But the comment that seems to have received the most attention -- and audience chuckles -- was Ahmadinejad's assertion that there are no homosexuals in Iran. But according to David Bernstein, one scholar at Columbia has views on homosexuality that are not all that different from the Iranian president's.
That scholar is Joseph Massad, author of the book, Desiring Arabs. According to Bernstein, Massad argues that "the category of 'homosexual' is purely a Western one exported to the Arab world by Western cultural imperialists." Bernstein quoting Massad: "It is the very discourse of the Gay International which produces homosexuals, as well as gays and lesbians, where they do not exist."
And Bernstein, a professor of law at George Mason University, is not alone in making this connection. He flags an interview with the The New York Daily News in which Richard Bulliet, a Columbia history professor, responds to a question about the audiences incredulous response to Ahmadinejad's claim that there are no homosexuals in Iran by saying:
"The irony is that one of the most controversial professors at Columbia, Professor Joseph Massad, has recently written a book called Desiring Arabs in which he says exactly the same thing. ... And Massad would say that the whole notion that gay culture is the same the world wide is an imposition of Western cultural imperialism. But people haven't read Massad's book yet, and so they aren't quite aware that that sort of gay denial of that type actually is academically respectable. Certainly, Ahmadinejad has not read that book."