Of Course Ahmedinijad Should Speak at Columbia

by francine Hardaway on September 24, 2007

There. If you disagree with me, you need read no further. That’s my view. ( Full disclosure, I attended Columbia for my M.A. in the times when there really WERE riots.) If you want to cut me some slack, read on and I will try to explain why I thought so.

The higher education system in America has always been the place where unpopular views are presented. In the opinion of many, American higher education is even more “liberal” (I’m not even sure what this means anymore) than American news media. Moreover, the history of the university is one in which students come together to discuss ideas and meet new ones. Some of the world’s most controversial philosophical positions have been discussed at universities: the randomness of the universe, the relativity of ethics, the theory of evolution, even whether Pluto should still be a planet.

Thus, it is almost a given that Ahmedinijad should be allowed to speak. Especially if students can ask him questions. He needs to have his views out in the open, where our people and our news media can talk to him, learn what he really thinks first hand, and how he justifies some of the positions we have attributed to him.

I know he is a Holocaust denier. I know his own people don’t even like him. In no way am I an apologist for him. Indeed, he’s probably an embarrassment to the Iranian people in much the same way President Bush is often an embarrassment to Americans.

But if we deny him a safe place to speak, we are no better than any other extremist group. He knows how we feel about him. The world knows how we feel about him. Let’s just see how he handles it.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Linda VandeVrede September 24, 2007 at 11:35 am

I agree 100%. If we deny him these opportunities, we give our opponents the PR leverage they need with constituencies that are out to undermine us. Let him speak freely. The Sixty Minutes interview last nite was very interesting….

francine hardaway September 24, 2007 at 1:31 pm

After he got done “denying” the Holocaust (saying it ought to be studied from different points of view), he made some pretty reasoned points. I don’t think giving him a platform worked against us, either. It’s what our country is about. Even Pat Buchanan said that on MSNBC after the speech.

Cary Enoch Reinstein October 7, 2007 at 5:55 am

A perspective on Ahmadinejad’s Selective View of Religious Diversity & Acceptance:

francine hardaway October 7, 2007 at 6:32 am

Thanks, Carey. I hold no love for Ahmadinejad, just for America has a role model for freedom of speech and ideas. I have many Iranian exile friends who still have family there and are afraid to go back.

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