What’s changed? Well, since last September, Ahmadinejad has ramped up his crackdown on Iranian universities, purging them of professors who have spoken out against his regime; he has convened a conference of Holocaust deniers dressed up as a scholarly inquiry; he has repeatedly defied calls to suspend Iran’s nuclear program; and he has sponsored proxy wars against Israel in Lebanon and U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. In other words, not much.For all the hoopla, just what will be gained in this adventure in the free expression of ideas? Probably what is usually gained. In The Delusion of 'Dialogue' Travis Kavulla remembers the world leaders and Nobel laureates who came and spoke at Harvard:
Only towards the end of that first year of college did it strike me how little these people had actually said in their appearances. The purpose of a visit to an Ivy League school is a perfunctory duty in a tin-pot leader's visit to the States: He wants to say, I'm good enough to be given the podium at a "respected" American institution, just as the WSJ argues. The last thing these leaders want to do is have a heavy-hitting, profound discussion.No doubt Ahmadinjad is saving that for his UN speech.
John Coatsworth, Dean at Columbia University, would invite Hitler:
Coatsworth is a bit late to the party--not because Hitler is dead, but because during the 1930's Columbia did invite a Nazi leader:
Seventy years before this week’s invitation to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Columbia rolled out the red carpet for a senior official of Adolf Hitler’s regime. The invitation to Iran’s leader may seem less surprising, but no less disturbing, when one recalls that in 1933, Columbia president Nicholas Murray Butler invited Nazi Germany’s ambassador to the United States, Hans Luther, to speak on campus, and also hosted a reception for him. Luther represented "the government of a friendly people," Butler insisted. He was "entitled to be received ... with the greatest courtesy and respect." Ambassador Luther's speech focused on what he characterized as Hitler's peaceful intentions. Students who criticized the Luther invitation were derided as “ill-mannered children” by the director of Columbia’s Institute of Arts and Sciences.And Columbia University was not the only one--but they are the ones who have invited Ahmadinejad to speak.
...In 1936, the Columbia administration announced it would send a delegate to Nazi Germany to take part in the 550th anniversary celebration of the University of Heidelberg. This, despite the fact that Heidelberg already had been purged of Jewish faculty members, instituted a Nazi curriculum, and hosted a burning of books by Jewish authors. Prof. Arthur Remy, who served as Columbia’s delegate to the Heidelberg event, later remarked that the reception at which chief book-burner Josef Goebbels presided was “very enjoyable.” [Hat tip: Gadi D at Facebook: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is NOT WELCOME at Columbia University!]