Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at my Alma Mater

I wish I could have seen Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinajad at one of my Alma Maters last week, Columbia. President Bollinger introduced him, but in a way harsher than I thought fair for A. A world leader, B. An invited guest, and C. A controversial speaker who may have alienated himself from the audience but after such a straw-man set-up, looked pretty decent in comparison. Free speech is the very reason I blog here, and I think that the president’s confrontational introduction of the other president helped to reinforce the very self-righteousness that the Iranians commonly accuse Americans. Forget about some of the strange (and incorrect) claims that the Iranian president offered (can there really have not been a Jewish Holocaust in the 20th Century, or can there really not be a single homosexual in Iran right now?), I am just thinking here about the freedom of speech and the politeness that should be shown to an invited guest and (like him or not) a world leader who may have nuclear weapons.You be the judge:

For the videos of President Ahmadinejad himself, they can be found here.

2 thoughts on “Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at my Alma Mater

  1. Jeffrey…I do not share your view of the virtues of percieved free speech rights. If I am precluded from yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater without fear of legal ramifications, then an avowed enemy of this country show not be afforded any staeside platform to voice his thoughts and/or rhetoric. The fact that Columbia invited this “guest” to speak then treated him in a confrontational manner is entirely hypocritcal. If the red carpet was to be rolled out, then it should have been done unequivocally. But it was not. Yet another reason why I hold great contempt for institutions like Columbia and their forked-tongue beauracracy and politics.

  2. I had the sense that Bollinger’s tirade during his introduction seemed hastily created, possibly because some wealthy donors threatened to reserve funding. If this were the case, then the president caved under pressure and seemed to make a fool of himself. In the end, I am not sure if this made anybody happy. Perhaps the reverse is true–perhaps everybody got something?

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