Who's Afraid of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?

After all the trembling, the Iranian president got a bruising instead of a boost.

When Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke at Columbia University yesterday, he did not emerge with the "propaganda victory" that the neocon pundit Bill Kristol assured us he would receive. He didn't seem to be having fun either. Instead, he had to listen while Columbia President Lee Bollinger lambasted him for the terrible state of civil liberties in Iran: the executions, the political prisoners, the persecution of homosexuals. Bollinger also questioned Iran's foreign policy—sometimes skating past the province of the proven, but never beyond the realm of legitimate inquiries—and he challenged the Iranian for suggesting the Holocaust is a "myth." Agence France-Presse called the introduction "a humiliating and public dressing down."

And then, after presenting his point of view, Ahmadinejad faced frequently hostile questions from the audience. Immediately before the Columbia speech, he had spoken via satellite to the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., where he also had to answer audience questions. Before that he appeared on 60 Minutes, where he had faced still more questions. For a few days in September, the president of a repressive religious regime actually had to engage his critics.

No wonder the hawks were up in arms. For months Kristol and company have been telling us that engaging Iran is a dreadful, futile mistake. When they complained about Columbia's decision to let that country's president speak on campus, they were simply continuing this crippling inability to distinguish conversation from surrender. Maybe they were genuinely afraid that this would be a PR triumph for Ahmadinejad, and maybe they just didn't like the idea of a pause for reflection as they steamroll us to war. Either way, they were wrong.

Bollinger's critics didn't restrict themselves to complaining. The speaker of the New York Assembly, Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan), has suggested the state could cut back its assistance to the university to punish it for hosting the Iranian. As it happens, I'd like to see that support slashed anyway, in part because—as Silver's threat demonstrates—such money often comes with strings attached. But what freedom-loving American can help but be repelled at the impulse behind Silver's proposal, this idea that the government should use the power of the purse to shut down a discussion it dislikes? Who can help but be repelled at the implication that Columbia's students can't hold their own in a debate with the president of Iran?

Interviewed by The New York Sun, Silver explained his position. "What makes it more outrageous is the fact that some dean yesterday said he would have invited Adolf Hitler," he said. "It's totally outrageous. This is not a matter of academic freedom. This is a matter of legitimizing people, one who was the perpetrator of the Holocaust and one who denies its existence." I prefer the attitude of the Jewish students who turned out to listen to their Iranian visitor, to ask him questions, and to boo and jeer when they disapproved of what he was saying. If you saw C-Span's abbreviated coverage of the event, you may have noticed the many yarmulkes adorning heads in the audience. I doubt the people who wore them admire Ahmadinejad any more than Silver did. But they apparently understand that the solution to bad speech is more speech, and that even bad speech can be valuable. In response to one query, about the mistreatment of homosexuals in Iran, Ahmadinejad claimed that there simply are no gays in his country: "In Iran we do not have this phenomenon. I don't know who has told you that we have it." Anyone listening to that lie learned a lot about Iranian society. Ahmadinejad himself may have learned a thing or two from the laughter that swept the room after his answer.

Silver isn't the only politician looking for ways to punish Columbia. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) tried to juice up his bottom-tier presidential campaign by announcing he'd "introduce legislation in Congress to disqualify Columbia University from any future federal support." Another Republican contender, Mitt Romney, grandstanded even more shamelessly, proclaiming that the Iranian shouldn't have received an entry visa in the first place. If you suspected that Silver and Hunter represent just a tiny sliver of the electorate, Romney's statement should give you pause. Romney isn't an ordinary flesh-and-blood candidate, after all; he's a machine calibrated to say whatever is most likely to emerge from a focus group of Republican primary voters.

The most desperate attacks on Columbia have charged the institution with hypocrisy. One argument—Kristol trots it out, and so do John McCain and The Wall Street Journal—faults the school for allowing Ahmadinejad to speak while barring ROTC from campus. The two policies might have been comparable, I guess, if Ahmadinejad had used his time to train the audience for the Islamic Revolutionary Guards. Others note that the Columbia Political Union just cancelled its plans to have Minuteman founder Jim Gilchrest speak at the university. That might have been damning if the Columbia Political Union had sponsored Ahmadinejad's talk, but the latter was a project of the School of International and Public Affairs, an entirely different organization.

But even if the Political Union had run yesterday's event, so what? The organizers would be hypocrites, sure, but that would prove only that they acted spinelessly when Gilchrest's speech was at stake, not that they acted improperly when inviting the president of Iran.

One more critic—Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League—has called Columbia's decision "a perversion of the concept of freedom of speech," declaring, "There's no requirement, no moral imperative, to give him a platform that he will not give [his opponents] in Tehran." Foxman is right, to an extent. President Ahmadinejad does not have a right to give a lecture at Columbia, and Columbia does not have a duty to let him in. Columbia does not have a right to receive our tax dollars, either, and politicians do not have a duty to subsidize it. If you're a libertarian looking for a loophole, a reason you shouldn't feel obliged to defend the event, it's not hard to find one. The First Amendment is not at issue here.

But free speech is at issue, because this tempest gets to the heart of a key argument for the open marketplace of ideas: the idea that hearing what other people have to say and confronting their ideas is good, and that doing so makes us not weaker but stronger. "This event has nothing whatsoever to do with any rights of the speaker," Bollinger said as he introduced his guest, "but only with our rights to listen and speak. We do it for ourselves."

That is why the petty tyrant who spoke at Columbia emerged bruised instead of beaming. Because the people who posed questions were free to ask those questions, and because they were free to hear his answers. They had an enormous opportunity, and they made the most of it. Only a coward would see such an opening and fear catastrophe.

Jesse Walker is the managing editor of reason.

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  • ||

    Only a coward would see such an opening and fear catastrophe.

    Bill Kristol and his harpies...indeed.

  • ||

    I wonder why nobody is reporting on the speech Ahmadinejad gave to Iranians in Farsi the day before the Columbia speech (i.e., Iranians in NYC)?

  • Tan D||

    "introduce legislation in Congress to disqualify Columbia University from any future federal support."

    If only Duncan Hunter were to target all private colleges he might get some libertarian support.

  • ||

    I wonder why nobody is reporting on the speech Ahmadinejad gave to Iranians in Farsi the day before the Columbia speech (i.e., Iranians in NYC)?

    Has anyone translated it into English yet?

  • ||

    His speech ended up being a showcase for free minds and free markets by comparison. That's exactly what we should be doing, give him as many chances as we can to embarrass himself and look dumb. The scariest thing is how he and Bush are so much alike. We have a lot in common with Iran right now, both Countries have a really dumb guy in the top spot.

  • thoreau||

    Since this is Ahmadinejad we're talking about, it's by no means clear that he'd make any more sense in English than he does in Farsi.

  • ||

    I don't know Lamar. I would like to know what he said.

    What the hell did this accomplish? I give Bollinger credit for actually standing up to the guy. But, why invite him if the whole purpose is to kick him around and tell him what a dirtbag he is? All we ever hear when Bush says something bad about him is how this just makes him stronger by creating nationistic resentment among the Iranians. Okay, fair enough. How then did Bollinger not do the same thing. I already have read news reports of Iranians being angry over the way he was treated at Columbia. Bollinger doesn't like the guy. Got it. He shouldn't like the guy. Why does free speech then demand that he be invited to campus so Bollinger can abuse him? Wouldn't it be better not to invite him at all? As it is, you Bollinger either looks like an enabler for a tyrant or a bully who invited someone to speak at the campus for the lone purpose of ambushing him.

  • ||

    both Countries have a really dumb guy in the top spot

    Wrong! President A-mad is just a figurehead, the Ayatollahs still control Iran.

  • ||

    Yeah, that Ahmadinejad is a mastermind of public relations. He knows how to charm an audience, especially a Jewish audience. Nobody could ever hope to get the better of an exchange with him.

  • thoreau||

    But, why invite him if the whole purpose is to kick him around and tell him what a dirtbag he is? All we ever hear when Bush says something bad about him is how this just makes him stronger by creating nationistic resentment among the Iranians. Okay, fair enough. How then did Bollinger not do the same thing.

    Bollinger has only words, he has no stick to threaten with. Words that scare and hence rally people when coming from a man carrying a stick sound different when coming in an academic forum. That's part of it. Part of it is to show the power of open forums as opposed to bully pulpits.

    There is a place for carrying a big stick, but there is also a place for open forums and speech for its own sake. The man with the big stick should walk softly. The man with no stick should show the power of speech and truth.

  • ||

    From the article:
    .... For a few days in September, the president of a repressive religious regime actually had to engage his critics.

    And yet the leader of the free world and President of the USA can't bring himself to do the same.

  • SxCx||

    Why does demanding somebody defend their bullshit make them a bully?

  • ||

    What the hell did this accomplish? I give Bollinger credit for actually standing up to the guy. But, why invite him if the whole purpose is to kick him around and tell him what a dirtbag he is?

    To show the world the contrast between places where they supress unpopular speakers/speech vs places where the principle free speech is (mostly) respected no matter how unpopular the speaker/speech is ?

  • Edward||

    I thought Ahmadinejad made one good point: why should the Palestinians pay for a crime that was committed by Europeans? I suppose his point is weakened a bit by his denial that the crime was committed in the first place.
    I also thought he was amazingly articulate. But, then, we're used to listening to our own president.

  • ||

    "What doesn't grill me, makes me stronger" -- A Bad Idea.

  • ||

    This is why free speech works... dissolves illusions, allows reality to come through in a way that controlling speech never can.

  • ||

    Have Republicans become so feeble that they are afraid of words? It clearly demonstrates how the two-faced GOP candidates will tell you how they are fighting for our Freedoms out of one side of their face while unmistakably admonishing anyone for exercising those same Rights out of the other side of their face.
    Thank You, Columbia, for openly showing all of America that we can stand toe-to-toe with any World Official and demonstrate how superior our way of life is. Too bad the GOP hasn't realized that there is no such thing as "Democracy at the point of a gun".

  • ||

    why invite him if the whole purpose is to kick him around and tell him what a dirtbag he is?

    Kind of answers itself, no?

  • shecky||

    Great article, as usual.

    The metaphor has been brought up before, but there is something to be said for the freedom of giving the guy enough rope.

  • ||

    ChicagoTom said: And yet the leader of the free world and President of the USA can't bring himself to do the same.

    I agree that politics in this country are in a sad state and the current regime is definitely culpable.

  • ||

    Too bad the GOP hasn't realized that there is no such thing as "Democracy at the point of a gun".

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but the number of democracies that were established other than at gunpoint is rather small. Both Parliament and Congress had to shoot their way into power, after all.

  • ||

    "Since this is Ahmadinejad we're talking about, it's by no means clear that he'd make any more sense in English than he does in Farsi."

    I think the vast majority of Americans don't understand how Iranian politics works, and as a result, we view their politics through the lens of our own politics. Their politics is based to some extent on poetry and mysticism, things that would never be allowed into our western political system. According to some Iranian friends, Ahmadinejad sounds no worse than Bush, and these are people who were run out of town when the Shah was deposed and still support the opposition in Iran.

    Eh, what it comes down to is that I have more faith in people who know what they're talking about than the Kristols of the world. Ultimately, I don't speak Farsi, and I'm no expert on Iranian culture. Neither are 98% of Americans.....yet we all have this guy figured out.

  • fyodor||

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but the number of democracies that were established other than at gunpoint is rather small. Both Parliament and Congress had to shoot their way into power, after all.

    The difference, of course, is that Parliament and Congress were shooting for themselves. I'll agree your examples belie the literal rhetoric of "no such thing as Democracy at the point of a gun", but they don't address what we're trying to do in Iraq.

  • thoreau||

    R C Dean | September 25, 2007, 2:25pm | #
    why invite him if the whole purpose is to kick him around and tell him what a dirtbag he is?

    Kind of answers itself, no?



    I agree with RC.

  • ||

    I wonder if any Columbia professors will sack up and go to Tehran. Ahmadinejad invited them to come and speak freely - I think if they went to speak the Iranians couldn't really kill them or anything.

  • ||

    Excellent work Jesse. You really outdid yourself. This was loftier than your usual fare. I hope this doesn't become a habit though. I'd miss that irrelevant irreverence I've come to expect.

  • ||

    "I wonder if any Columbia professors will sack up and go to Tehran. Ahmadinejad invited them to come and speak freely - I think if they went to speak the Iranians couldn't really kill them or anything."

    The subject on a Houston conservative radio talk program yesterday was "Should we kill Ahmadinejad while he's here?"

  • ed||

    The scariest thing is how he and Bush are so much alike

    Come on. That's stupid even for this reliably anti-Republican site. Stick with standard witticisms like "Bushitler." That one never gets old.

  • ||

    R. Jake - seriously? People were actually calling in support of that?

  • ||

    Provoking a radical Muslim ... somewhere someone forgot to read their history (lol).

    While the university intelligentsia are inflating their chests with rhetoric, Ahmadinejad will most probably use something a little more lethal when he sees an opportunity.

    What a waste to even have invited and allowed him into the U.S.

  • ||

    "To show the world the contrast between places where they supress unpopular speakers/speech vs places where the principle free speech is (mostly) respected no matter how unpopular the speaker/speech is ?"

    First of all that is not true. The sad fact is that free speech is not respected on campuses. Ahmadininjad was offered more of a forum than the leader of the minuteman was or would ever be offered on an elite American University. Second, look no further than to Edward's comment to see that he isn't universally unpopular. This is not a free speech issue. I will probably never be invited to speak at Columbia, yet I could never claim that my free speech was in any way infringed by that. This is about who gets to speak at places like Columbia. I don't think adherents to fanatical ideology ought to be given that kind of a podium. Does that mean that Columbia should deny that such ideologies exist or that they are afraid to confront them? No. It just means that they will not dignify or waste their time listening to such a fanatic. By Jesse's standard of reasoning, I suppose the biology department is against free speech because they won't invite creationists to speak there. Why shouldn't the biology department invite creationist to speak and talk about how humans hunted the dinosaurs into extinction? Because they have better things to do than waste their time letting lunatics speak and do not want to give any modicum of respectability to said lunatics. The same can and should be said for the foreign policy school.

    Jesee's article was a flaming piece of tripe.

  • ||

    I didn't listen to much of the program. One woman called in disagreeing with it. An Iranian man called in saying that Ahmadinejad was wrongly translated as saying there were no homosexuals in Iran. He said what he really said was that there were no "open" homosexuals in Iran.

  • ||

    John, you're missing the point homeboy - Freedom of speech means that a private institution doesn't have to invite anyone to speak, but they can invite anyone they want to speak.

    Equalization of opportunity, not outcomes!

  • ||

    "John, you're missing the point homeboy - Freedom of speech means that a private institution doesn't have to invite anyone to speak, but they can invite anyone they want to speak."

    No you are missing the point. Of course the "can". There is no law against it. But just because they can doesn't mean they should or that they should not be subject to ridicule for doing so.

  • ||

    TulsaDavid, I knew a David in Tulsa.

  • ||

    All I can say is THANK YOU. This article is brilliant. I'm posting a link everywhere I frequent.

  • ||

    Last night I made the error of watching FOX news coverage of the speech. They made it sound like Columbia U. worshipped A-Mad like a God and offered him half of their endowment fund. It appears that FOX had already written their news story earlier in the day. FOX news apparently missed Bollinger's verbal bludgeoning and the students making fun of A-Mad. I am sure that FOX figured that no respectable Republican would actually watch the event as it unfolded, so why should they? The facts would have contradicted the FOX editorial position - so the facts had to be ignored and suppressed.

  • ||

    both Countries have a really dumb guy in the top spot



    Wrong! President A-mad is just a figurehead, the Ayatollahs still control Iran.

    Cheney may be misguided and venal, but he isn't dumb.

  • Marcvs||

    While the university intelligentsia are inflating their chests with rhetoric, Ahmadinejad will most probably use something a little more lethal when he sees an opportunity.

    Spoken like someone who doesn't understand the Iranian political system.

  • ||

    "While the university intelligentsia are inflating their chests with rhetoric, Ahmadinejad will most probably use something a little more lethal when he sees an opportunity."

    And bring the wrath of the US military down on him? I don't think so.

  • ||

    Ridiculing speech is one thing, ridiculing the fact that somebody allowed the speech to occur is another thing. The latter does not reflect well on our society.

  • ||

    John,

    "Why shouldn't the biology department invite creationist to speak and talk about how humans hunted the dinosaurs into extinction?"

    Bad example. Creationists are irrelevant to biological science. There's nothing a biologist could learn from one that would advance his work in any way.

    But I dare you to argue that the president of a soon-to-be-nuclear-armed regime in the most unstable region of the world is irrelevant to global politics.

  • ||

    This wasn't a pr victory for Ahmadinejad? Set aside the ledmultiple standing ovations, the speech resulted in a writer for Reason magaizine offering his support for a policy- continued negotiations- that only serves Iranian interests. I only skimmed through the comments here, but one writer expressed his/her wish that Bush would show Ahmadinmnejad's courage. Another propaganda victory.

  • ||

    The best part about free speech is that we get to figure out who the idiots are.

  • ||

    "Bad example. Creationists are irrelevant to biological science. There's nothing a biologist could learn from one that would advance his work in any way."

    What did they learn from Ahmadijad? Further, Jesse is not saying it was a good idea, he is saying that it was required to let him speak in the name of "free speech" even though he is a lunatic. If free speech requires that Columbia requires lunatics a forum, then I don't see why it doesn't require creationists a forum in the biology department. It doesn't and shouldn't in either case.

  • ||

    John,

    RTFA. Here's a quote that directly addresses you.

    "President Ahmadinejad does not have a right to give a lecture at Columbia, and Columbia does not have a duty to let him in."

    You've badly misread his argument. It's not that free speech requires Columbia to allow him to speak, but that doing so is a good idea. Next quote:

    "... [H]earing what other people have to say and confronting their ideas is good, and ... doing so makes us not weaker but stronger."

    The argument has nothing to do with what Columbia must or must not do. It has everything to do with how basically idiotic it is to attack them for what they chose to do.

    But really, I'm just repeating what's in the article. Read, comprehend, and then post. Seriously.

  • ||

    That was my earlier point, isildur - freedom of speech is the freedom to pick who speaks on your property, and you can choose who to invite or not invite.

  • ||

    Ahmadinejad made some very important and rarely spoken facts regarding the state of affairs in the world but in an indirect way. Saldly dump pathetic americans only understand direct yes or no. They do not get the point even when someone shouts them into their ears. I hear some people say he dodged most questions. Either the transaltion was poor or the audience are indeed idiots. Very pathetic.

  • ||

    Someone replied to me in email that they liked the central ideas of the article, but it "strayed" by talking about things like public funding. This was my response to him:

    Interesting. I love the idea that "the answer to bad speech is more speech." Any idiot can say any darn-fool thing they want to say, but we have a right (and some might say a responsibility) to stand up and use our voices and sense of reason to challenge those things. (I think based on the bits I have heard, Bollinger was the real winner.)

    The bits about public funding of universities unfortunately stray into the usual talking points that the reasonoids (who consider themselves the authoritative libertarian voice in the press) like to get out there. They cause the article to drift a bit.

    The points exposing ridiculous assertions (as Walker says, "grandstanding") of members of very disparate political views (neoconservatives, democratic lawmakers, the ADL) were relevent in the context of his point. The fact that he was given a platform to speak in this country did not legitimize his message, in fact it rightfully opened it to criticism and ridicule, which shows that a good part of our society is more reasonable and learned (we hope) than those who listen to him in sympathetic middle eastern locales. Unlike the situation where german nationalism in the 1930s led to the ready rise of a dictator who exploited it, we are instead willing to use our diversity of ideas (there's the pesky D word) and opinions to provide a foil to his propaganda. That is a thing of beauty.

    Sidetracking a bit-- Someone once told me that "there is no thought or idea that is offensive to the truly rational mind." We have the ability to rationalize that others have differing opinions from us, and not allow our impulsiveness to mandate hatred towards them, but instead engage them and ask them to reconsider. That is idealism, to be sure-- you can't rationalize with someone who has no intellectual basis in your accepted reality, for example. But outing Ahmadinejad's platform as blatantly ludicrous helps build a concensus against him on the world stage, and that is a step in the right direction towards the diplomacy this nation's leaders have lacked since 2001. If Iran does become more widely considered an active danger to world peace, then world leaders and Iranian dissidents alike will be much more empowered to effect change.

  • Tom W||

    Ahmadinejad fulfills the same role as another famous Iranian, the professional wrestler known as the Iron Sheik. He is trotted out for the masses to hate and throw things at.

    The Iron Sheik was allegedly one of the Pahlavis' bodyguards.

  • ||

    Somehow, I don't think that, after his experiences here, Ahmadinejad will go home thinking, "We oughta give that free speech thingy a try!" Must have been a shock to realize that people here are free to be insolent to, or aggressively question, political leaders.

  • Dance, Monkeys||

    What the hell did this accomplish?

    "And yet the leader of the free world and President of the USA can't bring himself to do the same."

    "Saldly dump pathetic americans only understand direct yes or no."

    "Have Republicans become so feeble that they are afraid of words?"

    etc.

  • kid charlemagne||

    "Saldly dump pathetic americans only understand direct yes or no."

    This sounds a bit like William Burroughs' cut-up technique.

  • ||

    "Ahmadinejad made some very important and rarely spoken facts regarding the state of affairs in the world"

    Great point.
    No one ever brings up the way the palestinians have been punished for Germany's crimes, do they? :)

  • bill||

    Can we get at least one thing straight. Ahmadinejad is not the head of state, nor the commander-in-chief of Iran. Those titles belong to the Ayatollah Ali Khameni. He is the real leader of Iran. Ahmadinejad runs the civil government and many Iranians think he is doing a poor job of it. So when you call Ahmadinejad a dictator you are pointing the finger at the wrong person.

  • ||

    Have we got a great democracy here in the US or what?
    A foreign leader on Dubya's shit list has a choice of
    1. Being insulted in public.
    2. Being ignored at the UN.

    I guess the diplomatic surge that many recommend to help solve the problem of Iraq will just have to wait at least 15 months, eh?

  • ||

    it looks as though this Bill guy might have been right Walker, perhaps you should give him your apology. The iranian public has came to their leaders defense despite their distaste for him. Even the University heads in Iran were upset.. Two people emerge from this discussion with positive PR; the President of Iran and Columbia

  • Jesse Walker||

    W.E. White: Rest easy. The speech didn't "result" in my opposing war with Iran. I've opposed war with Iran for a long time.

    Chad: Apologize for what? Everyone tries to spin everything as a propaganda victory, and that includes the Iranian authorities. But don't assume that the Iranian public speaks with one voice, or -- more importantly -- that they're the only public paying attention.

    Isildur: Thanks for answering John's objections to my piece. I don't have anything to add to what you said.

  • ||

    "... [H]earing what other people have to say and confronting their ideas is good, and ... doing so makes us not weaker but stronger."


    Again, if this is so good for the school of foreign affairs ought to be good for the biology department. Why then is it not a good idea for the biology deparment to invite creationists? Or the black studies department to invite white supremists?

    Read Isadur comprehend and then post. Jackass!!

  • ||

    Jesse when you start argueing for for creationists to speak at the biology department or white supremists in the black studies department, you might have a point. But you would never do that. Why? Sure this guy is more important, but not everyone who speaks at Columbia is this important. The fact is that there are some people whose views are so repugnant that they ought not to be invited to speak at a legitimate college campus. If the good president of Iran is not one of them, who is? Or is it that you don't think anyone is beyond the pale? Somehow I doubt that you do.

  • ||

    This article hits it right on the head...The reason conservatives want to keep discussion with Iran off the table is that it makes it easier to go to war with them.

  • ||

    If a creationist is the head of an accredited biology department, then yes, it's worth engaging with him. He has power and you can't make him or his (presumable) influence in the field go away by pretending he doesn't exist.

    Remember, Ahmadinejad is not merely a crackpot - he is a crackpot with substantial political power on a regional scale. Crackpots with power are a fundamental part of politics.

  • ||

    "Jesse when you start argueing for for creationists to speak at the biology department or white supremists in the black studies department, you might have a point."

    The former is a red herring.

    The latter, I'd totally do, were I booking speakers. Black studies, like international politics, deals with the interaction between people and groups of people. Hearing the viewpoints of the very people you're studying is important, whether they're protagonists or antagonists in your narrative. I don't think it makes sense to study the Holocaust and its roots without reading Mein Kampf and Josephus. I don't think you can study the black American experience without also studying slavery.

  • ||

    Crushinator posted:

    "Last night I made the error of watching FOX news coverage of the speech. They made it sound like Columbia U. worshipped A-Mad like a God and offered him half of their endowment fund. It appears that FOX had already written their news story earlier in the day. FOX news apparently missed Bollinger's verbal bludgeoning and the students making fun of A-Mad. I am sure that FOX figured that no respectable Republican would actually watch the event as it unfolded, so why should they? The facts would have contradicted the FOX editorial position - so the facts had to be ignored and suppressed."

    What part of Fox News did you make the error of watching? Fox gave very prominent coverage to the speech preceding Ahmadinejad's and the reaction of the audience during his speech.

    As usual, libs can't restrain themselves from getting in a dig against Fox, even those that have never watched it once. Just shows you the intellect of the left nowadays. You guys are very afraid of any news agency that cuts through the pollution that you inhale from your own preferred new sources. No wonder MoveOn didn't know that running a scurrilous ad against Gen. Petraeus would blow up in their faces.

    I just hope that over the next 15 or so months, toads such as Crushinator post on as many pages as possible and that millions of independents and undecideds have a chance to read such tripe. Why should Republicans need to raise campaign funds when left-wing idiots give voters hundreds of reasons every day to vote Republican?

    PLEASE - just keep posting.

  • ||

    So we agree that this was an unqualified victory for free speech, the marketplace of ideas?
    Truth be told, I can't think of a bigger victory in recent past. Even with the difficulties in translations, and the difficulties of not knowing what he said to the Iranians in America, I think we can conclude that no bombs went off and our American discourse has been furthered, even if in a somewhat (not totally) dimwitted fashion.

    It shows that criticism (of Bush or anyone) is not a substitute for ones own ideas. Now that we see with our own eyes that Ahmadinejad is no stronger than a Guatemalan caudillo, can we move on to things that really matter?

  • Steve Johnson||

    Hi,

    Helpful to know who this guy really is and what he really believes.


    Who is the REAL Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?

    Peace!
    Steve

  • a Duoist||

    We spend so much time watching what is said and done by one political leader, but it is the philosophy of the entire government which is far more deadly. Dr. Ahmadinejad is not the problem, neither is the Ayatollah Khameini, nor will their respective successors be the "problem."

    The actual problem is the Iranian theofascist ideology of the 'learned jurisprudent.' So long as this toxic ideo/theology guides their governance, who governs--or speaks at Columbia University--matters not. Regardless of who rules in its name, theofascism is, by its nature, bellicose, expansionist, and duocidal (seeks suicide by committing homicide).

  • ||

    I was pretty skeptical of Columbia's decision to let the son-of-a-bitch speak, but I find myself surprised and pleased, more or less, that he got much of the criticism he deserved, and didn't make himself look good.

    That said, I'd really like to know how the various media outlets in Iran reported on the event.

  • ||

    Larry - about how you'd think. (SFW)

  • ||

    Sorry Jesse but your blowing and sucking on this one.Please go to antiwar.com and read up on today's Justin Ramando article. He is gay and Jewish and he speaks on the homosexual comment.His words speak volumes what's wrong with most USA bonehead news reporters.
    Your out to lunch on this one Jesse--be nice have a wake-up coffee break :-(

  • Jesse Walker||

    JoJo: Not that it matters, but I think Justin is Italian, not Jewish. Anyway, I don't follow his argument about the homosexuality remark. Ahmadinejad's comment was a reply to a question about the execution of homosexuals in Iran. The fact that the Iranian view of homosexuality is different from the western view doesn't change the fact that much of the homosexual behavior there is recognized as homosexual behavior by the state, which responds to it with repression, including executions.

    So Ahmadinejad responded to a question about those executions with the claim that "we do not have this phenomenon." Tell it to the people his regime hanged for engaging in that very "phenomenon."

    Anyway, I doubt that the antiwar.com crew disliked my piece as much as you did, since they linked to it yesterday.

  • Mark Bahner||

    But, why invite him if the whole purpose is to kick him around and tell him what a dirtbag he is?



    Wouldn't it have been good in WWII to have a tape of Hitler speaking at a U.S. University, getting asked questions, and having the audience laugh at his silly answers?

    I think it would have been very valuable to spread such a tape around Germany in 1943.

  • ||

    Some Ahmadinejad myths.
    including mistranslations of things he's said.

    essay by William Blum December 17, 2006
    http://members.aol.com/bblum6/aer40.htm

    um, Blum nor I are excusing MrA's strange statements about no gays in Iran. Just war is bad, as is empire (which is just plain dishonorable).

  • Pete||

    in terms of having an effect on iran or iranians, you are fools if you think anything was achieved

    you are also fools if you think you can reason with fundamentalists. they don't give a shit about your fancy arguments, they just want to kill you.

    but that has always been the achilles heel of libertarians, the childlike trust that reason will prevail.

  • ||

    but that has always been the achilles heel of libertarians, the childlike trust that reason will prevail.


    Not at all, Pete. We know damn well statists like yourself, the administration, and Ahmadinejad will probably keep reason from prevailing.

    Props on not making a name-of-magazine gag, though.

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