Sunday, September 23, 2007

Daytime Hangout

So, it has been a while, but I have to post about this. As you may know, Columbia has decided to bring Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to their campus. Apparently, this offends the Fox News Sunday panel along with the fact that Columbia doesn't have an ROTC program on campus. The reason that Columbia gave was because it was uncomfortable with the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, which is a completely legitimate reason in my opinion. But, the panel seems to disagree. Oh, I should note that this panel is chocked full of Republican ideologues like William Kristol of The Weekly Standard, host Chris Wallace, and Fox News Washington Editor Brit Hume. Remember, Fox News is "fair and balanced" and "they report and you decide." Wow, I think that Orwell'd be proud of that sort of spin.

To deal with the ROTC problem first, a lot of colleges don't have ROTC programs. Every college that I applied to didn't have a ROTC program. I figured that not having one is a fairly common occurrence. Anyway, my larger fish to fry is with regards to the vitriol they spewed towards Ahmadinejad. Now, before everyone starts tripping and shit, I'm not support Ahmadinejad. It's hard to support someone who denies empirical, unbiased evidence that 6 million Jews were killed by the Third Reich. But, as much as he believes this, I believe that Columbia has done the right thing by inviting him to talk.

Columbia has done the right thing because they are holding up one of the most important civil rights that we have: to discuss conflicting viewpoints. The Fox News chatterboxes believe that Columbia should not support the president of a state sponsor of terror. Now, if that were the case, no American president during the Cold War and post-Cold War era should ever be invited to speak at Columbia as each one has played a part in supporting right-wing insurgent forces to fight against something we found unsuitable. So, let's clear that idea out right now.

With that viewpoint out, the Fox News wonks say that Columbia is being irresponsible by doing this. No, absolutely not. Ahmadinejad is going to the International Policy school at Columbia. They have already studied Ahmadinejad, thought about his policies. The kids at this school aren't stupid nor are they to be swayed by a guy who dresses business casual, as we all know business casual appearance conveys no gravitas. Comfort? Yes. Bravado and confidence? Not so much. I think that his appearance will give these students a good insight on what the M.O. is for one of the more important presidents in the Middle East. In a country that is fighting a war against a topic that none of us know intimately, everyone should be jumping at this opportunity to gain further understanding.

And, above all of the technical reasons, we have the necessity to give Ahmadinejad a platform. 9/11 changed things, but it did not change the fundamental nature of our country: to give all people the right to speak their minds and debate with one another. Ahmadinejad's appearance will be nothing more than a debate with one of the most provocative thinkers in the modern world.