I was very proud to be a Columbian today.
Ever since it was announced that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would speak at Columbia there has been almost universal condemnation of the university and its president Lee Bollinger for “giving a platform” to the dwarvish miscreant. Even people like Andrew Sullivan, who has been calling for aggressive political confrontation with Islamo-fascism since 9/11, [dismisses] the event as another lefty sop to anti-Americanism:
I take a very broad view of free speech rights in America, but I would never have invited a dictator and religious extremist like Ahmadinejad. So far, it seems his usual blend of glibness, guile and gall is exposing him to ridicule as it should. If there are no gays in his country, why is he hanging so many of them? But I wonder: would Columbia ever invite a right-wing extremist with the same views as Ahmadinejad on women, gays, Israel and the Holocaust? Or do you have to be a brown-skinned, terrorist-enabling, nuclear-proliferating, certifiable nut-job to get the invite?
Incredibly lazy thinking. I wonder if the forceful challenge that Lee Bollinger presented his hapless guest with this afternoon causes any of those who forgot that we live in a liberal democracy to recognize how important it is to confront civilly and directly such reactionary evil? Would that such an invitation had been extended to Hitler back in 1933 and his reception been as publicly eviscerating. If nothing else, Ahmadinejad’s public humiliation on a world stage he had sought out precisely to gain political stature surely means that Columbia and its administrators are now considered enemies by the Islamo-fascists and in our “war on terror” that has to count for something.
More pictures I shot around campus after the jump…
|The campus was locked down, you needed a student ID or press pass to enter, so many of the outside protesters had to cluster at the front gates. I figured security would be a little looser on the far side of campus and snuck in there with an old alumni library card.|
|Columbians doing what they do best — protesting on the steps of Low library.|
|The speakers for the most part condemned Iranian oppression (this woman read the names of children on Death Row in Iranian prisons) and Bush administration warmongering. I was standing next to a network news reporter and commented that the speeches were fairly even-handed and a good example to the world of how free speech works. She said, “Yes. And it’s beautiful weather for a protest!”|
|The campus was papered wall-to-wall with flyers and posters. This wall detailed the vicious treatment that gay people suffer in Iran and was punctuated with some of the more horrifying things that Ahmadinejad has said in the past. As I was standing near this waiting to get a glimpse of the arrival of the motorcade I watched an Iranian journalist sit down next to a pretty coed and start hitting on her as she tried to study her notes for a class. He was sitting right in front of this wall and never even saw it.|
|Lest you worry, the frats were also represented at the event…|