The president of Iran is nothing if not controversial. His visit to NYC has stirred a hot debate about free speech. In this AP story, Lee Bollinger, president of Columbia University, defends the decision to give Ahmadinejad a podium, lending credibility and prestige to the embattled Iranian president.
Columbia President Lee Bollinger has promised to grill Ahmadinejad on subjects such as human rights, the Holocaust and Iran's disputed nuclear program. The Iranian leader previously has called the Holocaust "a myth" and called for Israel to be "wiped off the map."
Bollinger said Monday it was a question of free speech and academic freedom.
"It's extremely important to know who the leaders are of countries that are your adversaries. To watch them to see how they think, to see how they reason or do not reason. To see whether they're fanatical, or to see whether they are sly," he told ABC's "Good Morning America."
Hmmm. Don't we already know the answers to those questions?
Among the critics of Columbia U. is Michael Rubin at National Review Online, who points out the blatant hypocricy of giving our enemies a forum, while denying others the same.
The issue we see with Columbia is deeper than freedom of speech but rather the inconsistency with which university faculties choose to support it. If men like Richard Bulliet and Lee Bollinger, and women like Lisa Marie Anderson cared about freedom of speech, they might want to enable those who don't have it, rather than celebrate the men who have taken it away.
Update: an advance list of the questions Bollinger will ask Ahmadinejab has been "leaked" to Instapunk. Some of the questions follow.
Moving on, Mr. President, there are embarrassingly large numbers of Jews in the Columbia student body and alumni ranks. Could you please explain to them how sick and tired the rest of us are of hearing them whine about the so-called holocaust in Europe 50 or 80 years ago or whenever it supposedly happened?
As you may know, Mr. President, Columbia University also has a considerable faculty and student population that specializes in the natural sciences. I'm sure they'd welcome it if you could summarize recent Iranian biological research -- which has, of course, been suppressed here in the Great Satan -- demonstrating the direct genetic link that exists between Jews and pigs.
Speaking of pigs, could you explain to us the redevelopment plans you have for Israel after it has been wiped off the map? I mean, how do you clean, disinfect, and sterilize an area as large as a whole country so that it doesn't, you know, reek permanently of smoked fish and pickels and the baby blood they use in all their filthy rituals? Would a technology that can accomplish such a cleanup have any application in our great global war against climate change?
Yeah, sounds like hardball to me.