I am amused by the outcry against Iran's Ahmadinejad speaking today at Columbia University after his speech at the United Nations.
No one sane agrees with this man's views, in relation to his idiotic denial of the Holocaust, to his call to wipe Israel of the map, to his appalling record on human rights and development of nuclear weapons.
However, we live in a democracy and the principle of democracy is that all people have a right to be heard and a right to be grilled and heckled and castigated by others about their positions. And people not wanting him to speak have a right to protest, but they do not have the right to veto what others can hear. That is what happens in a vibrant democracy.
I have the right to hear Ahmadinejad discuss his positions and to hear others question him about them. Ahmadinejad has the right to be heard in America. Columbia University has the right to invite him to speak and I applaud their decision to do so. Their doing so shows free speech and academic freedom are alive and vibrant in the United States.
Are we so afraid of Ahmadinejad that we cannot give him a forum to express his views no matter how odious they may be? (He certainly is charismatic, witty and smart, but is this a reason to fear him to the extent of denying him the right to speak in public?) Are we so beholden to interest groups and their lobbies who're offended by his views in a matter of interest to them that we must accede to their demands and refuse him that forum?
I think not. America is comprised of many cultures and creeds and no one culture or creed can hijack our right to hear another voice. 60 Minutes gave him a forum last night and there was NO protesting that. Why pick on Columbia University?