I needed some days to think over this Mahmoud Ahmedenijad visit to the US and, more importantly, his invitation to speak at Columbia University. Conclusion? Columbia President, Lee Bollinger, was wrong-dead wrong, on his actions and I am going to limit the discourse to two points:

1. I believe you should always have an understanding of both sides of an argument, so on one hand, I support the decision to invite Ahmedenijad to speak at Columbia. However, since you can not rationalize with an irrational being, that debunks the idea of true discourse, so why give the man a forum to spew his ignorance and hate? He was given plenty of outlets to do so prior to his visit and during his visit, so it’s not as though he were travelling with a muzzle.

2. Bollinger’s decision to deride Ahmedenijad before giving his speech was a terrible and amateurish mistake. Bollinger really should have known better. He violated the first tennet of arabic hospitality and that is extending a guest respect while in your home. That doesn’t mean you don’t sharpen the knives once he’s gone, but you never do it in his presence. The insults extended to Ahmedenijad only served to strenghten his position back home, and solidify America, right or wrong, in the minds of Iranians and other Arabs, as bullies and tyrants.

Bollinger probably chose this course as a way of consolation to those opposing his position to the initial invitation, but at the end of the day, Columbia is an academic institution and Bollinger did little more that cheapen the discourse and lose the moral high ground.

So nobody won that round. Iran 0, America 0.

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