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KevinTheOmnivore KevinTheOmnivore is offline
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Old Sep 23rd, 2007, 02:58 PM        Ahmadinejad to speak at Columbia
So this story has been kicking around a bit, and it got no mention here. I thought I would maybe bring it up, see what our Columbia alums maybe have to say on the matter.

I personally don't care that he's speaking. Universities should be open forums for any and all ideas, and since it's a private institution, we can let the school's donors worry about that. However, in that regard, I do wish the student body would be more consistent--they have shouted down Minute Men, members of Jihad Watch, and other conservatives.

And then we have this story from "Mr. Zine":


Quote:
As Columbia only very recently announced, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will be speaking in Roone Arledge auditorium this Monday. A number of students and student organizations have already announced plans for a protest rally the same day. We are not among them. We do not endorse Ahmadinejad or his views, many of which are inexcusable. However, as opponents of a US military strike against Iran, we have serious concerns with the content of some of the hostility that has been expressed to his presence, and specifically with the planned protest.

We fear the demonization of Ahmadinejad, because we think this demonization contributes to the likelihood of war. In the current climate, with many on the political right in the U.S. and Israel pushing for air strikes, a campaign against Ahmadinejad is dangerous, regardless of the intentions of most involved. A call to action, unless it prominently rules out war, implies military action.

A rally where each speaker denounces Ahmadinejad's reactionary policies and just a few call explicitly for military action will still be perceived, on campus and around the U.S., as pro-war. The right-wing media, from Fox News to the New York tabloids, has already jumped on the event, and will spin it to favor their cause. Conservative organizations with no affiliation to Columbia's campus, such as the David Project, have already signed on to the rally on Facebook, and are likely to distribute hundreds of warmongering flyers and picket signs. The rally will seem to be a sea of pro-war demonstrators -- and the more people who attend it and the more organizations that endorse it, the more powerful this disastrous message will be.

A U.S. attack on Iran, which is not an inevitability but is a real possibility, would have consequences just as terrible as the invasion of Iraq. Thousands would die in initial air strikes, and more in the resulting backlash and regional conflagration. The work of Iranian campaigners for free speech, women's rights, and lesbian and gay liberation, and against racism and anti-semitism, would be set back immeasurably. As Iranian Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi has pointed out, "Human rights are not established by throwing cluster bombs on people. You cannot introduce democracy to a country by using tanks."

There are other means for engagement with Iran than war, and other means for disagreement with Ahmadinejad than the planned protest. We call on those who do not support a war with Iran to be wary of the vilification of Ahmadinejad, to avoid Monday's rally, and to express vocally their opposition to military intervention.
This is absolute garbage. First of all, since when is the Left concerned about the messages they send? Why no concern about marching with the Stalinist apologists of the ANSWER Coalition? Why no concern when their "peace" marches devolve into chants of "long live the intifada"? I've marched in them, I've seen it happen. Why no worries then?

So the message is pretty clear--it's ok to protest if it means obstructing business at the World Bank, or blocking Cheney's motorcade, or screaming on and on about the wrongs of Israeli "apartheid," yet when a genuine religious fanatic comes to campus, you go silent. When the president of a regime that has contributed to global terrorism for over two decades comes to one of our more prestigious universities, we do nothing.

Liberalism, in my mind, is truly dead.
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Emu Emu is offline
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Old Sep 23rd, 2007, 05:20 PM       
I was floored when I heard this. I'm surprised that fuck is even allowed in this hemisphere, let alone our borders.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2007, 06:22 PM       
I wonder if they'll have a followup editorial in which they explain what he really meant when he said that the Holocaust never took place.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2007, 08:57 PM       
Is it really possible to "demonize" a person like that? I mean, how in the world could you make him seem any worse than he is?
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Old Sep 24th, 2007, 10:45 AM       
Personally, I think he's more trouble than he's worth, and I'm certainly not looking forward to maneuvering around thousands of angry people on campus this afternoon, but I can't help but agree with much of university prez Bollinger's statement:
Quote:
In order to have such a University-wide forum, we have insisted that a number of conditions be met, first and foremost that President Ahmadinejad agree to divide his time evenly between delivering remarks and responding to audience questions. I also wanted to be sure the Iranians understood that I would myself introduce the event with a series of sharp challenges to the president on issues including:
  • the Iranian president’s denial of the Holocaust;
  • his public call for the destruction of the State of Israel;
  • his reported support for international terrorism that targets innocent civilians and American troops;
  • Iran's pursuit of nuclear ambitions in opposition to international sanction;
  • his government's widely documented suppression of civil society and particularly of women's rights; and
  • his government's imprisoning of journalists and scholars, including one of Columbia’s own alumni, Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh (see President Bollinger's statement on Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh's release).
I would like to add a few comments on the principles that underlie this event. Columbia, as a community dedicated to learning and scholarship, is committed to confronting ideas—to understand the world as it is and as it might be. To fulfill this mission we must respect and defend the rights of our schools, our deans and our faculty to create programming for academic purposes. Necessarily, on occasion this will bring us into contact with beliefs many, most or even all of us will find offensive and even odious. We trust our community, including our students, to be fully capable of dealing with these occasions, through the powers of dialogue and reason.


I would also like to invoke a major theme in the development of freedom of speech as a central value in our society. It should never be thought that merely to listen to ideas we deplore in any way implies our endorsement of those ideas, or the weakness of our resolve to resist those ideas or our naiveté about the very real dangers inherent in such ideas. It is a critical premise of freedom of speech that we do not honor the dishonorable when we open the public forum to their voices. To hold otherwise would make vigorous debate impossible.


That such a forum could not take place on a university campus in Iran today sharpens the point of what we do here. To commit oneself to a life—and a civil society—prepared to examine critically all ideas arises from a deep faith in the myriad benefits of a long-term process of meeting bad beliefs with better beliefs and hateful words with wiser words. That faith in freedom has always been and remains today our nation’s most potent weapon against repressive regimes everywhere in the world. This is America at its best.
Provided our admins and faculty (I'm not expecting much from a lot of the students) follow through and grill him on his bullshit, and refrain from kissing his ass, I'm fine with it.
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Old Sep 24th, 2007, 10:55 AM       
New statement, fresh from my Inbox:
Quote:
Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:

I would like to share a few thoughts about today’s appearance of
President Ahmadinejad at our World Leaders Forum. I know this is a
matter of deep concern for many in our University community and
beyond. I want to say first and foremost how proud I am of
Columbia, especially our students, as we discuss, debate and plan
for this highly visible event.

I ask that each of us make special efforts to respect the different
views people have about the event and to recognize the different
ways it affects members of our community. For many reasons, this
will demand the best of each of us to live up to the best of
Columbia's traditions.

For the School of International and Public Affairs, which developed
the idea for this forum as the commencement to a year-long
examination of 30 years of the Islamic Republic in Iran, this is an
important educational experience for training future leaders to
confront the world as it is -- a world that includes far too many
brutal, anti-democratic and repressive regimes. For the rest of us,
this occasion is not only about the speaker but quite centrally
about us -- about who we are as a nation and what universities can
be in our society.

I would like just to repeat what I have said earlier: It is vitally
important for a university to protect the right of our schools, our
deans and our faculty to create programming for academic purposes.
Necessarily, on occasion this will bring us into contact with
beliefs many, most, or even all of us will find offensive and even
odious.

But it should never be thought that merely to listen to ideas we
deplore in any way implies our endorsement of those ideas, or the
weakness of our resolve to resist those ideas, or our naiveté about
the very real dangers inherent in such ideas. It is a critical
premise of freedom of speech that we do not honor the dishonorable
when we open the public forum to their voices.

The great majority of student leaders with whom I met last week
affirmed their belief that this event, however controversial, is
consistent with the values of academic freedom we share at the
center of university life. I fully support, indeed I celebrate, the
right to peacefully demonstrate and engage in a dialogue about this
event and this speaker, as I understand a wide coalition of our
student groups are planning for today. That such a forum and such
public criticism of President Ahmadinejad’s statements and policies
could not safely take place on a university campus in Iran today
sharpens the point of what we do here. The kind of freedom that
will be on display at Columbia has always been and remains today
our nation’s most potent weapon against repressive regimes
everywhere in the world. This is the power and example of America
at its best.

Sincerely,

Lee C. Bollinger
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Old Sep 24th, 2007, 11:45 AM       
I heard on the radio this morning that students will not be allowed to address him directly and will have their questions screened by a proctor.
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Old Sep 24th, 2007, 12:11 PM       
Kevin, I had a lot of the same thoughts you did regarding the relatively small protest going on today. "Now they get picky about the company they keep?"

I think the whole thing is stupid. Its not like he has any real power. He's just a mouth piece for the Ayatollah thats running Iran right now. What does Columbia hope to accomplish? As if he isn't prepared to do a verbal dance around whatever they can throw at him.

What do the protesters hope to accomplish? Yes, everybody knows he is an asshole.

Both parties are simply going to be feeding into his propaganda machine that he's already got running for the fanatics throughout the Muslim world. One way or another, he'll be sticking it to the Great Satan. We treat him with respect and dignity, the policies of Iran get legitimacy. If we get all flustered and attack him, he gets to tell the fundamentalists how awfully he was treated and how the West really is waging war on Islam.

It would have been best for Columbia to have never extended the invitation. The best thing now would be to just ignore it. Don't show up to it, don't protest it, just let it go on in deafening silence.
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KevinTheOmnivore KevinTheOmnivore is offline
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Old Sep 24th, 2007, 12:35 PM       
I don't agree entirely about Ahmadinejad's role and power...I think his role is often intentionally down played by the neo-progressives so that they can be contrarian.

I personally think he's worth protesting, en masse. He isn't just a bad guy, he is the president of a regime that stands in blatant defiance of whatever the Bush Doctrine is supposed to mean. Iran had a hand in the Khobar Towers bombing, and their weapons are killing Americans and Israelis all across the Middle East.

He isn't just a mean guy, he is the enemy. Once upon a time, Liberals stood up to totalitarian pigs like this. Now they call for polite discourse and self-censorship.
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El Blanco El Blanco is offline
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Old Sep 24th, 2007, 01:21 PM       
I wasn't aware of the connection to the Khobar Towers.

Dude, Columbia had members of the Third Reich speak to their students. shit like this isn't new for them or anywhere in academia.

I'm not sure liberalism is dead. I think a lot of the people who seem to lead it have lost sight of why they are "liberal" in the first place. Its become more about partisan bickering and sticking it the other side than about making any progressive strides for the betterment of mankind.

I agree that the defense he is getting from people that are supposed to be standing up for civil rights and such is appalling. I'm wondering where MoveOn.org's full page ad over this is.

At least, the NYPD is telling him to go fuck himself regarding visiting WTC.
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Old Sep 24th, 2007, 04:34 PM       
Quote:
polite discourse
Not quite.
Quote:
self-censorship
That sure as hell didn't happen.

Instead I saw almost an entire campus, thousands of people, stand up and applaud after Lee Bollinger trashed Ahmadinejad for fifteen or twenty minutes or so. He called him a petty tyrant, uneducated, and said that he probably lacked the intellectual honesty to answer the questions properly.

It was pretty inspiring, actually.

The air of the whole event -- media circus, telecasts, closed-off auditorium, protests, counter-protests, counter-counter protests, blistering attacks from faculty and students -- was not at all "visit of a distinguished guest." It was like the entrapment and dissection of a raving monster. In an academic environment, he just looked petty, self-righteous, ignorant, and small.
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El Blanco El Blanco is offline
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Old Sep 24th, 2007, 05:10 PM       
And now he has footage of him being ambushed attacked and assaulted by Western Infidels. Which could have been avoided by not extending the invitation in the first place.

While I'm glad Columbia stuck it to him, it is somewhat pointless. So you told him he is a tyrant, petty dictator, and a whole other bunch of nasty and true things with all the tact of a Rosie O'Donnell ambush interview. For what? What was gained by it?

Does he see the light now?

Do you think this will change things one iota?

And just out of curiosity, is there somewhere I can see the video? Just because I think it was useless doesn't mean it doesn't sound like fun.
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Old Sep 24th, 2007, 06:31 PM       
The students gained, the university gained, academic freedom gained. We had the opportunity to speak openly and challenge a particularly heinous world leader, and we didn't give him the velvet glove treatment or back down from basic liberal principles like conservative talking heads assumed we would. This wasn't a political move; Columbia University is not the United States government, so whether or not Ahmadinejad has juicy footage is beside the point.

And we can't say for certain whether this will affect change or not. He at least agreed to let Columbia students and faculty visit schools in Iran and engage students there. Might happen, might not.

The full program should be up on http://www.cutelevision.org/ later today.
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KevinTheOmnivore KevinTheOmnivore is offline
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Old Sep 24th, 2007, 11:10 PM       
The audience also gave a big applause when he chastized the Dean for attacking him before he could speak.

Where are you guys seeing these other videos?

Again, I'm fine with him speaking (althoughthe discussion of all these "gains" is certainly a stretch). I'm not fine with members of the Columbia "peace" movement discouraging people from protesting for the sake of not appearing like war mongers.

A lot of demonstrators were imported to the scene, and many on the campus Left dismissed the idea of protesting.

"And we can't say for certain whether this will affect change or not. He at least agreed to let Columbia students and faculty visit schools in Iran and engage students there. Might happen, might not."

Well that's super. Just don't look at a dude the wrong way.
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Old Sep 25th, 2007, 12:14 AM       
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Originally Posted by El Blanco View Post
And now he has footage of him being ambushed attacked and assaulted by Western Infidels. Which could have been avoided by not extending the invitation in the first place.

While I'm glad Columbia stuck it to him, it is somewhat pointless. So you told him he is a tyrant, petty dictator, and a whole other bunch of nasty and true things with all the tact of a Rosie O'Donnell ambush interview. For what? What was gained by it?

Does he see the light now?

Do you think this will change things one iota?

And just out of curiosity, is there somewhere I can see the video? Just because I think it was useless doesn't mean it doesn't sound like fun.
From what I've heard, it was more tactful than a Rosie ambush. In fact, he said things I think any good liberal would say. When I hear politicians speaking about having talks with guys like him, I envision a bunch of protocol that comes off as ass-kissing if not downright fawning... maybe some back-room dealing in which everybody loses. What Bollinger said in his introduction was, in my opinion, quite simply great. Let him speak for the American Left. Our Democrat politicians were pissing their pants over Bush's "Axis of Evil." Bollinger went way farther than that. He got down and dirty and for fucking once actually spoke some truth to some power. Good for him.

The fact that doing so changed nothing is the best part, Blanco. I don't know Lee Bollinger personally, but if we can judge where he stands by his enemies, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity surely see him as a veritable icon of the left's intelligensia/castrati. You guys on the right that begrudge even acknowledging Ahmadinejad can now point to this as the time the Left got to handle something just as they wished and nothing came of it. Talking to dictators now, officially, does not work, so the only option left is, of course, turning the whole place to glass.
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Old Sep 25th, 2007, 03:52 AM       
In my opinion, the forum was more about our country than Iran's (sorry Canadians). I'm sure Ahmadinejad's appearance has already been heavily censored/spun, and it won't make much of a difference there, except to those who are able to break through media censorship.

This was, perhaps more importantly, a test of the values that this country supposedly holds dear. The comments by buffoons like Assembly Leader Sheldon Silver (who should be excoriated for what he did to Bloomberg's congestion pricing plan, and now drawn and quartered for his threats to cut off state funding for the school), and clowns like Christine Quinn and Andrew Weiner, both of whom have open mayoral ambitions (and who can only hope to be 1/4 the mayor Bloomberg currently is), are alarming and dangerous. Basically extorting the school for exercising the 1st Amendment. Bollinger was far more tactful about it than I would be.

As for the Minuteman thing, well Columbia did invite them, and punished the students who interfered. They cancelled a 2nd invitation, but I don't know if they ever revealed why. There were problems with how they handled the whole thing, but charges that they were biased in how they interpret free speech don't hold up.
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Old Sep 25th, 2007, 04:03 AM       
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However, in that regard, I do wish the student body would be more consistent--they have shouted down Minute Men, members of Jihad Watch, and other conservatives.
Why is this such a big concern? The students have their beliefs that they should have a right to express, too. I wasn't at the campus today, but from what I can tell, a lot of students were thrilled to see Bollinger rip a new one. I agree that certain students went too far with the Minuteman thing, but if they want to protest that, then more power to them. People may not like what Columbia did in inviting the Iranian President, and they have a right to criticize the school, too. However, the whole state government threatening to cut off public funds to the school (much of which is financial aid for students) is an extremely dangerous precedent, in my opinion.
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KevinTheOmnivore KevinTheOmnivore is offline
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Old Sep 25th, 2007, 10:08 AM       
I'll say it again--I am glad Ahmadinejad spoke, and I think the whole event went well (despite the absurd applause they gave the ass when he whined about being attacked).

But the topic was started on the inconsistencies of the campus Left within the student body, not the campus administration itself. The crowd sat there and politely applauded an extremist and terrorist money man, and chuckled when he invited them to tour Tehran.

How would Cheney be received there? How about other foreign leaders, like Sarkozy or Howard? Would they even be able to finish their speech? Where was Code Pink yesterday to interrupt a man whose government hires super nuns to walk around with sticks in order to police females and children?

It's an inconsistency that exists in other dark little corners on the Left, and it's a sad, sad game of moral equivalence.
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KevinTheOmnivore KevinTheOmnivore is offline
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Old Sep 25th, 2007, 10:13 AM       
Also, the "American values" argument holds no water with me. This isn't a guy who wrote a controversial book and was given the podium. He's a head of state, and the mouthpiece for an extremist regime.

There are a lot of people who could not get their dose of Columbia free speech. I'm sure you or I couldn't. So let's not over play the speech card here, because as Preechr pointed out, his remarks were rather restrained by mahmoud standards. I would've preferred he given his Friday prayer tirade, while the academics and limo liberals at Columbia squirmed in their seats. Now that would be some speech!
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Old Sep 25th, 2007, 02:54 PM       
I think this whole thing is kinda dumb.

I mean, Ahmadinejad knows that Westerners don't like him, so why is everyone excited about telling him for like the hundredth time? Nothing some lame-ass hippy or bow-tied suit says to him or about him matters at all. He's not going to go back home and say, "Gee, I really think I should change my ways so they don't bust my balls so much."

Excersizing your free speech is one thing (USA! USA! USA!) but protesting stuff like this or arguing about who said what (or who didn't say enough) is just a waste of breath.
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Old Sep 25th, 2007, 09:14 PM       
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Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Fox News that Ahmadinejad should not have been invited to address the General Assembly.
"Ahmadinejad is expanding a fanatic doctrine of genocide. He is developing nuclear weapons to achieve it. He is denying the Holocaust. Imagine someone who denied that slavery existed and they want to knock an African nation off the map. You would not invite them," he said.


Lol that was great. I don't agree, but that was great
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mburbank~ Yes, okay, fine, I do know what you meant, but why is it not possible for you to get through a paragraph without making all the words cry?

How can someone who obviously thinks so much of their ideas have so little respect for expressing them? How can someone who so yearns to be taken seriously make so little effort?!
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Old Sep 26th, 2007, 07:09 AM       
can we please stop making fun of him and like, chat about what he actually had to say in his speech and like, stuff? full transcript of his speech here...

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/s...toryId=6107339
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Old Sep 26th, 2007, 11:50 AM       
THERE ARE NO HOMOS IN IRAN
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Geggy Geggy is offline
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Old Sep 26th, 2007, 01:34 PM       
can't we all get along? just for once??
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KevinTheOmnivore KevinTheOmnivore is offline
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Old Sep 26th, 2007, 01:53 PM       
Yeah, let's get to the substance of his speech, he's such a nice guy.

You're a douche bag, Geggy.
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