Friday, October 5, 2007
Ahmadinejad Cloaks Comments in Values
In remarks made to a Columbia University audience, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad relied on denial and transcendence strategies to discuss his controversial views.
For instance, when challenged about the brutal treatment of women and homosexuals by the Iranian government, Ahmadinejad denied the accusations by saying that "Women in Iran enjoy the highest levels of freedom" and "In Iran, we don't have homosexuals, like in your country."
Conversely, Ahmadinejad did not deny his past comments regarding whether the Holocaust happened or whether Israel should exist. Both statements, however, were repositioned as appeals to popular American values. For example, he referred to his stance on the Holocaust as a call for research from multiple perspectives.
In addition, Ahmadinejad refused to answer "yes" or "no" when asked if he sought the destruction of Israel. Instead, he said the status of Israel should be determined by a free election.
"Let the people of Palestine freely choose what they want for their future," he said.
Such statements shift the focus away from Ahmadinejad’s past remarks and policies of hate by appealing to the larger, abstract values that are viewed favorably by Americans, but are often left undefined and unexplored.