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A distasteful guest

September 26, 2007

Re "Iranian leader receives rough reception in N.Y.," Sept. 25

After watching Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speak at Columbia University, I could not help but draw parallels between him and Adolf Hitler. Hitler blamed the world's woes on the Jews, as does Ahmadinejad. Make no mistake; the only difference between Hitler and the Nazis and Ahmadinejad and the Council of Guardians is that Hitler had the means to carry out his grand design.

Bill Toth

Studio City

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Ahmadinejad did not invite himself to speak at Columbia University. He was invited by the university president. Basic decency dictates that when one invites a guest to his home, that guest should be treated with respect. After luring the Iranian to his home, the host started heaping insults on him, calling him "a petty and cruel dictator" and describing him as "astonishingly uneducated." The university president is a scheming coward with no manners. I wonder how he was brought up by his parents.

And then President Bush on Fox News proclaimed, "This speaks volumes about the greatness of America." Cowardice and a lack of good manners make America great? I don't believe the more decent Americans among us subscribe to this.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday, September 28, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 26 Editorial_pages Desk 1 inches; 34 words Type of Material: Correction
Dick Cheney -- A Sept. 26 letter about the Iranian president's visit to Columbia University said Dick Cheney was Defense secretary in the Reagan administration. Cheney was Defense secretary under President George H.W. Bush.

Jerry S. Reyes

Woodland Hills

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Re "The last laugh," editorial, Sept. 25

Your editorial shows a lack of insight. There is no humor when a leader who has the power, means and intent to bring about evil speaks. Both Columbia University and your editorial board need to grow up. Grown-ups understand and appreciate the horror that this evil man can unleash on the world. You should seek your humor at comedy clubs and not "alleged" houses of higher learning.

Edward Singer

Santa Monica

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It's easy to dismiss Ahmadinejad as a nut and a dictator, but still, one has to wonder why his ire is directed toward the U.S. Could it be because of the CIA's complicity in the coup in his country in 1953? Could it be because the Reagan administration, with Dick Cheney serving as secretary of Defense, provided targeting information to Saddam Hussein so he could unleash poisonous gas on hundreds of thousands of Iranian troops? Maybe I'm being naive, but perhaps our government could spend more of the taxpayers' dollars on making our lives better and improving our country, not on playing rogue dictators and madmen against each other.

Let's start with education. An educated population wouldn't fall for that trite nonsense of "they hate us because of our freedoms." For all of this nation's greatness, we've squandered too much of it in matters that we should not be trying to dictate.

Douglas L. Hall

Los Angeles

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Issuing an apology for Columbia's invitation of Ahmadinejad, The Times explains that because of the preposterous nature of some of his claims, from Holocaust denial to claiming there are no homosexuals in Iran, it was unlikely that anyone would take him seriously.

While no rational person here will take Ahmadinejad seriously, back in Iran, because the full tape does not have to be played, they will see him at a major American university castigating the U.S. and receiving applause, which many students were polite enough to give him at various points of his address.

The 1st Amendment prohibits the government from prohibiting speech. It does not require that private institutions give some reprehensible person a platform to broadcast odious views.

David Goodwin

Los Angeles

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