Hugh Hewitt limns the outline of President Bollinger’s fantasy world in his speech preceding Ahmadinejad’s address at Columbia’s distinguished lecture series. He also takes the measure of Dean Coatsworth’s pathetic examination of Ahmadinejad following the address. Hugh writes:
President Bollinger suggested that Ahmadinejad’s speech to the Council on Foreign relations last year led to Ahmadienjad’s party losing local elections, thus indulging the twin absurdities that Iranian elections are free and that open and sustained debate occurs over the airwaves which can use Ahmadinejad’s speeches against him to win elections. “May this do that and more,” intoned Bollinger. Talk about cluelessness combined with epic self-importance. President Bollinger was actually suggesting that by hosting the fanatic he and Columbia are somehow involved in helping take down the despotic regime.
Whenever Lee Bollinger steps down as Columbia’s president, some poor fool will toast him for his “stirring” speech today, for speaking truth to power, blah blah blah. Nonsense. President Bollinger gave Ahmadinejad a microphone and a stage and then tried to use the underbilling to redeem his university’s sorry complicity in the legitimizing of this fanatic’s place in the world. Columbia can black out the backdrop and deliver stern lectures that go unheard in the Islamist world, but it won’t remove the stain on its own reputation: It played a role of accessory to many lies today, delivered by a killer of our troops.
“What did you hope to accomplish by speaking at Columbia today,” the hapless dean asked. Ahmadinejad was too polite to answer truthfully: “To find useful idiots who would allow me to deny that the facts of the Holocaust are fixed, to assert that Iran is the victim not the perpetrator of terror, that Israel’s right to exist ought to be the subject of a referendum, and to announce that there are no gays in Iran, thus sending a very clear message to the gays in Iran. I came, in short, to find you and the audience you gave me.”
“Calling for research into the facts [of the Holocaust] when the facts are so well established represents for many a challenging of the facts themselves and a denial that something terrible occured in Europe in those years,” the dean at one point gently suggested. How tentative. How courteous. How distant from the dean’s own feelings. How carefully phrased so as not to give offense.
(Emphasis added by Hewitt.) Hugh adds a note regarding Bollinger’s description of Iran as “the enemy” and asks: “If Iran is rightly regarded as the enemy, why is Columbia giving the enemy the stage and the audience, the prestige and the credibility?” This question makes the inarguable point on which I originally decried Columbia’s disgrace.
In his plea to the Yale Political Union not to host a Commuist Party functionary in 1963, Williiam Buckley referred to those such as Ahmadinejad and enjoined his audience:
Fight him, fight the tyrants everywhere, but do not ask them to your quarters, merely to spit on them, and do not ask them to your quarters if you cannot spit on them. To do the one is to ambush a human being as one migjht a rabid dog; to do the other is to ambush oneself, to force onself, in disregard of those who have died trying to make the point, to break faith with humanity.
In inviting Ahmadinejad to its quarters as an honored guest, today Columbia broke faith with America and, in Buckley’s terms, with humanity.