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September 24, 2007


The president of Iran is now in the US to speak at the U.N. and, what many Americans find abhorrent, to speak at Columbia University. I've been fascinated by all the "freedom of speech" advocates who have been screaming about how this is America where freedom of speech is a right. I, however, would like to point out that Ahmadinejad is not an American citizen and, therefore, is not entitled to exercise that right. Yes, the United Nations may invite him to speak (and, unfortunately, the UN is still on America soil ... as much as I'd like for it to be anywhere but here). However, for an American university to give this modern-day Hitler a hearing is simply repugnant.

What could he possibly say that is worth hearing? He has repeatedly called for the destruction of America and Israel, and he claims that the Holocaust never happened. And only a fool believes that he won't use a nuclear weapon to attack Israel should Iran manage to make one. Remember, this is the guy who believes in the Mahdi, the Muslim messiah who will come to restore peace to the world after it gets into an impossible mess, a mess Ahmadinejad is dedicated to creating as part of his religious beliefs. So, why in the world should the president of an American university invite him to come and speak? 

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I absolutely agree with you, the Iranian government does not seem to be genuinely looking to cooperate with the United States and other Western nations and the President's comments about Israel and the Holocaust are deeply troubling.

I do wonder, however, what it sounds like to hear the only country that has ever actually deployed a nuclear weapon in an attack complaining that others are pursuing nuclear technology?

Kim Moreland

As always, very eloquent and right on target.

We truly are stupid if we allow people who hate our guts a forum in which to spew their hate--especially to a bunch of callow youth.

One question...was the president of Iran educated in the West? I wouldn't be suprised.


I worry that in our zeal to embrace diversity, personal freedoms, etc. that we have lost all common sense. We need to wake up. Not everyone in the world is good. "The devil's greatest accomplishment was convincing the world that he did not exist."


We need speakers like Charles Colson, Tony Perkins and Ann Coulter to speak the truth at universities.


Ann Coulter who called Al Gore AND John Edwards a faggott?

Ann Coulter who said "The ethic of conservation is the explicit abnegation of man's dominion over the Earth. The lower species are here for our use. God said so: Go forth, be fruitful, multiply, and rape the planet — it's yours. That's our job: drilling, mining and stripping. Sweaters are the anti-Biblical view. Big gas-guzzling cars with phones and CD players and wet bars — that's the Biblical view."?

Ann Coulter who suggested "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity."

"Poor little Pakis"
"[A Muslim's] default mode: rioting and setting things on fire."
"Get on with the business at hand: Bombing Syria back to the stone age."
Prefers hitting "liberals" with a baseball bat to talking witwh them.
"My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times building."
Brushed off a students question by calling him "gay boy"
"I think the government should be spying on all Arabs, engaging in torture as a televised spectator sport, dropping daisy cutters wantonly throughout the Middle East, and sending liberals to Guantanamo."

This is the truth you want spoken at Universities?

Dan Knight

Why is it that the US Customs &/or your Homeland Security allowed someone into your country who has repeated called for your destruction?
There should be an investigation and some customs official should lose his/her job.
I would not be allowed into the US (even as a citizen) IF I persisted in calling for its destruction or making other threats (veiled or not). Heavens, I'm not even allowed on the plane if I utter - even in jest - that I've got a bomb or have plans to make one.
It's obvious a matter of ALL people are NOT created equal.

Sy Hoekstra

Well, let me try and defend President Bolinger,or as he's known here at Columbia, prezbo.
First of all, the iranian president was invited by the Columbia graduate School of International and Public Affairs as a part of their year-long look into the country of Iran. The purpose was to educate people about this country that plays such an important role in the world today, even if that roll is somewhat terrifying. Now, it's true that Iran's president is not a US citizen. But are we then going to say that anyone who is not an American does not deserve the rights of Americans? The Constitution does not say that all American men are created equal, but simply all men. I personally believe that the freedom of speech is for all humans. There is of course limits to this, but these limits were certainly not crossed today. If you listen to the speech, nothing remotely violent or otherwise freedom-reducing was said. I was actually quite proud of prezbo today. He invited someone to speak with whom Americans don't often speak. Americans now are much more farmiliar with how the president of Iran lies about many things, and the fair points that he makes. The fair point I think is mainly that we have nukes, but we don't let him do the same. It was a good attempt to begin actually talking with Iran about matters of great importance. It is doubtful that sanctions or an invasion would be a good way to get him to comply with anything the west wants from him. Also, you might note that prezbo didn't exactly give him an easy time...
My problem is basically that people who ddn't want him to speak here are saying that this man should not be allowed to spek to us. We must simply force him to comply. Doesn't sound like the best foreign policy.

Bryan L Singer

Well, according to Ahmadinejad:

- They have no intention of "having" a nuclear bomb.. careful wording on his part did not mask the fact that he did not deny trying to actually MAKE a bomb. You don't have a bomb if you make it for someone else that pays for it, or immediately use it... you HAD a bomb at that point.
- Their women are the most free in the world... I wonder how many women in Iran will be screaming about that in a few hours, and the sure to be un-ending train of 60 minutes and 20/20 interviews with oppressed women in Iran, and you know Oprah's folks are looking for them right now
- Apparently, he can't lie as a Muslim. Never mind Islamic law that apparently allows lying in jihad, reconciliation between Muslims, and reconciliation between husband and wife. Seems to be a lot of wiggle room, especially from someone that has all but declared open war on the US
- Countless examples of half-truths, dodged questions, and circular logic such as the same terrorist group that has killed 4,000 Iranians in six months now operates in Iraq and in the US under the direction of the US Government. Apparently we need a self-licking ice cream cone to help find ways to spend all this extra money we have in the bank.

Overall, I was happy the world could see the ramblings of a mad man to expose him for what he is... insane. Or is he? Bollinger stated, "Mr. President, you exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator." I feel this was a misguided and inaccurate statement that gives a poor demonstration of our educational system, as it seriously underscores, nay doesn't even scratch the surface. The Iranian president is a shining face to a frustrated world to millions of dedicated Islamists and is easily one of the greatest human based threats to his region military, and economically across the whole world.

His smile evokes warmth and kindness, his quick wit dazzles the minds and intellects of the average majority. His stroke to speak at Columbia, desire to speak at ground zero, and his continual seeking of high profile photo opportunities are strokes of pure genius.

This man is neither petty nor cruel. Cruel is isolated to one or two cases. This is a man with a fantastic mind for politics, with an apocalyptic agenda, and a keen mind for propaganda. It is called desensitization and we are falling right into the trap. How do you teach someone to shoot that is terrified of guns? Let them hold a loaded one for a few minutes a day. Then let them shoot one round every once in a while, then keep increasing until it is second nature. We had to do that in the military for any number of folks nervous of taking up the soldier's principal weapon. Same game here.

He knows well that the more time he can put his smiling face on TV, the sooner he can soften the minds of those that even think him a lunatic today. His next stroke? I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him find ways to turn the oil spigots up and start selling oil and then claiming victory as a "gift" to the American people, and it will probably happen about 14 days before the US bombs him.

jason taylor

What I find remarkable is his habitual faith in our sense of honor. It would be awfully convenient to quite a few people if he didn't get back to Iran.

Diane Singer


No, I don't think American rights extend to those who are not citizens: that's why they're called AMERICAN rights. When I travel to other countries, I am a guest: I can claim no "rights" since I'm not a citizen there.

As for his actual speech, my original points stands: what did he say that we didn't know already? I didn't need him to speak at Columbia University to know that he's a politically shrewd, fanatical dictator: he's a master at putting on his "smiling game face" in an attempt to lull to sleep those gullible Americans who seem incapable of recognizing evil when it's standing right in front of them.

As for Dr. Bollinger's snide comments before he took the stage, it was pompous posturing at its worst!

Donna Rowe

Inasmuch as we are commanded to hate what God hates (tyrants, murderers, etc such as this Ahmadinejad), he did make a good point in that WE (Columbia U) invited HIM and he was surprised at how he was being treated as an invited guest.

I am still just so surprised that he was even allowed in our country. What happened to security?

Jason Taylor

"No, I don't think American rights extend to those who are not citizens: that's why they're called AMERICAN rights. When I travel to other countries, I am a guest: I can claim no "rights" since I'm not a citizen there."

Well that is not exactly true. If foreigners literally have no rights then in fact one has justified pograms. So the question is what rights are universal and what are specific to a given society.
In any case respecting freedom of speech does not require extending invitations. I respect a lion's right to satisfy his hunger but that does not oblige me to invite him to satisfy his hunger with me!

Dan Rowlison

Jason speaks of our sense of honor, but I haven't seen much of it lately. As a head of state, he may speak at the UN. When he does, we as the host nation for the UN have given our word that he shall be allowed entry and safe passage while here. That is our national sense of honor; we keep our promises.
Regarding Mr. Ahmadinejad's invitation to Columbia, I would not have extended it, but when extended, "sense of honor" would dictate that courtesy be extended. I am surprised that "prezbo", having defended his invitation, then offered such insults (well deserved but inappropriate in that context)to his guest.
Let this serve as a warning to any future "guests" of Columbia. Be prepared to be roasted.

Diane Singer


I'll admit that I should have worded my statement about rights better. When I'm a guest in another country, I only have what rights they choose to extend to me. I've been in a number of countries where "freedom of speech" isn't one -- and I resent extending that right to the president of Iran given the fact that it doesn't exist in his country!

BTW, I love your lion analogy! Very appropriate.


Diane, While I completely understand your point that non-citizens of America are not granted the same rights under law as citizens, the fact that his country might not have freedom of speech does not make me resent giving it to him, in fact it makes me want to give it to him all the more.

I don't ever want to stoop to that level.

Though he's really here more under the protection of the United Nations then because we're "allowing him" to be here.


I still think the worst of comments made in this country are better than listening to a dictator

Sy Hoekstra

Well I'm afraid that a few people here have fallen victim to the misinformation of cable news and other unreliable news outlets, as well as the political manipulation of president Ahmadinejad. I'm a student at Columbia, and everyone here knew the drill as soon as the event was originally announced. Ahmadinejad was to come as both a part of the annual world leaders forum at Columbia, and as the beginning of a year-long series of events in the School for International and Public Affairs dealing with the important world power that is Iran. His right to speak to those who disagree was defended by Prezbo from the event's conception. Also, the event was always structured so that Prezbo would raise the most dificult questions at the beginning, and Ahmenijad would then respond. Ahmenijad knew that these dificult topics would be stated in no nice terms. Everyone involved with the event was aware that this is how the event would go down. Ahmadinejad then proceeded to act insulted at Columbia's lack of hospitality. It was a clever political trick that most of the media has fallen for. This is an unfortunate and entirely baseless stain on Columbia's reputation.
Diane, you may have known what Ahmadinejad was like before this, but most of America certainly did not. I think this is a great way for America to get a better handle on what we're dealing with in Iran. We now have seen clearly what happens when two such different world views come face to face. I learned a lot, and think many others did too. If nothing else, it got people talking about important issues. Also, barring him from rights we want him to allow his people in his country is counter-productive. And just one more note, UN deligates are allowed to travel 25 miles from the UN building while in New York. That radius includes Columbia, making the visit just that much more appropriate.

Diane Singer


I think the reason why we need to be concerned about other countries developing nuclear weapons is simple. It's like guns: it's not wise to allow criminals, the mentally ill, or children to have them! Iran is a terrorist state; therefore, the entire world is at risk should it be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon (I just read an article where the president of France essentially said the same thing.)

Also, we used nuclear weapons to end a war we didn't start, and saved millions of lives along the way. Iran, I believe, would use a nuclear bomb to strike Israel simply because their leader has a virulent hatred for all things Jewish.

Also, I agree with you about Ann Coulter. I have a few problems with her views as well!

Diane Singer

Sy writes,
"Also, the event was always structured so that Prezbo would raise the most dificult questions at the beginning, and Ahmenijad would then respond. Ahmenijad knew that these dificult topics would be stated in no nice terms. Everyone involved with the event was aware that this is how the event would go down. Ahmadinejad then proceeded to act insulted at Columbia's lack of hospitality. It was a clever political trick that most of the media has fallen for. This is an unfortunate and entirely baseless stain on Columbia's reputation"

No, it's proof that the so-called intellectual elites at Columbia were willing to be duped by this guy! He knew very well that this format would violate the Middle Eastern concept of hospitality (one simply does NOT insult a guest), and that we would come off as uncouth savages in the Arab world. I'd say he played your "presbo" perfectly!


The US has been engaged in a campaign which so far has: toppled a national government, weakened another country's borders, killed civillians, engaged in torture and humiliation, and is accussed of being in violation of international standards. We are an occupying force and sectarian violence is festering.

Without suggesting a course of action whatsoever or reflecting on the reasons the war in Iraq was started I pose the questions:

Who decides what qualifies as a terrorist state? Might the US be viewed as a rouge force? How do you frame Bush's call of "an axis of evil"?

Honestly looking forward to your insight.


We are a nation that is BASED on Christian faith. The extremist HATE US, WANT US DEAD. I mean, how many times do they have to let us know this is their many "subtle " ways. Not only Americans, but ANY nation that is not of their faith. This man is no different. However it seems there are those who would invite the viper to their breast , as it were.


They aren't called "American rights" They are called "unalienable rights, endowed by our Creator."

Sy Hoekstra

Diane, I don't think your criticism of how the elitists at Columbia were played by Ahmenijad was very well thought through. I don't think that the president of a major university and the dean of a graduate school of political science (the other host of the event) would have been unaware of the middle-eastern custums concerning hospitality. The other options were to respect his custums and not ask him any dificult questions, or, of course, not invite him. I think we can agree that it would have been rediculous to invite the man, and then not ask him tough questions. We generally don't like to gloss over the fact that people are dictators when we are conversing with them. Well then, you might say, don't invite him at all. I actually thought the event went very well because Prezbo got to say everything Americans know about this guy in a way we could never say it at the UN. I know that prezbo doesn't speak for everyone, but much of the world got to hear loud and clear many of the criticisms of Ahmenijad's government. That icludes the Iranian people, who are largely opposed to their president. As for the rest of the Muslim world, much of which will be impressed by Ahminejad's political spectacle, we weren't going to change their minds anyway. They hate us, and one little supposed hospitality breach is not going to make them hate us anymore. I think the only people who don't benefit from this are the people who are being told by the American media that Prezbo is an idiot, and the event was a disaster. Look, we don't always have to assume that anything a liberal elitist does is out of touch with reality or just plain stupid. Sometimes they can do good thi`ngs too.

Diane Singer

Well, Sy, why don't we just "agree to disagree" on what liberal elitist know or don't know. I think Ronald Reagan said it best: it's not that they don't know things, it's that so much of what they know is simply wrong!

Sy Hoekstra

I'm not really sure that quote applies to this conversation. The question was whether or not Prezbo knew the rules of middle-eastern hospitality and diologue. Those are just facts. You either know them or you don't. While the quote might provide a momentary sense of triumph for the conservative, all it really says is that Reagan disagreed with liberals. Well, yeah...
It could just as easily be turned on conservatives by a liberal and have the same hallow effect. But I guess we've ended the conversation now.


I wouldn't have invited this "President" to Columbia for the same reason I wouldn't invite O.J. Simpson into my house for coffee -- he's a villain.

Diane Singer


Well, maybe not a complete end to the conversation ... You were obviously offended by the Reagan quote. That wasn't my intention; I was just trying to inject a little humor into the conversation to make a point (a point I obviously failed to make).

I've been in higher education for 39 years; and I can assure you that there is no automatic correlation between education, knowledge and WISDOM. You automatically assumed that those in charge were "in the know" and that they, therefore, made the correct call when they invited the Iranian president to speak. I think (and I know you'll disagree) that it was, at the least,an extremely unwise thing to do.

Sy Hoekstra

Oh no, I certainly wasn't offended. I also did not miss the allusion to the Teacher's college thing when I tried to be funny and just ended up offending people. That was well played. Touche.

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