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The Spectacle of Ahmadinejad

by GOLAB P. in New York

24 Sep 2010 23:0410 Comments
6_8907011223_L600.jpgU.N. address blurs lines between reality and theater.

[ comment ] Yesterday I watched Ahmadinejad speak in front of me while I was seated in the General Assembly at the United Nations.

It was quite dramatic, to say the least.

He walked out, that small, hirsute man, sat on the chair, and awaited the famous bow.

Then it was his turn in the spotlight, and you could tell easily that the podium is his stage, and he relishes every moment of it. I have seen dozens of presidents in the past few days from Tarja Halonen of Finland to Pál Schmitt of Hungary to Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia and even Barack Obama. But no one was as jovial, no one seemed to be getting that ultimate kick like our man Mahmoud.

Yes, and I saw the Europeans and Americans "walk out" -- but up close it is not nearly as dramatic as they make it out to be. People are constantly streaming in and out of that hall anyways, so you had to look hard to notice where they were getting up from to realize they were making a protest.

And despite the fact that a few dozen diplomats left, you did not get to see the rest of the audience in the huge hall where I was seated. Hundreds of people had come just to see him -- I know that because, like me, they walked in before his session and left right after. They had taken time off from work, walked from all over that annoying neighborhood amid hundreds of patrol cars and police officers and security personnel, to hear "Ahmadinejad." As we waited in line to be seated (the hall had been emptied for lunch), everyone was giddy, as if in line for an exciting show or a movie premiere -- and a spectacle of full proportions is what he delivered.

They were there for the show, and he did not disappoint. This great, sinister actor knows the spectacle and plays it well.

And if for some odd reason, some day the Americans were to ignore him, if no one was to walk out, if Larry King, that most obnoxious of hosts were to rethink his invite, we would see a very different Ahmadinejad indeed.

He is our most famous export since Persian carpets and pistachios. Despite the difficulty in pronouncing his name, and despite New York City being as huge as it is, I have heard random people talk about him on the streets while waiting for the light (in the rare instances when people actually stop for the light), I've heard young girls giggle about him in the elevator, I've heard couples discussing him in the grocery store.

"Ahmadinejad, I call him the cab driver," a guy walking out of a law firm told me.

He is a superstar, for all the wrong reasons, and we only amplify his fame.

I'll tell you a funny part, though, another part you probably did not see. At the end of his address, there was massive applause for Ahmadinejad. The sound was thundering, unusual for the small crowd on the General Assembly floor (although many delegations were clapping, as well). I looked around to see where the noise was coming from and eventually discovered it. The translators' chairs, which had been deserted less than a minute ago before, were filled with Iranian diplomats -- chubby, hairy men dressed in that particular Iranian way -- clapping like mad. Their hands were thundering loud, and it was easy to notice that all the noise was coming from that part of the room.

That scene, watching them clap in unison like the devil was after them, was one of the most priceless visions I've ever set eyes on. It was remarkable -- their glee and enthusiasm, the way they clapped as if their lives depended on it.

Ahmadinejad was there for the show and as the lead performer, he was not going to leave the room shortchanged. He had kept his end of the bargain, given us a magnificent spectacle over which the world will be abuzz for weeks to come, much to his delight. And he was not going to leave the stage without that final, majestic farewell -- even if he had to create it himself. The men clapped like crazy, and he could pretend they were real. The spectacle became the real, and we could no longer tell the difference.

Copyright © 2010

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Great, great article. The absurdity of this man, and his regime, are very entertaining to those not effected by them.

His rhetoric is so far from any reality it is quite humorous. Maybe we should feel a little sorry for the guy. He may have a real mental illness, perhaps paranoid schizophrenia.But is that anything to feel empathy for? Does any one feel sympathy for the truely great paranoids of history? Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Tito, etc.

The fact that their is an et cetera is the reason so many people are alarmed by this man. We have seen many paranoid men, surrounded by terrified yes men, kill millions.

muhammad billy bob / September 25, 2010 1:26 AM

The man is a living insult to the people of Iran and yet under the legal code which he constantly refers to, cynically ,it is a crime to insult HIM!

pirooz / September 25, 2010 2:38 AM

The only aburdity is the paranoia in these columns. He speaks well and articulates for the unspoken many of the world whose rights and well being are violated regularly by those who run the show in Washington and impose their illegal wars on helpless and hapless people and support and sustain some of the most brutal and despicable regimes of the world today.
AN is performing the greatest service to the real 'international community' - the community of nations by daring to tell the emperors of the world that it is they who walk around naked with their hypocrisy, double standards and their disregard for true 'democracy' when it suits them as in Gaza or in the UNSC. He dares to speak the truth and in a jovial fashion unlike any other president as this TB reporter puts it.

rezvan / September 25, 2010 3:58 AM

pathetic and biased article ! far away from the reality

afroze / September 25, 2010 1:21 PM

Ahmadinejad must be hailed as the BEST weapons salesman of the year. Who else could sell $60B of weapons to Saudis?

Anonymous / September 25, 2010 9:59 PM

The Saudis would buy anything the US tells them to buy. If US wants them to buy secret, invinsible, weightless super-awesome device for 100 billion dollar that does nothing, Saudis would buy it so that the US doesn't get mad.

M. Ali / September 26, 2010 10:33 AM


Haha! That's also very funny.

"[Ahmedinejad] is performing the greatest service..." "He dares to speak the truth"

That's hilarious! Did you bother to listen or read his speech?

Sure, he speaks the truth ;) Iran is "the freest country in the world", right? And there are many "theories about 9-11". Most of them supported by no facts, but there many theories. He didn't mention alot of them. Nevermind the video, audio and hard based evidence . There are many theories. "The majority of the american people as well as most nations and politicans around the world would agree with this view [e.g. that "some segments within the U.S. government orchestrated......." "The world should be run by virtious people, like the divine prophets" Yep. Sounds like the truth. The world was "run" much in the 700's A.D. than today. Nevermind all the hardships the average person faced in the 700's, and how these "virtious prophets" treated those they controlled and those that didn't want to be controlled by them.

muhammad billy bob / September 26, 2010 5:36 PM

Shame on you for dignifying him with your presence. If people like you and the press didn't give him the audience he craves, then where would he be?

Again, shame on you!

sickofit / September 27, 2010 4:41 AM

There is no doubt Ahmadinejad enjoys this opportunities. I for one believe whatever one makes of his speach, for or against, it did not advance Iran's agenda. That was the main problem with it.

Having said that, there is another side that these articles and the reactions they provoke by concentrating on Ahmadinejad, completely mislead the public. These are the following events that have NOT been reported by the major media and TB (one can only wonder why):

(As part of his visit to NY, the following was requested)
1-Ahmadinejad asked Obama to use the opportunity to discuss all outstanding matters directly with him.
2-Iran's Foreign Minister (FM), Mr. Mottaki, requested the vienna group to meet in New York. They did not respond, except for Russia and China.
3-The FM, Mr. Mottaki, requested a ministerial level meeting in NY that would include Hillary to discuss Iran's nuclear issue and broader regional issues (remember Obama wanted to talk about Afganistan a few weeks ago). Russian agreed but withdrew after all other western powers DID NOT EVEN RESPOND. China's FM went ahead and met with Mottaki anyways.

I believe all the above factors would bring perspective to the whole situation. A more worthy article would have been focusing why is it that yet one more time, the western powers refuse to come to table while pretending to want to negotiate. I am only reminded of Israel's wish for peace while building settlements, even in the middle of negotiations. Both show that they want confrontation and continuation of status quo.

Pouya / October 2, 2010 11:36 AM

well spoken pouya. Actions and in this case 'inactions' in the direction of peaceful engagement by the US and its allies are the primary cause of the contrived conflict over Iran's nuclear programme. Their double standards quite literally stink!!

rezvan / October 5, 2010 4:07 AM