What’s bothering Mahmoud?

September 24, 2007

Monsigneur …butwithawhimper generally does not comment on the politics of the day, due to the relative surfeit of professional political bloggers, the immaturity of most commenters, and the relative blandness of his moderately left of center positions (for reference’s sake, global warming = bad, Bush administration = greedy and stupid, terrorism = evil, torture = really bad, oppression of women and homosexuals = really bad, single-payer health care = good, peace in the Middle East = very good). However, the legions of protesters and great hullabaloo surrounding the visit of Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to NYC made it irresistible to watch. That, and the television in front of the treadmill I use only gets CNN.

Tuning in to today’s much-hyped World Leaders’ Forum at my alma mater Columbia Univ., featuring You-Know-Who, I found that it went more or less as I would have expected. President Bollinger gave Ahmadinejad a thorough rebuke over his record on human rights, frequent executions in Iran, and previous bellicose statements. True to form, Ahmadinejad responded by essentially ignoring Bollinger’s questions and proceeded with his boilerplate, extolling the audience to listen to the “facts,” and citing the Qur’an. The question and answer session was pretty much the same, with Ahmadinejad eliding over the specific charges that audience members brought up about Iran’s human rights record. Yet, after a question about the execution of gays in Iran, I was surprised by both the directness and the vehemence of Ahmadinejad’s response:

“In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals like in your country. We don’t have that in our country. In Iran, we do not have this phenomenon. I do not know who has told you that we have it.”

Primed by the recent scandal surrounding Senator Larry Craig (and oh… Mark Foley, Ted Haggard, and Jeff Gannon, to name a few…) I couldn’t help but wonder, is Ahmadinejad overcompensating for something? I mean, he comes off sounding kind of like that hypermasculine, overtly homophobic guy everybody knows… Am I gay? What? No – who told you? Are you gay? Huh?