Columbia’s Misguided Logic – Ahmadinejad and Hitler

Sep 25, 2007 Published under Iran, Middle East

People should never confuse freedom of expression with the freedom not to have to listen or lend credence to bad people, which is as fundamental a freedom as any.

Giving Ahmadinejad the floor at Columbia buttressed him and enhanced him not just globally, but, more dangerously, also at the local level in Iran, where many more moderate figures want to expose and highlight the damage that he has caused to the Iranian people.  Now the Iranian News Agency will edit the portions of the Columbia speech where he got applause (!) and will use this to advance its propaganda.  You see, even some Americans are starting to welcome and respect Ahmadinejad’s message, they will say.

For me the best way to highlight the idiocy of having propped up totalitarian, misogynistic, fatalistic and apocalyptic tyrants like Ahmadinejad by giving him the mantle of legitimacy that came with the Columbia invitation, is to point to how nobody would argue that we should be promoting Hitler’s ideology as worthy of public debate.  Would we really want to give Hitler a podium from which to spew his genocidal hatred?

Alas, Columbia seems lost enough to say it would have supported this too!

"If Hitler were in the United States and wanted a platform from which to speak, he would have plenty of platforms to speak in the United States," said John Coatsworth, dean of Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, in an interview with Fox News. "If he were willing to engage in debate and a discussion to be challenged by Columbia students and faculty, we would certainly invite him." New York Sun

I reject reactionary hawkish right wing extremists as much as reactionary left wing extremists.  But here I guess they are right to wonder whether we have lost our moral compass.

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  1. Kourosh Ziabari said:

    Hi dear friend. it is the first time that I am reading your blog. let’s invite you to read my last post titling “Why Bush Is a Terrorist”… I am not a US citizen but know it well and I think that my view could be interesting for you…
    By the way, let’s inform you that I am a Persian boy. a citizen from the country in which ahmadinejad is president. but Ahmadinejad is not all the iran. can you beleive it? A country with 3000 years history that introduced Cyrus and Xerex the great to the world… how can it be a terrorist?

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