In the utterly leaden affair of the Iranian president’s address at Columbia, one person at least managed to lend it some esprit: John Podhoretz.
In “A Terrorist for Tea,” he conjures a dialogue between university president Bollinger and Ahmadinejad that celebrates the latter’s supposed intellectual formation via such notoriously biased Columbia scholars as Edward Said, Rashid Khalidi, and Joseph Massad.
Then, there is Podhoretz’s rendition of a mad, mad A’Mad/Bollinger dialogue:
Ahmadinejad: The truth hurts, Bollinger. I hosted a conference at which it was conclusively demonstrated that 6 million Jews actually escaped Nazi Germany by journeying over the Alps into Switzerland, singing “Climb Ev’ry Mountain.”
B: That was the Von Trapp family in “The Sound of Music”! And that was Austria, not Germany! And the Von Trapps weren’t even Jewish!
A: For someone who claims the Holocaust happened, you seem to know a great deal about the escape plans, Bollinger.
Also with verve – in “No nuke plans (oh, & no gays) in happy Iran” – Podhoretz gives us a glimpse of reality through A’mad’s eyes. For instance, responding to A’mad’s claim that “only scientists who are morally “pure” can discover things that are of benefit to humanity,” Podhoretz quips: “This analysis would come as a surprise to most historians of science, whose biographies of great innovators are filled with examples of their questionable personal conduct.”
A little humor goes a long way in the telling of the lugubrious tale of A’mad at Columbia.