Tuesday, September 25, 2007


I wanted to write about Iranian President Ahmadinejad's much harped upon speech before Columbia University. But I was somewhat conflicted, and was having difficulty getting words to paper. But I think two posts, in conjunction, get most of my feelings straight.

First, from the Carpetbagger Report, the image of students simply laughing at the Iranian President when he started spouting off non-sense (in this case, saying that Iran didn't have any homosexuals).

And second, from the conservative blog The Nose on Your Face (happily linked to by Powerline), imagining the questions Columbia's liberal student body might ask Ahmadinejad -- questions that applaud his dictatorial policies, laud his hatred of Israel, and...condemn ethnic slurs? Because what really would reflect well on Columbia and America would be a sophisticated critique of Ahmadinejad's Holocaust denial, while having him "pelted with Slurpee cups and greeted with cries of 'Hey cabbie!'"

One of these responses showcases the best America has to offer when faced with a spokesman for evil and tyranny. One of these, less so.

Ahmadinejad is a crazy man, and even though is power in Iran is vastly overstated, he still has the power to real damage and violence that can effect American interests (not to mention moral interests) the world over. We would do well to take that capacity seriously. But one thing I do not fear about Ahmadinejad is his ideas. Put him in a room with America's brightest young minds -- people who do not need to worry about whether their dissent will cause them to be dragged off and shot -- and his ideas will rapidly receive the reception they deserve. I can think of no better way to combat his ideological poison than this: give him a mic, listen attentively, and then laugh him off the stage.


Anonymous said...

Here are my two most compelling images from yesterday:

- the Columbia audience cheering when Ahmadinejad chastized Bollinger for not giving him a chance to speak before criticizing him;

- replays of the scene at Columbia a year ago when the Minutemen speaker was run-off the stage by Columbia activists before he could say much of anything.

Yes, those two images are all you need to know about Columbia University students.

PG said...

Why am I unsurprised that the only aspect of yesterday's activities that I saw just by being on the campus at all -- students protesting Ahmadinejad with the AV assistance of the university -- never showed up on Hank Shipman's radar? Nor the message expressed by the law school dean, who has in the past described the creation of Israel as one of the few brights spots of the 20th century, condemning Ahmadinejad, stating that he would not have invited him?

As a public U graduate, I'm pretty skeptical of Ivy League snobbery, but I have had a lot of trouble reading most conservatives' reactions to Ahmadinejad's visit without thinking "You don't know a damn thing about Columbia except what you see on Fox News, do you?"

Anonymous said...

Actually, it shouldn't be surprising that PG fails to address the point.

Let me pose the question, and see if you have the "intellectual courage" to answer: was there a blatant double standard evident at Columbia when one compares the treatment of the Minutemen to the support give Ahmadinejad when he complained that he did not get a chance to speak?

PG said...


No, there's no double standard, because the people who were most interested in hearing what Ahmadinejad had to say were the ones cheering when he complained that he was being dismissed before he had spoken. The students were who didn't want Ahmadinejad on campus were outside protesting his appearance, and/or cheering Bollinger's attack on him. You seem to believe that the Columbia student body is literally a single person, and that single person is the Evil Leftie who ran onstage at the Minutemen event and cheered Ahmadinejad. The fact that Columbia students also were the ones INVITING the Minutemen to speak, and protesting Ahmadinejad, is conveniently excluded from your worldview.

"Yes, those two images are all you need to know about Columbia University students." If you enjoy being an ignoramus, you're right, two images are all you need.

If you actually are referring not to the student body, but to the administration, which can be more reasonably said to have a single "stance," then this is an administration that allowed the College Republicans to invite the Minutemen, and that reprimanded those who failed to respect the Minutemen's freedom to speak. This is the administration that put up the microphones and speakers so the entire undergrad campus could hear the complaints of those who opposed Ahmadinejad. And it is President Bollinger who has been criticized for his insulting (accurately, but still insulting) remarks about Ahmadinejad.

Sadly, real life is more complicated than what you read on InstaPundit.

Anonymous said...

I'm reading your words, and I suspect you believe them. But, because of your obsession with the complication of things that you apparently believe the rest of us can't grasp, you've talked yourself into knots.

Are you telling me that the people who cheered Ahmadinejad are completely different than the ones who interrupted the Minutemen?

They are the same, lunatic left. I am not saying that there aren't rational, level headed people at Columbia. So perhaps I should have said, "those two images are all you need to know about the radical leftist, 'save the world and charge it on Daddy's credit card' Columbia students."

Work better for you?

PG said...

Work better for you?

Certainly. I don't personally know any Columbia student who is saving the world and charging it to Daddy's credit card -- I mostly know law students, and the ones who are radical leftists are even more likely than the rest to be on loans -- so I'm willing to accept the idea that two images could summarize such a person.

And Pat "Death of the West" Buchanan is all you need to know about nativists, because once you've decided that a group is irredeemable, you may as well save time by finding a couple of touchpoints that fully describe your understanding of them.

David wrote a post commending the laughter of Columbia students who scorn Ahmadinejad's lies. You replied by saying that images of the Columbia students who cheered his complaint and the Columbia students who rushed the stage when Minutemen were on it "are all you need to know about Columbia University students."

If you think that inital reply to David's post gave the impression that you were getting his point -- i.e., the commendation of specific, probably not radical leftist, Columbia students -- you are wrong. Hence my responses in which I tried to explain that Columbia students are a fairly varied bunch. If this is something you understood from the outset, it did not comes across in what you were writing until this last comment.