Monday, September 24, 2007

Ahmadinejad at Columbia

As Ortho Opinions has formally endorsed Fred Thompson, I might as well begin my comments on the sad event by quoting in its entirety Thompson's press release on it:

Columbia University gave a public forum today to a tyrant to spread his lies and deceit. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made a mockery of free speech by standing in front of an auditorium of academicians and students and denying the existence of the Holocaust and his deadly intentions toward Israel.

I find it ironic that Iran's president accepted an invitation to speak at Columbia University, since students who dissent on Iranian campuses are not met with debate, they are met by a gun and imprisonment. A few months ago, eight college students were imprisoned in Iran's notorious Evin Prison for publishing articles and cartoons critical of Iran's government in a student-run newspaper. The Evin facility has been described as Iran's 'most feared prison' and is known to stone women to death. We need to do our best to empower freedom-loving people throughout Iran.

After giving a one word answer to a question after his speech to the NRA, Thompson waggishly observed that having rejoined the ranks of the politicians he was expected to say more. Well bloggers are even more longwinded than politicians, so I'd like to continue in the vein of Thompson's remarks:

One wonders what other luminaries Columbia plans to give a public forum to:

Since Holocaust denial seemingly is not beyond the pale when it comes to invitations from Columbia, will David Irving be invited to give a lecture? Perhaps he could even be offered a post in the Department of History.

Since killing homosexuals seemingly is not beyond the pale when it comes to invitations from Columbia, will Jimmy Swaggart get an invitation? Perhaps he and Imam Arshad Misbahi of Manchester, England could be invited to lead a symposium on the subject. (Or is the mere theoretical advocacy of killing homosexuals somehow less tolerable than actually putting the policy into practice?)

I mention these two only because they are positions Ahmadinejad has endorsed, which were it discovered that some other invited speaker, hailing from the U.S. or some white Commonwealth country, say, endorsed, would lead to the cancellation of the speech, abject apologies to offended student groups, and perhaps the resignation of a token administrator or two, or at least would on most American campuses.

In the fever-swamps of the academic left, many of Ahmadinejad's other positions--that Israel is evil and should be destroyed, that American soldiers are tools of imperialism and should be killed, that President Bush is to blame for terrorism, or himself should be considered a terrorist, and the like--are commonly shared and thought a sign of enlightened opinion. One wonders whether these positions are thought so very enlightened that if one holds them, denying the Shoah and (at least tacitly) acceeding to the judicial murder of homosexuals can be overlooked as meer quirks.

More likely, Ahmadinejad was invited in spite of his odious positions because he is a Muslim--one of the barbarians du jour in the long tradition in the West of denigrating of the benefits of civilization in favor of the 'authenticity' of barbarism that stretches from Tacitus to Rousseau to the Romantics to today's multiculturalists. In which case, hold the invitations to Irving and Swaggart: their Holocaust denial and 'homophobia'* are inauthentic, products of Western culture, proof of it's evil, oppressive nature. Not like Ahmadinejad's vibrant, authentic, non-Western Holocaust denial and homophobia, these, one supposes are expressions of the true, peaceful nature of Islam we keep hearing so much about lately.

*A stupid word: 'Homophobia' from the Greek, meaning fear of sameness. Shouldn't it really be 'homoerotophobia'? I mean folks with homoerotic attractions dislike being called 'homos' almost as much as being called 'poofters' or 'faggots'. Why do they want the word for irrational fear or hatred of them to only mean what they want it to if they are called 'homos'?


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