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Why I Helped Invite Ahmadinejad to Columbia

By Richard W. Bulliet

On a balmy April day in 1959, I joined with thousands of other students to listen to Fidel Castro speak from the balcony of the field house at Harvard University.

There was a nervous energy in the crowd that day. Part of it was a feeling of privilege. It's not every day that you get to hear firsthand from a man your country’s leadership brands a danger to civilization. And part of it was pride, the pride you get when your university makes possible a debate on the hottest current issues.

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's speech at Columbia University on Monday was the most dramatic "foreign bad guy on campus" event since '59. This time, however, my position was not in the crowd straining to see the charismatic Castro, but on the hot seat negotiating arrangements between Columbia's administration and Iran's U.N. mission.

The Iranian ambassador asked me to convey to Columbia’s president, Lee Bollinger, a confidential request for a renewal of last year’s invitation to speak on campus. This I did, and some days later I reported back a positive response.

What went through the minds of the two presidents in agreeing to the event, and on choosing their styles of speaking, I do not know. I can only speak to my own hopes in brokering their confrontation.

First, I think face-to-face exposure to world leaders is in and of itself good education. And second, it was my hope that through listening to and observing the new bogeyman of American politics firsthand, the slide toward war that has been building in certain precincts of our executive branch and the media might be slowed. Compounding the tragedy and errors of the war in Iraq with the devastation of another Middle Eastern country would be catastrophic for all parties.

Monday's event offered a singular opportunity for the future leaders at Columbia -- and, thanks to the hullabaloo the event created, tens of thousands of other Americans via YouTube and its ilk -- to judge the words and character of President Ahmadinejad before the end of the Bush era. It was also a chance to judge the sharply challenging nature of President Bollinger’s introduction.

Mr. Bollinger, a legal scholar and first-amendment expert, and Mr. Ahmadinejad, whose own country sets much tighter limits on the freedom of speech, provided an enormous audience with a case study on the value and peril inherent in one of America's most precious ideals.

But, to me, that was a sideshow. The real question was: Could listening, could openness to debate, slow the drift toward war? Could our eyes and ears help us find out who Ahmadinejad really is? The politicians and pundits who sold the war in Iraq have been trumpeting the idea that President Ahmadinejad is Hitler returned from the grave. If Hitler had been eliminated before he launched World War II, their thinking goes, 60 million lives would have been saved. Therefore, on the assumption that Ahmadinejad harbors a fanatical desire to carry out similar crimes, the only sane thing to do is to strike first.

But for most of the students I have talked to, the slight, relaxed, well-mannered Iranian who sat stolidly through President Bollinger's blistering attack, and even evinced a sense of humor, seemed little like the historical Hitler. No screaming. No fist pounding. No foaming at the mouth racism.

Yet his words were often evasive and his disclaimers of evil intentions slippery. Moreover, the record of remarks he has made to domestic audiences in Iran suggests an opportunistic trimming of rhetoric to fit the political situation.

In a meeting on Tuesday night, a guest asked Ahmadinejad what he thought of Hitler as a historical figure. He responded, not surprisingly, that Hitler was the embodiment of evil who violated all humane values. He added jocularly that he didn't look like Hitler, or speak the same language, or wear the same clothes. (Hitler had a better tailor.) But this did not allay the suspicion that he thinks similar thoughts.

As for the drift towards war, I’m not sure that it was affected. Castro’s strategy of reaching out to the American people with the populist style that worked so well for him in Cuba did not ultimately succeed. On April 15, 1969, just ten days short of the second anniversary of Castro’s speech at Harvard, the United States launched the Bay of Pigs fiasco.


Richard W. Bulliet is Professor of Middle East History at Columbia University.

Articles by Richard W. Bulliet on www.agenceglobal.com

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Comments (131)

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Abraham Simons:

I think Professor Bulliet has done a great service to his students.

Jehanyar:

Great learning experience for Columbia students. He will probobly be used as an example in all the political courses from now on. Castro will look like a saint when compared.

Bob:

In the same vein as those advocating free speech on the campus, I must support the author's right to express his opinion that the bay of pigs occurred in 1969. Presumably this get Pres. Kennedy off the hook as well, adding it to Pres. Nixon's plate.

Lindal Halliday-Johnson:

In response to Steve L.

Speak for yourself, sir. That is your right here in this forum. However, do *not* speak for me because we shall have to agree to disagree.

Having lived abroad for over half of my life (beginning as a soldier in the US Army in once-time Hitler's Germany if you can imagine) I have, most unfortunately, observed my fellow countrymen entertaining your particular school of thought which does nothing but stoke the perpetuation of the term "Ugly American."

In this era of globalization, and whether we agree or otherwise, it is nothing shy of inhuman to believe we are not "diplomats" of this nation. Professional or not, it would behoove us all to behave as such--not only to visiting (and most especially *invited*) guests, but also to each other. Your words represent the very nature of an arrogance that has destroyed our collective credibility around the world and continues to deliver our children, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, cousins, and beloved friends into the hell of war and destruction.

I have grown so weary of defending people not unlike yourself in my travels. What about that "Golden Rule" we were taught as children? It is a stinking, rotten shame that there is so much bitterness and misunderstanding over what could and should have been a supreme opportunity for a dialogue without prejudice. I shake (and hang) my head in disbelief at the utterly appalling behavior of Lee Bollinger.

JRLR:

The issue is not 1. whether "it's the responsibility of all prominent Americans to be "diplomats"; 2. or whether "the rest of us, Americans, are under any obligation to be "diplomatic" or "courteous"" when dealing with other human beings; 3. or else, whether non-Americans "can take it" or not when their American counterparts are ill-mannered or evidently uncivilized.

Respect for the rules of hospitality is first and foremost a matter of SELF-worth, of SELF-esteem, and above all, of SELF-respect.

Even the Bushmen of 22,000 years ago, even barbarians did respect the rules of hospitality.

It is true all of us, Americans, are at liberty, if we so wish, ever to remain beneath the level of sophistication displayed by Bushmen and barbarians.

We should just not be upset and complain whenever the world notices that we do.

Teresa:

The fact that when the people of Iran saw the students and Professors of Columbia applauding Ahmadinejad Iran's people may have lost any hope of any support (much less moral support) from the West to help them overthrow Ahmadinejad and the ruling Mullahs. So much for providing Ahmadinjad a forum as he will use the applauds of the Columbia students and professors as a tool to further his power and stature in the Middle East thus making war with Iran more likly, not less.

Futhermore if Richard W. Bulliet thinks that providing Ahmadinejad a platform at Columbia may actually help prevent a future war is both naive and arrogant. Ahmadinejad's objectives include the death of America, wiping Israel off the face of the Earth, public executing gays and women, murder of anyone in Iran who dares to question Islam or the power of Ahmmadinejad's overseers the Mullahs, etc. etc. So when I hear the students and Professors of Columbia applauding Ahmadinejad, it makes me sick at heart and fearful for our children's future.


Steve L.:

From reading the comments already posted, it's clear that many folks seem to think that it's the responsibility of all prominent Americans to be "diplomats." But we live in a free society and our Constitution makes no such requirement of any of us.

Diplomacy is for professional diplomats. Mr. Bollinger is not, and I am not. The rest of us Americans are under no obligation to be "diplomatic" or "courteous" when dealing with such as Ahmedinijad. We can and should exercise our right of free speech to call him out in the strongest possible language. Some ask, what message will that send to the rest of the world? Hopefully it will send the message that in America, everyone thinks for himself and most Americans can't be rolled or impressed with some foreigner's diplomatic status.

Americans who travel abroad are routinely lectured on the alleged evils of our government and even of our society. The tut-tutting never stops, and none of the citizens of those foreign countries ever give the slightest thought to being "diplomatic" with Americans.

Apparently the people of other countries can dish it out on Americans but they can't take it. Perhaps Mr. Bollinger's words taught them that Americans are learning how to answer them back.

Steve L.:

The hypocrisy of the left on this issue knows no bounds:

Right now, at Stanford University, 2,000 professors and students have signed a petition to keep Donald Rumsfeld out of the Hoover Institution, on the grounds that his views are not fit for Stanford.

At Columbia last year, representatives of the anti-immigrant Minutemen were met by left-wing student mobs that attempted to break up their public discourse. They said that the Minutemen had "no right" (their words) to speak at Columbia.

Just once, I would like to see liberals defend the rights of right-wing speakers the same way they defend the right of Ahmedinijad to speak at Columbia.

My guess is that all the same liberals who think it was cool to allow Ahmedinijad to speak at Columbia would work very hard to deny Bush or Condoleeza Rice or Donald Rumsfeld that same opportunity. Even though they are Americans and Ahmedinijad is not.

Steve L.:

The hypocrisy of the left on this issue knows no bounds:

Right now, at Stanford University, 2,000 professors and students have signed a petition to keep Donald Rumsfeld out of the Hoover Institution, on the grounds that his views are not fit for Stanford.

At Columbia last year, representatives of the anti-immigrant Minutemen were met by left-wing student mobs that attempted to break up their public discourse. They said that the Minutemen had "no right" (their words) to speak at Columbia.

Just once, I would like to see liberals defend the rights of right-wing speakers the same way they defend the right of Ahmedinijad to speak at Columbia.

My guess is that all the same liberals who think it was cool to allow Ahmedinijad to speak at Columbia would work very hard to deny Bush or Condoleeza Rice or Donald Rumsfeld that same opportunity. Even though they are Americans and Ahmedinijad is not.

Marie E.:

I am looking at universities for my daughter, and Columbia is permanently scratched off the list of potential destinations. Giving this vile man a very tall podium while denying the ROTC a place on campus tells me all I need to know about the faculty and student body at UC.

Thanks for the heads-up so I can cross you off the list without wasting much time.

S Cooper:

Lee Bollinger is a disgrace. His introduction for President Ahmadinejad was nothing less than a crass tirade. It puts Columbia University in a very bad light. What type of uncultured buffoon invites an honored guest to an event and then publicly attempts to humilate him?

Bollinger should tender his resignation as president immediately. He is not fit to hold that position.

Steve J.:

Where have most of you been hiding? The President of Iran has repeatedly stated his intents and the intents of Iran. What part of a fascist totalitarian world calliphate don't you understand? Didn't any of you listen to his rant at the UN? Couched in all those flowery words about "love" and "peace" and "can't we all just get along" was the veiled threat that there was only one way to exist in this world and that was his way. There was no "debate" at Columbia University, no "freedom of speech" exhibited where opposing views are discussed in the spirit of the free exchange of ideas. What we viewed was the Iranian version of Daniel entering the lion's den and leaving unscathed. This was a propaganda moment for consumption in the Middle East and Ahmadeinejad scored big. The only question of courage came from Karnit Goldwasser and it of course wasn't answered as she was shown the door.

RealityCheck:

Mr Mad Mood Amad Dinner Jdog has had three major speaking engagements on the sovereign soil of the United States of America. To my knowledge the 'great debate' used by Columbia and his other supporters to justify his visits has yet to take place. Mad Mood Amad Dinner Jdog only lectured. He fake an exchange of ideas but failed to answer many important questions, or responded to questions with ranting diatribe often outside the context of the inquiry.

Providing forums outside the UN for this mad man were not necessary to gain an understanding of the man, his country, or their collective policies. Nothing he said changed my knowledge of the man that was different from what I have learned since his election. There are too many sources of information readily available for anyone to honestly claim that we can not really know the man until we see him in person.

Jason:

This is for Mr. Bollinger and Mr. Ahmadinejad; “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline (Proverbs 1:7). Please let us, as Americans, not despise Godly wisdom (wisdom that’s greater then what our carnal worldly wisdom can think up). America let’s turn from our wickedness and go back to our foundations…turn and seek the wisdom and discipline that can only come from the Lord God.

Proverbs 2:6-12 (The Holy Bible)
6 "For the LORD gives wisdom,
and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
7 He holds victory in store for the upright,
he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
8 for he guards the course of the just
and protects the way of his faithful ones.
9 Then you will understand what is right and just
and fair—every good path.
10 For wisdom will enter your heart,
and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
11 Discretion will protect you,
and understanding will guard you.
12 Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men,
from men whose words are perverse"

I truly believe that the words of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are perverse and meant only to harm the United States and the entire western world. He is a very integral part of the Islamofascism ideology orchestrated by the Devil to destroy all who have faith in Jesus Christ. Dictatorship and hatred are the tools he has been given for destruction of all those that will not bow down to his form of Islam. Please don’t view this as just some quirky comments from a strong Christian believer but as a call to turn back to our Christian roots, to call on the name of Jesus Christ for His wisdom and power, that he will protect our land and heal our nation. God Bless you all!

Michael from Canada:

From another thread:

The final words of Theo Van Gogh have (without irony) become the mantra of the left:

"Surely we can talk about this."

Michael from Canada:

Why all the condemnation of Bollinger? Was he not demonstrating his freedom of speech? I am a bit amazed that some posters here are condemning the razing of a tyrant.

I am glad that Columbia University allowed this Persian to speak. I am now convinced he must not be allowed to get nuclear weapons.

T. H.:

One person Mahmoud Ahmadinejad didn’t expect to see at his UN press conference: Karnit Goldwasser, wife of kidnapped soldier Ehud Goldwasser.

“During the questions we made eye contact, we looked at each other more than once. The look on his face changed the moment he realized who was facing him and what I wanted from him,” Karnit Goldwasser, wife of kidnapped soldier Ehud Goldwasser, said after her meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in New York.

Goldwasser managed to enter Ahmadinejad’s press conference at the United Nations building in New York on Tuesday, and told Ynet that the she was surprised by the treatment the Iranian leader received upon his arrival.

“He came in and started to smile at everyone. The reporters gave him great respect... As he walked by me he said hi to me, because he still didn’t know who I was. He thought I was one of the supporting journalists, and that he was walking into a place where everyone loved him. He seemed very pleased,” Goldwasser recounted.

Goldwasser said she was not afraid to present the president with her question, and asked him, “Hello, my name is Karnit, the wife of Ehud Goldwasser, the soldier who has been held captive for over a year. Since you are the man that is behind the kidnapping due to the aid you grant Hizbullah, why don’t you allow the Red Cross to visit the two soldiers?” she asked.

The president ignored the question.

Security guards then removed her from the room.

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3453738,00.html

Just consider, for a moment, if you would be appalled in the same fashion if CU President Bollinger had invited David Duke to speak and rebuked Duke in the same fashion? I tnink not. Yet Duke hasn't authorized the killing of hundreds of homosexuals nor has he funded Hezbollah and aided them in the killing of many innocents in Israel. Just consider the complete and utter moral bankruptcy of your position as you deal in theory and in rich hypocrisy.

Bact:

I am from Iran.
I have always found american people to be completely unaware of Iranian people & their culture.

visit this site if you want to know more:
http://hotzone.yahoo.com/iran;_ylt=AoZ.vcmF9Cu6mOlONMTWZ2WLFMsF

I remember that I read something from the famous actor Sean Penn about his trip to Iran but I can not find the website now!

Ashot:

I am finding important to summaries Ahmad's legacy after his short but not controversial visit as it is reported in some newspapers and Washington Post.

In a very short note Ahmadinejad’s visit was presuming SABOTAGE in ideological and if it works also in political arena.

In addition I imagine all this being a very much educational experience for the students of Columbia University: I will name it “When and Why the Political Creditability weaves in Jeopardy”.

Ashot:

I am finding important to summaries Ahmad's legacy after his short but not controversial visit as it is reported in some newspapers and Washington Post.

In a very short note Ahmadinejad’s visit was presuming SABOTAGE in ideological and if it works also in political arena.

In addition I imagine all this being a very much educational experience for the students of Columbia University: I will name it “When and Why the Political Creditability weaves in Jeopardy”.

NRB:

How odd...the Minutemen founder was not able to speak, having been attacked by the rabid left wing fanatics at the school...yet Junior Hitler was given the star treatment. Democrats never cease to amaze me.

Ashot:

I am sure that Columbia’s president, Lee Bollinger was under heavy attack from the governmental organizations for Ahmadinejad's invitation. He was pressurized to make a harsh and hostile presentation. Unfortunately, that does not work well in practice. Bollinger had to maintain complete confidence and control despite the ongoing pressure; to avoid aftermath of two side attacks. I hope this pretty intelligent diplomatic effort will not end his career, not like that!

NRB:

How odd...the Minutemen founder was not able to speak, having been attacked by the rabid left wing fanatics at the school...yet Junior Hitler was given the star treatment. Democrats never cease to amaze me.

Ashot:

I am sure that Columbia’s president, Lee Bollinger was under heavy attack from the governmental organizations for Ahmadinejad's invitation. He was pressurized to make a harsh and hostile presentation. Unfortunately, that does not work well in practice. Bollinger had to maintain complete confidence and control despite the ongoing pressure; to avoid aftermath of two side attacks. I hope this pretty intelligent diplomatic effort will not end his career, not like that!

NRB:

How odd...the Minutemen founder was not able to speak, having been attacked by the rabid left wing fanatics at the school...yet Junior Hitler was given the star treatment. Democrats never cease to amaze me.

J.S.:

The people who should have been given a voice at Columbia University are those who are being oppressed and silenced in today's Iran. It would not have been Ahmadinejad; it would have been Iran's homosexuals, the journalists, the champions of women's rights, and the persecuted religious minorities. These are the people who Columbia University should have honoured and allowed to speak freely. Not given a podium and audience for a "petty and cruel dictator." Ahmadinejad has too many fora world-wide through which to spread his lies; he doesn't need yet another one.

Ashot:

I am sure that Columbia’s president, Lee Bollinger was under heavy attack from the governmental organizations for Ahmadinejad's invitation. He was pressurized to make a harsh and hostile presentation. Unfortunately, that does not work well in practice. Bollinger had to maintain complete confidence and control despite the ongoing pressure; to avoid aftermath of two side attacks. I hope this pretty intelligent diplomatic effort will not end his career, not like that!

Ashot :

I am sure that Columbia’s president, Lee Bollinger was under heavy attack from the governmental organizations for Ahmadinejad's invitation. He was pressurized to make a harsh and hostile presentation. Unfortunately, that does not work well in practice. Bollinger had to maintain complete confidence and control despite the ongoing pressure; to avoid aftermath of two side attacks. I hope this pretty intelligent diplomatic effort will not end his career, not like that!

Ashot :

I am sure that Columbia’s president, Lee Bollinger was under heavy attack from the governmental organizations for Ahmadinejad's invitation. He was pressurized to make a harsh and hostile presentation. Unfortunately, that does not work well in practice. Bollinger had to maintain complete confidence and control despite the ongoing pressure; to avoid aftermath of two side attacks. I hope this pretty intelligent diplomatic effort will not end his career, not like that!

Kenneth:

On April 15, 1969, just ten days short of the second anniversary of Castro’s speech at Harvard, the United States launched the Bay of Pigs fiasco.

Professor Richard W. Bulliet should consult with his colleagues on American history. The Bay of Pigs was in 1961, not 1969. How on earth could a history professor make such an obvious stupid error?

Kenneth:

Isn't the opposite also possible? By giving Ahmadinejad a platform to spread his lies, Columbia has helped strengthened his politcal position in Tehran, making an eventual confrontation between Iran and the rest of the world all the more likely.

M Saifee:

Well said, thank you.

Dan Pankowsky:

The fact that Dr. Bollinger's tirade was inappropriate for an invited guest is irrelevant, as this was simply to assuage the inevitable guilt over providing a respectable forum for the genocidal racist. Bulliet and Bollinger have made themselves into useful idiots.

The real problem with Ahamdinejad speaking at Columbia are twofold: first if Dr. Bollinger really believes what he said (that the Iranian leader is a either speaking from incredible ignorance or malice) then that is in and of itself a reason not to invite him to speak at Columbia. After all, not being an artist myself, should I demand and expect the right to speak on art at Columbia? I have an absolute right of free speech don't I? Yet no one reading this would consider it appropriate that me, a non-artist, be invited to Columbia to speak about art.

The second problem is that what Ahmadinejad says is vicious, no matter how civilized his tone and demeanor. From the hanging of homosexuals, jailing of Bahia's, to denial of the Holocaust even as a plans another one this Iranian regime spouts nothing but war and oppression. Just where does Dr. Bulliet expect to find dialogue in there? Is there any part of that agenda he can live with? History shows time and time again (and Dr. Bulliet seems to be rather short on his knowledge of history) that dialogue with fascists and tyrants does not work. No true democrat (with a small "d") can have any truck with that. To Dr. Bulliet I would only quote Arlo Guthrie's bumper sticker that he kept pasted on his guitar: "This machine fights fascism". I suggest he start doing the same.

pat:

How very elite of you. This "man" that you invited to Columbia is responsible for the torture (and I'm not talking about panties on prisoners heads) and death of many, including our own military. Women in Iran are being arrested for not wearing their religious clothing and knowing their place. He has stated "Death to America and Death to Israel" on numerous occasions. He is probably voted "most likely" to detonate the next nuclear bomb. Columbia is acting like they are oh so much smarter than the rest of the country; yet your "free speech" advocates shouted down McCain, and the "Minuteman"; and anyone else with a conservative view. There is a difference between freedom of speech and hate speech or propaganda. Such a "fine" university should have students intelligent enough to know the difference. Hypocrisy, thy name is Columbia.

Scott:

While I've never really been a fan of the Hitler comparison for Ahmadinejad (having only to do with the facts of each of these creeps, and nothing deeper about my own desires), I do think that we'd be idiots to allow Iran to become a nuclear power the same way Europe in the 1930s were idiots for letting Hitler amass his power.

This belief has little to do with Ahmadinejad himself. He's a puppet of theocratic masters.

Mr. Bullit may scoff at the notion that Hitler should've been stopped, forcibly if necessary, before it was too late. But history is what it is, not what we'd rather it be. The unwillingness to do so and the strong desire to talk with him, no different than now, only ensured a deep bloody war...it did nothing to avert it.

D.C. al Fine:

The real timing issue regarding Bay of Pigs was that it happened after Castro had announced his intention to ally with and to model his dictatorship after the then-still-expansionist Soviet empire.

Seems to me that Bulliet's strongest point is that inviting Ahmadinejad has given the current generation of grad students an "I was there" story about an episode when a major U.S. university debased itself as a propaganda platform for a dictator intent on damaging U.S. interests. Bollinger's otherwise excellent bill of particulars put Columbia in the squalid position of meeting its invited guest with attacks that were all the more vicious for being true.

The whole exercise shined an interesting spotlight on academic vanity.

D.C. al Fine:

The real timing issue regarding Bay of Pigs was that it happened after Castro had announced his intention to ally with and to model his dictatorship after the then-still-expansionist Soviet empire.

Seems to me that Bulliet's strongest point is that inviting Ahmadinejad has given the current generation of grad students an "I was there" story about an episode when a major U.S. university debased itself as a propaganda platform for a dictator intent on damaging U.S. interests. Bollinger's otherwise excellent bill of particulars put Columbia in the squalid position of meeting its invited guest with atacks that were all the more vicious for being true.

The whole exercise shined an interesting spotlight on academic vanity.

Different Century:

Hitler was a product of the 1930's depression and a world that had just experienced tranformation to an industrial age. Electricity was a luxury back then and radio was beginning to lead the way to mass communication (in a one way).

A bit different than the world of today, with instant communication and modern exchanges, web sites (including this blog).

Thus the isolation of Ahmadinejad on the grounds of being the precursor to another mass murder is absurd.

I especially liked Ahmadinejad's response to an Israeli reporter in his press conference: The Soviet Union was wiped off the map by the vote of people in USSR!

I now presume that the AIPAC lobby wants to ban the ballot box, or highly transform it to a ballot box of its own design.......

Grow up America!

Ashraaf Fakier:

Reading the comments regarding the Iranian President's speach at Columbia University, I am appalled at the level of ignorance displayed in a country that promotes freedom of speech. Americans are the most imprisoned thinkers in the world and that's why there president can lie to them and still stay in office for a further 4 years. I suppose when half the population votes and half of that number votes for the president he can basically make decisions about your life, whether you like it or not i.e. Patriot Act. you are the least free in the free world, and your comments are indicative of it.

Ashraaf Fakier:

reading the comments regarding the Iranian President's speach at Columbia University, I am appalled at the level of ignorance displayed in a country that promotes freedom of speach. Americans are the most imprisoned thinkers in the world and that's why there president can lie to them and still stay in office for a further 4 years. I suppose when half the population votes and half of that number votes for the president he can basically make decisions about your life, whether you like it or not i.e. Patriot Act. you are the least free in the free world, and your comments are indicative of it.

Anju Chandel, New Delhi, India:

"Atithi Devo Bhavah" ... A Guest is a God.

This is how we in India treat our guests, no matter what problems one might have with him/her in any respect. And, people experience that "warmth" when they visit India.

Therefore, for me the Columbia University fiasco was shocking. That how could the president of a reputed academic institution behave in such an uncultured manner with his guest? That what message will his conduct convey to the world about American culture?

Even if we talk in terms of plain international diplomacy, then also it was a golden opportunity lost: to listen to, understand and engage with a world leader constructively, and devise appropriate strategies in order to diffuse the current volatility in the US-Iran relationship.

It was simply stupid and idiotic and extremely myopic on part of Bollinger who, I am sure, would have acted on behest of Bush.

Jeremy:

Professor Bulliet forgot a minor detail in his article: Columbia is no Harvard. Lee Bollinger is obviously less intelligent than a Harvard dropout.

Big Stupid:

I absolutely agree with Norm Grant: I am glad he doesn't live over here either. Norm, all the good Europeans came over here already quite some time ago, including my family. But don't worry-- we still love Europe, enough to pull its sorry declining ass out of war after war every time it dabbles in more enlightened genocide or progressive political lunacy. Call us anytime!

Zia:

Ahmadinejad was denied ground zero visit though his nation help us toppling taliban.Colombia president showed true nature of our self. Greek, Persian,Indian & Chinese cultures are amazing. Even after Greenspan uttered the magic oil word nothing happens. GAO reports thousands of arms missing under Petraeus while he was training Iraqi police & army, politicians wait for his report really wonder how we got the title "Lone super power".

Lighthouse:

To Sharon Walker 2

Disturbing mindset. No One needs to "take a bullet for their country" on this matter. Free speech is a virtue even if you personally don't like the speaker. remember who burned the books and eliminated the opposition parties in the 1940's. Who is Goliath really? Now I mean.

s h a ron walker 2:

Dear Friends and Mr. Bulliet:

All due respects, would you take a bullet for your country, fellow man, fellow woman, President, your brother, sister, mother or father?

God Bless you. Psalms. David remember was prepared. Are you???

lighthouse:

A welcome break in the fog. However brief and tempered by the introduction. The US/global media is so effective at silencing critics and criticisms of Israel that it's entertaining to see someone break through even if only to be hammered for trying. Oh well. At least this nut is hardly worthy of our sympathy. The silence remains golden. The thicker Israel and its proponents lay on the fog the more desperate we all are for a fog horn. If the fog were only lifted i believe we'd find that the good people of the world CAN speak critically without hatred or prejudice. Some things Mr. Ahmadinejad may not be capable of. Israel and it's proponents ought to put more confidence in the overwhelming goodness of humanity. A tall order considering the 1940's but essential none the less. Behaviors are so cyclical. best to allow new and better cycles to develop rather than throwing the brakes on the old one. We've seen the consequences of the old one. Let it pass. Let the people talk.

x:

Would Bollinger have invited Bush for a talk at Columbia and m ade similar introductory remarks ?

Jason:

This war is not about world leaders, varying political views, economics, or even terrorism. I just want to say that this is not a war on terror for that is a tactic and not an enemy. This is a spiritual war against Islamofascism and its ideology. This ideology wants to destroy everyone who will not submit to its form of Islam. The Western culture, especially the Christian sector of its people, is extremely hated by this group of radicals that spans over many nations (not just Iraq and Iran).

Ephesians 6:12 says (The Holy Bible)
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

This war will not be won by political savvy, military strength, or economics. This war can only be fought and won on our knees in prayer. As a country founded on Christian principals I want to urge all of us to pray, pray daily for the battle is not ours but the Lord’s. This is the battlefield and this is the only way we will prevail. Pray for peace, for love, for truth and revelation.

For more answers go to:
http://www.answering-islam.org/index.html

JRLR:

Ladies and gentlemen, that post from Anonymous ought to be considered a beauty, indeed a classic, and be studied very closely! So much can be learned from Anonymous.

According to Anonymous, Columbia's crime was not to have been more concerned about "cries of protest from Jewish Americans" (with whom "every other American with a working cortex" must be in agreement, of course), than with "freedom of speech"!

Columbia's initiative was all the more unacceptable, says Anonymous, given "they are funded with state and federal dollars", i.e. (according to Anonymous) "by the people they give the shaft to". This suggests most Americans ("with a working cortex", that is) must be Jewish Americans and/or in agreement with them!

Anonymous concludes: "A logical (!) conclusion would be that the faculty & students must agree with Ahmadinejad or he would not be there." -- So if he was there (as he undoubtedly was), it must be because one was in agreement with him; because, should one not have been in agreement with him, he should/would not have been there!!!

That, ladies and gentlemen, is what freedom of expression means, that is how freedom of expression should be put into practise, according to a vocal supporter of the "cries of protest from Jewish Americans"!

I believe those Anonymous would undoubtedly call "anti-semites" would be hard pressed to beat Anonymous at his own game!

Michael:

Ahmadinejad is not the "leader" of Iran and has no real power he's just a mouthpeice for the mullahs. What you hear him say is what themullah's and Khamenei (supreme leader) tell him to say

VP:

"bogeyman of American politics"
Don't you mean of "bogeyman of free people around the world?" His country is extremely oppressive, he condones terrorist behavior, and don't forget their so-called "nuclear ambitions," as the Iranian president puts it.

"value and peril inherent in one of America's most precious ideals"
What peril? Peril implies risk or exposure to some type of danger. Are you insinuating that because of Mr. Bollinger's words that he should be in some type of danger? Or that "peril" should come about because of someone's words? He asserted his opinion and did not say that we should go to war with Iran. Referring to Mr. Bollinger's comments as a "case study" of the "...peril inherent in (free speech)" is ludicrous.

"who Ahmadinejad really is"
Who is this man behind the rhetoric?
He regularly has people killed in his country that do not agree with the politics and thinks the Holocaust "should be reexamined" from a different point of view. I'd like to know this "different" point of view.

"the assumption that Ahmadinejad harbors a fanatical desire to carry out similar crimes"
Israel? He need not be "fanatical" to have a desire to carry out similar crimes. Look into how he treats his own people.

"As for the drift towards war, I’m not sure that it was affected. Castro’s strategy of reaching out to the American people with the populist style that worked so well for him in Cuba did not ultimately succeed. On April 15, 1969, just ten days short of the second anniversary of Castro’s speech at Harvard, the United States launched the Bay of Pigs fiasco."
I would rank Castro possibly a bit more higher in "human being-ness", I don't think he ever exclaimed to want to rid of an entire country. Although, comparably, he did treat dissendents similarly to the Iranian president.

"slight, relaxed, well-mannered Iranian who sat stolidly through President Bollinger's blistering attack, and even evinced a sense of humor"
It seems that anyone I've read who has posted with any "positive" reactions towards the Iranian president seem to ONLY highlight his outward appearances and reactions...how he portrays himself. As if those who mention these aspects do not realize the deeper meaning and truth behind who this person is behind the facade. It explains how, in some instances, people can get away with atrocities for a good while, because as they always say "I would've never thought. They sure didn't act crazy (or fanatical)." Appearances aren't always what they seem.

Anonymous:

In case you were trying to draw parallels between Castro & Ahmadinejad, its a wee weak. I don't think anyone is concerned about being nuked from the Cubans. Of course maybe Columbia should invite him next, is that what you are suggesting? Call Bollinger he just might love your idea.

Columbia's total lack of concern for N.Y. & for the rest of the U.S. is obvious. They were more concerned about their "freedom of speech" than cries of protest from Jewish Americans (and every other American with a working cortex). Yet they are funded with state and federal dollars by the people they give the shaft to.

Columbia needs to stop trying to insult our intelligence by hiding behind "freedom of speech" when they refuse to let conservatives views/ROTC be heard because they don't agree with them. A logical conclusion would be that the faculty & students must agree with Ahmadinejad or he would not be there. Obviously Iranian terrorists are more welcome than some Americans on Columbia grounds.

That is what needs to be defended by the school & Bollinger. Explain that.

David:

Thank you Mr. Bollinger for killing the messenger. If there is going to be a war with the mullahs, you will be remembered as the starting point and the catalyst. I am sure the mullahs will never again come for debate or discussion. They will think you represent america and continue doing whatever they are doing, just 10x faster. You just burnt the most important bridge we needed now.

Norm Grant:

Hey Americas Rage (sic) -- If people like Sally Field ran the world there wouldn't be 500,000 dead Iraqi civilians as a result of this war, the U.S. would probably have health care -- because it wouldn't have spent $600,000,000,000 so far on a war that has debased an entire region (and, Robert Gates has just asked Congress for another $190,000,000,000 for next years war costs!). You DO realize that there is no way for America prevail in Iraq. But, keep spending your country into bankruptcy, keep making new generations of Muslims hate you -- that's your mental speed, I guess. It's sort of funny watching all this from over here in Europe, by the way. I'm sure glad I don't live over there (your dollar is really becoming worthless in the markets, by the way).

(By the way, it's not "Sally Feilds" ... "I" goes before "e" except after "c" in the English Language. Let me guess, you live in Mississippi, Alabama, or one of those other South United States).

Sigrid Bergie:

I am really embarrassed that the president of a
university behaved just like the good old bad boys
that run our country the U.S.A. We should give other
world leaders the respect we would expect if we were
speaking in their country. If Bollinger wanted to
protest, he should have been outside with the demonstrators.


Scott Fletcher:

It is with increasing alarm that I listen to those (Mitt Romney, etc.)that would have us 'ban' Iranian president Ahmadinejad from speaking at Columbia University and, yes, even the United Nations. Our nation was once the world's premier champion of free speech. Increasingly, those that fear terrorism, or use terrorism to spread fear, seem intent on censoring and/or curbing our free speech in what I believe is either a naive or cynical attempt to stifle the free exchange of ideas.
Whatever one thinks of President Ahmadinejad, he is the de facto leader of a large and powerful nation who has every right to address the U.N. Furthermore, by extending the invitation to speak at Columbia, the university's administration has given us all the opportunity to judge FOR OURSELVES if he is the extreme "evil-doer" that the Bush Administration has made him out to be. Also, and maybe most importantly, Columbia has demonstrated to the rest of the world that we can certainly disagree with someone's world view or politics, and still engage them in dialog (it's called diplomacy, my friends). I'll end with a couple of quotes from a revered and thoughtful Republican:

"How far can you go without destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without?"

"Preventive war was an invention of Hitler. Frankly, I would not even listen to anyone seriously that came and talked about such a thing."

~Dwight D. Eisenhower


~Dwight D. Eisenhower

An American:

It is absolutely incredible to witness the unfounded venom, the baseless vitriol, devoid of factual content - except for the correction of a typographical error in date - that passes for freedom of speech in these blog responses. What do most Americans REALLY know about other countries right here in the western hemisphere, much less a country on the other side of the planet with a completely different history and socio-political order? We're mostly uneducated buffoons, ignorant even of our own history, spoon-fed opportunistic propaganda by a complicit corporate media class that still exploits speculative government 'intelligence'; and who, through that very ignorance, abuse the precious freedom of speech we so gladly deny to others. We are so great as a nation, that we don't need to learn anything of others! Others must learn from us. Look at how much we know about the folly of war. Why next year alone, we'll send our precious children $481B+ $190B further into debt so that others can learn from us.

mrr:

Bollinger is selfish, and only added fuel to the fire-that is the hatred the world already has towards Americans. I, as an American and a high school Social Studies teacher, feel foolish. Days prior to the speeches, students would ask me what I thought about Ahmadinejad speaking at Columbia. I remember telling them, "Wouldn't it be awesome, if Ahmadinejad left America with a completely different view of Americans. There are going to be individuals and groups that are critical of his visit, but how cool would it be if he went back to Iran, and aired a message about how Amerians are far better than he'd originally though." Bollinger, a well-educated, high profile figure, simply showed millions of students around the world that it is ok to disrespect, devalue, and dehumanize an individual based upon his/her beliefs. I am not defending nor sympothizing with Ahmadinejad because he is in fact a harsh dictator, but Bollinger simply sent the wrong message to millions of students by acting as he did.

mrr:

Bollinger is selfish, and only added fuel to the fire-that is the hatred the world already has towards Americans. I, as an American and a high school Social Studies teacher, feel foolish. Days prior to the speeches, students would ask me what I thought about Ahmadinejad speaking at Columbia. I remember telling them, "Wouldn't it be awesome, if Ahmadinejad left America with a completely different view of Americans. There are going to be individuals and groups that are critical of his visit, but how cool would it be if he went back to Iran, and aired a message about how Amerians are far better than he'd originally though." Bollinger, a well-educated, high profile figure, simply showed millions of students around the world that it is ok to disrespect, devalue, and dehumanize an individual based upon his/her beliefs. I am not defending nor sympothizing with Ahmadinejad because he is in fact a harsh dictator, but Bollinger simply sent the wrong message to millions of students by acting as he did.

M. James Wilkinson, Santa Rosa CA:

You don't have to be a Republican or a Jew to have concluded well before Columbia's invitation that Ahmadinejad's holocaust denial activities constitute a message of hate that should deprive its bearer, not of the right to expression, but certainly of the opportunity for access to any such respected public podium.

Dan (Ex-CU student):

Mr. Bollinger can respect a dictator from Pakistan but not an elected president of a country who represents 100 milion people! Why: Media, Lobby, perssure 2 save face?

Anthony :

In this time of "possible" war; when we as North Americans are only presented with the mainstream media's views and images, inviting Mr. Ahmadinejad was the correct thing to do. We may approve or disapprove with what he has to say but now, we at least have had the opportunity to "hear and see both sides" of part of a very critical issue.

Both sides are something we do not get from the mainstream media in general and this is one of the reasons that we are so easily led to war.

Quite a few people may question this "potential" war and our middle east policies as a result of his open talk and this can only be a good thing as war and very important polices should always be questioned.

rlsiegel:

why am i not surprised to learn from where you have employment? for some reason you seem to think you have some special knowledge about how tyrants, past and present, function. i would say you are naive at minimum, and more likely a morally vacant apologist triing to redefine world standards of conduct. surely a professor of any curriculum at any unuversity in the world should have known the empty results of an interview with a man of ahmadinejad's ilk. like castro,tito,sir oswald mosely,franco, no clever,brilliant panalists coinducting an interview with these villians will ever hear the answer of which they are certain must be delivered to a specific ? they live by a different set of rules: telling the truth is not part of their requirement. if they respond at all, they will always lie to avoid self incrimination to the point of calling black, white, despite everyone in the room seeing the truth as plain as day. so what have you accomplished besides feeding your own ego. appeasement through civility is not the way to create peace or a better world.

rlsiegel:

why am i not surprised to learn from where you have employment? for some reason you seem to think you have some special knowledge about how tyrants, past and present, function. i would say you are naive at minimum, and more likely a morally vacant apologist triing to redefine world standards of conduct. surely a professor of any curriculum at any unuversity in the world should have known the empty results of an interview with a man of ahmadinejad's ilk. like castro,tito,sir oswald mosely,franco, no clever,brilliant panalists coinducting an interview with these villians will ever hear the answer of which they are certain must be delivered to a specific ? they live by a different set of rules: telling the truth is not part of their requirement. if they respond at all, they will always lie to avoid self incrimination to the point of calling black, white, despite everyone in the room seeing the truth as plain as day. so what have you accomplished besides feeding your own ego. appeasement through civility is not the way to create peace or a better world.

Brian:

first off, i would like to commend mr Richard W. Bulliet for inviting Iran's president Ahmadinejad to columbia.

not only is freedom of speech important in america, but even though i didnt get to hear the speech in its entire length. i would like to say that one of the most profound problems of western civilization, that goes beyond, politics today is economics. money is the root of all evil. we have evolved as humans from hunters and gatherers, to bartering and eventually the use of money. we wake up everyday and go work for money, not hunt for food. with this being said and understood, i'd like to point out the laws of christianity that jesus taught particularly the law he preached against Usury. the corrupt practice of lending money out at interest. this may seem like a microscopic rule of law being broken, by our debt based economic system but, it has created institutions that enslave americans like the IRS, and the Federal Reserve Bank.

Islam also like christianity preaches against Usury.. and even though Usury laws in western civilization were relaxed in the 16th century, i would argue completely that the reason Western Civilization is in a steady decline is because we have lost our religious theological views, beliefs, and faith. one could easily study the fall of the roman empire and assert quite similar notions, ideas. Islam today in Iran is not like modern day christianity because it still prohibits Usury as a crime prohibited in Sharia Law. Islamic countries that practice sharia law and live without debt based usury economic systems are under constant threat and are seen as 'market share' in the global struggle for world domination, and debt based economic servitude.

Entire economic cycles that are commonly refered to as the business cycle are the biggest back door tax that most americans do not understand. the redistribution of wealth from the poor to the rich, to maintain an uneven balance of class structure. This is, one of the primay reasons of the United States being in Iraq, and Afghanistan, along with Fossil Fuels (oil), and illegal addictive narcotics (opium).

I would love to hear back from anyone who has any thoughts on this. x083 "at" yahoo "dot" com
thanks.

Robin Somers:

I can't believe that Bollinger still has a job.He was RUDE,Ignorant and full of himself.It's to bad that the University let him get away with that.Shame on Fox news for there contribution in this also.Columbia invited him to be a guest.I was ashamed of his treatment.

JRLR:

I should like to point out how strangely difficult it has been, so far, to have access to the full text of President Ahmedinejad's speech at the UN General Assembly, yesterday. No such difficulty seems to exist for the few who wish to refer to Bush's speech...

That observation out of the way, let me say I listened to President Ahmedinejad's speech and do have a copy of it.

Personally, I found most pertinent what President Ahmedinejad said on:

1. the widespread violations of human rights, terrorism and occupation,

2. the aggressions against indigenous cultures and national values,

3. poverty, illiteracy, healthcare issues and the gap between the poor and the rich,

4. ignoring noble values and the promotion of deception and lies,

5. the escalation of threats and the arms race,

6. the inefficacy of international mechanisms in addressing these challenges and in restoring durable peace and security.

More particularly, I thought his remarks on 1. the international behaviour of bullying powers, 2. the plight of the Palestinians and of the Iraqis, 3. the urgent need to reform the UN (more particularly the Security Council), were most accurate and worthy of careful consideration.

I therefore suggest it might be more constructive and conducive to learning, were the Washington Post to publish the full text of that speech (and of the one given at Columbia...) and PostGlobal to invite its readers to comment on everything President Ahmedinejad really said.

It is infantile to deride the President only on a couple of relatively minor issues, as has been done so far. It takes more courage: 1. to invite the man to speak in our midst (I did not say our motto should be "To invite and to insult"...), 2. to listen to what he has to say, 3. to resort to detailed rational criticism of his views.

In concrete terms (not just in theory!) THAT is what free speech is all about. To claim to be FOR free speech, yet AGAINST giving any man the opportunity to exercise his right to it here, in our midst, is not serious.

In view of the recent turmoil (and statements such as "Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has already stated his “Mein Kampf” to the world" -- Dr Coles...) let me suggest we consider moving the UN Headquarters to a more mature country. Why not to Switzerland? Geneva would do.

How about near Boulevard des Philosophes, Rue des Alpes, Rue du Mont-Blanc? It might prove more challenging for everyone than "Turtle (!) Bay neighborhood", east side, Midtown Manhattan...

Pass Erby:

I can't believe that "educated" people would be interested in listening to someone who denies that the Holocaust even happened. Well, it did happen. This guy is a lying, crooked, twit, that would like nothing more than to see everyone in this country dead.

cjmth:

Columbia gave evil a center stage to show the world it is on the move and even entertained on a prestigious campus in America. What did this lunacy say about us - tolerance or appeasement-- sound familiar?????????

cjmth:

Columbia gave evil a center stage to show the world it is on the move and even entertained on a prestigious campus in America. What did this lunacy say about us - tolerance or appeasement-- sound familiar?????????

Dan (Ex-CU student):

Thank you Mr. Bulliet for giving us the opportunity to hear a controversial foreign leader. Thank you Mr Bollinger for:
1. Proving that Lobby, Media prevails over morality, rationality, civility.
2. Officially insulting an elected leader, a represenrative of 70 milion people and American hospitality.
3. Proving that Coulmbia is not a fair place for people from certain religion or nationality.
4. Closing CU's doors forever for free thinking, openness, fairness, debate. CU is now better than FOX.
5. For denigrating american values. CU justice: Guilty first .. then prove if you are innocent.
6. For making Mr A a bigger hero in his part of the world.
7. For making CU, america a loser in the whole debate.

Thank you CU!

One Iranian:

I thought that American are well-civilized people and receive their guests in a well manner but the way that Mr Lee Bollinger received Iranian president Mr Ahmadinejad changed my thought.
I think American must apologize Iranian people before it got late.

One Iranian:

I thought that American are well-civilized people and receive their guests in a well manner but the way that Mr Lee Bollinger received Iranian president Mr Ahmadinejad changed my thought.
I think American must apologize Iranian people before it got late.

Scott:

All open and honest critics of his visit strongly believe in a debate of ideas. However it is not accurate to say that a debate of ideas has taken place. Ahmadinejad reiterated standard nonesense with little value. Please do not delude yourself into thinking that a "national discussion" is taking place either due to Ahmadinejad's visit....the discussion is the same one we have been having....The common man believes he is evil and intellectual leaders including yourself believes Ahmadinejad is a freedom fighter

carlresnick@Gmail.com:

How sad it is that a madman was offered a chance to speak at the halls of Columbia University. Why not invite Omar al Bashir, the head of Sudan, to speak? Maybe the head of the KKK should also be offered a platform. What about Hitler?

Does Columbia now teach the horrors commited by Comrade Stalin in the Communist hay-day?

What you miss is that the Iranian leader is a dangerous clown. Iran offers little free speech and farcical elections. Did you forget that about 2100 candidates were not allowed to even run for office?

Iran is also involved in ethnic cleansing of certain tribes within their borders.

You may call it a liberal education-I rather call it slanted. Living in an farscical liberal environment with few responsibilities creates strong misconceptions about reality. Today your hollowed halls been smeared with execrement not free speech. Did you realize that insulting the madman made him look good back home.

Shame on you!


carlresnick@Gmail.com:

How sad it is that a madman was offered a chance to speak at the halls of Columbia University. Why not invite Omar al Bashir, the head of Sudan, to speak? Maybe the head of the KKK should also be offered a platform. What about Hitler?

Does Columbia now teach the horrors commited by Comrade Stalin in the Communist hay-day?

What you miss is that the Iranian leader is a dangerous clown. Iran offers little free speech and farcical elections. Did you forget that about 2100 candidates were not allowed to even run for office?

Iran is also involved in ethnic cleansing of certain tribes within their borders.

You may call it a liberal education-I rather call it slanted. Living in an farscical liberal environment with few responsibilities creates strong misconceptions about reality. Today your hollowed halls been smeared with execrement not free speech. Did you realize that insulting the madman made him look good back home.

Shame on you!


carlresnick@Gmail.com:

How sad it is that a madman was offered a chance to speak at the halls of Columbia University. Why not invite Omar al Bashir, the head of Sudan, to speak? Maybe the head of the KKK should also be offered a platform. What about Hitler?

Does Columbia now teach the horrors commited by Comrade Stalin in the Communist hay-day?

What you miss is that the Iranian leader is a dangerous clown. Iran offers little free speech and farcical elections. Did you forget that about 2100 candidates were not allowed to even run for office?

Iran is also involved in ethnic cleansing of certain tribes within their borders.

You may call it a liberal education-I rather call it slanted. Living in an farscical liberal environment with few responsibilities creates strong misconceptions about reality. Today your hollowed halls been smeared with execrement not free speech. Did you realize that insulting the madman made him look good back home.

Shame on you!


carlresnick@Gmail.com:

How sad it is that a madman was offered a chance to speak at the halls of Columbia University. Why not invite Omar al Bashir, the head of Sudan, to speak? Maybe the head of the KKK should also be offered a platform. What about Hitler?

Does Columbia now teach the horrors commited by Comrade Stalin in the Communist hay-day?

What you miss is that the Iranian leader is a dangerous clown. Iran offers little free speech and farcical elections. Did you forget that about 2100 candidates were not allowed to even run for office?

Iran is also involved in ethnic cleansing of certain tribes within their borders.

You may call it a liberal education-I rather call it slanted. Living in an farscical liberal environment with few responsibilities creates strong misconceptions about reality. Today your hollowed halls been smeared with execrement not free speech. Did you realize that insulting the madman made him look good back home.

Shame on you!


Just a HS grad:

First of all Monday's embarrassment of Bollinger making the US look like an ... shows just how ignorant our insititutional staff really are regarding world politics. I agree Ahmadinejad is a very dangerous and two-faced man, but for a university president and now a professor from the same university to show just how poorly educated our senior eductors maybe is another embarrassment. Look at your own history books professor, and Mr. President, I hope you do not treat your students as you did a president of another country. Looks like my kids will attend a local university.

AK:

This was an excellent opportunity for a decent cultural exchange which was initially facilitated but later sabotaged by President Bollinger's blistering attack on an invited guest. Perhaps he did it to save his own butt from the right wing extremists of this country who never wanted such an event to take place. Or may me there was some other reason. In any case insulting an invited guest was a petty and disgraceful thing to do, especially by a president of such a reputable university.

guest:

what shocked me the most was how many jewish people control important posts in the US, pay attention of the last names of those who criticized his visit. This iranian guy's visit shed some light on who is running this country and using American souls for thier own benefits. Americans are not hated by anyone and they don't hate anyone, they are just brain washed by the media (who is controled by **** also). The same people that drove America into WWII and into the Iraq war are trying to drive it into a war with Iran. Little thinking please, what country is in range of Iranian missles? What country was in range of Iraqi missles? What country hates everyone in the middle east and yet want to exist right in the heart of the middle east? Look up King David hotel online or in books and see for yourself who started terrorisim against western people. History is repeating itself.

carlresnick@Gmail.com:

How sad it is that a madman was offered a chance to speak at the halls of Columbia University. Why not invite Omar al Bashir, the head of Sudan, to speak? Maybe the head of the KKK should also be offered a platform. What about Hitler?

Does Columbia now teach the horrors commited by Comrade Stalin in the Communist hay-day?

What you miss is that the Iranian leader is a dangerous clown. Iran offers little free speech and farcical elections. Did you forget that about 2100 candidates were not allowed to even run for office?

Iran is also involved in ethnic cleansing of certain tribes within their borders.

You may call it a liberal education-I rather call it slanted. Living in an farscical liberal environment with few responsibilities creates strong misconceptions about reality. Today your hollowed halls been smeared with execrement not free speech. Did you realize that insulting the madman made him look good back home.

Shame on you!


Adam:

Inviting world leaders to speak and discuss issues with students at any university is a very good idea. this of course should be obvious. Inviting one that, as was stated in the article, is the current bogeyman of American Politics is an exceptionally good idea.

First off it humanizes this leader, and allows us to see that he, like us, is human. Although at first glance, it sounds rather simplistic; the humanizing aspect of simply talking in to someone tends to bring them more into focus as a human being, and not an idealized neo-hitler.

Secondly, it shows that some, and seemingly a very small group in the United States, actually believe in freedom of speech when it means hearing views that are not in vogue. As much as we may send our youth, and indeed ourselves to fight and die for such 'glorious' national values of democracy, and freedom... It is funny how so many would seek to remove these rights from those abroad that some believe speak 'wrongfully'.

Finally, In a somewhat related event, I was dismayed that the Iranian president was not allowed to pay his condolences to those who died in the September 11 attacks. What possible way to better reduce the tensions inherent between the two nations involved, then to allow a process of grieving together? Is it truly too much to believe that any human, no matter their differing gods, or lack thereof could actually feel saddened for the deaths of so many innocents?

Yes, it very truly could have been a political ploy to gain something for Iran, however what act by a political leader is not some how politicized? Mr. Giuliani has used ground zero for political purposes in his current presidential campaign, does this mean he does not feel for the loss of human life that occurred?

In denying the Iranian leader the ability to pay his condolences; officials have made those deaths into a political token of international gamesmanship. The same games and strategic exercises that led to their horrible demise.

scott:

The 1969 was an obvious typo. Not that he said ten days after the second anniversary of Castro’s speech, which would have been 1961. A typo, nothing more. As far as listening to this guy is concerned, I thought it was a good idea. Why be afraid of what someone has to say, unless we are afraid of our own stupidity.

The opening remarks were obviously meant to suppress media criticism. I don't believe Columbia should care at all about the media. Universities are for academics and accuracy, the media seems to be there for ratings. Accordingly, the insulting introduction was not necessary. Let this own guy's contradictions speak for themselves. Compare his speech to Columbia to the speeches he has made worldwide and come to your own conclusion. I am proud of Columbia for bringing him in to speak. I am embarrassed about the introduction.

Dan (Ex-CU student):

Thank you Mr. Bulliet for giving us the opportunity to hear a controversial foreign leader. Thank you Mr Bollinger for:
1. Proving that Lobby, Media prevails over morality, rationality, civility.
2. Officially insulting an elected leader and represenrative of 70 milion people.
3. Proving that Coulmbia is not a fair place for people from certain religion or nationality.
4. Closing your doors forever for free thinking, openness, fairness, debate.
5. For denigrating american values: Guilty first .. then prove if you are innocent.
6. For making Mr A a bigger hero in their part of the world.
7. For making CU a loser in the whole debate.

Thank youo CU!

SA:

It is extremely disheartening to see a supposedly prestigious university open its forum to a man such as Ahmadinejad to spew his ignorant hatred under the guise of being just a regular Joe who happens to be a leader of an oil-rich (albeit potentially nuclear-threatening)Middle Eastern country. The lack of discernment on Columbia's part is astounding. The value of Ahmadinejad's intellect is deserving of his own blog and the usual propaganda on Al Jezeera. For those who feel compelled to listen to such grand "free speech," my response is to go search him out on the forums he is deserving of. To accept this man as a respectable statesman who has something worthy to communicate is ludicrous. May God have mercy on the U.S. for our never-ending naivete.

Sandy:

I completely agree with Alex Babbie's comments.

Sandy:

I completely agree with Alex Babbie's comments.

Americas Rage:

E.W., Alex, Barb, Eric, Robert......you are all complete idiots! If people like you and Sally Feilds ran the world, the result would be bloodshed like history has never before seen.
Wake up. Go to the clue store. Buy a clue!

Edward:

The first three paragraphs are a childish read. History proved Castro's danger in Oct. 1963..."charismatic Castro" and the "nervous energy" of an effete intellectual are an unreliable source of observation.
How did this immature person gain professorship?
Columbia sinks further on the national stage.

Edward:

The first three paragraphs are a childish read. History proved Castro's danger in Oct. 1963..."charismatic Castro" and the "nervous energy" of an effete intellectual are an unreliable source of observation.
How did this immature person gain professorship?
Columbia sinks further on the national stage.

Roland:

I would like to thank you for making this happen, as this does help atleast us unimportant people on the street get some look at this man from a view unbiased by the popular media and their sponsors. It might not help with the slowing of the war machine we call govt and their efforts to get another war front opened up but it will help the average man see first hand what a man you only see heavily edited clips of looks like in real life and what he sounds like. thank you.

Americas Rage:

E.W., Alex, Barb, Eric, Robert......you are all complete idiots! If people like you and Sally Feilds ran the world, the result would be bloodshed like history has never before seen.
Wake up. Go to the clue store. Buy a clue!

Scott:

All open and honest critics of his visit strongly believe in a debate of ideas. However it is not accurate to say that a debate of ideas has taken place. Ahmadinejad reiterated standard nonesense with little value. Please do not delude yourself into thinking that a "national discussion" is taking place either due to Ahmadinejad's visit....the discussion is the same one we have been having....The common man believes he is evil and intellectual leaders including yourself believes Ahmadinejad is a freedom fighter

Deegoot:

Interesting sense of pride, but at the time Fidel Castro was not providing weapons and manpower to undermine (kill) US troops and trample the attempt to rebuild a country was he. Nope, his was a weak little regime on a tiny island with only one superpower that dumped cash into Fidel's sinkhole. A failed state that could survive only because it was so small it was easy to float.
It kills me how the world takes these events and calls for the end of "US imperialism"! Please list the countries who's 'official' position is that (not including the student position - please!). Seems to me the end to the
so-called imperialism will bring on a joyful period of totalitarianism if these coutries manage to continue to lie and corrupt the mind of scared, soft, and spolied minds.

Nkitat Ehimesele:

President Ahmadinejad exhibited all the decency expected of a culturd and civilized leader.
The introduction was, at best, shameful of an academic and seemded to portray us as grossly immature. The interpretation given to the Iranian president's speech also showed many people understood what he said literally!I honestly think Ahmadinejad should be awarded Professorship. I wont be surprised if he makes his fortune after leaving office delivering speeches to enlightened world audiences.

Donna Cotner:

An incredibly insightful and important book by Chris Hedges can shed light on this subject: "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning", by Chris Hedges. I hope you have read it, or will do so. He was a war correspondent for many years.

The only chance we have of avoiding another monstrous war is to understand the reasons behind state-sponsored conflict and how citizens are so easily manipulated.

Donna Cotner:

An incredibly insightful and important book by Chris Hedges can shed light on this subject: "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning", by Chris Hedges. I hope you have read it, or will do so. He was a war correspondent for many years.

The only chance we have of avoiding another monstrous war is to understand the reasons behind state-sponsored conflict and how citizens are so easily manipulated.

Eric M.:

What people fail to remember, is that Hitler wasn't always a screaming, fist-pounding, psycho...quite to the contrary, he could be very persuasive and appealing. Hitler and his nazi party always used deception and lies to lull their enemies into complacency, just look at how they dealt with the Jews in Warsaw. We are foolish if we don't realize that deception is one of the key attributes to any "Hitler"...we shouldn't look for a raving lunatic, but a calculating man smiling at us as he brandishes a weapon behind his back.

Sam:

Lee Bollinger is the most stupid and illiterate person i have ever seen in my life ... he had no clue how to respect other person in a debate .... while iranian president was right that we are testing 5th generation atom bombs but we dont want others to use the same technology for electricity.

mikey:

you flatter him by calling him a "world leader." a "cultural" discourse with people of different beliefs is valuable. but you can't have an honest dialogue when one of the players is a proven liar!

Eric M.:

What people fail to remember, is that Hitler wasn't always a screaming, fist-pounding, psycho...quite to the contrary, he could be very persuasive and appealing. Hitler and his nazi party always used deception and lies to lull their enemies into complacency, just look at how they dealt with the Jews in Warsaw. We are foolish if we don't realize that deception is one of the key attributes to any "Hitler"...we shouldn't look for a raving lunatic, but a calculating man smiling at us as he brandishes a weapon behind his back.

Megan McEwan:

I agree with Robert Duran. Mr. Bollinger shamed me personally with his inflammatory introduction; and embarrassed me as an American with his lack of total respect and candor. I served in the military under President Reagan and was taught that no matter what, "You salute the rank." The person underneath the insignia has to rightfully earn the respect, but one always "salutes the rank." It was beneath him for his position and adds unnecessary fuel to an already red-hot situation.

Thanks also to Mr. Richard W. Bulliet who is actively engaging in the audacity of hope. Freedom of speech is one of the many reasons why I served for this great nation.

Peace

Devan:

Bulliet makes a good deal of sense in this rebuttal. Ahmadinejad is one of the most controversial figures of our time, and so is President Bush. Possibly if Bush were to speak at the University of Tehran, a similar reaction as to the one of untruth people in America are feeling towards Ahmadinejad would resound throughout Iran towards Bush. I think it's a case on what people want to believe is reality.


Also, the year of the Bay of Pigs Invasion is incorrectly cited as 1969, and should be changed to 1961.

Lionel Frost:

I wonder what the American reaction would have been, had George Bush been required to sit through a tirade of hate, disinformation and animosity, such as that delivered by Bollinger, in Iran?

Big Stupid:

Thank you for proving Dr. Evil was so right when he observed that "there is nothing more pathetic than an aging hipster."

Anonymous:

April 15, 1969?


Richard Bradley:

He can say more without answering a single question than Hitler and Castro together.
It's important to be able to hear crackpots like him as long as you have an open mind.
When you only listen so that you can complain about Bush, you are sadly lacking in sound judgement.

Richard Bradley:

He can say more without answering a single question than Hitler and Castro together.
It's important to be able to hear crackpots like him as long as you have an open mind.
When you only listen so that you can complain about Bush, you are sadly lacking in sound judgement.

Lionel Frost:

I wonder what the American reaction would have been, had George Bush been required to sit through a tirade of hate, disinformation and animosity, such as that delivered by Bollinger, in Iran?

Lionel Frost:

I wonder what the American reaction would have been, had George Bush been required to sit through a tirade of hate, disinformation and animosity, such as that delivered by Bollinger, in Iran?

Devan:

Bulliet makes a good deal of sense in this rebuttal. Ahmadinejad is one of the most controversial figures of our time, and so is President Bush. Possibly if Bush were to speak at the University of Tehran, a similar reaction as to the one of untruth people in America are feeling towards Ahmadinejad would resound throughout Iran towards Bush. I think it's a case on what people want to believe is reality.


Also, the year of the Bay of Pigs Invasion is incorrectly cited as 1969, and should be changed to 1961.

John:

The date at the end of the article for the Bay of Pigs should be 1961, not 1969.

Devan:

Bulliet makes a good deal of sense in this rebuttal. Ahmadinejad is one of the most controversial figures of our time, and so is President Bush. Possibly if Bush were to speak at the University of Tehran, a similar reaction as to the one of untruth people in America are feeling towards Ahmadinejad would resound throughout Iran towards Bush. I think it's a case on what people want to believe is reality.


Also, the year of the Bay of Pigs Invasion is incorrectly cited as 1969, and should be changed to 1961.

Anonymous:

Bay of Pigs fiasco was in 1961, and not 1969.

Victor Acevedo:

By inviting a foregin leader despised for his political ideology, the United States shows its continued commitment to our fundamental principles of freedom of expression. Americans should ever be mindful of any attempt to restrict the very freedoms that make us Americans. I am proud of Columbia University and its decision to open the doors to President Ahmadinejad.

4416:

Check date of bay of pigs

VultureTX:

Figures. Castro asked the Soviet Union to launch nuclear missiles against the US. And you wanted us to get to know him better. If we had known what he would do in Africa, would we have launched on Cuba?

You want to allay the nazification of Iran's President that you perceive the present administration is advocating. How does that affect Israels proposed use of nuclear weapons against Iran and their puppet Syria because of the terrorists Iran is known to support, because of the secret nuclear programs that are happening within Iran ,because of Iran's wish to share nuclear tech with others who are not allies of the U.S.?

And BTW it not "killing Hitler before WWII, it's more like invading Egypt before they invaded Israel. Or is that simile too close to home for you?


eric:

bollinger embarrassed an entire nation with his idiocy. mahmoud has more sense in his little toe than bollinger (or bush) have in their entire bodies.

Barb:

Monday's ambush of Ahmadinejad by Lee Bollinger was an embarrassment to American academic institutions and to our country. I was hoping the US would use Ahmadinejad's appearance as an opportunity to truly see Iran's leader. Columbia conducted a character assassination not a debate of open forum. The entire talk was swayed by Bollinger's subjective and basis statements, meant to embarrass Ahmadinejad. After watching Bollinger's fraternity stunt, it leaves me with the distinct impression that Columbia couldn't have invited the President of Iran to their campus without Bush's inside approval and planned this personal attack with out the help of America's childish elite. America demonstrated at Columbia why thousands of American soldiers continue to die in Iraq and billions of dollars are wasted. America does not negotiate. I wonder how much silver Bollinger accepted from the republicans to betray America on the international stage. Bush could not have insulted Ahmadinejad at the UN talks to this degree so he hired someone else to do his dirty work. You Mr. Bollinger and Mr. Bush are petty presidents focused on one-up's menship instead of world peace. Your actions do not speak for this American.

Dr Coles:

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has already stated his “Mein Kampf” to the world; he is an enemy of the state to all non-Muslims nations. Does history have to repeat it self? http://tinyurl.com/2znnvl He has NO constitutional rights, he isn’t a U.S. Citizen or legal resident.

Alex Babbie:

Free speech, as an ideal, is one that the United States holds dear...but what of "free listening" and "free comprehension?"

Unfortunately, President Bollinger's blistering attack set the stage for a "Good Vs. Evil" debate, rather than an honest cultural exchange.

The introduction essentially was telling the audience that no matter what the President of Iran said or did, he was an evil man and his words were worthless. I believe Bollinger should have let the audience make up their own minds on Ahmadinejad; rather than more or less telling them how to think.

Alex Babbie:

Free speech, as an ideal, is one that the United States holds dear...but what of "free listening" and "free comprehension?"

Unfortunately, President Bollinger's blistering attack set the stage for a "Good Vs. Evil" debate, rather than an honest cultural exchange.

The introduction essentially was telling the audience that no matter what the President of Iran said or did, he was an evil man and his words were worthless. I believe Bollinger should have let the audience make up their own minds on Ahmadinejad; rather than more or less telling them how to think.

Delane Taylor:

Of course, Ahmadinejad's posture and composure could be the result of a study of history. A decent study of historical tyrants could lead this tyrant to avoid the pitfalls of past tyrants. Maybe he is just a resourceful politician catering to his constituents, or maybe he is a great actor. What is the gamble worth to America?

Also, the Bay of Pigs was 1961.

EW:

This guy Ahmadinejid sounds like a joke, who is bumbling, clueless, and speaks without thinking. I didn't even know George W. Bush had a twin in Iran.......

Kaitlyn:

Kudos for having Ahmadinejad speak at Columbia. I feel it's important for Americans to at least listen to ideas and words we may not agree with. One of the issues in America now is that we silence anyone who disagrees with the powers that be. How will we learn by creating silence?

Robert Duran:

Lee Bollinger behaved like an animal, not like a president of a prestigious university!

EW:

This guy sounds like a joke, who is bumbling, clueless, and speaks without thinking. I didn't even know George W. Bush had a twin in Iran.......

PostGlobal is an interactive conversation on global issues moderated by Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria and David Ignatius of The Washington Post. It is produced jointly by Newsweek and washingtonpost.com, as is On Faith, a conversation on religion. Please send us your comments, questions and suggestions.