There is a special kind of dishonor attached to a citadel of freedom that chooses to provide a respectable forum to a tyrant and genocidal maniac. This is the dishonor that Yale University has achieved by hosting Mahmoud Ahmedinejad for a special session of Hillary Mann Leverett's graduate seminar in U.S.-Iranian diplomacy. In the course of his speech before the United Nations General Assembly, Ahmadinejad perpetrated the outrage of accusing the United States government of having perpetrated 9/11. Leverett and her students met for class with Ahmadinejad last week a few hours later.
Leverett and her students welcomed to their class a man who is a terrorist, the president of a terrorist regime, and the representative of a regime responsible at present for the deaths of American soldiers on the field of battle. Leverett is a fool who is not excused from the dishonor she brings to her institution by the fact that she doesn't know what she is doing.
Leverett said she thinks students took away from the meeting in New York that Ahmadinejad is "not a crazy, irrational leader," and whether students agree with him or not, he has a strategy for Iran. Much the same could be said of such great national leaders as Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin, who nevertheless somehow never set foot on an Ivy League campus. They peaked too early.
In addition to the crimes for which he is responsible as president of Iran, Ahmadinejad was also a ringleader in the seizure of the American hostages in Tehran in 1979. Unfortunately, I doubt that Mark Bowden's Guests of the Ayatollah: The First Battle in America's War With Militant Islam (New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2006) was part of the required reading for Leverett's class with Ahmadinejad. Students might have found Bowden's book of interest.
Bowden writes: "Without any doubt Ahmadinejad was one of the central players in the group that seized the embassy and held hostages" (page 615). At this point in his career, it is not the greatest of Ahmadinejad's crimes against the United States, but in all decency it should be noted.
UPDATE: Reverend David Pileggi writes from Christ Church in Jerusalem asking me to cite the paper posted by Genocide Prevention Now on Iranian incitement to genocide.