Yesterday evening, Sept. 25, I had the honor and privilege of speaking at a protest rally in the heart of New York City across the street from Grand Central Station.
People representing more than 60 organizations as diverse as the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, the Guardian Angels, the Institute for Religion and Democracy, the Women’s Freedom Movement of Pakistan, and the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission gathered together in common cause to protest Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s invitation to be the guest of honor at a dinner at the Grand Hyatt Hotel adjacent to Grand Central Station.

The sponsoring organizations inviting Ahmadinejad to an Iftar dinner to break the Ramadan fast were the American Friends Service Committee, the Mennonite Central Committee, the Quaker United Nations Office, Religions for Peace, World Council of Churches and the United Nations Liaison Office. These religious leaders billed this travesty honoring “His Excellency” as “a conversation about the role of religions and tackling global challenges and building peaceful societies.”
To paraphrase an oft-quoted saying, you can put lipstick on a murderous dictator by calling him “Excellency,” but he is still a murderous tyrant.
I am truly at a loss to explain why so many representatives of historic “peace” churches are so anxious to meet with a man who so routinely speaks of “annihilation” and “destruction” of both the United States and Israel.
Ahmadinejad is a vicious Anti-Semite who is a violent persecutor of non-Muslims in his own country. Recently leaked documents from the Ahmadinejad regime speak of plans to “eliminate” the nation’s 300,000 Bahá’ís.
Muslims are hardly immune from oppression and violence if they dare to question Ahmadinejad and the ruling mullahs. Hundreds of Muslim activists and dissidents have been arrested and sentenced to long prison terms for daring to question the ruling regime.
Internationally, Ahmadinejad’s Iran is the epicenter of world terrorism and anti-Semitism. I have often wondered what it would have been like to live in the 1930s and to see Hitler and the Nazis for what they were when millions of people remained blind and duped to the perilous threat they posed. Now I know.
As I watched Ahmadinejad spew forth his corrosive and cancerous anti-Semitism before the United Nations this week, I could not help but observe that he was directly channeling the demonic spirits of Hilter, Goebbels, and Himmler. The people honoring Ahmadinejad at the Hyatt’s Iftar dinner are channeling the spirit of Neville Chamberlain and the other “useful idiots,” as Lenin described them, who were the enablers who allowed Hitler and his minions to lead humanity into a dark abyss of barbarism in the last century.
Are we going to allow it to happen again? Have we truly learned nothing from history?
My parents always taught me, never, by my silence, to be mistaken to be in agreement with hateful or prejudiced speech or action. I am grateful that my fellow Americans and I were not silent last night–we recognized evil and called it what it was and we did so loudly enough for the unwitting dupes inside to hear us.
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