University. Lee Bollinger, Columbia's president, foamed at the mouth when engaging Ahmadinejad, anxious to prove to all watching that he just hates -- no, really hates -- everything that Iran's president stands for:
"Mr. President, you exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator. If it were up to me, I'd chain your arms to the back of my car and drag you through the worst streets of Morningside Heights, then I'd beat you senseless with an aluminum bat, then I'd strip off your pants and fuck you in the ass in the middle of the street, come on your face, beat you some more with the aluminum bat, cram a dreidel down your throat, then dump your wretched body in the Hudson River.
"But, unlike you, I'm a civilized man who lives in a civilized country. So bite me."
Or words to that effect.
Judging from the wailing lunacy, you'd think that the U.S. is currently at war with Iran, which a large number of American politicos and talking heads seem to sincerely believe, or at least wish were so. And who knows, we may very well cluster bomb Iran sooner than we think. Anything's possible in this degraded age. Still, whatever one thinks of Ahmadinejad, whether or not he wants Israel wiped from the map, or believes that the Holocaust is either fiction or wildly exaggerated, or that he either hates queers or thinks they don't exist, or believes in the existence of leprechauns and wood sprites, the man is severely limited in geopolitical terms, and in Iran itself. Not that it seriously matters: Ahmadinejad serves a sick need in American political circles; and if he didn't exist, another Iranian figure would be tarted up for bipartisan hatred.
Ahmadinejad himself isn't the issue -- it's the region in which he lives that truly counts, a region rich in energy reserves, a region that is seen as geopolitically vital to Western imperial interests, especially now that China is steadily building influence there. Ahmadinejad certainly helps his critics rhetorically, but again, what he says isn't important. He's merely an archetype that American politicians and their media megaphones can pelt with self-serving garbage. From Romney, to Hillary, to Rudy, to Pious Joe Lieberman, no one can overstate their case. The wilder, the better. In fact, I'd wager that Ahmadinejad is playing these and like-minded Americans for howling chumps. His ever-present grin is a giveaway.
If you at all doubt that imperialism warps the brain, just listen to the charges that Ahmadinejad, who has no power over the Iranian military, is gleefully killing U.S. troops in Iraq. The nerve of that bloodthirsty tyrant! Sending munitions into a bordering country that's under foreign occupation and is being bombed by Western planes. Who the fuck does he think he is? Iraq belongs to the U.S.! Only we have the right to be there, given our long-standing cultural ties with the Shi'a majority and our national adherence to Muslim law. If anybody's out of place in Iraq, it's the imperialist Iranians!
I'd mention how amusing it is to hear leading Americans air their humane concern for U.S. deaths in Iraq, if it wasn't so sickening and hypocritical. But then again, watching the U.S. political establishment lose what's left of their minds over the past two days, sickening and hypocritical are soft descriptions. We are truly run by powerful maniacs. God bless us all.
The Ahmadinejad circus at Columbia reminded me of when Daniel Ortega spoke there in the 1980s. This was back when the mighty Nicaraguan state was threatening not only all of Central America, but the peace-loving United States, so his visit to New York was rightly compared to Hitler or Tojo trying the same con job. I was on the Columbia campus the night of Ortega's appearance, but couldn't get into the hall, as it was standing room only. But there was an entertaining show outside the hall, where pro-Sandinista students and activists were exchanging insults with rightwing students, at times actually trying to engage the rightists in political discourse. A complete waste of oxygen. The highlight came when several members of Columbia's football team chanted the Pledge of Allegiance several times. Once they were finished, a few young women yelled at them, "Win a game! Then we'll talk!" This was when Columbia had the longest losing streak in all of college football, and the taunt clearly stung the jocks as they suddenly dropped the patriotic posturing and explained how their coaching staff was killing them with bad play-calling. The young women laughed and laughed, and the football boys stomped off into the night, muttering about how unfair it all was.
I don't know if a similar scene took place where Ahmadinejad spoke, but I'm sure that a strange, theatrical mood prevailed, as it usually does in crazed environments like that. For me, the true highlight of this spectacle was seen today on the My Yahoo page, where under the AP headlines read: "Ahmadinejad questions 9/11, Holocaust." I'm happy to see that an intrepid AP headline writer placed those human tragedies in the correct order. American pain is the only pain that matters, and 3,000 killed always trumps six million starved and slaughtered, so long as Old Glory flaps above it. Screw that one on for size, Ahmadinejad!