Skip to comments.(Vanity) Allah and Man at Columbia, or Say it Ain't So, Mo!
Posted on 09/24/2007 7:22:45 PM PDT by grey_whiskers
The news has been full of stories of the visit of Irans President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to New York, and more specifically to Columbia University, where he was to deliver a speech and answer questions from the audience. Before todays talk, the coverage was full of debate, with the usual arguments from both sides. Liberals tended to describe the occasion as an opportunity to advance freedom of speech, while conservatives portrayed this as just one more example of leftists ignoring the greater good of the country in order to practice various platitudes. (One other example of this during the visit to New York was the controversy over Mr. Ahmadinejads proposed visit to the site of the former World Trade Center, then Ground Zero of 9-11.)
But then something unexpected happened. In fact, several somethings happened. Lee Bollinger, the President of Columbia University, took the time normally reserved for introducing the speaker on such occasions, to ask a number of pointed questions; for example, asking about public hangings in Iran, and calling Ahmadinejad a cruel and petty dictator. He finished by saying, I doubt you will have the intellectual courage to answer these questions. This was surprising enough; I didnt hear a single cliché about one mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter from Mr. Bollinger. In fact, it seemed as though, even if just once, a liberal was living up to his own ideal of speaking the truth to power. (Even if Teddy Roosevelts talk softly and carry a big stick" --or fire a 500-lb laser-guided bomb--would have been more appropriate. Mere talk did not stop prior dictators such as Hitler and Imperial Japan.)
Outside of the speech, the crowd was playing out-of-character as well. Instead of an assortment of Cindy Sheehan wannabes, the protesters on the Columbia campus ranged from members of the Jewish community, to supporters of the Iraq war, to gay-rights groups. Who would have thought a divisive figure could be so unifying?
And while all of this was going on, the speech and the question-and-answer session gave even more food for thought. At times, Mr. Ahmadinejad sounded like he was channeling a postmodernist Ivy League undergraduate, as with this gem about 9-11:
"If the root causes of 9/11 are examined properly why it happened, what caused it, what were the conditions that led to it, who truly was involved, who was really involved and put it all together to understand how to prevent the crisis in Iraq, fix the problem in Afghanistan and Iraq combined"
At other points, he seemed to have been drinking his own Kool-Aid, so to speak. When he was asked by an audience member whether Iran favored the destruction of Israel, he replied :
"We are friends of all the nations. We are friends with the Jewish people. There are many Jews in Iran living peacefully with security."
Yes, Mahmoud, I get it. Some of your *best friends* are Jews but, apparently, not so with homosexuals. When he was asked why Iran executed active homosexuals, the answer was:
"In Iran we don't have homosexuals like in your country ... I don't know who's told you that we have this."
(Translated into American idiom, this becomes, "I did not have sex with that man, Mr. Lewinsky.")
But I have just one question left. With the flag of Columbia (named after that great Dead White MailTM and European OppressorTM) firmly planted on the twin peaks of freedom of speech, and resistance to religious hatred, Columbia allowed a religiously-based dictator, holocaust denier, and apparent advocate of genocide onto its campus to proclaim his views. Now when will Columbia find the courage to invite Mr. Flemming Rose (the editor of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten) to the Columbia University campus to discuss those Mohammed cartoons?
I saw it just as I clicked "Post"...
Sic gloria transit vanity.
(I'm finally settled in Minnesota and back to posting again.)
Do you also wonder when Columbia University will extend (and not then rescind) a speaking invitation to poor old Larry Summers? And what about this? Either being invited to speak at Columbia University is an honor or it is not an honor:
I also suspect that returning to Minnesota was a good thing for you and yours. I'm sure Arizona has many good qualities, but the heat and aridity seem likely to intensify in the coming years.
All the best...