A punt from Time Magazine? It seems that way.
When Time polled readers for their Person of the Year, the editors were faced with a tough decision. While indeed, the Internet has grown in exponential ways when we all believed it could grow and mutate no more, there is one individual who has really altered the world and the manner in which many of us live: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
In the past year Ahmadinejad has solidified his unrivaled support in Iran and the Middle East through a combination of social progressiveness, staunch conservatism, and activism in a vaccuum. On one end of the spectrum, Ahmadinejad eased the stance on women in soccer stadiums in direct confrontation with the mullahs, he created low interest housing loans given by the government, and stabilized certain government infrastructure. On the other end, he reiterated Iran’s right to have nuclear power, he hosted a summit on the non-existence of the Holocaust, and dismissed hundreds of science professors in the universities who were not teaching government-endorsed science. He also frustrated the United States in a way he could not accomplish by a head to head fight through Iraq.
The world is rapidly getting Ahmadinejadized, if I’m allowed to make a joke. (20 November 2006)
Where several years ago Time Magazine featured Osama bin Laden as the Person of the Year, this year, it seems, Ahmadinejad would not serve as the poster child for vegence and vindictiveness. Ahmadinejad is much more powerful. He is a nation. He is not in a cave. He has the ability to strike at the Western World in a way that Osama bin Laden has not. And we are, for a lack of a better word, helpless. Helpless and inept.
While all of us have indeed made an impact through our media savvy, none has quite had the effect of Ahmadinejad. He is on the offensive. He is an enigma. He is, and will be for a very long time, a thorn in the search for a way forward through that deep schism of humanity that pits “us” versus “them.” And that is just where he wants to be. Which makes him the scarriest thing of all and the rightful Person of the Year.