Couldn't resist this fascinatingly banal interview with Bowdoin associate professor of religion Robert G. Morrison, fresh from his Tehran triumph. Here are highlights from a February 13, 2009 account in The Bowdoin Orient:
On Friday evening, Associate Professor of Religon Robert Morrsion shook hands with one of the most controversial figures in the world—Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran....
Calling for Israel's destruction, killing Americans, maintaining Hezbollah--this all makes A-jad "controversial." By such lights, Hitler was "controversial," too.
Morrison said that during the ceremony "you get to chat, but its chit-chat," with the officials who give the awards.
No meaningful dialogue? Gee, that's too bad.
"I was saying things like 'I am so thankful, your generosity is something I will never forget,'" Morrison said.
Hope he sponged up after himself. Of course, the article doesn't only describe fun and games:
In the United States and internationally, statements Ahmadinejad has made have been highly contested. In addition to his stance on Iran's nuclear weapons program, alleged comments he has made supporting of Israel's annihilation and calling the Holocaust a "myth," have made him disliked.
The writer's timidity, even allowing for her tender youth, is shocking. Much worse, however, is the amorality of the professor's comments (below), which reveal a grotesque ability to compartmentalize, as we said in the Clinton years, that is downright scary.
"He's made some controversial statements, for example about Israel and the Holocaust," Morrison said. "They're controversial in areas that don't pertain to my field."
Just for the recordm Morrison teaches Introduction ot the Study of Religion and Introduction to the Study of Judaism. Someone who can rationalize away A-jad's vile spewings about Jews and the Holocaust can rationalize away anything.
"Given all the political tensions, I think there was a genuine atmosphere of exchange and appreciation," Morrison said.
Stooges always think that. And then:
"They do take Islam rather seriously there," Morrison said of Iranians.
Comic, yes, but no relief.
Still, this academic award scam is bringing in the profs. In addition to UNC's Carl Ernst who also trekked to Iran to shake hands with A-jad this year, so, too, did Iranian-born University of New England horticulture professor Acram Taji. And according to an Iranian outlet, earlier this month "Iran has introduced a $100,000 international award in commemoration of the celebrated Persian philosopher and scientist, Avicenna." Don't be surprised when more Western academics beat a path to Tehran for glory and greenbacks, whichever comes first.
Photo: A-jad handing out another statuette, this time to University of New England prof Acram Taji.