Monday, September 24, 2007

Now the Sound, Now the Silence

After all of the flap surrounding Columbia University extending Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad an invitation to speak in a university-wide forum, university president Lee Bollinger (of Gratz v. Bollinger fame) acquitted himself somewhat by way of his introduction (video from MSN and transcript from Columbia.) Bollinger sounded more like a conservative pundit in describing Ahmadinejad as having "all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator," before launching a systematic examination of the Iranian President's record of denying human rights to homosexuals, questioning the Holocaust, funding Islamic terrorism - to include supporting attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq and its nuclear program.

But Bollinger's being correct in his critique of Ahmadinejad does not mitigate the university's poor judgment in allowing the him such a forum in the first place. The right thing to do would have been to deny Ahmadinejad the opportunity to begin with. To be sure, Ahmadinejad did not illuminate his thinking as much as he illustrated his derangement from realities of 21st Century life, such as his insistence that there are no gays in Iran.

What has been illuminating are the reactions of the stalwarts of the Daily Kos to Ahmadinejad's
. (H/T: Little Green Footballs) Predictably, the Kossacks expressed empathy more so than revulsion.

As an American, I was stunned and embarrassed by Bollinger's harangue of Ahmedinejad [sic]. It was a craven and cowardly capitulation to political pressures, and unworthy of the academic institution that Bollinger represents. I know who and what Ahmedinejad is, but I also know that he was at Columbia at Columbia's invitation. Bollinger's speech was less a challenge to Ahmedinejad than it was an ambush, and it dishonered [sic] all of us as Americans.

Bollinger could have challenged Ahmedinejad's many hyperbolic and absurd statements in a manner that was not abusive and insulting. He chose instead to curry favor with those who are intent on demonizing Iran and plunging the U.S. into another illegal and immoral war.

Bollinger's behavior was inappropriate. It presented to the world the face of an ugly and bullying America. I am utterly humiliated that Bollinger should have behaved this way. (Emphasis added.)
Whatever "harangue" the dictator of Tehran was subjected to this afternoon, Columbia's invitation to Ahmadinejad was of a piece with Nancy Pelosi and Dennis Kucinich slouching towards Damascus, along with the Left's jock-sniffing admiration of Ahmadinejad, Hugo Chavez, Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. Because liberals cannot counter the dynamism of conservatism, they rely the world's strongmen to serve as a counterweight.

In his introduction, Lee Bollinger spoke of
"the genius of the American idea of free speech." Bollinger's repudiation of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad notwithstanding, Mr. Ahmadinejad presently has more freedom of expression at Columbia University than any military recruiter or ROTC instructor. And he certainly has more free speech than Jim Gilchrist - the founder of the Minutemen - was afforded this time last year.

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