Ahmadinejad at Columbia

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke at Columbia University earlier today. Judging from this clip, it looks like he made a fool of himself. According to the New York Times, it seems something vaguely evolution related came up:

He then gave a speech that meandered from science and religion to creation of human beings and the misuse of wisdom. But it was during the question-and-answer session that he was confronted about some of his most controversial positions.

I haven’t found a transcript of his precise remarks, but somehow I think I can guess what he said.

The right-wing punditocracy has been in all its glory in the week leading up to this talk. The occasion of a despised dictator from a hated country coming to a speak at a major American university plays into two of their favorite activities: Bashing academe and feigning outrage. Here’s Fox News pundit Michelle Malkin running down the talking points:

GIBSON: OK. Well what about abandoning Mahmoud altogether? Could New York actually do that? Could New York say, hey, you just can’t come into the city?

MALKIN: Well, I’m not sure about that, Geraldo. I think the New York — John, I don’t think that the New York Police Department — I think they’ve done as much as they could there. I think Bloomberg could have sent a stronger message in the same way that Giuliani did when he told the Saudi prince to bug off with his money, but he didn’t. He was an accommodationist. And there is something that somebody in New York could do something.

Lee Bollinger, the president of Columbia University, ought to rescind the invitation that basically honors Ahmadinejad as a world leader. He’s going to be going to that campus when, as Bill Kristol, our fellow FOX News person has said, Columbia University won’t allow the ROTC on its campus and it’s going to have Ahmadinejad. This is absolute insanity, John.

GIBSON: Well, I don’t understand something, Michelle. It seems to me the last time Ahmadinejad was in the country, last year, for the same U.N. meeting, Columbia withdrew an invitation. So why would they be going forward with it now?

MALKIN: That’s exactly the question that people should be asking Lee Bollinger, the president of Columbia University. And if I were a parent of a student there, I’d be bombarding him with e-mail.

What are the criteria for honoring a world leader in a forum? The president has assured people in a mass e-mail that, oh, yeah, Ahmadinejad will be challenged, but basically what we have here is tea with terrorists on the campus of Columbia University.

Ahmadinejad was being allowed to speak at Columbia. He wasn’t being honored in any way.

That ROTC talking point proved to be a popular one. Here’s Dinesh D’Souza making the same point:

President Lee Bollinger of Columbia University is a very open-minded guy, in his own opinion. In inviting the Iranian prime minister Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak at Columbia, he issued this statement. “Columbia, as a community dedicated to learning and scholarship, is committed to confronting ideas…Necessarily on occasion this will bring us into contact with beliefs that many, most of 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 dialog and reason.”

So why won’t Bollinger allow the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) to recruit on the Columbia campus? ROTC was expelled from Columbia in the late sixties. In 2003 a majority of students said they wanted ROTC back, to give students the choice to serve their country in this way. The Columbia faculty opposed the measure, however, and Bollinger sided with them against the students.

D’Souza bloviates for several more paragraphs after this. The comparison is specious, of course. ROTC is not there to express an opinion, they are there to recruit students. Anyone from the military is free to show up and express whatever opinions they like. But orgainzations that discriminate against homosexuals in defiance of Columbia’s own policies in that regard ought not be allowed to recruit on campus. If Ahmadinejad were trying to recruit Columbia students into the Iranian military, that would be different.

So should Ahmadinejad have been allowed to speak? Of course. He’s the leader of an important country we’re in danger of going to war with, for heaven’s sake. End of discussion. I, for one, would like to hear what he has to say.

The other facet of this was whether Ahmadinejad should be allowed to lay a wreath at Ground Zero. Once again, of course he should have been allowed. Iran had nothing to do with 9/11, and it costs us nothing to take the high road as a country, for once.

Here’s right-wing hack Tony Blankley getting pounded on this question in yesterday’s edition of The McLaughlin Group:

MS. CLIFT: I guess you can legitimately say that his country is aiding and abetting al Qaeda. But Iran had nothing to do with 9/11. And so I don’t really see that we need to exclude him from this sacred ground.

MR. BUCHANAN: Exactly. John, again –

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Nor have the Iranians attacked any American citizens.

MR. BUCHANAN: John, also –

MR. BLANKLEY: Yes, of course they have, in Iraq. They’re supporting the killing of American troops in Iraq now.

MR. BUCHANAN: But Tony, why doesn’t Congress –

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Did we not permit the Soviet Union to participate in the kind of public event that Ahmadinejad was seeking, even though we knew that the Soviet Union was supplying weaponry in small wars throughout Southeast Asia and South America?

MR. BUCHANAN: John, look, Richard Nixon went to –

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Do you see the logic behind that?

MR. BLANKLEY: No. This is a –

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: A robust diplomacy will permit that kind of –

MR. BLANKLEY: You can have a robust diplomacy –

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: — relatively minor transgression. Isn’t that true?

MR. BLANKLEY: You can have a robust diplomacy, but not at a sacred site. We can meet him in Switzerland.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I want to hear from Pat.

MR. BUCHANAN: Richard Nixon went to Moscow and Richard Nixon went to Beijing in the same year that the Soviets and the Chinese were pouring weapons –

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There you are.

MR. BUCHANAN: — into South Vietnam to kill our guys –

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: There you are, Tony.

MR. BUCHANAN: — because he wanted to stop the damn war. That’s what we want to do, Tony, is stop the war.

MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Tony, chew on that, will you?

The right just loves the good vs evil story line. And why not? It permits maximum self-righteousness with a minimum of thought. Just what they like!

Comments

  1. #1 Gerard Harbison
    September 24, 2007

    The problem is, Columbia has seriously interfered with other speakers which the administration doesn’t like. In 1998, they prevented attendees at an Accuracy in Academia conference who were not Columbia students from attending sessions, citing ‘security concerns’. The result was the conference had to be taken off campus. The ‘security concerns’ were students who didn’t like Ward Connerly and Dinesh D’Souza and were prepared to use violence to stop him from speaking.

    So the Right is quite properly outraged. Columbia will host tin-pot megalomaniac dictators, but not American citizens expressing their opinions.

    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3827/is_199812/ai_n8815793

  2. #2 Gerard Harbison
    September 24, 2007

    By the way, it looks to me Blankely was simply shouted down, not pounded. Or perhaps you don’t recognize a difference. Nor did those students protesting Connerly.

  3. #3 Nicole
    September 24, 2007

    Bollinger’s introduction to Ahmadinejad is at http://www.columbia.edu/cu/news/07/09/lcbopeningremarks.html
    and well worth a read — what a welcome.

    The video of Ahmadinejad’s speech is at http://wcbstv.com/topstories/local_story_267142152.html

    I’m at Columbia — this was quite an event, and no one ended up looking good by the end.

  4. #4 SLC
    September 24, 2007

    Re Gerard Harbison

    I can remember as a student at Berkeley a million years ago that members of the Communist party were banned from speaking at the University. There was a debate between Dorothy Healey the chairman of the Comnunist party in California at the time (she later left the party in a dispute over antisemitism) and Congressman John Rousselot, a member of the John Birch Society which had to be held off campus. She made a monkey out of him but was caught off guard when a member of the audience during the question/answer period asked if it were not a fact that the economic system in the Soviet Union was not communism but state capitalism. That one really got her dander up. It is my recollection that the questioner might have been none other then David Horowitz who was a Trotskyite at the time (as were several of the neocons) who has since migrated from the far left to the far right. The episode taught me that it was far more effective to attack Communist speakers from the left rather then from the right.

  5. #5 Derek James
    September 24, 2007

    Jason, you don’t see anything wrong with inviting and giving an audience to a reactionary, homophobic, holocaust denier?

  6. #6 Kevin
    September 24, 2007

    a) I thought the whole “EVIL has landed” stuff was way over the top. Here we have the elected leader of a country that has not, in recent memory, (except for the hostage thing) attacked the US, attacked any of its neighbors, bombed anyone or went 6,000 miles away to invade, occupy and destroy another country that never attacked it.

    I think the guy makes at least SOME sense when he talks (the holocaust, or gay or wipe off the map thing excepted) unlike our own president, who strikes me as a smirking dumb-ass every time I see him.

    b) I hardly ever watch the talkies on Sunday but my back was hurting and I saw her say this: “MS. CLIFT: I guess you can legitimately say that his country is aiding and abetting al Qaeda.”

    and I said to myself wha? wha? who says? the leading shitte state is helping the most radical wahabi sunni sect? The sect that calls all Shia apostate and infidels? that one?

    If the Iranians scooped up a few Al Queda leaking from Afghanistan and is keeping them under house arrest for potential use as pawns or foils, that maybe I’ll accept but

    aiding and abetting? geez creepers sell me a bridge…

  7. #7 Abbie
    September 24, 2007

    Jason, you don’t see anything wrong with inviting and giving an audience to a reactionary, homophobic, holocaust denier?

    Well, George Bush fits two out of three, and we let him RUN the country…

    I think listening to what world leaders have to say is always a good thing. Either we see some good in them, or they make an ass of themselves. Better than getting it filtered through the media or Fox News.

  8. #8 Kevin
    September 24, 2007

    I was just watching him on Charlie Rose…

    He was speaking in complete sentances with precise examples and a sense of history and a sense of humor..

    I think he was laughing when he said they didn’t have any gays. Maybe its the only line he could take…i.e. if there were gays they would have to be executed.

  9. #9 Tyler DiPietro
    September 25, 2007

    I don’t take any particular position on the worthiness or ethics or inviting Ahmedinejad to speak at a major university, but it is worth noting that the evidence for Iran “aiding and abetting Al Queda” is about as strong as it was for Iraq dong so.

    As for the talking head getting shouted down. Well, it’s the McLaughlin Group, the original useless talking head pissing contest.

  10. #10 Thomas
    September 25, 2007

    Here is a transcript of the full speech:
    http://www.azstarnet.com/sn/hourlyupdate/202820.php

    I found the introduction rather rude, and from what Ahmadinejad said there is no hint that he is any kind of international threat. He denies wanting nuclear weapons, he wants to solve the Palestinian problem with a referendum etc.
    Some of the internal policies of Iran may be outrageous, but that’s up to them to handle.

  11. #11 Adam Abeles
    September 25, 2007

    Lee Bollinger was Totally disrespectful. Ahmedenijad totally OWNS him in all of the rebukes.

    The media sure has demonized the President of Iran, enough so that most people have no clue that he is actually intelligent and willing to engage. We do not have to agree with him, but we need to at least treat him fair.

  12. #12 Der Bruno Stroszek
    September 25, 2007

    When we say things like “intelligent” and “reasonable”, let’s get things in perspective. He’s reasonable in that he’s not demanding the immediate execution of anyone who heckled him and he’s intelligent in the sense that he can complete a sentence, but that’s setting the bar awfully low. In any other respect he is a bigoted ass who suffers from the classic conspiracy theorist’s mental block on inconvenient facts (about, say, the Holocaust, or 9/11).

  13. #13 Russell Blackford
    September 25, 2007

    I’m with you on this one, Jason. We in the West might as well hear what the guy has to say, when there’s an opportunity. Freedom of speech is always a good starting point.

  14. #14 ParanoidMarvin
    September 25, 2007

    Just to be a devil’s advocate for a moment. For full disclosure, I’m an Israeli.

    Currently, Ahmadinejad has said for the record at least twice that Israel should be wiped off the map, and all its Jewish inhabitants be dispersed to their “countries” (whatever that means, since both I and my parents were born here).

    Would any other head of state, calling for the destruction of a UN member state, been invited? Or is this to be tolerated only when it’s Israel?

    Putting Israel aside, Ahmadinejad is presiding over an almost unprecedented repression in Iran. Why don’t I think Pinoche, or one of the presidents of South Africa during apartheid, would have been invited?

    Also, I don’t see why freedom of speech has any relevance here. Freedom of expression doesn’t mean that I have to let the guy speak from my podium, just that I can’t harass him on his podium. Ahmadinejad has TV networks under his thumb, and he can also speak at the UN. That doesn’t imply that not inviting him to Columbia would be infringing on his freesom of speech.

    To me, this seems more like another bastard offspring of post-modernism than any statement towards freedom of speech.

  15. #15 SLC
    September 25, 2007

    To be fair to Mr. Amadinejad, as difficult as that may be to a piece of filth like him, he is a college graduate from a reputable university with a degree in transportation engineering.

  16. #16 Abbie
    September 25, 2007

    Currently, Ahmadinejad has said for the record at least twice that Israel should be wiped off the map, and all its Jewish inhabitants be dispersed to their “countries” (whatever that means, since both I and my parents were born here).

    Those would be the countries where Jews had been living for thousands of years. Then they decided that they deserved their own country. And so a bunch of crazy zionists decided to flock “back” to a strip of land their long-ago ancestors lived on, and with some help from Imperial Britian, took it from the current owners.

    Jews should have just come to America. There’s plenty of room here. Settling themselves in the middle of the Muslim world and acting like they owned the place was asking for trouble.

    Of course, no, Israel shouldn’t be wiped off the map. But given the country’s abhorrent behavior, and the zealots who keep encroaching on more territory, and the bizzare unflagging support by the world’s largest superpower… the Muslim world has all right to resent the country.

    I can see why many Muslims conflate Israel with the US, and despise both. Since I abhor their religion and violent tactics, I can’t support them, but I can see their side of the argument.

  17. #17 Explicit Atheist
    September 25, 2007

    Ahmadinejad, when speaking in Persian, repeatedly says that the re-apparance of the hidden Imam is “imminent” heralding the era of worldwide Islamic Shi’ite rule, see http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=archives&Area=ia&ID=IA38907 No elected official in the United States or Europe, not even Bush, who has comparable government authority, talks about the imminent re-apparance of Jesus.

    When Iran sponsors parades of military equipment, they drap the missiles with large signs calling for Israel to be wiped off the map. No government in the United States or Europe drapes missiles with similiar signs when sponsoring military parades. The Iranian government has supported efforts to recruit and train suicide squads and says it is prepared to defend itself using such nihilistic tactics. No government in the United States or Europe recruits suicide squads and advocates using them to defend itself. The Iranian military utilized Shia belief in the Hidden Imam to convince many thousands of young Iranian males that the Hidden Imam (in the form of a man who rode past them on a horse) was making his re-apparance to them while they were preparing to suicidally march into Iraq during the Iraq Iran war. I, for one, don’t think the current Iranian government can be trusted with nuclear weapons, nor can we trust this Iranian government’s statements that they won’t create such weapons, particularly given Iran’s insistence on manufacturing its own nuclear fuel instead of importing it from Russia or other countries.

  18. #18 Ginger Yellow
    September 25, 2007

    Ahmadinejad claims he means for Israel to be dissolved in the manner of the Soviet Union, not physical destruction. Now we certainly don’t have to believe him, but plenty of people who called for the dissolution of the Soviet Union (and for that matter repatriation of ethnic Russians) have been invited to speak at universities. As for Ahmadinejad, I’m a bit torn on the practicalities, but not the principle. Columbia has every right to invite him to speak. At Oxford the Union invited many people with just as reprehensible views as Ahmadinejad (David Irving to name just one example), on the traditional grounds that among informed people bad speech should be countered with better speech, not censorship. But at the same time I don’t really see what benefit inviting him to speak does. There’s value in having representatives of Iran talk about their internal and external policy goals, but the personal animus toward Ahmadinejad is so great in the US that anything of value to be gleaned would be smothered by the hostility. It’s not as if Ahmadinejad controls foreign policy anyway.

  19. #19 ParanoidMarvin
    September 25, 2007

    Abbie:

    Those would be the countries where Jews had been living for thousands of years.

    Would that be Hungary, where my parental grandmother was taken to Auschwitz, and my grandfather to a work camp, and where about 95% of their families were killed?

    Or would you prefer Iraq, since my maternal grandmother and grandfather were merely harassed and degraded every day until they decided to leave?

    and with some help from Imperial Britian, took it from the current owners.

    You mean the Ottoman empire, don’t you? they were in control at that time, not the Palestinians.

    Jews should have just come to America. There’s plenty of room here.

    The same America which had strict immigration quotas from Germany? Maybe you should read a bit about the Évian Conference. Or maybe the same America which had quotas for Jews in elite universities, corporate jobs, and private clubs until the 60′s?

    Before you start writing complete and utter BS Abbie, you should at least get your facts straight.

    Yes, the Israeli occupation of the territories is an abomination, and yes, Israel’s behavior hasn’t been exemplary. That doesn’t change the fact that Israel was formed because even where we were allowed, we weren’t accepted.

    You know, my friends and I protest, and vote for left wingers, and some of my friends have refused their reserve duties and have gone to jail. Should we be content with the fact that another country is threatening to blow up Tel Aviv, just because the right wing is in power? Maybe you can arrange a green card for us so we can come over to your side of the woods?

  20. #20 Abbie
    September 25, 2007

    The same America which had strict immigration quotas from Germany? Maybe you should read a bit about the Évian Conference. Or maybe the same America which had quotas for Jews in elite universities, corporate jobs, and private clubs until the 60′s?

    Well, then, somewhere else? IIRC Palestine was one of several options at one point. (I’ve done a little reading on the subject, but I have a long ways to go. I admit I may be wrong in places.)
    And: Blacks were discriminated against at least just as much as Jews in America (were Jews ever kept as slaves?) Why didn’t they get their own country?

    And yes, the Holocaust was horrible, but Zionism existed well before the holocaust.

    Yes, the Israeli occupation of the territories is an abomination, and yes, Israel’s behavior hasn’t been exemplary. That doesn’t change the fact that Israel was formed because even where we were allowed, we weren’t accepted.

    And so the answer was to move to a small sliver of land completely surrounded by Muslim countries? Brilliant plan that.

  21. #21 Explicit Atheist
    September 25, 2007

    Ginger Yellow wrote

    “Ahmadinejad claims he means for Israel to be dissolved in the manner of the Soviet Union, not physical destruction. Now we certainly don’t have to believe him, but plenty of people who called for the dissolution of the Soviet Union (and for that matter repatriation of ethnic Russians) have been invited to speak at universities.”

    But he didn’t say that when asked at Columbia “Do you or your government seek the destruction of the state of Israel?” Ahmadinejad replied “We love all people, we are friends fo the Jews. There are many Jews living peacefully in Iran”. Then when asked again “I think you can answer that question wit a simple yes or no” the reply was to change the subject to the Palestinian issue. He didn’t say that the Jews of Iran he loves are trapped there, forbidden to leave by the government since the 1979 revolution. Jews who apply for a passport to travel abroad must do so in a special bureau and are immediately put under surveillance. The government does not generally allow all members of a family to travel abroad at the same time to prevent Jewish emigration. Is that Ahmadinejad’s idea of being a friend of the Jews? If he lived in a nation where the government prevented Muslims from leaving would he characterize that as friendliness toward Muslims? Responses like that just highlight that is a liar, saying what he knows the audience wants to hear regardless of the fact that it is not true. This is the same Iranian that falsely denies it conspired to explode the Jewish community center and everyone inside during working hours in Argentina.

    When talking to Persian audiences Ahmadinejad describes Israel as a “fake regime”, and a “disgraceful stain [on] the Islamic world” that “must be wiped off the map.” All official translations of the comments, including the foreign ministry and president’s office, “refer to wiping Israel away”. He doesn’t say “dissolved like the Soviet Union” and when he does say that doesn’t substitute for or replace his more violent commentary.

    Ginger Yellow wrote

    “…There’s value in having representatives of Iran talk about their internal and external policy goals, but the personal animus toward Ahmadinejad is so great in the US that anything of value to be gleaned would be smothered by the hostility. It’s not as if Ahmadinejad controls foreign policy anyway.”

    The control of foreign policy, nuclear policy, and the main economic policies are all assigned to the ‘Supreme Guide’ Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. However, Mahmud Ahmadinejad, who served in the ranks of the Revolutionary Guards during the 1980-1988 war with Iraq, has appointed fellow Revolutionary Guards members to the most key positions in his cabinet and administration, including his foreign and defense ministers. Within the Revolutionary Guards, there is an elite “Qods (Jerusalem) Force” responsible for military operations (including terrorism) beyond the boundaries of Iran. Ahmadinejad was a senior commander in the Qods Force. He was reported to have been involved in planning an attempt on the life of Salman Rushdie. Ahmadinejad used the substantial windfall from the sale of Iran’s oil to accelerate and expand the 2005-2006 five-year program for defense spending. While he did not initiate the plan to double the military budget in five years, he greatly expedited it so that it will be completed well before the 2010 target. President Ahmadinejad completely revamped Iran’s nuclear negotiating team. Ahmadinejad also replaced 40 of Iran’s most senior envoys abroad.

    So pardon me if I disagree with you, but I think Ahmadinejad is more involved in Iran’s foreign policy than you or I are. That is why what he says and does here matters, he is an insider who accurately reflects the thinking and attitudes of major players in the Iranian regime of which he is one.

    On 26 October 2005, Ahmadinejad spoke at a conference in Tehran called “World Without Zionism” where he painted a vision of the epic battle between Islam and the “World of Ignorance,” a West led by Israel and the Zionist movement. The Islamic distinction between Dar al-Islam, which means ‘Territory of Peace,’ and Dar al-Harb, which means ‘Territory of War’ or ‘Chao,’ is a political and legal one; Dar al-Islam refers to territory governed by Islamic law and Dar al-Harb to territory that is not. In contrast, the “World of Ignorance” refers to a place untouched by the illumination brought by the Prophet Muhammad. Ahmadinejad stood by his rhetoric and reportedly responded that the Western nations “are free to talk, but their words have no validity.” Ahmadinejad’s wrote a letter to Bush that served as a da’awah, which means ‘summons’ or an invitation to non-Muslims to submit to Islam. The da’awah is a Muslim obligation that should be fulfilled before war could be waged justly.

  22. #22 Explicit Atheist
    September 25, 2007

    Abbie wrote

    “And so the answer was to move to a small sliver of land completely surrounded by Muslim countries? Brilliant plan that.”

    Czechoslovakia was foolish to locate themselves right next to Germany. Its all Czechoslovakia’s fault, they do everything wrong and all animus towards them is provoked by them.

  23. #23 Dom
    September 25, 2007

    Jason, your reference to the McLaughlin group is confusing. That’s a right-wing group and all of them, except one, took your position.

  24. #24 Abbie
    September 25, 2007

    Czechoslovakia was foolish to locate themselves right next to Germany. Its all Czechoslovakia’s fault, they do everything wrong and all animus towards them is provoked by them.

    Uh… Czechoslovakia sits next to Germany because it happens to sit next to Germany. The Zionists *chose* to pack up and move to Israel. It’s the specific *choice* of location that I have a problem with.

    And I never said that it’s all Israel’s fault and that all animus towards them is provoked by them. Don’t put words into my mouth.

  25. #25 Explicit Atheist
    September 25, 2007

    Posted by: Abbie

    “Uh… Czechoslovakia sits next to Germany because it happens to sit next to Germany. The Zionists *chose* to pack up and move to Israel. It’s the specific *choice* of location that I have a problem with.”

    I understand, but that location is the Jews historical homeland like Germany is the Germans historical homeland and Slovakia is the Slovakian historical homeland, etc. Sure they started moving there in 1880′s, they were fleeing anti-semitism then also. There were two sets of laws in Europe, one for Europeans and nastier set of laws just for the second class Jews. And Christian clergy together with government officials periodically sponsored violent raids, known as pograms, on Jewish communities to rob, rape and murder. But it wasn’t until the Shoah that Jews arrived in Palestine in large numbers, either to escape the Germans or as after the fact survivors. They literally could not return to their villages, those that tried were killed by their non-Jewish neighbors who stole their vacant property, their insurance, their bank accounts, their families lives, everything. Now if your looking for “brilliance”, you need look no further then this example of European brilliance.

    Not to mention Europes “brilliant” decision to employ Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, who had earlier worked with Fysisch Dynamisch Onderzoekslaboratorium (FDO), a subsidiary of the Dutch firm VMF-Stork based in Amsterdam. From 1972-1975 he had access to classified data used to enrich ordinary uranium to weapons grade concentrations. FDO was working on the development of ultra high-speed centrifuges for Urenco. In 1974 while he was on leave for 16 days as a translator to the Urenco plant in Almelo, he obtained photographs and documents of the plant. Dr. A. Q. Khan returned to Pakistan in 1976 and initiated the Uranium enrichment program on the basis of the technology he had stolen from his previous employer. He (working for Pakistan) then shared this technology with North Korea, Iran, and Libya.

  26. #26 Derek James
    September 25, 2007

    I’m personally not happy with the existence of a “Jewish” state any more than I am a “Christian” state or a “Muslim” state. As nutty as it sounds, I think the best plan would be for the Palestinian territories to be absorbed into Israel under the condition that every get equal rights under the law and equal representation in a democratic government. It won’t happen because of all the religious garbage surrounding the issue, but it’s the best political solution.

    But none of that has squat to do with whether or not the holocaust took place. For Ahmadinejad to call himself a scientist or a scholar in one breath, while strongly insinuating that the holocaust is a fabrication, is grotesque.

    As is comparing Ahmadinejad to Bush. People who disagree with his politics tend to suspend all reason and sense of perspective at times. He’s not exactly progressive, but I can’t imagine the leader of our country every denying that gays exist within our borders.

  27. #27 VJB
    September 25, 2007

    I agree with Adam Abeles above in being dismayed at Lee Bollinger’s discourtesy. If he had engaged Ahmedinejad in a debate, or responded in this way after the talk, it would have been entirely appropriate. But to attack Columbia’s guest in the introduction I believe to be out of line. That being said, it was good for Columbia to have hosted Iran’s president; this is supposed to be a free country, and it is very useful to hear all sides, repugnant or not. Better to hear it for ourselves than through a partisan filter. Those calling for Columbia’s federal funding to be cut off are simply being silly. We might as well call for outlawing the Republican party for any amount of intemperate speech by right wingers. Though that idea does have a certain naive charm.

  28. #28 Explicit Atheist
    September 25, 2007

    For people who are really interested in the speaker and his country you need to read translations of his writings and speeches that are directed to their home audiences, some of which can be found on the internet such as MEMRI. These short public discussions for a U.S. audience end up being an opportunity for the speaker to mislead his audience by exploiting their ignorance. For example, do people know that the Jews of Iran are hostages, largely unable to leave Iran since 1979? See the 2004 US State Dept. report on Iran http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2004/35497.htm about 6 pages down. That is highly relevant when the speaker cites the Jewish community in Iran as evidence of his and his countries friendliness to Jews. Maybe if his government let the Jews freely emigrate from Iran there would be far fewer Jews in Iran. That is the problem with these university discussions, most people in the audience just don’t know enough about the speaker or his country to accurately evaluate him or the country he represents and the speaker exploits this ignorance.

  29. #29 Ginger Yellow
    September 26, 2007

    So pardon me if I disagree with you, but I think Ahmadinejad is more involved in Iran’s foreign policy than you or I are. That is why what he says and does here matters, he is an insider who accurately reflects the thinking and attitudes of major players in the Iranian regime of which he is one.

    I don’t recall saying we had any involvement in Iran’s foreign policy. Nor would I expect to be invited to talk about it by a university. Like I say, I think it is worth hearing what Iran’s leaders have to say, so we can better divine their intentions and thus calibrate our response. But you’re not really countering my point. The answers he gave at the university were evasive at best and no guide to how he really feels about Jews or Israel, let alone how the Ayatollah feels. You’re absolutely right that we’d be wise to listen to speeches for domestic audiences (although I’d prefer a source other than MEMRI where possible). Again, I was only querying what we had to gain from Columbia inviting him to speak.

  30. #30 Jorge Gajardo Rojas
    September 26, 2007

    If some american Presidente went to a irani University the situation would be the same.The issues of his conference:Denial about Iraq war atrocities to civilian,Guatanamo prison is a weekend ressort to islamic people,etc.

  31. #31 Explicit Atheist
    September 26, 2007

    Posted by: Jorge Gajardo Rojas

    “If some american Presidente went to a irani University the situation would be the same.The issues of his conference:Denial about Iraq war atrocities to civilian,Guatanamo prison is a weekend ressort to islamic people,etc.”

    Iran locks up academics for the “crime” of organizing academic conferences and regularly arrests the Iranian equivalent of the students who listened to him speak two days ago. Iran is experiencing a wave of political executions and death sentences — more than 300 since January, according to the Boroumand Foundation — and there is renewed pressure on the media. This hasn’t happenned in the U.S. under Bush, political dissidents are not imprisoned and there is reporting and discussion of crimes by U.S. soldiers and authorities in Iraq and conditions in Guatanamo prison in the press, in Congress and in the Courts. Court decisions overturning Bush’s policies some purused by citizens groups such as the ACLU, are not uncommon.

    On the other hand, if you want to celebrate the 100th anniversy of that important “non-fiction” book “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” do you go to the United States? Some country in Europe? The biggest celebration will be in Iran. The government of Iran takes anti-semitism very seriously, they work very hard to promote lies about Jews through out the world. There is just no comparison with the United States or Europe.

  32. #32 Explicit Atheist
    September 26, 2007

    Posted by: Derek James

    “I’m personally not happy with the existence of a “Jewish” state any more than I am a “Christian” state or a “Muslim” state. As nutty as it sounds, I think the best plan would be for the Palestinian territories to be absorbed into Israel under the condition that every get equal rights under the law and equal representation in a democratic government. It won’t happen because of all the religious garbage surrounding the issue, but it’s the best political solution.”

    Culturally, it would make more sense for the neighboring Islamic countries to absorb the Palestinian territories. They could have made peace with Israel and absorbed them anytime before 1967 or even afterwards. Instead, they preferred to make peace with Israel while leaving the territories with Israel, part of a pattern where the Arab world has insisted on not absorbing the Palestinians wherever they settled. Even now the Arab states could offer to absorb those populations. Obviously, Israel cannot absorb the Arab population without making the Jewish population a minority under the rule of people who cannot be trusted to respect the civil rights of Jews in a world that is still overflowing with anti-semitism. Your suggestion is unbalanced.

  33. #33 Justin Moretti
    October 1, 2007

    I’ve had this discussion with some of the bosses at work, who would probably identify themselves as being more left-leaning or ‘doveish’ than I, but who nevertheless took the side of the argument “Why give this raving looney a platform to speak from?”

    I argued that it was better to hear the raving looneys rave and get it from their own mouths. Then you can be sure that nobody is applying ‘spin’ to what they say.

    The only decision you need to make then is how serious they are about the threats they make. But the US is a nation which jumps down the throat of any kid who even jokes about shooting up their own classroom, so how it can not take Ahmadinejad (and with him Iran) seriously is beyond me.

    I might not be American (I’m Australian), but I would suggest that Ahmadinejad and Iran, and the potential dangers they pose, cannot simply be written off and ignored as a right-wing political opportunity.

  34. #34 Caledonian
    October 1, 2007

    But the US is a nation which jumps down the throat of any kid who even jokes about shooting up their own classroom, so how it can not take Ahmadinejad (and with him Iran) seriously is beyond me.

    Kids making jokes aren’t a serious threat. Iran is. We – that is, Americans – can ‘deal’ with imaginary problems, and our vigorous responses make us feel better. The real problems scare us, so we deny they exist.

  35. #35 Madam Pomfrey
    October 2, 2007

    Most of Ahmadinejad’s bluster abroad is for the purpose of manipulating and controlling the Iranian people, many of which are dissatisfied with the current regime but too powerless and apathetic to do anything about it. The nuclear-power issue touches on very Iranian issues of ego, national pride and not wanting to be the “small kid on the block,” and even nonreligious types in Iran who do not support the current regime will rally behind him when he pushes the national pride button. The comment about there being no gays in Iran may have made him a laughingstock here, but back in Iran it put the US in the position of defending “corrupt” homosexuality, and Lee Bollinger played right into their hands by “insulting” the visitor and violating Iranian concepts of hospitality.

  36. #36 Anonymous
    October 3, 2007

    At least he’s right about the holocaust. A “systematic” Jewish holocaust was impossible because the Nazis had no reliable way(s) of identifying Jews and non-Jews. Also, the holocaust is not as well documented as many people believe — for example, the official death count for Auschwitz has varied wildly from 1 million to 4 million.

  37. #37 Caledonian
    October 4, 2007

    A “systematic” Jewish holocaust was impossible because the Nazis had no reliable way(s) of identifying Jews and non-Jews.

    That’s nonsense! The Nazis had very clear operational definitions of Jewishness, which they used to slaughter countless people who had a distant Jewish relation but weren’t even aware of their heritage.

    As for practicing Jews, that was much easier.

  38. #38 Anonymous
    October 4, 2007

    That’s nonsense! The Nazis had very clear operational definitions of Jewishness, which they used to slaughter countless people who had a distant Jewish relation but weren’t even aware of their heritage.

    How did the Nazis go to these foreign countries and know more about the people living there than those people knew about themselves?

  39. #39 W. Kevin Vicklund
    October 4, 2007

    Larry Fafarman, posting anonymously because he is banned, wrote:

    At least he’s right about the holocaust. A “systematic” Jewish holocaust was impossible because the Nazis had no reliable way(s) of identifying Jews and non-Jews. Also, the holocaust is not as well documented as many people believe — for example, the official death count for Auschwitz has varied wildly from 1 million to 4 million.

    That is incorrect – certainly a perfect Holocaust was impossible because there is no perfectly reliable way of identifying Jews and non-Jews. However, a systematic Holocaust only requires reasonably reliable methods, which the Nazis did use, as documented by numerous Holocaust historians (I recommend Raul Hilberg’sThe Destruction of the European Jews and Ali and Roth’s The Nazi Census as good sources – forgive me if I got the names wrong, I’m doing it from memory). These methods included but are not limited to church/synagogue records, censuses, birth/death records, and genealogical records. By the time the war got to full steam, Nazi Germany had already issued IDs idnetifying whether someone was in a restricted class. They even had a special branch of the court system (much like our bankruptcy court) that dealt solely with legal challenges to being identified as an undesirable – there were tens of thousands of cases, many of which were decided in favor of the person misidentified as a Jew or other undesirable. So while the system was not perfect, it certainly was in place, and there certainly was a systematic effort on the part of the Nazis to identify and persecute Jews and other Holocaust victims.

    As to Auschwitz – the 4 million number is not supported by any documentation, but was rather a quick-and-dirty estimate by the Russians as to how many could have been killed by the onsite gas chambers. The number was reached before any analysis of the extant documentation was performed, and was promulgated purely for political purposes (to help justify Soviet control of Eastern Europe). It was not a number supported by Holocaust historians.

  40. #40 W. Kevin Vicklund
    October 4, 2007

    (If this ends up as a double post, I apologize – my ISP uses DHCP and my previous IP address was on the blacklist)

    Larry Fafarman, posting anonymously because he is banned, wrote:

    At least he’s right about the holocaust. A “systematic” Jewish holocaust was impossible because the Nazis had no reliable way(s) of identifying Jews and non-Jews. Also, the holocaust is not as well documented as many people believe — for example, the official death count for Auschwitz has varied wildly from 1 million to 4 million.

    That is incorrect – certainly a perfect Holocaust was impossible because there is no perfectly reliable way of identifying Jews and non-Jews. However, a systematic Holocaust only requires reasonably reliable methods, which the Nazis did use, as documented by numerous Holocaust historians (I recommend Raul Hilberg’sThe Destruction of the European Jews and Ali and Roth’s The Nazi Census as good sources – forgive me if I got the names wrong, I’m doing it from memory). These methods included but are not limited to church/synagogue records, censuses, birth/death records, and genealogical records. By the time the war got to full steam, Nazi Germany had already issued IDs idnetifying whether someone was in a restricted class. They even had a special branch of the court system (much like our bankruptcy court) that dealt solely with legal challenges to being identified as an undesirable – there were tens of thousands of cases, many of which were decided in favor of the person misidentified as a Jew or other undesirable. So while the system was not perfect, it certainly was in place, and there certainly was a systematic effort on the part of the Nazis to identify and persecute Jews and other Holocaust victims.

    As to Auschwitz – the 4 million number is not supported by any documentation, but was rather a quick-and-dirty estimate by the Russians as to how many could have been killed by the onsite gas chambers. The number was reached before any analysis of the extant documentation was performed, and was promulgated purely for political purposes (to help justify Soviet control of Eastern Europe). It was not a number supported by Holocaust historians.

  41. #41 W. Kevin Vicklund
    October 4, 2007

    The banned Larry Fafarman writes:

    How did the Nazis go to these foreign countries and know more about the people living there than those people knew about themselves?

    As I have previously informed Larry, the Nazis sent thousands of researchers into surrounding countries prior to the start of the war to collect this information, with an emphasis on religious records. In particular, they focused on Poland, where 3 million Polish Jews (90% of the pre-war Jewish population) and 3 million ethnic Poles fell victim to the Holocaust. In fact, they focused on Jews over ethnic Poles because it was easier to identify Jews, despite the fewer absolute number of Jews. The Nazis were unable to devote as much attention to other countries, and as a result, were not nearly as successful in identifying Jews in countries they invaded afterwards, as can be seen by both the relative (percent of prewar population) and absolute numbers of Holocaust victims as broken down by country of origin. Polish Jews accounted for half of all Jewish Holocaust victims; Poles (as national origin) accounted for over half of all Holocaust victims. The Polish records were as good as, perhaps even better than, the German records (and the reason only 25% of the German Jews were Holocaust victims is because many of them were forced out of Germany before the war).

  42. #42 Caledonian
    October 5, 2007

    How did the Nazis go to these foreign countries and know more about the people living there than those people knew about themselves?

    Genealogical records.

    But of course that’s only necessary for a quasi-rational system. A fully irrational system wouldn’t require any concrete basis at all, and it would still be a system.

  43. #43 Tyler DiPietro
    October 6, 2007

    How much are you willing to bet that “Anonymous” is Larry Fafarman using an IP scrambler?

  44. #44 Anonymous
    October 6, 2007

    Genealogical records.

    The Nazis didn’t do genealogical studies of people — the Nazis just rounded them up en masse.

    A ridiculous book titled “IBM and the Holocaust” claimed to have solved the mystery of how the Nazis identified all the Jews of Europe. The book made the ridiculous claim that this identification was done by means of primitive Hollerith card machines.

    But of course that’s only necessary for a quasi-rational system. A fully irrational system wouldn’t require any concrete basis at all, and it would still be a system.

    But it would not be a “systematic” system.

  45. #45 Caledonian
    October 6, 2007

    The Nazis didn’t do genealogical studies of people — the Nazis just rounded them up en masse.

    Um, no. They were obsessed with removing the “Jewish taint” from the population, and were especially concerned with identifying people who had a Jewish ancestry within the past few generations but who weren’t part of Jewish culture and were socially indistinguishable from non-Jewish people.

    But it would not be a “systematic” system.

    Ah, I have perceived the problem with this conversation.

  46. #46 W. Kevin Vicklund
    October 6, 2007

    The Nazis didn’t do genealogical studies of people — the Nazis just rounded them up en masse.

    This is utterly false. For Larry Fafarman to claim this shows his complete lack of knowledge of Holocaust history. For example, prior to invading Poland, the Nazis sent tens of thousands of genealogical researchers into Poland specifically to identify Jews and ethnic Poles (among other “undesirables). This explains why 90% of Polish Jews were victims of the Holocaust, and why Polish citizens accounted for over half of the victims of the Holocaust. In Holland, in contrast, the Nazis were not nearly as successful, in part because their primary method was mandated registration. Of course, with the census results from before the start of hostilities in hand (on Hollerith punch cards, naturally), it was easy for the Nazis to catch native Jews that failed to register.

    In Germany itself, by the time the war started, many jobs required genealogical proof that the worker (whether applicant or already employed) was not Jewish. A special branch of the court system was set up (similar to our bankruptcy court) solely to handle disputes over heritage. Tens of thousands of cases were heard, many decided in favor of the person misidentified as Jewish.

    For more details on how the Jews were initially identified, I recommend Raul Hilberg’s The Destruction of the European Jew and Ali and Roth’s The Nazi Census, as well as Edwin Black’s IBM and the Holocaust, which details how the Hollerith punch card system was used to record, analyze, and distribute the raw data collected by the methods described in the other two books.

    A ridiculous book titled “IBM and the Holocaust” claimed to have solved the mystery of how the Nazis identified all the Jews of Europe. The book made the ridiculous claim that this identification was done by means of primitive Hollerith card machines.

    Larry refuses to read this book, even though I offered to send him a free copy (remaindered, so Black wouldn’t even profit from the original sale of the book), so it is not surprising that he doesn’t know what Black actually claims. He also does not understand the capabilities of the Hollerith machines, and even denies that they could collate data! (The collator was introduced in the 1930s – it enabled the American Social Security system) The methods used to initially identify Jews have been long understood. What Black claims to have discovered is how the lists that were used to collect Jews were generated from the raw data collected (as outlined by Hilberg and Ali and Roth).

    (I apologize for any misspellings of authors’ names and Book titles)

  47. #47 W. Kevin Vicklund
    October 6, 2007

    How much are you willing to bet that “Anonymous” is Larry Fafarman using an IP scrambler?

    It’s definitely Larry, but he’s not using an IP scrambler. He’s just checking straight from his AOL account. If you check the sitemeter for this blog, Larry is the aol.com user with the 207.200.116.# IP address. This has been confirmed on numerous occasions as one of the AOL proxy servers that Larry usually uses (and the machine specs are the same as Larry’s computer). Unfortunately, it services a good chunk of LA’s AOL users, so the IP can’t be blocked.

  48. #48 W. Kevin Vicklund
    October 6, 2007

    Of course, one wonders why Larry insists on posting here, where he is banned, on a blog that doesn’t normally discuss the Holocaust, when he could go to Respectful Insolence, where right now there are two posts up that are directly discussing Holocaust revisionism – specifically Larry’s hero, David Irving – and where Holocaust denial is a common topic. To my knowledge, Larry has not been banned there.

  49. #49 Anonymous
    October 6, 2007

    You people just won’t admit when you’ve lost an argument.

    The issue of reliable identification of Jews and non-Jews, which should be central to holocaust studies, has been almost completely ignored. A stupid book titled “IBM and Holocaust” claims to have solved the great mystery of how the Nazis identified Jews. The book absurdly claims that this identification was done by using primitive Hollerith card machines — which could read, sort, and merge only a few cards at a time (the card merging machine was especially prone to breakdowns) — to correlate data stored on billions of Hollerith cards. In many cases, the data for the cards was not even available. Then the Jews had to be found after they were identified — not an easy task in WW2 Europe.

    How much are you willing to bet that “Anonymous” is Larry Fafarman using an IP scrambler?
    It’s definitely Larry, but he’s not using an IP scrambler.

    It’s extremely rude to try to identify an anonymous commenter.

  50. #50 Blue Devil Knight
    October 6, 2007

    Having him speak is OK, but if a Creationist was invited to speak at Colombia, it would be horrible. Much better an anti-semitic dictator than a Creationist. Thank goodness my priorities are straight.

  51. #51 Tyler DiPietro
    October 6, 2007

    “Having him speak is OK, but if a Creationist was invited to speak at Colombia, it would be horrible. Much better an anti-semitic dictator than a Creationist. Thank goodness my priorities are straight.”

    Ahmedinejad is a creationist you idiot.

  52. #52 Anonymous
    October 7, 2007

    For example the lie about the Auschwitz death toll is one of the oldest, stupidest, and easiest-to-debunk denier canards. See:

    Your links fail to refute the revisionist “lie.” For example, the first link does not even attempt to rebut the following statement:

    The Auschwitz State Museum has recently revised its half-century-old claim that 4 million humans were murdered there. The Museum now says maybe it was 1 million. But what proof does the Museum provide to document the 1 million figure? None! The communist propagandists who manage the museum have put on display piles of hair, boots and eyeglasses, etc. While such displays are effective propaganda devices, they are worthless as historical documentation for “gassings” or a program of “extermination.”

    Meanwhile, Revisionists want to know where those 3 million souls have been the last 45 years. Were they part of the fabled Six Million?

    And why did it take holocaust historians in the West decades or years to dispute the communists’ figure of 4 million?

  53. #53 Anonymous
    October 7, 2007

    OOPS! Sorry, the above comment was intended for another blog.

  54. #54 Blue Devil Knight
    October 8, 2007

    Tyler Dipetard wrote:
    Ahmedinejad is a creationist you idiot.

    There is a hole in the wall behind you from the point that flew over your head.

  55. #55 Tyler DiPietro
    October 8, 2007

    No, there really isn’t. I just chose not to indulge your martyr complex by arguing against your stupid analogy. Pointing out that Ahmedinejad is a creationist was a deliberate kick in the nuts.

  56. #56 Blue Devil Knight
    October 9, 2007

    Tyler: People like you are the reason Creationism thrives.

  57. #57 Tyler DiPietro
    October 9, 2007

    I’m honored.

  58. #58 W. Kevin Vicklund
    October 9, 2007

    So the apparent creationist (Blue Devil Knight) accuses the evolution proponent (Tyler DiPietro) of being the reason the reason creationism thrives? WTF?!

  59. #59 Blue Devil Knight
    October 9, 2007

    Creationism doesn’t thrive because of any scientific or intellectual merit. It thrives on ignorance, religious insecurity, but is also fueled by psychological reactions to people like Tyler (who are found a dime a dozen at atheist meetups). I sort of wish I was a creationist now so I could piss him off some more. Supercilious prigs motivate people. Tyler is a great motivator.

  60. #60 W. Kevin Vicklund
    October 9, 2007

    Then it would seem to me that it is people like you that are much more effective at creating creationists. When you knowingly post utterly moronic tripe like your first comment, you are deliberately inviting people to act in a way that you feel motivates people to adopt creationism.

  61. #61 Blue Devil Knight
    October 9, 2007

    The response to my original comment proves that many people don’t have a sense of humor and have crappy sarcasm detectors. If I spent much more time reading comments at this blog, watching the heads smugly nod up and down, my IQ would drop 50 points.

    Trolls of the world unite!

  62. #62 Tyler DiPietro
    October 9, 2007

    Blue Devil blathered above:

    “Tyler: People like you are the reason Creationism thrives.”

    Then backpedaled thusly:

    “It thrives on ignorance, religious insecurity, but is also fueled by psychological reactions to people like Tyler (who are found a dime a dozen at atheist meetups).”

    Actually, I prefer the above comment. Calling me the reason creationism thrives boosts me ego immensely, because it shows that some people think I’m more powerful than religion. Sure, these people are uniformly idiots like Blue Devil, but I’ll take what I can get.

    “If I spent much more time reading comments at this blog, watching the heads smugly nod up and down, my IQ would drop 50 points.”

    You’re free to leave. Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out.

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