Posted by: Tony Carson | 26 September, 2007

Ahmadinejad v. Bollinger: The unacknowledged disgrace

Scan the the newspapers, watch the TV, listen for a peep of dissent. You won’t find one. Everyone in the the US government, business community and the media either condemned or laughed at Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for his speech at Columbia University on Monday.

Indeed, on the TV we were treated to the insane image of witless students taping protest placards to the granite stone inscribed with “Columbia School of Journalism’ as if those very words shouldn’t be the very meaning of free speech and open minds.

It was an orgy of mindless piling on from everyone from the President of the Unites States, to the President of the University to the thoughtless talking heads that preach their safe America-first drivel on evry channel on the digital dial.

Except, that is, for a few at CommonDreams including Ru S. Freeman who, in her article Words Were Spoken, But What Was Said? got the entire fiasco bang-on. An extract:

In Iran, as in most other nations and even, I’ve heard, in some of the more civilized parts of the United States, it is customary to honor a guest with common courtesy if that is all one can muster.

A guest comes in the guise of a speaker, a performer, a diner, or numerous other permutations that embody him or her with special status, but one thing is always true: a guest is invited. An invitation is a communication, expressed both formally and politely, to an individual, asking that they attend a festivity or event of ones own creation. In this case, Columbia University’s president, Lee C. Bollinger, chose to ask a visiting foreign dignitary to grace his campus with his presence. A guest who accepts such an invitation does not envision that they will be publicly humiliated and attacked by their host for the amusement of other attendees.

How embarrassing then that such a thing could occur, at so prestigious a venue as Columbia University, so publicly and at the center of such media attention. How much worse, however, is that not one newspaper in this country chose to point out that Lee C. Bollinger acted appallingly and disgracefully? It is admirable that he chose to invite President Ahmadinejad to speak at his campus, to give a man excoriated by the American government and its oddly un-free press, a chance to state his case. But it is unforgivable that he would choose to backtrack on his initial gesture at the sad expense of his guest, and to the everlasting shame of his country.

I, for one, looked on with disgust. I also took away from the fiasco one new and not surprising bit of information: the President of Iran possesses a grace that neither his host nor the hecklers at Columbia University nor the press in this country nor, I might as well state the obvious, the president of this country can claim. Chalk one up, once again, for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Ru Freeman is a writer and activist. She may be contacted at rfreeman@colby.edu. This article also appeared in The Island, Sri Lanka.

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Responses

  1. There could be some possible reasons as to why the Iranian leader is used as a punching bag by some to release their pent up feelings :

    Aggravating the nuisance value of what he has to say, discredits his views and thus undermines his position.

    The more an image of the “lurking enemy” is reinforced, the more you can promote your role as the “saviour”. The “imminent danger” scenario helps bring supporter around a cause to align and identify with.

  2. I agree with you views on hospitality even an enemy who drops in uninvited at your doorstep basic courtesy is tendered, so this act of belligerence by the head of a prestigious University shows educated brashness , lack of politeness.. and cowardly indulgence…

  3. Thanks for such a sharp, wise, and powerful point of view. I am ashamed to know that the college students we teach everyday can see such double standards in us, to hear that we are their examples who want them to change the world tomorrow, and yet, we can be so uncivilized in the way we treat others.

  4. Really? The entire media hasn’t uttered a peep? That’s surprising, considering the pro-Ahmadinejad articles I have read in Time Magazine, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the news websites of every major network. Could it be that you can’t read? No, I doubt that that’s the case. More likely you were just horrified to see your champion get trounced in the very type of intellectual forum which he claimed he wanted in this country. Apparently Ahmadinejad – the great champion of free debate – doesn’t actually like it when the debate is so free that people (gasp) criticize him. So rather than admit defeat like a mature adult, he and his supporters (of which you are clearly one) are claiming that he was treated “rudely” by Bollinger and Columbia University (the same people who went through hell just to invite him to the college). That way they can spin Bollinger’s legitimate intellectual defeat of their champion as somehow being a sign of American “bullying” rather than what it actually was – one man presenting harshly-worded but incisive criticism, and the other dodging it with his same-old stump speech.
    That’s the truth – and like your champion, I am expecting you to dodge it, distort it, and/or smear me.

  5. Nobody is championing Ahmadinejad here. His Human Rights record is appalling, and he has treated his position and his people with distain and arrogance.

    But if you invite someone to speak. Let him speak. And you may find, as was the example here, he will “hang himself” with his own words.

    I mean: we have no homosexuals in Iran? Iran is the most free country in the world? These statements are absurd and serve as a testiment to this Ahmadinejad’s delusions.

    I hope this is not a dodge or a distorition, as it is not intended as such.

  6. Ahmadinejad was allowed to speak, and at far greater length than anyone else. It is merely that Bollinger spoke first, which was entirely appropriate given that this was advertised long in advance as a debate.
    I do have a few more questions for you:
    If you’re not a champion of Ahmadinejad, then why did you quote an article that spoke of him admiringly?
    Why have you failed to address most of the points in my post, instead focusing on only a few (I’m not going to repeat those points here, since by saying them once the burden should fall on you to address them)?
    Why is it that you failed to mention Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial and flagrant anti-Semitism (posing as anti-Zionism)?
    Why have you failed to point out how his speech at the United Nations was far more abusive towards his enemies than anything Bollinger said earlier (which, by the way, wasn’t abusive at all, unless you consider proving someone wrong to be an abuse)?
    Why have you failed to point out that Ahmadinejad openly advocates the idea of Islam conquering the world, as do many other Muslim leaders, but appeals to far leftist movements by playing down the theo-imperialism in their claims and making it seem like they only share our humanitarian concerns?
    These are just a few questions to add on to the ones you haven’t yet answered. And yes, you did distort and dodge from my previous post, so I do hold you in disdain (which is the proper spelling of that word).

  7. Look, Rosza, the issue here was never about what Ahmadinejad was going to say. The point is that he was invited to say it and with that invitation comes the encumbrance of having to listen to him, otherwise, why invite him.

    Bollinger made a fool of himself with a 19 minute herange of a guest he, himself, invited. The students who protested should have been protesting Bollinger and his invitation not the Iranian President whom they should have either ignored or treated as a democratically elected leader.

    The US was on trial in Iran with this speech and it came off as a kangeroo court.

    As for the media supporting free speech, you are right, some media did move to a more balanced view, but they hadn’t when I wrote the post — I speculate that they only realized the shame of their illogical conduct when confronted by its sheer totality.

    And a final point. The disgraceful conduct at Columbia is made more inane when the country has a president who refuses to talk to Iran and Syria and the rest. Speech, free or otherwise, seems to be trumped these days with vicious action. No, I’m sorry, I stand by my words, only regretting that I don’t write well enough to be more condemning. The US is better than this, or used to be.

  8. You appear to have taken cues from your champion, reciting from memory a whole lot of radical leftist talking points without actually addressing a single major argument that I made. For one who seems to dislike rudeness, you certainly don’t have a problem ignoring someone else’s arguments (although I’ll admit your motivation is intellectual cowardice rather than a desire to be disrespectful).
    Anyway, to address what you said point-by-point:
    – Although the issue of free speech has nothing to do with the content of what an orator has to say, you seem to overlook that the whole reason you are up in arms is because you disliked what Bollinger had to say to Ahmadinejad. The whole basis of your complaint is that you felt the content of Bollinger’s remarks were disrespectful, and since those remarks did not prevent Ahmadinejad from speaking but rather firmly rebuked the content of what Ahmadinejad was going to say, it is reasonable for me to bring up the content of both men’s speeches when addressing why you feel the former’s was inappropriate.
    – The invitation was not for Ahmadinejad to merely deliver the speech; the invitation was for a debate, something that Ahmadinejad has been crowing about wanting for many months now. In case you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a debate is a discourse wherein two or more parties express their point-of-view about a subject or subjects in which they will presumably disagree. Everything Bollinger said about Ahmadinejad addressed legitimate areas of disagreement between the two men, as did Ahmadinejad’s comments about Bollinger shortly thereafter; thus one can safely say that when Ahmadinejad accepted the invitation to debate, he accepted (or should have known that he was accepting) the precise dialogue that followed. My suspicion is that he is so unused to having anyone openly disagree with him (given the way dissent is treated in his own nation) that he didn’t actually understand how debates occur in the free world, namely, with people forcing you to be accountable for your words and deeds. Either way, it is far more rude for Ahmadinejad and his supporters to insult their hosts after he legitimately lost the debate which he had long insisted on having (and which was cordially offered to him by a prestigious university that reaped hell for making the invitation) than it was for Bollinger to actually do the very thing that he and everyone else had been there for in the first place.
    – Why do you keep on resorting to this odd claim that Ahmadinejad was deprived of his right to have an audience listen to him? He said far more than anyone else there, so you can’t say his freedom of speech was infringed upon, and as we know he was given opportunity to touch upon a wide number of subjects. Perhaps the problem you and Ahmadinejad’s supporters have is that – because people openly challenged Ahmadinejad’s views in a forum where he had to take intellectually and morally defend them – he was forced to be discredited, and thus made it that much harder for intelligent people to listen to him in the future. In this sense, I guess you’re right, although what you’re complaining about is only the most Socratic form of justice out there (I suspect you don’t know who Socrates is; look him up sometime).
    – You said the students should have been protesting Bollinger and the university administration if they disliked Ahmadinejad’s presence, but has it occurred to you that maybe they were there because they wanted to challenge HIM? The whole premise of the debate in the first place was that people in a free world should have a free exchange of ideas; that was why Bollinger and Coatsworth went through such hell to invite the man, to enforce that principle of free speech and unfettered discourse. Those students were there precisely because they agreed with the ideas of free speech, and used that right to challenge someone with whom they disagreed. To argue against their decision to challenge the man is to argue against free speech itself (or to argue that free speech only applies if you agree with Ahmadinejad).
    – Actually, the media wrote those views well before you wrote your post, with most coming out with your position less than an hour after the debate was over. Why you would feel otherwise I cannot say; I won’t go so far as to call you a liar, but it seems pretty obvious that you were caught in a factual error and tried to spin the facts just now to cover your posterior. Isn’t it interesting, though, that media who agree with Bollinger are biased, but those who agree with you and Ahmadinejad are balanced? No wonder you complain about double-standards so much; you’re a master of them.
    – There is a difference between a leader closing off diplomatic relations and a violation of free speech. Bush is not preventing Syria or Iran from saying whatever they want on the international stage; he is merely saying that he disagrees with their policies and thus will not talk to them. Once again this comes down to the same logic you used to condemn the Columbia students and president; it’s free speech when someone you agree with says something, but it’s an oppression of free speech when someone else disagrees with him.
    Before I end this battle of wits with one who is clearly unarmed, I shall first demonstrate my lack of rudeness by leaving you with a gift. Here it is:
    Herange is spelled “Harangue”. Distain is spelled “Disdain”. You’re arguments look dumb enough without your advertising the fact with obvious misspellings.

  9. I need to make two corrections:
    1) My word processor turned my “your” into “You’re”. That was the computer’s mistake, but I will take responsibility for it.
    2) You misspelled “testament” and I forgot to point that out. My bad.

  10. Rosza, you need to calm the fuck down. You are being arrogant and mean, and I think you’re acting like a jackass.
    That said, I’ve studied what both of you have said point-by-point, and Rosza is right on everything, and Carson is wrong on everything. Carson, you need to look at your opinions and ask yourself why you’re so eager to make Ahmadinejad into the victim when clearly is a whiny bitch after losing a fair debate. Rosza may be right; you may secretly agree with him. Even so, Rosza, you’re such a mean jerk that I don’t sympathize with you at all. If you could control your malice the intelligence of your arguments would be enough to win this argument hands down; but you’re such a jackass about it that I don’t really care for either one of you. Rosza is right intellectually and morally but wrong in the way he’s talking; Carson is wrong intellectual and morally but seems nice enough.

  11. Rosza, you need to calm the fuck down. You are being arrogant and mean, and I think you’re acting like a jackass.
    That said, I’ve studied what both of you have said point-by-point, and Rosza is right on everything, and Carson is wrong on everything. Carson, you need to look at your opinions and ask yourself why you’re so eager to make Ahmadinejad into the victim when clearly is a whiny bitch after losing a fair debate. Rosza may be right; you may secretly agree with Ahmadinejad, or at least sympathize with him. Even so, Rosza, you’re such a mean jerk that I don’t sympathize with you at all. If you could control your malice the intelligence of your arguments would be enough to win this argument hands down; but you’re such a jackass about it that I don’t really care for either one of you. Rosza is right intellectually and morally but wrong in the way he’s talking; Carson is wrong intellectual and morally but seems nice enough.

  12. On that ‘wipe Israel off the map’ canard, this is a good source.

    It’s important to note that Ahmadinejad was not shunned everywhere he went. Here is a more civil meeting while here’s a definitely warmer meeting.

  13. Corrected link for that more civil meeting. It’s from The New York Times and is titled: “Ahmadinejad Meets Clerics, and Decibels Drop a Notch.”

  14. Just out of curiosity, Mr. Adams. What is the intellectual issue? I think we are looking at different ideas, because this is not a moral issue to me.

    Nobody from Carson’s Post has ever agreed with Ahmadinejad’s policies or his regime. Emphatically. So, I’m sorry Rosza, both for my lunch break spelling, and that misunderstanding.

    Ahmadinejad can speak as long as he likes, as far as I’m concerned, as he looks more and more like an idiot as he does it. I know Rosza, just like me. Thanks for the contribution.

  15. Mr. Carson, it is obvious that you are sympathetic to Ahmadinejad. You interpreted a respectful but harshly critical speech as being disgraceful and bullying; now why would you do that? Since the speech was very appropriate, the only reason you disliked it so much is because you didn’t like what the speaker was saying, and the only reason you would dislike what Bollinger was saying is that you like Ahmadinejad. Otherwise your reaction, as well as that of Ahmadinejad’s defenders right now, don’t make sense; after all, these are the same people who rightly praised Colbert for roasting Bush. Plus you admire Freeman’s article, which praises Ahmadinejad to the stars.
    I don’t agree with you, Carson. Your views are horrible and wrong, as are those of every other Internet blogger who supports Ahmadinejad over Bollinger. I’m also opposed to jackasses, which is why I lambasted Rosza.

  16. Why is it so black and white?

    There are two Carsons speaking: Tony and Sam. I am Sam. Very nice to meet you. Tony posted this thread.

    I have made it pretty clear how much I do not support Ahmadinejad. Which is why I return to this topic. I think I have made that statement a few times. One can disagree with how Bollinger acted without supporting Ahmadinejad, as I am opposed to jackasses as well.

    I think the issue here is that this whole charade has made the utter buffoon of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad look like the most reasonable person in the room.

    All this ado about nothing while a man issued such grandiose nonsense as: Iran has no homosexuals, or Iran is the freest country in the world. Which everyone knows is silliness.

    How can you allow Bollinger to legitimize Ahmadinejad by lecturing him? Its absurd and it gave Ahmadinejad something to capitalize on. More silliness.

    What I am saying, and Tony is, and probably Freeman as well, is that this Ahmadinejad guy is a loony, and come election time in Iran he will be a has-been as well.

    Unless he stirs things up. He has an electorate to pander to and probably is coming close to the end of his term. So when he craps out in the polls, as he did recently when he rationed fuel in oil-rich Iran, he stirs shit up with the US and everybody gets a chuckle — he gets a boost.

    Well done Bollinger, he wasn’t the least reasonable person in the room. He got his headline. He got his boost.

    But make no mistake, I write dozens of letters every month to him, the Grand Ayatollah, and various state offices decrying the nature of Human Rights in Iran. Its all I can do. I do not support Ahmadinejad.

  17. Several questions:
    1) What was so wrong about Bollinger’s statements? He merely detailed Ahmadinejad’s various atrocities in blunt but insightful terms. How was it buffoonery? How was it rude? How could anyone find it objectionable, unless they’re opposed to the ideas Bollinger presented and need some pretense for not making the real (and vile) source of their objections transparent to alll? In short, what exactly is the problem with Bollinger’s statements, and how did they dignify Ahmadinejad anymore than, say, Colbert’s statements did Bush one year ago?
    2) Why have you avoided mentioning his Holocaust denial, genocidal pledges, and general hostility toward Israel? Those are pretty big issues to just leave out.

  18. I had planned to weigh in and answers Rosza’s specific questions and Mr. Adams’, too, but really, Sam spoke for me, and rather articulately.

    But I’ll press forward with Mr. Adams’ two points because they can be answered succinctly.

    1. Mr. Bollinger invited the Iranian elected President to his school, got roundly criticized for his invitation so undertook damage controlled by spending 19 minutes verbally accosting his guest.

    My problem with that was that it was rude, offensive and, as Sam pointed out, stupid because he scored points in Iran and the Arab world, while the US lost all credibility in its claim to free speech.

    2. Everyone agrees that Ahmadinejad is a wingnut (for the reasons you gave as well as countless others), it’s just that he is a democratically elected wingnut and we have to respect that. If Bush went to Iran or Canada or wherever and was public insulted like this I would be as shocked and upset as the next guy. I don’t believe in any of Bush’s policies, but he was elected democratically and that has to be respected.

    YOU might wonder why Ahmadinejad was elected. I might wonder why Bush was elected. But they were and as a result when you ridicule them you are ridiculing the country.

    No one is defending what Ahmadinejad is saying. What we’re doing is defending his right to speak when invited to do so.

    This was an enormous black eye for the US, surely you can see that.

  19. Rosza was right when he said that you don’t answer people’s questions; you just repeated the charge that Ahmadinejad’s free speech was infringed upon, despite the logical case to be made that it wasn’t, and you didn’t even touch upon the second question pertaining to Ahmadinejad’s deplorable record towards Jewish rights. What’s worse, you actually said that Bollinger was motivated by a desire to cover his ass after the criticism he received, which I am certain you cannot substantiate with anything more than your personal speculation (fueled, of course, by your desire to believe that this was the case). You said that you answered my questions succinctly, but all you did was succinctly avoid them. I will ask them one more time, and unless you answer them, this conversation will be over (and I will probably leave as rudely as Rosza, whose jackassitude is being increasingly justified by your behavior):
    1) What was so wrong about Bollinger’s statements? He merely detailed Ahmadinejad’s various atrocities in blunt but insightful terms. How was it buffoonery? How was it rude? How could anyone find it objectionable, unless they’re opposed to the ideas Bollinger presented and need some pretense for not making the real (and vile) source of their objections transparent to alll? In short, what exactly is the problem with Bollinger’s statements, and how did they dignify Ahmadinejad anymore than, say, Colbert’s statements did Bush one year ago?
    2) Why have you avoided mentioning his Holocaust denial, genocidal pledges, and general hostility toward Israel? Those are pretty big issues to just leave out.
    I will add to that first question an additional one – how was Ahmadinejad’s right to free speech challenged? Remember, free speech only involves your right to state your views free of persecution, not your right to state your views free of disagreement.

  20. This is not the most congenial of comment threads we’ve had the delight to host, and I find myself wondering why there is such aggression toward us for disagreeing with the president of a university.

    Yet I feel compelled to clarify this post one more time, but before I should note that at no point has our comment been agressive toward you. I wonder why you should be so to us.

    The buffoonery was the Iranian president. Had Columbia’s president not lectured Ahmadinejad and acted as a “bad host”, then the story of the day would have been what a loony Ahmadinejad is.

    Instead the story outside of the US and particularly in the Middle East, has been what awful hosts Americans are, leading to more Anti-Americanism, and more bad media. You may question this, but this is my understanding.

    But anyway. I’m sorry we must disagree. You can think me a jackass if you like. But I appreciate that you took the time to discuss this, and it is a shame that our different perspectives on this issue are too far apart to find a conclusion.

    I could write about how awful Ahmadinejad is, but there is a lot already written on the subject by many who do it a lot better than me. I prefer looking at other topics, and I hope that you will discuss these, and we can find a common perspective then.

  21. The aggression isn’t there because you are criticizing a university president. The aggression is there because you are implicitly defending a brutal dictator (which is what you do everytime you lambast someone else for criticizing him) and refuse to actually answer the two very simple but direct questions I have asked:
    1) How was Bollinger’s behavior inappropriate? How was it a violation of Ahmadinejad’s right to free speech?
    2) Why have you refused to bring up the issue of anti-Jewish sentiment surrounding the Ahmadinejad issue?
    You have yet to answer the first question, and I am now convinced it’s because you don’t have an answer; I have you over a logical barrel and rather than show dignity and admit that you are either wrong or at least don’t have an answer, you’re avoiding the question and attempting to direct attention elsewhere (much like your champion). I’ll grant that you at least acknowledged my second question this time, but you still didn’t really answer it (unless you just don’t think anti-Semitism is a big enough to warrant attention). Either way, the end result here is that you think being polite is more important than having intellectual integrity, whereas Rosza and I feel that the opposite is true. Considering that you advertise your blog as a forum for intellectual discussion, you are the last people who should feel courtesy is a substitute for hard questioning and hard thought.

  22. My final shot at this. Mr Adams. Ahmadinejad has made a wide range of statements that charitably can be called bizarre, everything from the denial of the Holocaust, to the absence of gays in his country. The man clearly cannot be taken seriously. Do you want me to research all these utterances and debunk them one at a time? Why? Accept that I take nothing he says on any subject meaningfully. The man is demented.

    But he is an elected dementia, and that, if you believe in democracy, requires that even if he can’t be believed, his position as elected President must be respected. You don’t believe that, but I do, and so do all others who have cast a ballot.

    As for Bollinger, as Sam points out, he has become the story: he invites a guest to deliver a speech at his University and then uses the time when he might have introduced his guest to castigate him. How often does this happen? How often does this happen to a head of state? Would you invite me to your house for a dinner party then spend 20 minutes when we sit down to dine telling the others what an asshole I am? Its not done. If you despise me you wouldn’t invite me.

    Again, the legacy of this issue isn’t what Ahmadinejad said, he has said it all before and has been roundly condemed for it. The legacy with this fiasco is that in the bastion of free speech students and others attempted to stop him from speaking and the president of a university used the forum to lecture rather than listen. Unforgivable when all everyone had to do was simply ignore.

  23. You are still ignoring two essential facts:
    1) Ahmadinejad was only elected in the same sense that Bush was elected. There is copious evidence that his elections were seriously tampered with, and what’s more, he has spent his time since that election becoming a brutal authoritarian, a fact which immediately diminishes the legitimacy of his regime. Remember that Hitler was legitimately elected the first time around, and upon achieving power immediately became a dictato, thus making him un-democratic. Ahmadinejad, despite being “elected” (under questionable means), is by now so far removed from democratic practices that he is only a democratic-leader under the most tenuous of definitions.
    2) You keep on referring back to this idea that Ahmadinejad was invited as a guest to speak and then treated rudely, despite the fact (not my opinion, mind you, but the FACT) that he was invited for a vigorous debate and was aware that this was the reason he was going to Columbia from the very beginning. It is indeed rude to lambast a dinner guest when the purpose of their attending is to eat dinner, or deliver a speech; it is appropriate for you to lambast a dinner guest when that guest has insisted for months that they want a debate and you (at great cost to yourself) have invited them over for the express purpose of having that debate. Indeed, it is rude of Ahmadenijad and his defenders to complain about the consequences of that debate, just as it is rude for someone to be invited for a friendly game of basketball and then bitch that the other guy cheated because you lost.
    And why do I say you’re an Ahmadinejad supporter? Simple: The man was invited over to a debate. This is well documented and indisputable. He was treated in the same way that anyone is treated during a debate. This is also a fact, as anyone who has attended a college debate will attest. He lost that debate; this is also indisputably true, as even Ahmadinejad’s greatest defenders can’t argue that he came off as the man with the intellectually or morally superior argument at Columbia. So what did he do? Well, he was embarassed, and immediately spun the story to say that he had been treated rudely, thus blaming Columbia for an offense they didn’t commit and making himself a “winner” even after his loss (which was conveniently ignored). Of course, the only people who would actually buy Ahmadinejad’s story are those who were brainwashed by the sympathetic media or those who liked Ahmadinejad a lot. You claim you weren’t brainwashed by the media. Process of elimination.

  24. Let me put this more succinctly:
    Suppose there is a man who spends many months insisting that he be able to promote his views via the forum of a debate. The opportunity to debate is eventually granted to him, even though it is at the expense of his gracious host. This man is overjoyed… until the debate is held, wherein he unexpectedly lost. Rather than admit defeat, however, this man instead claims that he was treated rudely, and spins the situation to insist that the people who challenged his views should not have been allowed to do so, as he was the invited guest. Who is infringing on whose right to free speech – the person who was allowed to say his views, is whining that he was defeated in the debate HE DEMANDED, and now insists that people learn to never disagree with him in public anymore; or the people who merely conducted a run-of-the-mill debate and won through the intelligent and thorough expression of their views?
    Either answer this question directly or admit (through openly saying it or just not replying altogether) that you don’t have a response. But given that I have repeated this multiple times, don’t skirt it anymore. For someone who claims to oppose Ahmadinejad, your debate tactics are remarkably similar to his own.

  25. OK, you win, Bollinger won the ‘debate,’ he did it by the dextrous perry and thrust of key points at oportune moments.

    Oh, wait, no, I’ve got that wrong, too. He stood up and for his side of the ‘debate’ he hoisted the witless president on the clever Bollinger petard: the promise of a debate that became a berate.

    Anyway, enough on this, by sheer words alone we’ve got to consider you the winner of this one. We’ll look for you down the line if we ever get out of hand again (and we will).

  26. I will rise above Rosza and not point out the misspellings and poor metaphors and puns with which you riddled your (presumably final) post. I will say that you failed to address my argument at all. You ignored that Ahmadinejad was invited to a debate and was treated by Bollinger in the same manner with which any guest invited to a debate is accorded (thus making his behavior quite appropriate, and Ahmadinejad’s sore loserly and rude); instead you bitterly and childishly repeated your same arguments as before. Can you actually address the fact that Ahmadinejad was at a debate, and as such was not only not a victim of rude treatment, but was actually guilty of committing such treatment against those who graciously provided the forensic forum he had long requested? Or do you prefer sticking you fingers in your ears, insisting that Bollinger was rude, and shouting “Na! Na! Na! Na!” whenever someone points out that you were wrong? Based on your response, apparently the latter.
    Rosza was right, and I am sorry I called him a jackass. You – who are terrific at being nice but terrible at having the integrity of honorably defending your convictions – are a jackass.
    I don’t expect you to respond. That would require someone with honor.

  27. We have a difference of opinion here, and there is no reason to insult me or call me dishonorable.

    I understand your point as this: he was invited to debate, and what was said by Lee Bollinger was the truth. And Ahmadinejad is a jew hating, gay bashing threat to the world, so why shouldn’t we just be happy?

    If it was indeed a debate, then surely Bollinger was acting as a debater, and Ahmadinejad as well. And thereby the debate raged and there is no reason that we were to take offense and Bollinger showed his skill, reason, and the greater power of his ideas.

    The greater power of ideas is there, we have repeatedly listed things that I think Ahmadinejad is: a moron, an abuser of Human Rights, and the next loser in any upcoming election with him in it. We have not said decried all his sins, as we have jobs, other things to do and other things to write. But he isn’t a good man or a good president.

    It was great that the offer was extended, it was great the the US is nation that this is possible at: the government’s most hated counterpart is allowed to speak to it’s people. The greater power of ideas is not an issue; it is so apparent that we forget to mention it like we forget to mention the sky is blue.

    The sticking point is that it wasn’t a debate. The president of the university stepped forward to introduce a guest, who was the president of a nation. The choice of what Bollinger said, the decision on how to introduce his guest, was rude. What he said was perfectly correct, that he could say it was perfectly correct, that the society allowed the possibility of having such a guest is perfectly correct. But his decision to introduce a guest as he did was rude.

    Beyond all that, its a shame that you will probably return with more insults for us, but I look forward to your reply.

  28. This was the first honorable post you have submitted because it was the first one that directly addressed what is indeed the “sticking point” of this discussion – that Ahmadinejad was invited to a debate, and as such Bollinger’s conduct was not inappropriate. Prior to this point you and Tony have kept on talking about how Bollinger was rude without even acknowledging my point that this was a debate, and as such was not rude; instead you just repeated that he was rude ad infinatum while pretending I hadn’t so much as made that observation. THAT was dishonorable.
    Now you’re just wrong. It was a debate. The invitation was extended to Ahmadinejad as a debate, and he accepted as one who was about to participate in a debate. What’s more, the whole reason this occurred in the first place is because the man has been crowing for months about how he’d love to debate Americans, and Bollinger decided to give him a forum to do precisely that. These are not my opinions; these are facts that I encourage you to research on your own, since they will only serve to prove me correct. Given that this was in fact (not in my opinion, but in fact) a debate, Bollinger’s behavior was not rude (and you admitted that if this was a debate than Bollinger wasn’t rude), but the behavior of Ahmadinejad (i.e, whining and smearing his opponents after getting his ass handed to him in a fair debate) was quite rude.
    As for you? I will leave your motives for defending the bully and smearing the winner to yourself. All I will say is that your attempts to point out how much you disagree with Ahmadinejad on a variety of issues come off as strikingly insincere.

  29. There is the possibility that opinions outside of your own are sincere.

    I feel that your interpretation of the facts are slightly skewed, nowhere have I found it called a debate. Please show me anywhere that this is written. Having said that, you can mess with me and my opinion as best you like. You can, as you have proved, even insult me, blatantly, and show yourself to be quite rude and not very reasonable.

    However, Mr. Adams, you are always welcomed to state your interpretation and opinion here on Carson’s Post. You can even come here to slander your hosts and not be begrudged, all the while not pay any attention to the reason you request from them.

    That is the glory of our freedom, we understand this and Ahmadinejad does not, which is the greater cause. At the end of the day, no matter how much you insult me and how unreasonable you are, I will still not call you a jackass if I were to introduce you.

  30. I agree somewhat with the Carsons. Ahmadinejad was awfully treated during his visit to the US. Instead of being quiet, ignorant, but polite, letting him make the fool out of himself, stuff like ”The enemy has landed” headlines newspapers, people ”boo” him, etc. This is in no way something an enlightened country should do.
    It’s just provoking, and rude. Ofcourse he is wrong on his views, but just let the man speak. His thoughts can be criticized afterwards.

    When Bush comes to Europe (Public opinion here is dare i say quite against him) he is treated politely.

  31. Here is the statement issued by President Bollinger on September 19th about Ahmadinejad’s then-impending visit:

    Sept. 19, 2007

    On Monday, September 24, the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is scheduled to appear as a speaker on campus. The event is sponsored by the School of International and Public Affairs (see SIPA announcement), which has been in contact with the Iranian Mission to the United Nations. The event will be part of the annual World Leaders Forum, the University-wide initiative intended to further Columbia’s longstanding tradition of serving as a major forum for robust debate, especially on global issues.

    In order to have such a University-wide forum, we have insisted that a number of conditions be met, first and foremost that President Ahmadinejad agree to divide his time evenly between delivering remarks and responding to audience questions. I also wanted to be sure the Iranians understood that I would myself introduce the event with a series of sharp challenges to the president on issues including:

    the Iranian president’s denial of the Holocaust;
    his public call for the destruction of the State of Israel;
    his reported support for international terrorism that targets innocent civilians and American troops;
    Iran’s pursuit of nuclear ambitions in opposition to international sanction;
    his government’s widely documented suppression of civil society and particularly of women’s rights; and
    his government’s imprisoning of journalists and scholars, including one of Columbia’s own alumni, Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh (see President Bollinger’s statement on Dr. Kian Tajbakhsh’s release).
    I would like to add a few comments on the principles that underlie this event. Columbia, as a community dedicated to learning and scholarship, is committed to confronting ideas—to understand the world as it is and as it might be. To fulfill this mission we must respect and defend the rights of our schools, our deans and our faculty to create programming for academic purposes. Necessarily, on occasion this will bring us into contact with beliefs many, most or even all of us will find offensive and even odious. We trust our community, including our students, to be fully capable of dealing with these occasions, through the powers of dialogue and reason.

    I would also like to invoke a major theme in the development of freedom of speech as a central value in our society. It should never be thought that merely to listen to ideas we deplore in any way implies our endorsement of those ideas, or the weakness of our resolve to resist those ideas or our naiveté about the very real dangers inherent in such ideas. It is a critical premise of freedom of speech that we do not honor the dishonorable when we open the public forum to their voices. To hold otherwise would make vigorous debate impossible.

    That such a forum could not take place on a university campus in Iran today sharpens the point of what we do here. To commit oneself to a life—and a civil society—prepared to examine critically all ideas arises from a deep faith in the myriad benefits of a long-term process of meeting bad beliefs with better beliefs and hateful words with wiser words. That faith in freedom has always been and remains today our nation’s most potent weapon against repressive regimes everywhere in the world. This is America at its best.

    Bear in mind that this was written when people were criticizing Bollinger for allowing Ahmadinejad over and BEFORE they were criticizing him for daring to speak out.

    Once again, these are the terms on which Ahmadinejad accepted his invitation to appear at Columbia University. As I’ve said before, not only is Bollinger innocent of the rudeness which has been so frequently alleged of him, but Ahmadinejad and his supporters are guilty of being quite rude (as it is rude indeed to smear a host’s name after they graciously extend and fulfill an invitation such as this).

    As for me… I am rude, and I will add that rudeness is greatly underrated these days. Politeness serves the function above all else of preserving a sense of civility and superficial respect in various social situations. This has a certain obvious value, of course, but only when it encourages rather than inhibits human freedoms. Our society’s obsessive emphasis on ridiculous rules of politeness has gotten to such a point that people with disgusting opinions now hide behind the rules of etiquette to avoid being held accountable for what they say and do. If this fact does not violate the spirit of the very values that politeness is supposed to preserve, then I don’t know what does. Either way, I will continue being rude in the expression of my opinions, and I would encourage you to do likewise.

  32. Fine. Fuck off.

  33. That’s the most honest you’ve been in this entire conversation. Ta-ta!

  34. Wait, you didn’t respond to Adams. He just proved that this was a debate, and Bollinger wasn’t rude. What of that?

  35. Well, we can debate what a debate is but we can agree that a lecture isn’t a debate, even debatedly.

  36. That didn’t make sense. Adams was arguing that Bollinger’s comments were okay because he and Ahmadinejad had agreed to debate; you were arguing that it wasn’t a debate, and that that was why Bollinger’s comments were rude. Adams just proved that it was in fact a debate, so shouldn’t you admit you were wrong?

  37. Bollinger invited the guy to speak months ago; the guy said yes, Bollinger then got into deep dodo with the college and the public for offering him a public forum for his hate-speak; Bollinger sprang to the offense by turning the speech into a ‘debate’ which it wasn’t: what kind of a ‘debate’ turns an intro into an harangue and a hostile crowd into an inquisition? But, hey, if you think this was a fair ‘debate’ with an objective outcome, fine. I don’t, but far be it from me to limit your free speech. I just can’t bring myself to recognize your conclusion: Mr. Adams han’t proven this was a debate and he couldn’t, it wasn’t, not by any definition of the term. I will grant him persistence and, apparently, you, too.

  38. Well, here is a random selection of news stories.
    NyTimes:
    “there was a sharp division of opinion about Mr. Bollinger’s pointed introduction of the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as a man who exhibited “all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator” and whose denial of the Holocaust was “either brazenly provocative or astonishingly uneducated.””

    Columbia Spectator:
    “In the aftermath of President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s campus visit, I certainly expected to read criticisms of University President Lee Bollinger and his handling of various aspects of the planning and execution of Monday’s event. However, I was unprepared for criticism that condemned Bollinger’s introductory critique of Ahmadinejad as too harsh.”

    NPR
    “Robert Siegel speaks to Columbia University President Lee Bollinger about the introduction he gave a speech by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the school. Bollinger told Ahmadinejad that his policies made him appear to be a cruel and petty dictator.”

    So, I would think that this presents how the idea that Bollinger was merely introducing Ahmadinejad, and being quite rude about it, got into our heads. That he issued a statement prior that outlined that he was going to be rude in his introduction does not change the fact that it is rude to introduce someone that way.

    Nor does it change the fact that this was a dumb thing to do. The story the world read from this event it still how rude Americans are, rather than what an ridiculous ass Ahmadinejad is. Ahmadinejad, who probably got a bump in Iranian polls over the debacle. This, I believe, was the point we have been making, again and again and again. So, we’re still pretty solid in our convictions here.

    As for etiquette and civility, I think they are highly underrated these days. Once again I seem to disagree with Mr. Adams. What a surprise.

  39. To Tony:
    You’re just sounding like a brat. I proved my point and you went on a rant in which you insist that I did not, without actually deigning to explain how it is that this is so. Apparently you believe repetition is a good substitute for intelligent, logical thought.

    To Sam:
    Your quotes actually do Rosza a great favor – they prove his point about the media being biased in favor of Ahmadinejad, since they show how they distorted the nature of the invitation Bollinger offered to the Iranian anti-Semite to make Bollinger look rude when he was not. What they do NOT do (although you unsuccessfully use spurious logic to prove otherwise) is show that Bollinger ACTUALLY was rude. Think about it: I gave you a document proving that Bollinger made Ahmadinejad fully aware well in advance of what would happen at Columbia if he accepted the invitation (that there would be a rigorous academic debate), thereby making Bollinger’s subsequent conduct (which was par for the course for a rigorous academic debate) entirely appropriate; you are attempting to counter that with statements from third party sources well after the fact contradicting the original document. If we were talking about a crime, this would be the equivalent of me showing you a videotape of the events themselves, and you trying to negate that with testimonials made the next day by friends of the criminal.
    There are two deeper issues here, though:
    1) Why is it that the two Carsons, who claims to be such intrepid pursuers of truth, are willing to flagrantly violate the rules of intellectual fair play when proven wrong? If you truly seek what is right, you will be willing to acknowledge when you have been proven wrong, regardless of how rude the person proving it may be, and regardless of how admitting it may violate your pre-embraced ideological dogma.
    2) Even though you claim you are not sympathetic to Ahmadinejad, why is it that you insist on believing he was treated rudely even after it has been established that he was not? Initially the argument could have been made that you were just tireless supporters of always being polite, but once it has been proven that the other guy wasn’t polite, why would you stick to your guns? You are either extremely stubborn (which makes you far more rude than I have been) or you like the guy who you claimed was a victim of rudeness and don’t want to face the fact that your champion was wrong.

  40. Just admit you were wrong (sincerely) and let this end already. He’s rude but for crying out loud he’s more than proven that he’s right. What’s so hard about admitting it?

  41. Here, listen to this, I stumbled on it yesterday, it includes two conservatives and two liberals, it pretty much states the case as I/we see it.

    [audio src="http://www.fednet.net/mg/MG092107.mp3" /]

  42. That doesn’t download on my computer. Would you mind posting a text version of the highlights? I would really appreciate that.

  43. You’d have thought the Columbia’s Columbia Spectator would have the story straight, and be without bias on a detail such as an introduction.

    There is a third possibility, we each all have different interpretations of decorum, and of what was at stake here. To you decorum isn’t important, to me it is. To you it is more important that Ahmadinejad is discredited by someone, to me it is more important the he destroys himself. To you it’s more important that there is an explicit denouciation of the man, to me the world media seeing him embarrass himself was the best outcome possible.

    So, it that regard I don’t step down from my point as Adams isn’t perfectly right. I can appreciate his point, I think we’ve had plenty of time to digest it. I just wish he’d take the time to consider mine.

  44. Sam F: it appears I mispoke or misdirected, although I’m confused because I swear it was there.

    But here is another take on it from a fellow liberal Robert Scheer who explains articulately the very nut of this issue (and you’ll note that conservative Tony Blankley doesn’t protest). I hope you can listen

    http://www.kcrw.com/news/programs/lr/lr070928iran_pres_uaw_gm_dea

  45. First:
    “What they do NOT do (although you unsuccessfully use spurious logic to prove otherwise) is show that Bollinger ACTUALLY was rude.”
    Spurious logic being: it was an introduction; calling a guest an odious, petty, cruel, anti-semitic dictator (even if it’s true) when introducing him/her is poor etiquette; therefore Bollinger shows poor etiquette when introducing Ahmadinejad (I actually say, if you haven’t noticed, that he is rude, but I mean the same thing). Actually, I think my logic is pretty watertight. As you have stated, you don’t take much interest in decorum, so perhaps thats why you can’t see my logic.

    Whether or not Bollinger told his odious, petty, cruel, anti-semitic dictator guest what he was about to be called in his introduction doesn’t make it stop being rude or justify it. You seem to think I care if Ahmadinejad was offended. I don’t. I care about how he spun the event, and that hearts and minds were lost, yet again. These events are why anti-Americanism is at an all time high throughout the world. Thats why it was stupid: don’t treat guests like that. Its a rule as old as diplomacy.

    Second.
    “flagrantly violate the rules of intellectual fair play when proven wrong? If you truly seek what is right, you will be willing to acknowledge when you have been proven wrong, regardless of how rude the person proving it may be, and regardless of how admitting it may violate your pre-embraced ideological dogma.”
    Our dogma insofar as we have exhibited any in this post, is that it is rude to introduce a guest with the opening salvo that Bollinger did, and foolish PR, diplomacy and international relations. Indeed the only ideology that keeps creeping in is when you, Mr. Adams, try and pidgeonhole us with your “with us or against us” preconceptions. Demanding we answer for Ahmadinejad’s anti-semitism as if we agree with him. Which we don’t because we clearly think he’s a moron and have stated thus enough times for you to get the message.

    It is possible that we can disagree with both parties, Bollinger in that his rudeness showed a complete lack of diplomatic and media common sense. Ahmadinejad for being a crazy nutjob among other things and hopefully soon to pass into the dustbin of nutjob history.

    We haven’t taken any ideological stance, purposely. It isn’t an ideological issue. It is a question of etiquette, and the PR disaster that resulted.

  46. LOL! You all take it so seriously. They brought their little dressed-up monkey to the table and he entertained us all quite well. What’s the problem?

    So he’ll spin it to get a little sympathy, so what? He lost a lot of respect amongst his peers for stomaching Bollinger’s and that’s a good thing. And even if he didn’t, we can deal with that area whenever the threat they present becomes greater than the liberals’ reluctance to solve the problem for once and all.

  47. The fact that I think politeness is overrated doesn’t mean that I’m incapable of telling the difference between rudeness and the lack thereof. You still haven’t addressed the basic point here: If Ahmadinejad was explicitly informed of what was going to happen before accepting the invitation to Columbia University, then his subsequent treatment cannot by any intelligent standard of logic be deemed rude. As it has been proven that he was made intimately aware of what was going to transpire, he wasn’t rude. If A = B and B = C, then A = C; it’s elementary logic that you can’t refute, and which you are therefore ignoring.
    By the way, statements such as “Whether or not Bollinger told his odious, petty, cruel, anti-semitic dictator guest what he was about to be called in his introduction doesn’t make it stop being rude or justify it,” do NOT count as addressing this matter, since you are simply making a declarative statement that is all-but-repetitious, since you’ve strongly implied it for the last three posts. To address this matter would be to explain WHY that stops it from being rude.
    I find your distortion of my position (claiming that it’s a “with us or against us” position) to be quite amusing, considering that what I’ve been saying is nothing of the sort. To once again illustrate what I have been saying, let me milk my previous metaphor: Let’s pretend there is a crime committed somewhere, with Person A claiming he was right and Person B arguing that he was correct. You, as a third-party, seem adamant in taking Person B’s side in the story, completely backing everything he says happened even as you insist that you are a neutral third-party and do not naturally sympathize with Person B’s cause. Then it is proven to you – both with sound logic and with irrefutable evidence – that Person A was indeed correct. If you continue to side with Person B in spite of all this, is it that unreasonable to assume that you in fact preferred Person B from the beginning, perhaps because you actually like who he is and what he does? The only other possibility (under these circumstances) is that you’re too much of a stubborn jackass to admit when you’re wrong, which would make you a sophist.
    By the way, if you haven’t noticed, I started out feeling you and Rosza were both wrong, but you’ve pushed me to parroting Rosza. This is not something I particularly like, and if you had an ounce of introspection you might want to evalute why that’s happened.

  48. To jonolan:
    What the hell are you saying? I actually couldn’t understand the message you were trying to convey through that garbled morass of nonsense you call written English. After some thought, I believe you began by implying that this whole thing doesn’t matter, and ended with a swipe at liberals for being reluctant to solve the problem for once and all. Dare I ask what you meant by that? Are you trying to smear all legitimate liberals by assuming that radical idiots like the Carsons are one and the same with thoughtful and reasonable leftists everywhere? And by solving the problem for once and all… well I’m not going to put words in your mouth there. What did you mean by that?

  49. You know what Charles? Fuck you. If you’re on my side right now, then stop insulting me.

  50. Mr. Adams, I was saying that Ahmadinejad was allowed to speak at Columbia for the purpose of entertainment. His and Bollinger’s behavior succeeded in being so. Whether it was rude or not doesn’t really matter at all in the long run.

    He may have lost points for weakness with his constituency or he may gain points and sympathy as a martyr. Again this doesn’t really matter that much; politics goes beyond such trivialities.

    My final point was that the US can deal with Iran and allies it might gain as soon as we have the will to use appropriate levels of force. No matter whether you approve of it or not, the US has the firepower to solve these problems.

  51. “If Ahmadinejad was explicitly informed of what was going to happen before accepting the invitation to Columbia University, then his subsequent treatment cannot by any intelligent standard of logic be deemed rude.”
    Ok I’ll show you how it works–
    I’m going to call your arguement silly:
    “Your argument is silly”
    Now, ask yourself, by prefacing that I was going to call you argument silly, did I or did I not call your arguement silly. Bollinger telling Ahmadinejad before hand does not make the moment less rude. Ahmadinejad knowing, explicitly, that he is about to be insulted, does not negate the fact that he is being insulted.

    But more importantly, I have never said Ahmadinejad was correct, or that I agreed with him in the slightest, nor have I ever cared if Ahmadinejad was personlly insulted. I have taken issue with Bollinger’s rudeness, and time and time again stated thus. The only time I have devolved into letting Ahmadinejad into the situation at all is to show why this was a dumb thing to do, ie give Ahmadinejad more credibility than he deserves.

    “Let’s pretend there is a crime committed somewhere, with Person A claiming he was right and Person B arguing that he was correct. You, as a third-party, seem adamant in taking Person B’s side in the story, completely backing everything he says happened even as you insist that you are a neutral third-party and do not naturally sympathize with Person B’s cause.”

    That isn’t an accurate description of the situation. I am not taking B’s side of the story, I haven’t even heard Ahmadinejad’s interpretation of this story.

    How can you make this leap: that I think Ahmadinejad can torture political dissidents in Iran because I thought Bollinger was rude. Thats absurd, pinning support for Ahmadinejad to how someone introduced him is not logical, and not accurate.

  52. Why does the US hate Iran? There are no sensible reasons

    It’s a colun by Ted Rall posted on this site. It adds much needed perspective to this issue (I dare to suggest).

  53. I have been here many times and have always found this to be.
    I am from Algeria and know bad English, give true I wrote the following sentence: “Offers dirt cheap airline tickets! Cheap airline tickets, hotel rates and most cheap airline tickets require that you stay over at least.”

    Waiting for a reply :), Valentine.


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