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.