Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Letting the Man Have His Say

I know there are quite a few Americans who were not pleased that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad set foot on our soil, let alone his spiel at Columbia University. There were calls for retaliation against that institution, which is idiotic. Americans should support free speech, even when it comes from the mouths of tyrants.

Yeah, Mr. A is a nut. A clever one. But what better way to judge the nut than by having him spout his rhetoric, unfiltered by his "handlers" so we can analyze (or laugh) at it. What did we learn? He can lie like a politician and has a world view that is a number of bubbles off plumb. So he ranks right up there amongst a growing cadre of leaders we should keep an eye on, our own included.

Hopefully, the clamor to sanction Columbia will die down. It's depressing that it was even suggested. It's a clear indication that we might spout off about freedom of speech, but don't have the stones to deal with the concept in reality.

It's only a small step from threatening a university to arresting students for daring to speak their minds. Mr. A understands that perfectly. The question is -- do we?


steve said...

In your "questions" post, a student asks you how growing up in Iowa affected you. I don't know about the questioner, but the vast majority of Americans think of Iowa as one great cornfield. But this post, to me, is proof of Iowa, or at least, Iowa City influence. The great liberal tradition of Iowa City maintains that allowing even the most obnoxious views to be heard is far less dangerous than to suppress those opinions. And coming from that Iowa City tradition, I agree.

Jana Oliver said...

So right, Steve. At one time Iowa City had an open mind. I'm hoping it still does. An open mind allows you sort out the crazies from those who just might be ahead of our time. The Bahai's refer to this as "Independent investigation of truth." Each person should weigh things for themselves, not accept what their government, their neighbors or their family says is right. The only way to do that is to let folks like Mr. A have his say. Frankly, I'm mortified that the president of Columbia went out of his way to excoriate him. That only give Mr. A more "power", exactly what he doesn't need. If it had been me, I would have said, "Ladies & gentlemen, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran" and let the students make their own decisions. Apparently, Columbia's president never bothered to take any history classes when he was in college.