Eugene’s right, I do disagree with Columbia’s decision to invite Ahmadinejad. That Pres. Bollinger made sure to have the right to questioning him is better than giving him a completely open forum, but it’s not enough.
Unlike when I objected last time Ahmadinejad was to visit Columbia, my reason this time is that Ahmadinejad is the head of state of an enemy state, whose armed forces are killing American soldiers with equipment they provide to Iraqi insurgents. That makes Ahmadinejad an enemy of the United States, something that can’t be overcome with some questions.
Should an American university care? Or should a university be completely cosmopolitan about such things. In some ways it’s a tough call, but ultimately I think that American universities should come down on the side of not giving a respectful forum to our enemies. It’s unfashionable in Ivy League circles to talk about such things as enemies, but they do exist. And with Ahmadinejad one can’t make the argument that this is just a matter of great power politics or otherwise, an aberration that could be corrected through dialogue. He’s an enemy not simply in a current physical struggle, but in an ideological one, as well.
In short, I wouldn’t invite Stalin or Mao to Columbia when their forces were directly or indirectly killing Americans in North Korea, and I wouldn’t invite Ahmadinejad, either.