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Columbia was Right in Hosting Ahmadinejad

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The controversy surrounding Ahmadinejad's speech at Columbia is still roiling the campus and the legislature. Representative Duncan Hunter, a non-factor in the Presidential race, has threatened to cut all federal funding from Columbia for hosting the event. It's just not no-name presidential candidates hungry for airtime that are complaining. Conservative groups across the spectrum are complaining too.

The purpose of a university is the free exchange of ideas. Conservatives, rightly, complain that conservative ideas and ideals are stricken from the marketplace of ideas. This undermines the function of the university, leads to de facto indoctrination, and even causes the atrophy of "liberal" thought because it never has to defend itself. In such a system of censorship, everyone loses.

Here, the tables are turned. The president of Iran, a country we are likely to start bombing in the near future, was given a podium and a microphone on an American college campus. He had to face audience questions (and dodges them like the best of our own politicians). No one confused Ahmadinejad's speech with a political rally.

Now you have "conservatives" who once complained about censorship  seeking to employ their own. It's one thing to disagree with having the speaker; it's another to make the extraordinary and unprecedented threat to strip a university of all federal funding and federal grants. No one has a problem with protests. However, we don't need some politician deciding what does or does not get to be said on a college campus. Hunter, by injecting himself into the debate this way, shows that he has more contempt for the United States, its Constitution and its people than Ahmadinejad.

A college campus exists so that all sides of an issue can be aired and debated. This is not fostered by limiting the information flow on a conflict with Iran to only information released by the White House Press Office. Ahmadinejad is a world leader, a key figure in current events, and he's the exact right person that should be giving a talk or two on a college campus. Students and academics should get the information first-hand, not sifted through the lens of the media.

Academic freedom and free speech in general, have plenty of means at their disposal to deal with unpopular or just flat out wrong ideas. Going hog-wild and shutting down talks because someone denies the Holocaust is what the Europeans do.  It is alien to the ideals this country was founded on. Allowing people to speak freely exposes error far quicker than any government censor would.

In fact, the reasoned people who respect America's founding principles and emphatically reject Ahmadinejad's policy and rhetoric felt no need to start bringing down the hammer on anyone giving him a microphone. This quote from Mike Baker sums it up:

If you’ve heard him talk in the past, you could be pretty confident he was going to maintain his seat on the crazy train. In reality, our best defense against Ahmadinejad is to make sure he always has a microphone in front of him and the cameras are rolling. You would have to be psychotic, heavily medicated or enormously naïve to walk away from that speech thinking "… huh, seems like a reasonable and clever fellow.”

In fact, if he had been allowed to go to Ground Zero and display his antics there, there would be no debate about going to Iran and we'd already be halfway to Tehran by now.

The reality is, no one had to go to this talk. His ideas were forced on no one. People went because they wanted to go and it does not follow that they agree with what he said (I've been to many talks in which I disagreed with the speaker). It's one thing to disagree with those ideas, it's another to stomp your feet and demand censorship. The "conservatives" demanding sanctions on Columbia should spend their time learning the founding principles of this nation they claim they want to conserve.

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About John Bambenek

John Bambenek is a political activist and computer security expert. He has his own company Bambenek Consulting in Champaign, IL that specializes in digital forensics and computer security investigations.
  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Perfect, JB. So dead on I wish I’d written it myself.

    BTW, did you see the footage of the introduction to the appearance from Columbia’s president? It certainly dispelled any notion that they were letting Ahmedinejad appear because they supported him.

    “Mr. President you exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator. You are either brazenly provocative or astonishingly uneducated. I doubt you will have the intellectual courage to answer these questions.”

    Hard to argue with that.

    Dave

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Something is wrong with the universe. That’s twice in two days Mr Bambenek has written something I agree with wholeheartedly. Did somebody put something in his coffee, or mine? :-)

    They were commenting on Newshour this evening that Ahmadinejad is rather unpopular back home, to the extent that he may well get booted out of office in next year’s elections.

    It’s useful to remember that he won the presidency on a populist platform of redistributing wealth to the poor, and has signally failed to live up to his campaign promises. It’s this, rather than his foreign policy, on which the Iranian electorate seems likely to judge him.

  • STM

    DD: “Something is wrong with the universe. That’s twice in two days Mr Bambenek has written something I agree with wholeheartedly.”

    Frontal labotomy, or a bottle in front of me??

    And Doc, you’re assuming way too much about the Iranian election.

    Perhaps Ahmabinabad won’t allow one, or will have some other trick up ther sleeve. He is looking more and more like a tinpot dictator every day. It’ll be interesting to see what happens.

    I do know he IS very unpopular in his homeland. But that might not be enough to get him punted given the vagaries of Iranian politics.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    While you are all drooling with praise over the decision to allow Ahmadinejad a forum at Columbia, an alumna of the school, a person who also has a public forum, has taken a different view of the matter. Jerusalem Post columnist Carolyn Glick has come out with a scathing and legitimate criticism of Bollinger’s decision to allow this would-be Persian emperor to speak at Columbia.

    Let’s get right to the money shot.

    Here it is important to note Ahmadinejad’s uniqueness. It is true that in supporting the annihilation of Israel, Ahmadinejad is no different from his terrorist underlings Hassan Nasrallah, Khaled Mashaal and Farouk Kaddoumi. Moreover, Ahmadinejad’s desire to wipe the largest concentration of Jews on earth off the map simply because it is Jewish is shared by all of his colleagues in the Iranian regime and most intellectuals and religious leaders in the Arab world.

    But still there is a difference between Ahmadinejad and all the others. Through his words and his deeds, Ahmadinejad has become the symbol and the leader of the growing international movement which supports and engages in activities to advance the destruction of the Jewish people. Through his words and his deeds, Ahmadinejad has
    become the poster boy for genocide.

    As a result, what was said yesterday at Columbia is of no consequence whatsoever. What matters is that by inviting Ahmadinejad to its campus, Columbia University announced that supporting or opposing the genocide of the Jews is a legitimate topic for discussion. In so doing, as an institution Columbia has taken itself beyond the pale of legitimate discourse. As an institution, Columbia has embraced depravity by renouncing the intrinsic sanctity of human life.

    Bottom line point to be made here: let’s repeat it so that the thick skulled among you can get it through your heads.

    “As an institution, Columbia has embraced depravity by renouncing the intrinsic sanctity of human life.”

    When your institutions of higher learning where wisdom is supposedly dispensed, embrace the depravity of making genocide just one of the choices on a Chinese menu along with the chop suey and egg-drop soup, you as a nation are lost as well.

    In other words, your constitution is just a piece of toilet paper, your institutions of “freedom” are absolutely worthless, and your nation displays, along with its pornographic “culture,” a moral bankruptcy that makes it a fitting target for the very genocide that is now just a discussion topic amongst you.

    Let’s drive the nail of condemnation home with some more words from Ms. Glick.

    WHILE ALL of these criticisms are accurate, many of the actions and hypocrisies they highlight are not unique to Columbia. Indeed, they describe the standard operating procedures in effect on most major American campuses today. Many major universities have given tenure to anti-American and anti-Zionist professors. Many major universities proscribe debate in classrooms and attempt to bar conservative speakers from their campuses.

    Many major universities in the US bar ROTC from their campuses and yet act as apologists for regimes like Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt that outlaw homosexuality and treat women like chattel. And many major universities give platforms to speakers who represent racist, homophobic, misogynistic, anti-American and anti-Semitic regimes. Just last year Harvard University invited former Iranian president Muhammad Khatami to address its students and faculty.

    In other words, Columbia University is merely symptomatic of the sickness in your culture, which is widespread and which will surely bring you all down in the near future.

  • http://www.getting-your-ex-back.com Christopher Rose

    I too find myself in the position of agreement with Mr Bambenek.

    On the other hand, I can’t find any agreement with the views of Ms Glick; supporting or opposing the genocide of Jews IS a legitimate topic of discussion.

    Your “outrage” is not at all persuasive, Ruvy, particularly as you have regularly supported the mass extermination of Muslims through the use of nuclear weapons. Indeed, you even go so far as to suggest that the USA itself is a “fitting target for …genocide”, which just shows that it is not the fundamental concept that troubles you, but the targetting.

    This is just more of the same old, “what we want is right, what anybody else wants is wrong” selfish subjectiveness, that is just as unacceptable, on practical, political, military and ethical grounds, as Ahmadinejad’s own views.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Chris,

    I’m not outraged at all. Carolyn Glick is. What the administration of Columbia University does is its own business and its own problem, and as indicated above, symptomatic of the moral bankruptcy of the country I was once proud to call home. I am not a graduate of Columbia University, and to me it is just another place of privilege for the “Havemores” of America.

    I’ve long seen evidence of the moral cowardice of the United States, dating from its intervention in the Dominican Republic in 1965, its involvement with the murder of Salvador Allende in 1967, its involvement in Vietnam from 1955 to 1975, its silence and inaction in the genocide of Cambodians after that involvement in Vietnam, its silence over the slaughter of the Ibos in Nigeria in 1969-71, not to mention its near betrayal of this country when it was attacked in 1973 and its abandonment of Taiwan in the 1970’s. One can continue with its intervention in El Salvador, and in Nicaragua in the 1980’s as well. The list is long and wearying.

    Now that I live here in Israel, and am on the receiving edge of the duplicity of American foreign policy, my respect for its policies has disappeared entirely. Now that I live here and see the deleterious effects of American culture in the rest of the world, my respect for its culture has disappeared as well.

    As for the need to use genocide as a weapon of self defense, the foolish policies of trying to please the Americans have left us in this hellish position. Israel has not acted in its own interests. Its leaders have allowed themselves to be bought out by the oil and banking establishment of the United States and the European Union, and defending this country’s sovereignty and very existence now requires the use of nuclear weapons in a very destructive way.

    It need not have been this way.

    But it is.

    I write unpleasant and unpalatable truths, and many do not want to engage anyone who feeds them castor oil. Instead, they run away. This is not a surprise either.

  • Jonathon Redley

    A slight problem with your reasoning, Mr. Bambanek.

    Columbia University, which just hosted Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has barred the ROTC from recruiting on their campus. That alone should have disbarred them from federal funding immediately. This is the same university that hosted Jim Gilchrist, the founder of the illegal immigrant watchdog group known as the Minutemen. Do you remember what happened? Gilchrist was forced off the stage after he was invited to speak there.

    Does the treatment of Gilchrist and the ROTC not strike you as a double standard by Columbia University?

    Let’s not forget that this is the President of a country who is currently engaged with the US in a proxy war, sending weapons, supplies, and manpower into Iraq to head off our efforts there, while also supporting suicide bombers in Israel.

    And this is the SAME President Ahmadinejad who has been confirmed to have been one of the primary instigators of the Iran Hostage Crisis, where diplomatic AND international law was broken when the American Embassy was seiged and Americans were held hostage for 444 days.

    Ahmadinejad should not have been invited. The right to freedom of speech does not equal the right to be heard. I don’t care a whit about Bollinger’s harsh introduction. Arabic news sources, when delivering the report of Ahmadinejad’s visit to Columbia University, will either write it off, ignore it, or twist it to fit their own anti-American propaganda.

    Ahmadinejad got what he wanted. He got air time. And he has a willing Arab media to bolster his image on the air. I think retracting Columbia University’s federal funding is perfectly reasonable, given past actions regarding Gilchrist/ROTC, along with the current situation regarding Ahmadinejad. Were the circumstances different, I’d agree with you. But Ahmadinejad is not just a critic of the US government. He’s a terrorist and an enabler of terrorists.

  • Les Slater

    Neither President Ahmadinejad nor the Iranian government has any serious intentions of destroying Israel. His stated positions are designed to play to the legitimate hatred of the Israeli state … but they will always need Israel as a foil to deflect their own population’s hatred of their own rule.

    Columbia’s invitation of Ahmadinejad is just part of their scheme to whip up hatred of the Iranian people and bolster the position of the U.S. in its attempt to militarily bully them.

  • http://www.getting-your-ex-back.com Christopher Rose

    Ruvy, stop being, let’s call it disingenuous shall we. YOU wrote “When your institutions of higher learning where wisdom is supposedly dispensed, embrace the depravity of making genocide just one of the choices on a Chinese menu along with the chop suey and egg-drop soup, you as a nation are lost as well.

    In other words, your constitution is just a piece of toilet paper, your institutions of “freedom” are absolutely worthless, and your nation displays, along with its pornographic “culture,” a moral bankruptcy that makes it a fitting target for the very genocide that is now just a discussion topic amongst you.”

    And “In other words, Columbia University is merely symptomatic of the sickness in your culture, which is widespread and which will surely bring you all down in the near future.”

    If that’s not outrage, I find it hard to imagine what else it would be.

    You have this really slick bipolar trick of going from pompous rage to feigning reasonableness but I don’t think you’re fooling many people besides yourself. Maybe you should try dosing yourself with Castor Oil?

    Mr Redley, banning an organisation from recruiting for the military on a campus and inviting an individual, no matter how unsavoury, to speak are not the same thing, so it is not a double standard.

    As to Ahmadinejad I prefer a different approach – know your enemy.

  • Doug Hunter

    This post was on the money.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Chris,

    I can’t blame you for misreading outrage where disgust or contempt – along with a large element of sadness – is intended. After all, I did not say “I’m disgusted” or “I’m saddened” or “I’m left only with contempt.” There are no diacritical marks in English to indicate specific emotions.

    I meant every word of what I said – but I’m long past outrage. I arrived at outrage sometime in late 2001 to early 2002 and passed it long before I got to Blogcritics in 2005.

    Mr. Slater, please stop acting like a “world’s leading expert” with respect to the intentions of the Iranian gov’t. It’s embarrassing to the rest of us in the Tribe…..

  • Les Slater

    “…please stop acting like a ‘world’s leading expert’…”

    You probably agree with me more than you care to admit, so don’t give me this ‘Tribe’ shit.

  • troll

    Ahmadinejad ended up playing to his own audience – in the middle east and Islamic world – and was aided in his performance by typically rude US naivety

    the whole thing sounded a lot like a ‘conversation’ here on BC – traded jabs

    should he have been ‘taken on’ in a public forum…of course – good strategy

    should the format have been a game of insulting got’cha…of course not – poor tactic

    …we’re one step closer to open conflict

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    troll,

    A lot of this is all play-acting for the audience. None of us really knows when the American government – either through its puppet in Jerusalem – or on its own – will decide to attack Iran. Neither of us knows when Iran will decide to attack Israel or Europe. That is the nasty surprise the future holds for all of us.

    Les, at least you are old enough to understand what I was talking about. Asked who Sid Caesar was, our comments editor would likely say, “Sid Who?”

    I’ve written many times that the State of Israel would fall either from its own corruption or from enemy missile attack – or both. I have also asserted each time that no Arab entity would ever arise here, but that a Jewish entity would.

    But Ahmadinejad means to do away with us – as in kill us off. I don’t care what his apologists say. That is his intent, and he has shown it a number of ways. We are the Zionist enemy, and only those who oppose Israel and Israelis – or the idea of any Jewish entity in Eretz Yisrael – will be allowed to live. The mother of a son, and Israeli soldier, who is being held in Iran was pointedly ignored by this Persian son of a bitch. His only comment was “next question” – and that is all Jews here represent to him “the next question.”

    So Ahmadinejad is, as Carolyn Glick says, the poster boy for genocide.

    May he die in any attack on his country!

    That you don’t want to see that is an embarrassment to the rest of us in the Tribe.

  • Les Slater

    Ruvy,

    “But Ahmadinejad means to do away with us – as in kill us off.”

    That may be the impression you have but it is not the essence of any reality. The Iranian regime will never even approach destroying Israel.

    The necessary mobilization of the people to do such would pose a threat to the regime itself. They will only go so far. They would prefer an occupation by the U.S. to the majority of the population having real political and economic power.

    Les

  • troll

    Ruvy – just a word of reassurance and a suggestion to the wise here:

    think positive dude – even if every Israeli were to drown in a swim for Cyprus the rabbinical lineage and the covenant would remain intact

    I suggest that you collect up your family and troy scales and come home

    (wink)

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    troll,

    I am home. Can you send me a troy scale? In case one of my neighbors has some gold or silver he wants weighed out…? We’re a little tapped out….

    Missiles are not likely to fall here, troll. I live in the middle of a bunch of Arabs.

    When you’ve dealt with the shit I deal with all the time, you know what a positive attitude is.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Ahmadinejad unveils world without Israel By JERUSALEM POST STAFF

    The Persian poster boy for genocide does show and tell for the UN (Useless Nothings) in Manhattan.

  • Les Slater

    Ruvy,

    He sounds a bit like you.

    Les

  • gonzo marx

    do note the structure of the Iranian government..the President is a titular figurehead…to run for the position, one must have the blessings of the Mullahs, and the duties of the President are not only quite limited but without any real power to actually run the government….much less the military

    worrying about Ahmadinejad doing anything is a bit like worrying that the Queen of England is going to invade a country by herself…in actuality, the Queen has MORE influence than he does

    just sharing…

    Excelsior?

  • troll

    …not to mention that if we don’t do more to popularize him with the Iranian electorate he’ll be history in another year or so

  • troll

    (I hear that Khatami is considering a run for re-election…better get to work demonizing him)

  • moonraven

    I believe I already indicated on another thread that what the folks in the US SHOULD be doing–because they cannot afford another multi-billion dollar war–which they will lose anyway–is LISTENING to those important world leaders–the folks who have the intelligence, the charisma and the sense of humor to show the buffoon leading YOUR government for what he is.

    The president of Columbia University whould be FIRED for his asshole statement of introduction. What kind of role model is he for the leader of an educational institution? I’ll answer that: Same kind of shameful example as Bush.

    Hugo Chavez–whose speech last year at this time resulted in the longest applause ever given to a speaker in the UN and brought me to Blogcritics where an uninformed rightwing shill bamed Nalle–who thought Venezuela was a country in Central America (!?) told us how HE was the expert on Latin American affairs and that Chavez was nuts.

    HMMMMMM. Anyone who disagrees is nuts–according to the right wing pundits, including the guy whom John quoted in his article.

    Right: Hugo Chavez is nuts, the president of Iran is nuts, Evo Morales is nuts, Kirschner is nuts, Correa is nuts–not to mention the president of China!

    Problem is: Those folks are the new leaders in the REAL new world order.

    Bush is just a nuclear-armed moronic bully who represents 300,000,000 other moronic bullies.

    Hugo Chavez is not at the UN this year. He’s too busy with his own country, and with trying to mediate the hostage/prisoner exchange in Colombia (including the exchange of 3 folks from the US whose families met yesterday in Palacio Miraflores with Chavez).

    The president of Iran took his place this year–and following the UN opening meeting will travel to Caracas to meet with Chavez.

    Meanwhile, Bush foams at the microphone about the cruel dictator in Cuba–while Condolences Rice LICKS his ear….(I saw the photo in today’s newspaper here).

    Way to go.

    John, the only thing really wrong with your article is that it was EXCRUCIATINGLY repetitive.

    Too bad this site doesn’t have an editor!

  • moonraven

    Just in, from the Fars New Service:

    Published on Wednesday, September 26, 2007 by Fars News Agency
    Iranian University Chancellors Ask Bollinger 10 Questions
    TEHRAN – Seven chancellors and presidents of Iranian universities and research centers, in a letter addressed to their counterpart in the US Colombia University, denounced Lee Bollinger’s insulting words against the Iranian nation and president and invited him to provide responses for 10 questions of the Iranian academicians and intellectuals.

    The following is the full text of the letter.

    * * * *

    Mr. Lee Bollinger
    Columbia University President

    We, the professors and heads of universities and research institutions in Tehran , hereby announce our displeasure and protest at your impolite remarks prior to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s recent speech at Columbia University.

    We would like to inform you that President Ahmadinejad was elected directly by the Iranian people through an enthusiastic two-round poll in which almost all of the country’s political parties and groups participated. To assess the quality and nature of these elections you may refer to US news reports on the poll dated June 2005.

    Your insult, in a scholarly atmosphere, to the president of a country with a population of 72 million and a recorded history of 7,000 years of civilization and culture is deeply shameful.

    Your comments, filled with hate and disgust, may well have been influenced by extreme pressure from the media, but it is regrettable that media policy-makers can determine the stance a university president adopts in his speech.

    Your remarks about our country included unsubstantiated accusations that were the product of guesswork as well as media propaganda. Some of your claims result from misunderstandings that can be clarified through dialogue and further research.

    During his speech, Mr. Ahmadinejad answered a number of your questions and those of students. We are prepared to answer any remaining questions in a scientific, open and direct debate.

    You asked the president approximately ten questions. Allow us to ask you ten of our own questions in the hope that your response will help clear the atmosphere of misunderstanding and distrust between our two countries and reveal the truth.

    Why did the US media put you under so much pressure to prevent Mr. Ahmadinejad from delivering his speech at Columbia University? And why have American TV networks been broadcasting hours of news reports insulting our president while refusing to allow him the opportunity to respond? Is this not against the principle of freedom of speech?
    Why, in 1953, did the US administration overthrow the Iran’s national government under Dr Mohammad Mosaddegh and go on to support the Shah’s dictatorship?
    Why did the US support the blood-thirsty dictator Saddam Hussein during the 1980-88 Iraqi-imposed war on Iran, considering his reckless use of chemical weapons against Iranian soldiers defending their land and even against his own people?
    Why is the US putting pressure on the government elected by the majority of Palestinians in Gaza instead of officially recognizing it? And why does it oppose Iran ’s proposal to resolve the 60-year-old Palestinian issue through a general referendum?
    Why has the US military failed to find Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden even with all its advanced equipment? How do you justify the old friendship between the Bush and Bin Laden families and their cooperation on oil deals? How can you justify the Bush administration’s efforts to disrupt investigations concerning the September 11 attacks?
    Why does the US administration support the Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) despite the fact that the group has officially and openly accepted the responsibility for numerous deadly bombings and massacres in Iran and Iraq? Why does the US refuse to allow Iran ’s current government to act against the MKO’s main base in Iraq?
    Was the US invasion of Iraq based on international consensus and did international institutions support it? What was the real purpose behind the invasion which has claimed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives? Where are the weapons of mass destruction that the US claimed were being stockpiled in Iraq?
    Why do America’s closest allies in the Middle East come from extremely undemocratic governments with absolutist monarchical regimes?
    Why did the US oppose the plan for a Middle East free of unconventional weapons in the recent session of the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors despite the fact the move won the support of all members other than Israel?
    Why is the US displeased with Iran’s agreement with the IAEA and why does it openly oppose any progress in talks between Iran and the agency to resolve the nuclear issue under international law?
    Finally, we would like to express our readiness to invite you and other scientific delegations to our country. A trip to Iran would allow you and your colleagues to speak directly with Iranians from all walks of life including intellectuals and university scholars. You could then assess the realities of Iranian society without media censorship before making judgments about the Iranian nation and government.

    You can be assured that Iranians are very polite and hospitable toward their guests.

  • alessandro

    Expose idiots wherever they live and seek a forum. Be it the Venezuelan guy, the Iranian guy, the other guy – whoever. Let their rhetoric stand on its own merits or lack thereof. True, smart, stable minds will prevail.

    The market of ideas and the exchange of such intellectual commodities will determine what is genuine and what it is not.

    Closer to home and not entirely unrelated, consider Concordia University – an institution I attended. Mr. Bambenek is correct to assert the University is a place to exchange ideas – an intellectual oasis if you will.

    Alas, not all people are there to learn. Rather they exist with a political agenda and proceed forward from that point. Not healthy.

    Concordia’s powers that be have crumbled before militant student bodies that have prevented scholars such as Daniel Pipes to speak. They failed to defend intellectualism; freedom of thought; the essence of intellectual justice.

    In effect, true intellectual minds were prevented from hearing his views and held slaves by unproductive students.

    Should Columbia have allowed him to speak? Why not? Look, people hardly believe anything they see or read anymore. For controversial figures, let them speak in broad daylight and let the brilliant rays of higher learning cast a dark shadow upon them before all – without bias.

    From there people will choose their path. It is either alongside Virgil and Dante or Charon.

    That’s free will and freedom in all its glory.

  • moonraven

    Maybe–but it really does not exist in the US.

    And, just for the record, the greatest educator of the Twentieth Century, Paulo Freire, said: ALL EDUCATION IS POLITICAL.

    And he was right.

  • moonraven

    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, began his two hours at Columbia University with these words. “In Iran, tradition requires when you invite a person to be a speaker, we actually respect our students enough to allow them to make their own judgment, and don’t think it’s necessary before the speech is even given to come in with a series of complaints to provide vaccination to the students and faculty.”

    Right on!

  • Clavos

    What a meaningless tempest in a teapot….

  • http://www.chuck33.blogspot.com charlie

    Very well written article (and even the commentors are right on). I would just add this question: Anybody ever heard of Yasir Arafat? I mean, he came to America to speak when the US declared him to be a terrorist in the 1980s!

    People like Glenn Beck and Duncan Hunter apparently have short memories and don’t realize that Iranian support for terrorism did not start with Ahmedinejad. He’s only been President since 2005 and isn’t even the utmost authority in Iran, which belongs to Ayatollah Khameini, I believe. And Iranian support for militant terrorists like Hezbollah goes back to the 1980s, am I wrong?

    So Hunter needs to crack open a Middle Eastern history book before he opens his mouth again on Iran. If his proposal to cut funds from Columbia doesn’t doom his campaign now, I don’t know what will. We need more sensible, non-knee jerks running for President. What a joke Hunter (and Glenn Beck, who agrees with him) is.

  • Alec

    Great post, John..

    It’s too bad that the speech was not preceded by a screening of the film “Persepolis,” or by the free distribution of Marjane Satrapi’s sad and wonderful graphic novel, on which the animated film was based, and which provides an illuminating vision not only of life under an authoritarian regime in Iran, but also of the people who try in big and small ways, to resist tyrants.

    Still, I hope that Iranians, via YouTube or other sources, get to see the moment when the students laughed at the Iranian president when he stupidly claimed that there were no gays in Iran. This moment reminded me of Charlie Chaplin’s blistering mockery of Hitler in “The Great Dictator.” Released in 1940, before America’s entry into the war, Chaplin had received heat for tackling a touchy subject, and for mocking a world leader when the US was still technically neutral. But he noted, “Half-way through making The Great Dictator I began receiving alarming messages from United Artists … but I was determined to go ahead for Hitler must be laughed at.”

    The same is true of goons like Ahmadinejad.

    Jonathan Redly – RE: Columbia University, which just hosted Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has barred the ROTC from recruiting on their campus.

    Recruiting is an ACTION. It is not the same thing as speech. Had the president of Iran wanted to recruit students to go to Iran to work for the cause, you might have a case. But he didn’t, so you don’t.

    By the way, I think that Columbia should allow the ROTC on campus, but as I note, that is a separate issue.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    On considering this whole issue, I think that what really would have been great would be if the US had taken a leaf from the French playbook and arrested Ahmadinejad the moment he set foot on US soil and then put him on trial for crimes against humanity and his participation in the Embassy seizure back in 1980.

    I’d love to have seen how the Mullahs reacted to that.

    Dave

  • Dr Dreadful

    Dave #31:

    1. Two words: diplomatic immunity.
    2. When did the French do something like that?

  • Michael

    Jokes on you guys. Freedom of speech as promised by the Constitution of the United States does not apply to terrorists……

  • Dr Dreadful

    Erm, why?

  • Lumpy

    I guess he’s thinking in terms of inciting violence which has been ruled outside of 1st amendment protection.

    Of course the bill of rights technically doesn’t even apply to the jihadmeister as he’s a foreigner.

  • Clavos

    “Of course the bill of rights technically doesn’t even apply to the jihadmeister as he’s a foreigner.”

    Not true, Lumpy. The B of R applies to anyone while they are in US territory, including foreigners.

  • STM

    Yes, Clav is absolutely right. While you are on US soil, you are protected by US laws – even as a foreign national.

    The main reason: US law may also protect you from the unfair laws of your own country. The US and Britain fought a war over that very issue in 1812 – ostensibly, anyway – when Royal Navy ships were press-ganging British nationals serving aboard US ships on the high seas to serve on RN ships in the war against France.

    It applies to everyone …

  • zingzing

    bravo, bambenek. very nice. i’m frankly surprised. not just in agreeing with you, but in just how well you put things. yeah, the iranian pres is an awful man; yeah, he wasn’t going to say anything educational; yeah, it was probably controversy for controversy’s sake. whatever. the man’s a major player in the world. for him to be able to speak here openly (and safely) says a lot of good things about america. i applaud columbia, and (just this once, i swear,) i applaud you, sir.

    three cheers for j.b.!!!

    now back to our regular programming, you fucking conservative nut. yip. indoctrination? blah. show me a conservative who can open the eyes of youngsters to the world, and i’ll show you a conservative university professor. “youngsters…”

  • Lumpy

    Zingy opens one eye a crack and then goes back to sleep in the pasture with the rest of the sheep.

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    Ah, good point on the diplomatic immunity.

    As for the French doing something similar, I was thinking mostly of their prevailing upon the British to try Pinochet in violation of jurisdictional law.

    Dave

  • Dr Dreadful

    Yes, Dave, that was odd. Not that I wasted any tears on that odious waste of human flesh (I’m sure there’s some pungent Hebrew curse Ruvy could help me out with here), but I was surprised the Brits went along with that one.

    It’s not as if they could nail him for war crimes, since he never declared war on anyone (unless you count his own people).

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    With respect to Marthe Raymond’s comment #24, which seems to have gone ignored here, it is worth stopping over at Desicritics.com to read an excellent article by Dr Bhaskar Dasgupta on the questions raised by the Iranian university chancellors.

    It truly is a shame that we can no longer cross post to the two sites together.

  • Dr Dreadful

    And with respect to her comment #23, a common theme of hers here:

    Anyone who disagrees is nuts–according to the right wing pundits, including the guy whom John quoted in his article.

    Right: Hugo Chavez is nuts, the president of Iran is nuts, Evo Morales is nuts, Kirschner is nuts, Correa is nuts–not to mention the president of China!

    Problem is: Those folks are the new leaders in the REAL new world order.

    I’m not sure I’d go as far as that last sentence myself, but the US could grow up a bit if it stopped reflexively dismissing as dangerous fruitcases any government which does things in ways different from the American model. It’s disrespectful not only to the countries concerned, but to America herself.

    Quick history lesson: The Greeks thought Philip of Macedonia was just a backwoods hick. Big mistake.

    Before the Hellenic arm had even finished its dismissive sweep, Philip had conquered Greece and his son was halfway to Baghdad.

    Food for thought…?

  • moonraven

    The TRUTH is always ignored. [Gratuitous vulgarity deleted by Comments Editor]

    Noweher is it proven–even in the boundless wastes of Nalle’s brain pan–that the president of Iran had anything to do with the Embassy incident in Tehran.

    And what about that little maneuver the US did of installing the SHAH so they could get thrit hands on the OIL and GAS of Iran???????????????

    What about it, historically-challenged buttfuzz?

  • moonraven

    Doc, For thought to take place there must be A THINKER.

  • The Obnoxious American

    Oh lord, the usual suspects with the usual drivel. Yeah, let’s let him speak, and then you liberals can fall in love with him just like those fools on DailyKos.

    I actually think that Bambenek would be right, if people were smart enough to understand that this guy is a total freak. Problem is that you have these liberals who actually take his message (which has been softened and customized for the US audience) and try to assign some reason to it. Then MR with her regular blather of anti bushisms. And then someone has to pipe in that oh yeah, we supported the SHAH, and so it;s all our fault once again.

    If you think that Ahmadinejad is the new world order, then a real screw is loose in your head. Moreover, the reason why Bush is foaming is because he doesn’t want this new world order you speak of. And if you had any kind of thinking going on, you wouldn’t either.

    Ruvy is 100% right. This man (being generous) is abetting the killing of Americans in Iraq. He also wants to wipe israel off the map. This is our modern day version of hitler genocide and all, if we allow him to become that. It’s sad to see so many are willing to do just that – the first step is to allow him the legitimacy to speak.

    I would ask that you read my article on the Iranian nuclear issue, which should be published shortly (I posted it this morning). Also I would encourage you to read Tony Blankely’s article, “Swooning over Ahmadinejad”.

    We really need to start waking up and seeing these people for what they are. Or one day we will cease to wake up.

  • moonraven

    Your (plural that includes all folks in the US) ceasing to wake up could not happen too soon for most of the people on the planet who hate your gringo asses.

    Just the facts, man, the way it fucking IS.

    The new world order is not going to go away because some whining gringo in the Bronx doesn’t like the fact that in the New World Order English is not the lingua franca.

    And as far as Bush is concerned, he doesn’t even SPEAK English, so it will all be the same.

    He’ll be falling off his dirtbike in Crawford Texas because the supply of oil to the US will have been cut fucking…off.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    “The Greeks thought Philip of Macedonia was just a backwoods hick. Big mistake.”

    The Greeks still feel that everyone else in the world are just backwoods hicks…

    As for America, Bush was against letting this guy speak because he knows this man is a real danger. I, personally, feel that lending any weight to this a$$hole’s thoughts & words is just taking steps backwards and making him seem more important than what he truly is… A Terrorist with a Professional Billet.

  • moonraven

    The Greek were certainly right about YOU.

  • Zedd

    From reading Ruvy’s contributions and observing the chaos in the Middle East over time, I am becoming more convinced that chemical warfare is the only solution. I suggest we put some Prozac in the water supply. Perhaps the consistant, boisterous almost gleeful claims of degradation, “malignment”, scorn and denigration will fade away, they’ll all shut the heck up and we can all move on to other more meaningful issues around the world like starvation for instance… Just a thought.

  • http://www.reformislam.org Muslims Against Sharia

    Muslims Against Sharia condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the decision of Columbia University to provide a speaking venue for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Apparently letting Akbar Rafsanjani speak at the National Cathedral was not the height of American Dhimmitude, because providing a venue for the world’s foremost anti-Semite, whose proclaimed goal is the destruction of the USA and Israel, definitely takes the cake. What is surprising is that we don’t hear any complaints from Columbia alumni who should be ashamed of their silence.

    More on the subject:
    1. Why Does Columbia host Ahmadinejad?
    2. Absolutely The Most Brilliant Commentary on Ahmadinejad & Columbia (R-rated language)