Saturday, 22 September 2007

President Ahmadinejad of Iran visits New York

The dean of Columbia University's school of International and Public Affairs, Lisa Anderson, invited the Iranian President, Mr Ahmadinejad, to speak at the World Leader's Forum, a year-long program that aims to unite "renowned intellectuals and cultural icons from many nations to examine global challenges and explore cultural perspectives." A staggering thing to do? Well Columbia University has form in the area of inviting representatives of anti-semitic regimes to speak at their University. In 1933 Columbia University invited a representative of the Nazi government in Germany to speak at the University, you can read an article on this visit here. "in 1933, Columbia president Nicholas Murray Butler invited Nazi Germany’s ambassador to the United States, Hans Luther, to speak on campus, and also hosted a reception for him. Luther represented "the government of a friendly people," Butler insisted. He was "entitled to be received ... with the greatest courtesy and respect." Ambassador Luther's speech focused on what he characterized as Hitler's peaceful intentions. Students who criticized the Luther invitation were derided as “ill-mannered children” by the director of Columbia’s Institute of Arts and Sciences...Columbia also insisted on maintaining friendly relations with Nazi-controlled German universities. While Williams College terminated its program of student exchanges with Nazi Germany, Columbia and other universities declined to do likewise. Columbia refused to pull out even after a German official candidly asserted that his country’s students were being sent abroad to serve as “political soldiers of the Reich.”

In 1936, the Columbia administration announced it would send a delegate to Nazi Germany to take part in the 550th anniversary celebration of the University of Heidelberg. This, despite the fact that Heidelberg already had been purged of Jewish faculty members, instituted a Nazi curriculum, and hosted a burning of books by Jewish authors. Prof. Arthur Remy, who served as Columbia’s delegate to the Heidelberg event, later remarked that the reception at which chief book-burner Josef Goebbels presided was “very enjoyable.”"

Of course Columbia was not unique in inviting representatives of Nazi Germany to speak at American Universities, Harvard, MIT and Princeton all did likewise. The difference is that these other universities seem to have learnt the lesson of the 1930's whilst Columbia has not. According to Israel’s ambassador, inviting Ahmadinejad to speak is the equivalent of “inviting Hitler to [speak] in the 1930s,” because “appeasing fanatics and granting them legitimacy leads to genocide and war.” Will some future Columbia president one day look back at the invitation to Ahmadinejad and say the same thing? I hope not but fear it may be the case.

It appears that the president of Columbia University, Lee Bollinger, yesterday withdrew the invitation to the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In a statement issued yesterday afternoon, Mr. Bollinger said he canceled Mr. Ahmadinejad's invitation because he couldn't be certain it would "reflect the academic values that are the hallmark of a University event such as our World Leaders Forum." He told Ms. Anderson that Mr. Ahmadinejad could speak at the school of international and public affairs, just not as a part of the university-wide leader's forum. That is something but appeasement was not the answer in the 1930's and I don't believe it is the answer now.

It appears that President Ahmadinejad also asked to visit Ground Zero during his visit and this request provoked the response that he wanted, that is lots of anger that a supporter of terrorism in Iraq, Lebanon, Israel and elsewhere and a vehement enemy of the USA wanted to visit the site of the Twin Towers' destruction by Islamic terrorists in 2001.


Anonymous said...

Muslims Against Sharia condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the decision of Columbia University to provide a speaking venue for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Apparently letting Akbar Rafsanjani speak at the National Cathedral was not the height of American Dhimmitude, because providing a venue for the world's foremost anti-Semite, whose proclaimed goal is the destruction of the USA and Israel, definitely takes the cake. What is surprising is that we don't hear any complaints from Columbia alumni who should be ashamed of their silence.

More on the subject: Why Does Columbia host Ahmadinejad?

Anonymous said...

President Ahmadinejad has a bitter spirit for anything that is not in his favour. Joining his ways of thinking are many other Muslims. But aside from this, he should be given an opportunity to express his views. People who don't agree with him should question him about his thoughts and his policies. Psychologically speaking, people are bitter because they think they are treated unfairly. By bringing issues out and challenging them, it might make him see that war is not the answer to whatever problem that is existing. People who should attend his talk are Muslims who do not want any war but a peaceful solution to all problems. Ask yourself. If you have a certain thought and you try to tell others but nobody wants to listen to you, how would you feel and what would you do ?

admin said...

Hitlerino would be the right nickname, not Hitler.