Ayn Rand identified and named the two species of anti-man, anti-life mystics that have largely governed man’s history: the mystics of spirit, and the mystics of muscle.
It is rare that two prominent mystics appear on the world stage at the same time to deliver their ultimata: Pope Benedict XVI and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran. Pope Benedict’s appearance and utterances on September 23 passed almost unnoticed, while Ahmadinejad’s appearance at Columbia University on September 24 garnered international headlines.
Columbia University’s invitation to Ahmadinejad to speak to an audience of students, faculty and the public provoked a firestorm of opposition, chiefly from those who challenged the propriety of extending the courtesy to a dictator who not only imprisons, murders and brutalizes people in his own country, but whose government funds international terrorism and whose agents are helping to kill Americans in Iraq.
Aside from the impropriety of inviting a self-proclaimed enemy to speak anywhere in this country, never mind at a noted university, there is the question of what President Lee C. Bollinger of Columbia thought he could accomplish by the invitation. He cited the prerogative of making such an invitation in the name of “free speech.”
Since the Press Law of Iran cited by Bollinger forbids criticism of the government in any form whatsoever, that is, forbids freedom of speech, why extend the right to a dictator responsible for the censorship and repression? Is the right to free speech extended to convicted criminals? By any objective standard, for having committed capital crimes, have they not forfeited the right to freedom of speech? Is not that forfeiture a part of their punishment and incarceration?
In defending his decision to invite Ahmadinejad, Bollinger said during his opening remarks at the event that “this is the right thing to do and, indeed, it is required by existing norms of free speech….”
What are those norms? Bollinger did not elaborate. Do those norms include welcoming a monster who, at his Nuremberg-like rallies in Tehran, regularly calls the U.S. the “Great Satan” and predicts and prays for its destruction at his hand?
One also must wonder what he believed he could accomplish by accusing Ahmadinejad of exhibiting “all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator,” and by reading from a list of crimes committed by the dictator. Did he expect Ahmadinejad to acknowledge the truth of Bollinger’s damnation, suffer an incapacitating guilt attack, then wreathe and weep in heart-wrenching contrition? What was the point? If he was hoping for a “robust debate” of his charges against Ahmadinejad, the robustness of the “confrontation” was an eminently one-sided one. The vulpine Ahmadinejad demonstrated agility in evasive sophistry matched only by Hillary Clinton when cornered by facts and fault.
Bollinger’s list of charges against Ahmadinejad included the jailing and execution of Iranians for demanding freedom of speech, in addition to denying the Holocaust, advocating the destruction of Israel, funding terrorism, providing men and weapons to fight Americans in Iraq, and denying that Iran is working to develop a nuclear bomb.
Ahmadinejad slithered around every one of those charges and every one of the pointed questions put to him by members of the audience. Reading a transcript of his address, there is in it not a single direct answer to any one of Bollinger’s charges or an honest answer to any of the audience’s questions.
Bollinger expressed his subtle estimate of Ahmadinejad during his rationalization of why the dictator should be allowed to speak:
“It is consistent with the idea that one should know thine enemies, to have the intellectual and emotional courage to confront the mind of evil and to prepare ourselves to act with the right temperament.”
But if the enemy is already known, and if one knows that his mind is evil (or what Bollinger characterized as Ahmadinejad’s “fanatical mindset”), why “confront” it in debate? Did we debate with Hitler of Nazi Germany or Tojo of Imperial Japan the rightness or wrongness of their aggression and atrocities?
Bollinger cautioned against “the very natural but often counter-productive impulses that lead us to retreat from engagement with ideas we dislike and fear.”
But Ahmadinejad has no idea but one: brute force. He does not wish to “engage” with ideas he dislikes and fears and which do not conform to his intrinsicist universe of Islam. Ideas emanate from minds, and it is minds he wishes to bypass and ultimately subdue or destroy – which is the leitmotif of Islam. He dismissed Bollinger’s moral indignation as irrelevant, almost comical.
Bollinger also revealed himself as an intrinsicist. His premise was that knowledge of the “good” was somehow an innate resident of Ahmadinejad’s mind as a repressed operative, and that what he wished to “discourse” with Ahmadinejad was why the dictator did not acknowledge it.
Ahmadinejad did not acknowledge it. He has his own set of intrinsic values, all subsumed under Islamic theology. He called Bollinger’s charges “insulting.”
Ahmadinejad’s address was not so much a speech or a lecture as a sermon, and he began it, appropriately enough, with an invocation. “In the name of God, the compassionate, the merciful….Oh, God, hasten the arrival of Imam al-Mahdi and grant him good health and victory and make us his followers and those to attest to his rightfulness….”
Perhaps it was lost on or forgotten by Bollinger and the audience, not to mention the press, that Ahmadinejad regards himself as the next “Mahdi,” the expected spiritual and temporal leader of Muslims, and in that role he is preparing the way for the return of the Hidden or Twelfth Imam by laying the groundwork for Armageddon or the Apocalypse. The joke was on Bollinger and the audience; the Mahdi had arrived, and he was Ahmadinejad.
Ahmadinejad’s sermon was such a vile and bizarre soufflé of Koranic references, prattlings about science, scholars, light and “realities,” oblique insinuations of the crimes of American “imperialism” past and present, commiserations about the plight of the Palestinians, and querulous babblings about the ill-treatment of Iran, that it would be fruitless to try to summarize it all here. Its general tone was a combination of an appeal to pity and an appeal to guilt.
(Ahmadinejad’s speech at the U.N. was even more bizarre. He lectured the General Assembly almost exclusively on the virtues of the Hidden Imam. But then, the U.N. is a bizarrely immoral, anti-U.S. institution anyway, which the U.S sanctions with its membership.)
If one wanted proof of Ahmadinejad’s mystical roots and fundamental irrationality, one statement of his at Columbia stands out:
“Realities of the world are not limited to physical realities and the materials, [they are] just a shadow of supreme reality. And physical creation is just one of the stories of the creation of the world.”
Ahmadinejad has read his Koran and his Kant. Both Bollinger and his “guest” are intrinsicists, but Ahmadinejad harbors a strong streak of whim-worshipping subjectivism, as well, against which Bollinger’s anger was impotent. He ended his rant with, “We are a peaceful, loving nation. We love all nations.”
He loves them enough to either conquer them or destroy them, just as Hitler loved Europe and Japan loved Asia.
One does not invite killers to a civilized venue to merely scold them for their crimes. One arrests them, or shoots them, or eradicates their murderous governments. Ahmadinejad in this instance was the enemy and should have been denied entry into this country. Instead, both Bollinger and the U.S., in the names of “fairness” and diplomatic protocol, allowed him to come here to take advantage of propaganda platforms, and he left “victorious and in good health.”
It was not Allah or God who was merciful and compassionate and who answered Ahmadinejad’s prayers. It was the State Department and the President of Columbia University. It is such mercy and compassion that will be the death of us.
Pope Benedict’s pronouncements on Sunday the 23rd were a kind of warm-up act to Ahmadinejad’s. In his own sermons, according to The Scotsman of the 24th, under the headline, “Pope urges rich to turn from Satan and help the poor,” he “denounced what he called the world’s ‘profit mind-set’…warning that money can turn people into ‘blind egoists’ as he urged the wealthy to share their riches with the poor.
“Benedict said life was about making choices between good and bad, between altruism and egoism, honesty and dishonesty….Ultimately, he said, it was about making the choice between God and Satan.”
Yes, life is about making choices, and knowing that those choices enable one to live – if one’s purpose is to live. If one makes the wrong choices, one suffers or dies. Benedict has those choices inverted, however. If one chose between good and bad by his criteria, one would indeed suffer or die. It requires honesty to assert that one owns one’s own life, and that one lives selfishly. It requires dishonesty to profess otherwise.
“…When the mind-set of sharing and solidarity prevails, you can correct your course and change it to a sustainable and equal development,” said Benedict.
“The pope called for a ‘conversion’ of economic goods,” said The Scotsman article. “’Rather than using them for self-interest, we should also think about the needs of the poor, imitating Christ,’ he said.”
Once a National Socialist, always a National Socialist. There’s a “mind-set” for you.
One might innocently pose these questions to Benedict: If the rich and the middle class heeded his altruistic homilies, and shared their wealth with the poor – then what? Who or what would generate more wealth to give away? Would not such a mass transfer of wealth trigger an economic collapse, and impoverish everyone? Would not everyone then be literally staring starvation and death in the face?
Aye, there’s the rub! That is the secret, unexpressed mutual goal of both Ahmadinejad and Pope Benedict. They are humanitarians, “lovers” of mankind, mystics of muscle and mind.
Rand had personal names for them: Attila and the Witch Doctor.