Monday, September 24, 2007

Ahmadinejad at Columbia, What Happened?

John Bolton, former UN ambassador, had something to say about President Ahmadinejad's appearance at New York's Columbia University. Bolton said that some people, Ahmadinejad included, have no regard for truth, and those people have no place in academic debate.

I'm inclined to agree, but I spent enough decades in American academia to realize that standards of veracity vary, according to the viewpoint of the speaker or writer.

For my part, I think that the Columbia's giving Ahmadinejad a platform may have done some good.

To my surprise, there were a few serious question asked, and in at least one occasion, his non-answer was not accepted. That, for me, was a very pleasant surprise.

My fear had been that Ahmadinejad would be given a sort of softball treatment, with questions intended more to give him opportunities for giving talking points, than to draw out meaningful answers.

My opinion of Columbia University went up a bit.

Ahmadinejad said that the Holocaust happened, that in happened in Europe, and that it is the (hyped) reason that Israel is (according to him) torturing children and oppressing the Palestinians.

One last thing. I missed a little of Ahmadinejad's remarks. Apparently, he said that Iran's women were the freest in the world. Interesting assertion.

Related posts, on censorship, propaganda, and freedom of speech.
Related posts, on Individuals and the War on Terror.


Ottavio (Otto) Marasco said...

So many words yet so little said! I wonder if the idealism of free speech should have been extended to Ahmadinejad in the first place.

Can we, just for a moment imagine a U.S. President addressing students in Tehran?

In the end he received a turbulent reception which was perhaps fitting.

Brian H. Gill said...

Should America's tradition and legal protection of free speech be extended to the current president of Iran?

I'd say, yes.

"I sympathize with people who don't want President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran at Columbia University - or the United Nations, but, at the risk of seeming intolerant, America better than that.

"Freedom is a difficult, uncomfortable, thing to maintain. There's always a temptation to make some people and ideas more free than others."

The quote is from a recent post in this blog, "Let Ahmadinejad Speak? Of Course!"

When America stoops to the level of this world's tyrannies and totalitarian regimes, then the blame-America-first crowd will be right.

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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.