Sunday, September 23, 2007

Columbia, President Ahmadinejad, and Tolerance

You have to admire Columbia University for maintaining a consistent stand.

In 1969, Columbia U. student protesters said they didn't like having the ROTC on campus. Anti-war professors agreed, and so out went the ROTC.

When the Vietnam war ended in 1975, Columbia remained true to its ideals, and kept the military organization away from its hallowed halls of ivy. Columbia maintains this staunch stand, to this day, defending students from contact with an American military presence.

In Columbia's defense, it must be pointed out that a major reason for the university's abhorrence of the ROTC is the U.S. military's 'don't ask/don't tell' policy regarding homosexuality.

In addition to keeping their ivy league campus ROTC-free, and in a display of openness to diverse ideas, this Monday Columbia will welcome Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The Iranian leader will address Columbian students, as part of the school's World Leaders Forum. There's a Q & A session scheduled. Columbia President Le Bollinger, said that questions on Israel and Holocaust had been approved.

That's quite a concession, considering Ahmadinejad opinions that Israel and the Holocaust shouldn't, and didn't, exist, respectively.

The Columbian president was quoted on WNBC, saying that Ahmandinejad's appearance was part of "Columbia's long-standing tradition of serving as a major forum for robust debate."

I'd find the 'debate' claim a little more convincing, if Columbia U. didn't have such a groovy attitude toward America's ROTC.

I doubt that any of Columbia's students would have the temerity to exhibit insufficient respect to a man of President Ahmadinejad's stature. If such a thing happened, however, I would hope that Colubmia University would show the same restraint and compassion it showed to the students whose "heckling descended into yelling, screaming, kicking and punching, culminating in the rushing of the stage and Gilchrist being shuttled off by security." The students yelling "He has no right to speak!" were reacting to the presence of Jim Gilchrist, founder of the Minuteman Project, an anti-illegal immigration group.

Considering President Ahmandinejad's views, however, regarding
  • His defense of Iran's nuclear program
  • His government's track record for human rights violations, and
  • Iran's imprisonment of journalists and scholars, including one of Columbia's very own alumni, Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh
I expect that Ahmandinejad will receive a much more courteous reception than that Minuteman person.

Disgusting, but it's an ivy league school. We should make allowances.

Sources for this post:
Advocates for Columbia ROTC
" Columbia University: Ahmadinejad Yes, ROTC No," on Yahoo! News

Related posts, on censorship, propaganda, and freedom of speech.
Related posts, on tolerance, bigotry, racism, and hatred
Related posts, on Individuals and the War on Terror.

No comments:

Unique, innovative candles

Visit us online:
Spiral Light CandleFind a Retailer
Spiral Light Candle Store


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.