Monday, September 24, 2007

Propaganda on campus

If you haven't been paying attention, then you may not have heard that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran, will be speaking at Columbia University in NY this week.

I've seen all kinds of snarky comments floating around. Some like to point out that ROTC isn't allowed at Columbia due to the military's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy, but the President of a country where homosexuality warrants the death penalty is okay. Others have noted that since Ahmadinejad was involved in the hostage crisis involving our embassy in Tehran so many years ago, it would be fitting for Columbia students to hold him hostage for a year or so.

All clever quips aside, I'm just baffled by the level of intellectual denial, on so many levels, that has to take place for Columbia administrators to think that this is a good idea.

First is the absurdity of asking the President of Iran to speak at an American university. Do they forget his repeated calls for the utter destruction of Israel and the US? Have they ignored our government's repeated warnings that Iran is actively waging war against us in Iraq? What possible "dialogue" could fruitfully result from allowing this guy a platform?

Additionally, do these people not understand the value of such propaganda? If this is a country that thinks we're a "paper tiger," what is going to be the result of letting their President just walk onto our soil and lecture us? Have they ignored the usual pattern from his letter to President Bush several months ago?

I'm left in utter disbelief that there are people who think there is something valuable to be gained here. Nothing good can come of this.

Update
Looks like I'm not the only one who thinks so. Captain Ed scolded Columbia for the results of this debacle.

8 comments:

Jen said...

"Nothing good" = University president writing his introduction speech as a flat-out act of hostility. Haven't read Ahmadinejad's speech yet, but I understand it was as wacked-out as one would expect from him. Seriously, the guy is whip-smart, but he's two fries short of a Happy Meal.

Hal said...

Well, from what I understand, when people were asking him about the status of homosexuals in Iran, he responded that Iran "doesn't have that phenomena."

Weird.

Anonymous said...

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Some like to point out that ROTC isn't allowed at Columbia due to the military's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy, but the President of a country where homosexuality warrants the death penalty is okay.
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Did you hear what McCain said about this? It's outstanding.

Also, what's with all these Hollyweird types checking out Chavez' new movie studio?

And on another note- why is it that people that would openly kill homosexuals are somehow embraced by the left-wing, yet people that simply say "it's wrong" become Public Enemy #1?

Jen said...

How exactly does one seriously misguided speaking invitiation constitute being "embraced by the left-wing?"

Hal said...

Well, perhaps sharing this story might help to some degree.

I'll caution that Hot Air wears their politics on their sleeves, although that's kinda refreshing from a media source.

Jen said...

I remain unconvinced.

For starters, this Time piece seems to be the only account of the event currently available. We know that the guests included "about 50...academics and journalists, mostly;" however, only two are identified. The names and affiliations of the rest have yet to be revealed, so this article does not provide evidence that the crowd was entirely left-wing.

Second, "the academics [were] not shy. They [made] statements not only about the need for dialogue and reconciliation, but [castigated] the Iranian government for chilling press freedoms and for arresting Iranian-American scholars who were only trying to foster better relations between America and Iran." This does not sound like embracing to me. It sounds like yet another attempt at a real conversation. Which brings me to my final thought:

There is some merit to the notion that reporting on everything he does just gives the nutcase more publicity. However, I would argue that any attempt at dialogue-which, when engaged in by politicians, is known as diplomacy-is better than the alternatives of 1)doing nothing or 2)bombing the tar out of an already unhinged leader's country. (If nothing else, know thine enemy, or at least his modus operandi.) Thinking optimistically, if we give him enough rope, maybe he'll eventually hang himself.

Hal said...

Well, I'd mention some of the protesters and bloggers who've been singing praises for Iran, but it'd be less than fair to characterize a movement based on its nutjobs.

Still, something you said was interesting. Is diplomacy always better than doing nothing or bombing the crap out of people? Are there no other alternatives?

The problem is of the "everything is a nail when all you have is a hammer" variety. If the only tool you have is diplomacy, then everyone looks like a reasonable diplomatic partner. What happens when that's at best an illusion and at worst a disguise?

Jen said...

Apologies for the late response--I am in the thick of two weeks of tech rehearsals, so coherent thoughts are currently few and far between.

As far as alternative responses go, here's an interesting opinion/suggestion from Time's Joe Klein: laughter.

"Inflating a Little Man"

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1666273,00.html

(Sorry...I don't know how to embed links all fancy-like.)

Really, it's not the worst idea I've ever heard.