Ahmadinejad's speech at Columbia: "That is why American universities exist" - TennisForum.com
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post #1 of 40 (permalink) Old Sep 27th, 2007, 02:28 AM Thread Starter
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Ahmadinejad's speech at Columbia: "That is why American universities exist"

A final (and very well written) word on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's speech at Columbia.
"It invited him not to endorse his views, but to enable them to be heard, tested, and challenged in free and open debate.
-- Geoffrey Stone
Of course, as we've seen, from the opposition to Ahmadinejad's speech, that a lot of Americans FEAR free and open debate. But while the cowards are loud, most Americans have more courage than to fear the mere words of an enemy.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/geoffr...a_b_65982.html
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Ahmadinejad and Columbia's Critics

Why all the fuss about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's speech at Columbia University? Critics of Columbia's decision to invite Mr. Ahmadinejad to speak maintain that, because he is a "cruel and petty dictator," in the words of Columbia President Lee Bollinger, Columbia should not have invited him to speak. In their view, a great American university should not lend its name and prestige to a man who denies the Holocaust, threatens to destroy Israel, promotes terrorism, and routinely violates human rights. Columbia's critics argue that by providing Mr. Ahmadinejad a forum, Columbia implicitly dignified his views and betrayed its own values.

It would be difficult to be more wrong. A fundamental mission of a university is to educate. A university does this not by taking positions on political, social, moral, economic, medical, or international issues, but by creating an environment in which all perspectives on all issues are open to robust and lively debate. The central responsibility of a university is not to decide who is right about the war in Iraq or the moral legitimacy of terrorism or the meaning of human rights, but to create and nurture an intellectual environment in which faculty, students, staff, alumni and others have the complete freedom to explore such questions without constraint or intimidation.

When a university invites a speaker, it does not in any way "endorse" or "dignity" his views. It simply allows him to express his views to the university community so members of that community can evaluate them for themselves. When a university invites a speaker, it uses him as a resource. His ideas may be wise or foolish, admirable or odious. The issue is not whether the university agrees with the speaker, but whether his presence will further the educational mission of the institution.
Some speakers further that mission because they are brilliant, some further it because they are knowledgeable, some further it because they are provocative. But in no event is the university ratifying the merits of the speaker's views, other than to attest that having him speak promotes knowledge, understanding, curiosity, interest, and education.

Did Mr. Ahmadinejad's appearance at Columbia further the university's educational mission? You bet, it did. Anyone who saw the response of the audience to his statements about Iran, the Holocaust, terrorism, and homosexuality could not fail to note that the audience left with a sharper sense of who he is, why Iran is in the position it is in, and why this poses a serious challenge for the United States.
A university does not bring deadly microbes to campus because it is "dignifying" or "endorsing" the microbes. It brings them to campus in order to study and to understand them. Even if Mr. Ahmadinejad is in fact a "cruel and petty dictator," it was completely legitimate for Columbia to invite him to speak.

More troubling than Columbia's invitation are the attacks on Columbia, which profoundly misunderstand the inherent nature of a university. The critics seem to think that a university's function is to present only those ideas that a majority of trustees, or donors, or faculty, or students think are responsible, reasonable, and moral. Whatever such an institution would be, it would not be a university.
One of the great figures in the history of American higher education, Robert M. Hutchins, President of the University of Chicago from 1929 to 1950, personified the true spirit of a university. In 1932, a student organization at the university invited William Z. Foster, the Communist Party's candidate for President of the United States, to lecture on campus. This triggered a storm of protest from some alumni and local business leaders. Hutchins responded that "our students . . . should have freedom to discuss any problem that presents itself." He rejected the call for "censorship," arguing that the "cure" for bad ideas "lies through open discussion rather than through inhibition and taboo."

In 1935, the Hearst newspapers launched a nationwide attack on Communist propaganda in American universities, focusing on the University of Chicago. Hutchins responded: "The answer to such charges is not denial, nor evasion, nor apology." Rather, he explained, it is "the assertion that free inquiry is indispensable to the good life, that universities exist for the sake of such inquiry, that without it they cease to be universities, and that such inquiry and hence universities are more necessary now than ever."

Shortly thereafter, Charles R. Walgreen, the drugstore magnate, wrote Hutchins that he was withdrawing his niece from the University of Chicago, explaining, "I am unwilling to have her absorb the Communistic influences to which she is assiduously exposed." Walgreen accused several professors, including the English professor Robert Morss Lovett, of being Communist sympathizers. Lovett, a member of the Chicago faculty since 1893, was a venerable teacher with a penchant for left-wing causes. An Illinois legislative committee, fired up by Walgreen's charges, demanded that the University fire Lovett. Hutchins refused. Indeed, when a faculty member confronted Hutchins with the threat, "If the trustees fire Lovett you'll receive the resignations of twenty full professors," Hutchins replied, "Oh no I won't. My successor will."

Columbia University did not need to invite Mr. Ahmadinejad to speak. But in doing so, it was acting in accord with what President Bollinger described as the "norms of . . . the American university." It invited him not to endorse his views, but to enable them to be heard, tested, and challenged in free and open debate. That is why American universities exist.

Proud to be an American
Not blind. Not uninformed. We are party to atrocities. But the response of the world after 9/11 is worth noting. Even our most dire enemies offered aid. We should all be so lucky.
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post #2 of 40 (permalink) Old Sep 27th, 2007, 05:36 AM
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Re: Ahmadinejad's speech at Columbia: "That is why American universities exist"

On point. This might be a little bit simplistic but I believe it holds true: anyone who was opposed to Ahmadinejad's appearance was afraid of some of the things he was going to say. I think that was especially true when it comes to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Even Bush admitted that; he said he had no problem with it if the purpose is educational, but then said he was afraid that a leader of a "terror-sponsor" state like Ahmedinajad would fool some people.
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post #3 of 40 (permalink) Old Sep 27th, 2007, 06:28 AM
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Re: Ahmadinejad's speech at Columbia: "That is why American universities exist"

Iran's President made a good point about how people get upset when ANYONE questions ANYTHING about the Holocaust. I don't think he is denying it happened, he probably feels it was exaggerated. Any why should the Arabs pay for something Germany did???

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post #4 of 40 (permalink) Old Sep 27th, 2007, 10:03 AM
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Re: Ahmadinejad's speech at Columbia: "That is why American universities exist"

"Error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it."
-- Thomas Jefferson


Not that all opinions are equal and should be debated at university level, but anyway. It's important that Iran will be heard, because it will make it more difficult for neocons to push for a war.
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post #5 of 40 (permalink) Old Sep 27th, 2007, 10:16 AM
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Re: Ahmadinejad's speech at Columbia: "That is why American universities exist"

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Iran's President made a good point about how people get upset when ANYONE questions ANYTHING about the Holocaust. I don't think he is denying it happened, he probably feels it was exaggerated. Any why should the Arabs pay for something Germany did???
They're not paying for it. People talk as if they're really suffering and are the worst off people in the world - they're not - do you people realize there are places like Darfur?

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Re: Ahmadinejad's speech at Columbia: "That is why American universities exist"

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They're not paying for it. People talk as if they're really suffering and are the worst off people in the world - they're not - do you people realize there are places like Darfur?
If you dont think the Palestinian people suffer, then you are a complete fool. You think just by bringin up Darfur that that doesnt make the palestinians who have grown up in refugee camps and have never known any kind of peace and prosperity 'well off' or not suffering?

YOure an absolute fool.
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post #7 of 40 (permalink) Old Sep 27th, 2007, 04:55 PM
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Re: Ahmadinejad's speech at Columbia: "That is why American universities exist"

those are some closed-minded critics!

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post #8 of 40 (permalink) Old Sep 27th, 2007, 05:05 PM
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Re: Ahmadinejad's speech at Columbia: "That is why American universities exist"

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If you dont think the Palestinian people suffer, then you are a complete fool. You think just by bringin up Darfur that that doesnt make the palestinians who have grown up in refugee camps and have never known any kind of peace and prosperity 'well off' or not suffering?

YOure an absolute fool.
Typical bleeding heart liberal comeback. There are far worse off people in the world than Palestinians. In fact, if anything they bring it onto themselves by provoking Israel.

People around the world have sympathies for people in Darfur, Burma, Tibet and North Korea and so on... But not as many people do so with the Palestinians. I wonder why.

See, they're not victims. They're the perpetrators. That's the problem.

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post #9 of 40 (permalink) Old Sep 27th, 2007, 05:24 PM
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Re: Ahmadinejad's speech at Columbia: "That is why American universities exist"

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Typical bleeding heart liberal comeback. There are far worse off people in the world than Palestinians. In fact, if anything they bring it onto themselves by provoking Israel.

People around the world have sympathies for people in Darfur, Burma, Tibet and North Korea and so on... But not as many people do so with the Palestinians. I wonder why.

See, they're not victims. They're the perpetrators. That's the problem.
Why isn't the point. Nor is the "hierarchy of suffering". And of course Darfur has gotten enormous coverage, though regrettably later than it should have. And Burma certainly is now.

The point is that the issue of the Palestinians is a legitimate one for debate. I disagree with those who support a one-state solution, as the Jews and Arabs would quickly be killing eachother to avenge various grievances.

But I'm not afraid 2C that debated. WTF are those who do want to censor that viewpoint afraid of?
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Re: Ahmadinejad's speech at Columbia: "That is why American universities exist"

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WTF are those who do want to censor that viewpoint afraid of?
Well yes, this I agree with. After all, it was a forum where people could ask him questions and he had to answer. It's not like he was just able to make a speech without answering to anyone and where he could just spread his propaganda.

But I can see why people are angry. Because his speech was more like a religious sermon than anything. The same liberals who are angered by discussions on intelligent design and people promoting intelligent design are the ones who are praising and applauding this person right now. Because it fits their interests.

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Re: Ahmadinejad's speech at Columbia: "That is why American universities exist"

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Of course, as we've seen, from the opposition to Ahmadinejad's speech, that a lot of Americans FEAR free and open debate.
Most Americans fear HATE speech. When you go up and say things like "there are no homosexuals in my country", people are right to fear the mouth that uttered those words. Why? Because you know it's filled with hate and lies.

You seem to be having a field day trying to spin this occasion to your own interests.

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post #12 of 40 (permalink) Old Sep 27th, 2007, 06:27 PM
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Re: Ahmadinejad's speech at Columbia: "That is why American universities exist"

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Most Americans fear HATE speech. When you go up and say things like "there are no homosexuals in my country", people are right to fear the mouth that uttered those words. Why? Because you know it's filled with hate and lies.
Different country, different people, different culture and beliefs of what is acceptable behaviour in society. What we need is mutual respect and dialogue, not censorship and lies. I think Bollinger's introduction was way out of line and factually incorrect. When you invite someone to speak you don't attack him like that. He called Ahmadinejad a dictator which is far from the truth. And everybody know by now that "Israel should be wiped of the map" was a wrong translation by news agenciens and sensationalist press.
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post #13 of 40 (permalink) Old Sep 27th, 2007, 06:46 PM
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Re: Ahmadinejad's speech at Columbia: "That is why American universities exist"

The 'fuss' is that the man is an outspoken supporter of terrorism
around the world. He is supplying ammunition, funds, and manpower
to the insurgent movement in Iraq and elsewhere. He is helping to
kill coaltion forces, unarmed innocent Iraqi civilians, as we sit here.
He supports the demolition of Israel. He approves of and allows the
killing of gays in Iran, as well as Christians, and Christian converts.
Other than that, he's a nice guy.

Where was GLADD and GLSEN and LAMBDA about the comments he made about gays
in Iran? Or the known treatment of gays in Iran (hanging)? Generally, silence.

Really, don't worry about what a Republican President can do or would do about
pushing anti-gay marriage amendments....worry about what the fastest growing
religion in the world will do to gay people...rights, you won't have any.
That fast growing population is also growing in elected political power as well,
in Europe, Canada, etc.



Columbia was used by him. Not the other way around. The State Dept. should
have denied him the ability to venture away from the UN in the first place.
Typically, it did not.



Columbia should apply the same 'free speech' principle to inviting
The Minutemen, conservatives, pro-Iraq War, pro-Afghanistan war,
anti-Taliban, anti-Al Queda, pro-life, pro-2nd Amendment, etc., figures
to campus - and give them the first class treatment old Ahmad- got.....
even if that includes a scathing introduction from the pressured
university president.

At least they would get a student audience that was respectful.


My concern was liberal Columbia just gave a terrorist supporter and
backer of tools to kill Americans, a forum from which he was shown as
a world leader applauded by wealthy American education elites.




Really, who has ever censored what old Amad- says? He gets a free pass from
our press here....they care more about the 'i's and 't's that come from Bush
and the GOP, than they do dissecting the trash this guy puts out daily. Free
speech is fine. Why promote his nonsense...and that's just what he accomplished -
treated like a legitimate power broker by CBS, National Press Club, and the Columbia
University family.

Censorship is in Iran, not here. That's the way they like it, and that's what they
wish to spread around the world. Uh, yeah, that kind of concerns me.
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post #14 of 40 (permalink) Old Sep 27th, 2007, 06:49 PM
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Re: Ahmadinejad's speech at Columbia: "That is why American universities exist"

American universities are liberal for the most part.

They do not welcome conservative or moderate viewpoints much at all.
That's just a proven trend for years and years. So, free speech is
great, as long as it generally supports what the liberal faculty,
liberal administration, and liberal young students want to hear.

There are many sides to issues, and if the USA colleges did promote
open and free and respectful dialog from those many sides, I'd agree
with the thread statement. However, they don't.
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post #15 of 40 (permalink) Old Sep 27th, 2007, 07:24 PM
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Re: Ahmadinejad's speech at Columbia: "That is why American universities exist"

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Where was GLADD and GLSEN and LAMBDA about the comments he made about gays
in Iran? Or the known treatment of gays in Iran (hanging)? Generally, silence.
Probably because GLAAD deals with the media issues (e.g. how LGBT people are portrayed on TV), GLSEN deals with primary and secondary schools, and LAMBDA is sort-of a queer ACLU, and non of them work on politics in general or international issues in specific.

I think HRC was busy selling t-shirts and ball caps in Provincetown or putting on fancy awards dinners.

IGLHRC (International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission) among others DID issue press releases condemning his statements - perhaps you missed the memo - just as they've worked for years to address the abuses suffered by LGBT people across the globe.

But to know that, you'd have to give a shit about LGBT people beyond their usefulness as a propaganda point.

Reason is poor propaganda when opposed by the yammering, unceasing lies of shrewd and evil and self-serving men.
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