September 24, 2007

The Truth. Can You Handle the Truth?

"I'm not so sure I'd offer the same invitation, but nevertheless, it speaks volumes about the greatness, really, of America. We're confident enough to let a person express his views. I just really hope he tells everybody the truth." -- President George Bush

For days the tom-tom's of the right side of the blogosphere beat out the dulling message, over and over, as is its wont. Columbia University's President Lee Bollinger was a craven boot-licker of tyrants for inviting the death-dwarf of Iran to speak. Dire, dire consequences were predicted for Columbia. It was evil. It was hypocritical. Etc. and so forth. And because many of the people I respect were saying this I became convinced that Bollinger was in serious error, just another liberal tool and fool. And I was compelled to watch the event on television when it came to pass.

Now I am compelled to admit that I was wrong; that I seriously pre-judged the event; that what I assumed would be the truth of the matter, turned out to be false in reality. My mind had been taken over by the sounds (how often we hear them now) of dull old axes being ground on hollow stones.

The reality of the appearance of the dwarf Hitler at Columbia was:

1) He was forced to listen to Bolllnger's carefully phrased, utterly devastating catalogue of his evil acts. This is something you can bet he has never had to endure before. To him, it was deeply and personally insulting. The only way it could have gotten worse would have been if Bollinger walked across the stage and spit fully into his face.

2) Long, long after all the too and fro about Columbia and Bollinger fade, the clip of the dwarf proclaiming "We have no homosexuals in Iran" will endure and will be used to revile and denigrate this corrupt and disgusting regime. It may well, over time, cause many people, gay or straight, to reconsider a knee-jerk support for Iran simply because it opposes George Bush and the United States. It will be invaluable. It already is enshrined in the Pantheon of Lies and it will only grow in stature there. It is a MAJOR propaganda victory.

None of this could have happened if Bollinger and Columbia had not exercised their right to invite whom they wish to speak on campus. Spare me the plaints about who they do and do not invite and who they disinvite. That is not relevant to this issue. What they did in the past and what they may do in the future does not in any way diminish the effectiveness of what happened today. Spare me to the lame excuse that Bollinger only did it because of "the criticism." You have no means of knowing that other than inside your own imagination. And even if it were the case..... So What?

Today, to be brief, "freedom of speech" worked as it should work. It revealed the truth.

Is Columbia wrong not to allow ROTC? Yes, they are.

Is Columbia often wrong in many of the positions that they take. Yes, they are.

But in this single instance, which is how we must judge it -- not by what we wish they would do -- Columbia was right.

You'd think that many who have been thrashing Columbia and Bollinger would have the decency and the humility to see today for what it was and to admit that, in this event, they were wrong. But as in so many things in these highly partisan times, people cannot do the plain and simple thing of admitting they were wrong. It just isn't in them to do so.

In truth, these people -- right, left, libertarian -- simply aren't concerned any longer with the truth. They want to count coup. They want to find "reasons" that the truth isn't really that true. They want to change the subject when the subject isn't going their way. In short, they are infected with the current plague of America: intellectual insanity.

Truth? Truth's got nothing to do with it. Just plain, bad crazy. So crazy they can't see when they are wrong. Then again that's one of the classical definitions of insanity: An inability to tell right from wrong, true from false.

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Posted by Vanderleun at September 24, 2007 3:32 PM | TrackBack
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

You are right. Columbia and Bollinger pulled off the mask of the monster and proved, again, the power of free speech and truth.

I had feared far worse would come of this. Now, I only wish Bollinger is made an ambassador by the next U.S. President. How about at the U.N.?

I will make a contributon to Columbia, with my thanks.

Posted by: Kneave Riggall at September 24, 2007 4:23 PM


Posted by: Candide at September 24, 2007 5:11 PM

FWIW, I agree, Gerard. While I've only heard snippets of the exchange, I am surprised at the strength of Bollinger's words to Ahmadinejad, and agree with you that many on the right ought to accept these words without reading into why they were delivered.

Ahmadinejad may have thought that he could waltz unchallenged into one of our lefty dens of academia, but it appears that even these are capable of slapping him around.

Posted by: azlibertarian at September 24, 2007 5:12 PM

Your point is well taken. However, consider that this event will be used by Ahmadinejad to strengthen his position both at home and possibly here too (will liberals really react as you state?). Nobody in Iran or most likely even the Middle East will see the parts of the news conference that you mention. Instead Ahmadinejad will be able to show pictures and video of him being welcomed at one of America's most prestigious universities (to applause even). A great propaganda score for him.

Posted by: Barnabus at September 24, 2007 5:39 PM

I, too, had a major eye-opening, Gerard.
Now, I concur your analysis: A MAJOR PROPAGANDA VICTORY!

/mini-Hitler didn't get the gobbet of spittle in his face that MIGHT have allowed him to claim victimhood... PERFECT!

Posted by: Karridine at September 24, 2007 6:09 PM

Ouch! But true.

Posted by: John at September 24, 2007 6:15 PM

I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised as well. It's about time someone held a mirror up to Ahmadinejad so he could see what he is. Though I'm pretty sure that his ego will enable him to rationalize the view.

I have to say however, I'm a little tired of the insulting permutations of the man's name by those on the right. They're as bad as "Chimpy" and variations on the left. It's childish.

Posted by: jan at September 24, 2007 6:38 PM

I was amazed and pleased to hear Bollinger dress Ahmadinejad down -- to speak plainly to his face the way diplomats will not. Amazing. I can't say whether that suffices to make the event a net plus or not. Either way, you're not being fair to the people who continue to doubt Bollinger's motives in making the invitation. We know the overwhelming tenor of political discussion among the professoriat, and we've also seen the tremendous criticism directed at Columbia. What explanation fits more readily with experience? But we don't know. I'm looking forward to the backstory.

Posted by: clazy at September 24, 2007 6:55 PM

An interesting comparison could be made about the 1936 Berlin Olympics, where, in spite of Der Führer's confidence in his very own Übermann, it was Jesse Owens, inferior Schwartzer, direct descendant of gorillas and whatever else the mad scientists were teaching the jungend, who took the gold medal and beat the übermen. THAT was a propaganda coup.

Posted by: Jauhara al Kafirah at September 24, 2007 7:20 PM

I think the following, from Powerline does bear on whether the invitation was wrong--and I'm now convinced it was:

In his plea to the Yale Political Union not to host a Communist Party functionary in 1963, Williiam Buckley referred to those such as Ahmadinejad and enjoined his audience:

Fight him, fight the tyrants everywhere, but do not ask them to your quarters, merely to spit on them, and do not ask them to your quarters if you cannot spit on them. To do the one is to ambush a human being as one migjht a rabid dog; to do the other is to ambush oneself, to force onself, in disregard of those who have died trying to make the point, to break faith with humanity.

In inviting Ahmadinejad to its quarters as an honored guest, today Columbia broke faith with America and, in Buckley's terms, with humanity.

Posted by: clazy at September 24, 2007 7:24 PM


Posted by: Skippy Mudskipper at September 24, 2007 8:01 PM

"Truth? Truth's got nothing to do with it."

*snip* And what is so wrong with the idiots in Iran.

"Just plain, bad crazy. So crazy they can't see when they are wrong."

*snip* Sweet!

"Then again that's one of the classical definitions of insanity: An inability to tell right from wrong, true from false."

*smack* What is wrong with all of those who cannot tell truth from fiction these days - they are funstionally insane.

Posted by: Robohobo at September 24, 2007 9:16 PM

Tell me, who it is that was convinced by this fantastical charade that this little toad is a dangerous and despicable tyrant that needs an immediate evisceration that wasn't already convinced of this very thing before he opened his yap at Columbia? And who is that heard this burst of fatuous twaddle that will change their minds because of it? No one. The diseased and delirious on the left are not reached by these words. Those grinding under this tyrant's heal will never hear it. A propaganda victory in an echo chamber.

Posted by: Silence at September 24, 2007 9:26 PM

You go right ahead and assert that Bollinger's denunciation of Ahmadinejad was planned before Bollinger began taking heat.
I'm looking for evidence which proves that notion.

Got any?

Posted by: Stephen at September 25, 2007 12:55 AM

I have to agree with clazy's comment. I don't think that inviting the leader of a terrorist-supporting country to speak at a (formerly) well respected learning institution was in anyone's best interests. I don't believe that Ahmadinejad's intent was to speak truth to the American people. Nor was it to speak truth to the world. It is my opinion that he spoke solely to gain a propaganda victory in Iran. His policies are failing there, and it appears as though there is significant dissatisfaction within his own country for his beliefs and the way he governs his own country. To be able to show that he "could" speak to the American people, be welcomed, and even celebrated in certain quarters, he has won a propaganda victory at home that is going to be difficult to deny. People living in Iran will NOT see Bollinger's speech, nor will they hear his words, nor will the witness any real actions by the audience.

Ahmadinejad scored points at our expense. This never should have happened.

Posted by: Former Lurker at September 25, 2007 5:26 AM

The ability to change one's mind is a characteristic of greatness. Bravo for you, Gerard.

Posted by: shaun at September 25, 2007 6:12 AM

There is no propaganda victory here. There are already stories out of Iran that the newspapers are hailing his appearance and the "accepting standing ovation" he received from the students.

Posted by: Stan Smith at September 25, 2007 8:03 AM

"And who is that heard this burst of fatuous twaddle that will change their minds because of it? No one"

Uh, wrong.
Gerard himself has said that he changed his mind regarding Columbia.

Other professors *may* have heard it and feel safer now to speak out without loss of career. And since academe is one of the cornerstones for the Liberal politico-media complex surely public opinion will now sway domestically, perhaps even knocking some sense into the heads of various Dems.

The Iranian regime, for their part, at least know now that some segments of academe are not on their side, so presumably they won't be attempting this particular method of propagandizing again in the near term.

Posted by: urthshu at September 25, 2007 8:37 AM

"You go right ahead and assert that Bollinger's denunciation of Ahmadinejad was planned before Bollinger began taking heat.
I'm looking for evidence which proves that notion."

May be Mr. Bollinger is what used to be called a gentleman, ie the one who doesn't owe allegiance to any party or political doctrine but acts according to his own judgement and convictions. If so, Mr. Bollinger wouldn't have to 'plan' anything but simply have confidence to say the right thing in the right time the best way he can.

Posted by: Candide at September 25, 2007 9:21 AM

"An interesting comparison could be made about the 1936 Berlin Olympics..."

The concept and reality of concentration camps were well established before 1936.

The first English translation of "Mein Kampf" was published in abridged form by 1933, with English excerpts appearing in various publications even earlier.

Hitler's rearmament program (which was in truth simply an amplification on a grand scale of the German High Command's existing program of ignoring Versailles) was common knowledge to the Allied nations.

In 1936 Hitler managed to recover well enough from the Ownen's embarrassment to export advisors, arms, equipment, and even squadrons of aircraft to help Franco.

It's amazing how history teaches us the difference between action and emotion.

Bollinger and Ahmadinejad both hoped to accomplish goals on that stage at Columbia. Whatever Bollinger hoped to accomplish in the course of his questioning, the fact remains that the figurehead of Iran accomplished his mission the moment his foot hit the stage. The applause was just gravy.

45 - 36 = +/-72 million dead. Nine years.

The Allied and victim nation tallies amounted to over seventy percent of that total.

Are there people left anywhere that still say "never again" and mean it?

History. RTFM.

Posted by: TmjUtah at September 25, 2007 9:32 PM

One of many institutions spoon feeding John Dewey's detritus serves up a great big lump. Along with the delicious gruel take a big whiff of the smoke from the incense of the academic ideal. Close your eyes and breath deep, it feels so good the taste of the bitter, corroding gruel is truly delicious.

Both audiences enjoyed a hearty laugh at the remark about homosexuals and some even believed the truth will out.

One audience knew that he was referring to the final answer for that group, among others that will meet similar fates in his dreamed of future.

Evil little guy is daffy but quite a curmudgeon. Screwtape's uncle would be proud of him.

Posted by: Dennis at September 25, 2007 9:54 PM


You are right of course. Bollinger did deliver the goods. And yet, and yet...

Bollinger’s brashness (and bad manners) was banked by the vigorous military he despises. It is hard for us Americans to imagine what it is like to come from fragile unstable societies. I can’t credit Bollinger’s vehemence to backbone; rather, it was an eruption guaranteed by a more buried set of assumptions – that strength that he has eschewed along the course of his career - the sense of belonging to a strong and organized country with the most powerful army the earth has seen. Bollinger essentially sandbagged Ahmadinejad. Implicit in any invitation is a game of manners. Being on good behavior, as it were. Why did Bollinger stop at hot verbal attack? Why didn’t he go up to MA and spit on him or slap him? You can say that MA doesn’t deserve good behavior but then why go through any of it in the first place? Why let him touch down at our airports in safety, make way for his motorcades through our streets or offer courteous room service at hotels, etc? I believe Bolliger’s flourid denunciations came from the very strength of the society - the anchored assumptions he holds, the invisible sense of confidence that all Americans possess.

As you say Ahmadinejad buried himself by his own foolish words but I feel scorched by the invitation itself, by the laughter and applause of the students, by the stupid journalists falling all over themselves to speak to MA, by our president's limp wristed response. The entire event was a very soiling affair.

Posted by: doug at October 1, 2007 12:50 PM
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