Ahmadinejad in Columbia
September 24, 2007 3:03 AM   Subscribe

Respecting Students and Academic Freedom Lee Bollinger, the President of Columbia University, has defended the decision to invite President Ahmadinejad on the grounds that only through actually hearing and challenging President Ahmadinejad’s ideas, can one fully comprehend the odious and ignorant nature of his views.

Fear not, for Mr. Bollinger has promised to be *very very tough* with Mr. Ahmadinejad. Can't wait to see it. "If you keep this 'wipe Israel off the map' crap we will invite you LECTURES and talk to you using VERY HARSH WORDS". That should do the trick.
posted by falameufilho (29 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: This is pretty on-topic to a thread from twelve hours earlier. Let's not do the new-thread-for-every-data-point thing. -- cortex



 
Heil Columbia; Dean Would Welcome Hitler. Hah. Went there on the first comment.
posted by phaedon at 3:15 AM on September 24, 2007


See also. Or, you know, just scroll down.
posted by chuckdarwin at 3:29 AM on September 24, 2007


Let's shut that fucker up; no good can come of letting him speak.

While we're at it, can we silence Anne Coulter? Please? Oh, and Rush Limbaugh, too. And Hannity.

Maybe we could tolerate Boortz. Maybe.
</sarcasm>
posted by Malor at 3:55 AM on September 24, 2007


"If you keep this 'wipe Israel off the map' crap we will invite you LECTURES and talk to you using VERY HARSH WORDS". That should do the trick.

Alternatively: "If you keep this 'wipe Israel off the map' crap we will IGNORE you and PRETEND YOU DON'T EXIST". That should do the trick.
posted by DU at 4:28 AM on September 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


This is ridiculous. What the fuck are we afraid of here?
posted by psmealey at 4:29 AM on September 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Somebody stop him, he's got .............. ideas.

What could be more unAmerican than a "marketplace of ideas", where anyone is free to state their opinions and the public is free to accept or reject those same opinions? How could that possibly work? Better we just shut the wackos up before they speak, that's what I say.

Our Founding Fathers would be pissed if they could see what pussies we've become.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 4:30 AM on September 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


From the article:

For effective discourse and debate to occur, adequate preparation time is necessary—thoughtful questions must be thoroughly researched, counter speakers must be arranged, protests and rallies must be organized. Four days is simply insufficient.

"Look, we simply must have time to properly organize our protests and rallies." Am I the only one that thinks this sounds like total self-parody?
posted by Greg Nog at 4:32 AM on September 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Greg Nog, if you think that then you must never have been to a rally of any significant size. Organizing and even just getting the word out takes time.
posted by grouse at 4:35 AM on September 24, 2007


The funny part isn't the need to organize. The funny part is stamping your little foot that the entity you are protesting didn't give you time to get ready. It's called "civil disobedience" for a reason.
posted by DU at 4:38 AM on September 24, 2007


Am I the only one that thinks this sounds like total self-parody?

Looks like at least one other person does so far. But I'm not sure what you're seeing, as grouse suggests.
posted by psmealey at 4:39 AM on September 24, 2007


Isn't there a missing white girl somewhere?

---OR---

Anybody else seeing the makings of an awesome wild college party movie, where Ahmadihnajad learns understanding and the values of "freedom" and "democracy" at a wild keg party that is meant to be a fundraiser to save the fat nerd kids fraternity house from getting razed to build an Abercrombie and Fitch?
posted by wigu at 4:41 AM on September 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


A comment on the Spectator site summed it up:

When you boil this all down, I guess it is really all about you. Your need of preparation, your need to schedule your rallies.

When the tanks roared through Tenamen Square, how many Chinese students said "Please wait, we have not had time to prepare for the tanks. Stop the tanks we have to make signs for our rally".

Uprisings all around the world will have a new battle cry. "To the barricades, but first let me finish my Frapuccino with 2 Splendas.

I guess things have come a long way since the Strawberry Statement.

posted by maggiemaggie at 4:44 AM on September 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


This is pathetic. Yeah he's nuts, but let him speak.
posted by rhymer at 4:52 AM on September 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Bravo, Columbia. When will Americans stop acting like such total pussies.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:52 AM on September 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Paranoid fear is the new courageous patriotism.
posted by wigu at 4:54 AM on September 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


I'm all in favor of listening to him. If he's as much of a nutjob as the wingers say it'll be entertaining, and if he isn't listening to a foreign head of state always has some informatinal value even if you have to strain to find it.

Personally, I doubt he'll be saying anything crazy at Columbia, like everyone he's going to tailor his message for his audience. The crows in Tehran like hearing "wipe Israel off the face of the Earth", the crows in the USA not so much.

What will be interesting is seeing his verbal gymnastics if anyone asks him about his on record statements of holocaust denial, urging of eleminationism re: Israel, etc. I'm sure he has prepared answers, I'm interested in what they are.

Free speech, of course, is not a guarantee of venue, but I will argue that in a free society there is benefit in giving people who hold widely reviled positions a venue.

I think the problem is that the debate tends to be split between people with the toxic ideas concept and those who deny that any ideas can be harmful. I argue that they're both wrong and that rather than arguing that some ideas are toxic, or not, we should look at things more from a nutritional model.

Listening to what David Duke has to say won't magically turn someone into a Klansman. The idea of toxic ideas is just plain wrong. However a steady diet of nothing but David Duke's ravings probably would affect someone's mental state, just as a constant diet of Big Macs will affect a person's physical state. It isn't that some ideas are toxic, its that they're junk food. Occasionally they aren't bad for you, and experiencing them can be kind of fun [1], but you wouldn't want to make it a daily happening.

So, yeah, let's hear Ahmadinejd. If, as I strongly suspect, his ideas are trash we can enjoy stomping them into a mudhole. But my mind and my ideas aren't so delicate that a brief exposure to an anti-semetic, holocaust denying, Israel wiping out, type will cause them to collapse. Or, if they are, they don't deserve to stand.

[1] If for no other reason than to enjoy an argment with the idiot who put forth the stupid idea.
posted by sotonohito at 5:05 AM on September 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Alternatively: "If you keep this 'wipe Israel off the map' crap we will IGNORE you and PRETEND YOU DON'T EXIST".

When has the ostrich approach ever worked?
posted by hermitosis at 5:10 AM on September 24, 2007


When has the ostrich approach ever worked?

It depends what your goal is. If it is to provoke war with Iran, then the current course is near ideal.
posted by DU at 5:13 AM on September 24, 2007


However a steady diet of nothing but David Duke's ravings probably would affect someone's mental state, just as a constant diet of Big Macs will affect a person's physical state.

Not likely to happen if PC (or PACs or corporate money) doesn't control who speaks and who doesn't.

Speaking of steady diets: Bill Kristol, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Really?, Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, blah,blah,blah. Where are the protesters of odious ideas there?
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:16 AM on September 24, 2007


Related
posted by sciurus at 5:25 AM on September 24, 2007


Personally, I doubt he'll be saying anything crazy at Columbia, like everyone he's going to tailor his message for his audience. The crows in Tehran like hearing "wipe Israel off the face of the Earth", the crows in the USA not so much.

That's part of the problem. I would let him speak, and invite him to speak because he is the leader (kind of) of a country, but I would also discount everything he says as being tailored for a US audience.

With so little transparency in Iran as to the actions of the government (or military, or vice squad, or the nuclear program, or the Ayatollahs), there's no way to call him on lies. So if there's no way to verify his claims, how valuable is it to hear him speak?

Not only that, but the truth is that as a leader of Iran, he has no legitimacy. He reports to the religious leaders of the country and serves and acts at their whim. He was "elected" in a mockery of democracy that limits candidates to those explicitly approved of by the Ayatollahs. He is hardly accountable to anyone but them and should therefore be seen as nothing but a mouthpiece for them. Anything he says should be interpreted through that filter.

How much value do his words have? Not much in my opinion. Let him speak, I guess, but I don't really see what the point is, besides letting him score unchallenged points. Did anyone care about the rhetoric coming from politburo members during the cold war?


Speaking of steady diets: Bill Kristol, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Really?, Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, blah,blah,blah. Where are the protesters of odious ideas there?

Why protest talk show hosts and bloggers? Let me know when Malkin becomes president.
posted by loquax at 5:40 AM on September 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Why protest talk show hosts and bloggers? Let me know when Malkin becomes president.

I'm not sure I understand your point.

The people I used as an example seem to have perpetual and unquestioned access to the airwaves and, for the average American, have way more influence on political discourse than any president.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:45 AM on September 24, 2007


Free speech, of course, is not a guarantee of venue.

Actually it is.
posted by public at 5:47 AM on September 24, 2007


OK, OK - Ahmadinejad gets the main stage for an hour and a half. But there is NO FUCKING WAY that we are going to allow Led Zeppelin to be heard in public again.

If we're all agreed on that, let's turn back to the question of how to stop ZZ Top once and for all.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 5:49 AM on September 24, 2007


Ahmadinejad never said "wipe Israel off the map." Middle East Media Research Institute, which was founded by people in Israeli intelligence (who therefore have no incentive to be apologists for Iran), translated Ahmadinejad's words in the speech as: "'Imam [Khomeini] said: 'This regime that is occupying Qods [Jerusalem] must be eliminated from the pages of history.' This sentence is very wise. The issue of Palestine is not an issue on which we can compromise." From the context, it is clear that Ahmadinejad is quote Ayatollah Khomeini, not delivering an original quote. In addition, Ahmadinejad's quotation of Khomeini refers to "the regime that is occupying Qods [Jerusalem]" not the Israeli people. Take it with a grain of salt, but Wikipedia has a decent discussion of how Ahmadinejad should be translated.
posted by jonp72 at 5:50 AM on September 24, 2007


The man was interviewed on 60 Minutes and he can hold his own (saying little of specific substance) with anyone. If he can be interviewed on that show, why not at a university? We do not need him in person, though, to claim we must have his direct words. We can read what he has said and judge him, though I am here merely responding to a comment rather than saying he ought not go to Columbia. Besides, Columbia's Middle East Dept has its own strange folks.
posted by Postroad at 6:02 AM on September 24, 2007


The people I used as an example seem to have perpetual and unquestioned access to the airwaves and, for the average American, have way more influence on political discourse than any president.

The problem (at least in my mind) is accountability and power. Malkin et al have neither. Bush has power and is accountable to voters, laws, and the constitution. Ahmadinejad has power but is not accountable to anyone but the Ayatollahs. And they in turn are not accountable to anyone in a country with little free speech where they are not seriously domestically challenged. That's what makes Ahmadinejad's speech to Columbia useless at best, and a propaganda coup (among non-Americans at least) at worst. He's not speaking for Iran, he's speaking for himself and a cadre of rulers. The impression that he's speaking for Iran is dangerous and gives him more legitimacy and power than he deserves. If Malkin or Savage or Rush went to Iran and claimed to be speaking on behalf of the American people I'd agree with you. Until then, they're just competing in the marketplace of ideas (and advertising sales) alongside Soros, Gore and Huffington.
posted by loquax at 6:08 AM on September 24, 2007


Actually it is.

Not on private property.
posted by oaf at 6:12 AM on September 24, 2007


on the grounds that only through actually hearing and challenging President Ahmadinejad’s ideas, can one fully comprehend the odious and ignorant nature of his views

Wow, thank god there are colleges where we can be given the privilege to think for ourselves when exposed to an alternative viewpoint on something. If the president of Columbia didn't tell me I could do that I never would have tried on my own.

I really hate the entire "we're letting them speak to show how horrible/racist/awful they are" line. That's the excuse people gave at my college when David Horowitz ran a blatantly racist ad in the school paper to deliberately cause outrage, or why MSNBC keeps inviting Ann Coulter on TV. Columbia's allowing Ahmadinejad because they want to let Ahmadinejad speak. And that's fine. These people have the right to speak (though not the right to be invited on any particular program or venue), but drop the bullshit about some kind of ulterior motive to "let them." It's the punditry equivalent of saying you're "reading it for the articles."
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:15 AM on September 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


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