Bollinger: No Badass, but not Bad as, He Might Have Been

It’s never wise to debate a nut job, especially a vicious one. The very act of debate implies there is something to be discussed, some shred of basis to the attacker’s position which, if in fact there is none, gives that unreasonable and possibly evil party more standing than he or she deserves. Thus in addition to being a waste of time, engaging such people gives them the satisfaction of being taken seriously – a feeling that can only reinforce their mental distortions.

Thus I did not support Columbia University President Lee Bollinger’s decision to host, in an auditorium at the university, the evil nut job, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran.

Still, if you’re going to dignify such lowlifes by giving them acknowledgment, it’s best to really take off the gloves, and while I would have liked to see Bollinger go further (he could have dropped the, “You exhibit all the signs of…” in the sentence that ends “…a cruel and petty dictator”), on the whole he did not equivocate, apologize, or genuflect. He confronted Ahmadinejad about his country’s defiance of the international community in its pursuit of uranium enrichment, Iran’s support for terrorists such as Lebanese Hezbollah and the Palestinian groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad, Iran’s actions against U.S. service members in Iraq, Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial, and the mullahs’ brutal repression of Iranians including women and political dissidents. Read the transcript here.

Although as it turned out, Dr. Bollinger did say many of the right things, after reading the transcript of the whole foolish exercise, I am a bit embarrassed for him and guess that on some level he must feel embarrassed as well. It’s surprising that he did not realize hosting Ahmadinejad could do harm in being interpreted abroad as evidence of our internal divisions as a nation, or by enabling Ahmadinejad to score some sort of p.r. victory. At the very least, it was a slap in the face to millions of Iranians including the women, dissidents, and homosexuals suffering under the yoke of the mullahs’ repression and cruelty.

If only in one regard, Ahmadinejad is no Hitler: the man is a terrible speaker. I can’t imagine his longwinded, unconvincing spiel will win him many converts, except among bona fide nut jobs. Actually, his speech—both in content and tone—was reminiscent of those of the vociferous, verbally incontinent loonies hanging around street corners at universities blathering that Israel is the cause of all the world’s problems. I ran into a few at Columbia today (I went up to check out the scene) with signs like, “Ahmahdinejad is right! Yes to the annihilation of the Jewish State!”

Bollinger called Ahmadinejad either “brazenly provocative or astonishingly uneducated” for denying the Holocaust, which he called, “the most documented event in human history.”

Asked about the persecution of gays in Iran, Ahmadinejad informed the audience, “In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals like in your country.”

Kind of like Nazi Germany was “Judenrein.”

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