BAD OR MAD?
The mind of a bigot is like the pupil of an eye,
the more light you pour upon it, the more it will contract.
— Oliver Wendell Holmes
Within weeks of his swearing in, Iran’s sixth and youngest president, Mahmoud Ahmadi-nejad, made himself a hero among Arabs and a monster in much of America by his crude attacks on Israel. Casting doubts on the holocaust, he claimed that the Germans and Russians had created the Zionist problem “by persecuting the Jews.” Europe, not Palestine, should therefore be responsible for providing a Jewish home, “in Switzerland, or somewhere.” Warming to his subject, the Iranian leader said that Israel should be “wiped off the map” of the Middle East, a remark that led the deputy prime minister of Israel to retort that “Iran can be wiped out, too.”
Ahmadi-nejad’s verbal extravagance quickly made him a bogeyman in the Western media. He was condemned by resolutions in the U.S. Congress and the House of Commons, described by a State Department spokesman as a “threat to world peace;” and by a BBC commentator as a “fruit and nut case.”