Sunday, September 23, 2007

Academia Listens to All Sides, and Brooklyn Bridge is For Sale

I wish that the brightest stars in the academic firmament didn't make it so hard to believe that "academic freedom" is not a joke, or some sort of doublethink.

President Ahmadinejad of Iran is scheduled to address the students at New York's Columbia University and speak at the United Nations next week. One of his goals seems to be to proved the "correct information," which has been lacking up to this point.

Before leaving Iran, Ahmadinejad gave a rousing speech as part of an Iranian parade that included "missile trucks were painted with the slogans 'Down with the U.S.' and 'Down with Israel.'" I assume that those are translations, but the news article didn't say.

Columbia invited Ahmadinejad as part of its World Leaders Forum.

I think that it is important for colleges and universities to give a hearing to diverse views.

Too bad that Jim Gilchrist's invitation to speak at Columbia October 4 was taken away. Gilchrist founded the Minutemen: a group claiming that people coming into this country should obey the law while doing so. He was shouted down at Columbia last year, due to his (extremist?) views.

Despite his being purged from Columbia's free speech card, Gilchrist supports Columbia's hosting President Ahmadinejad. "I'm defending his appearance," Gilchrist said. "I think he should speak. To say no, he cannot speak, is to support exactly the same thing that happened to me."

This sort of academic freedom, and a passionate support for free speech seems to be typical of colleges and universities. For example, the Colorado University student newspaper published a thoughtful, profound, editorial on the current American administration. The editorial, in its entirety, read "Taser this… F--- BUSH," with the expletive spelled out. According to "The Printed profanity draws Collegian complaints," in the Fort Collins Coloradoan.

Yep. Academic freedom. Free speech. Providing, of course, that the ideas conform to a correct view of the world.

Related posts, on censorship, propaganda, and freedom of speech.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.