I am listening to the Columbia forum. Bollinger began with a truly hard hitting statement expressing his revulsion at all that Ahmadinejad represents. He challenged Ahmadinejad to invite him and a group of students and faculty to come to Iran to speak to university students about free speech, in the same way that Ahmadinejad is benefiting today.
Bollinger was first rate.
He told him his Holocaust denial makes him ridiculous.
He attacked him for his persecution of scholars, women, and dissenters.
He called him to account for his threats to destroy Israel.
It was powerful and it was moving. If this event had to happen, this was the best beginning possible.
I am sure there will be those who will critique Bollinger for being so hard hitting.
I say bravo but also dissent from his attempt to say this appearance is a fundamental reflection of free speech.
As soon as Ahmadinejad began to speak it was clear that he was not prepared for such a statement. He made it sound like he did not even know who Bollinger was. Said it was insulting to have to listen to such things.
Ahmadinejad probably never had to sit through such a hard hitting critique of his record. It reminded me of a miscalculation made by David Irving when he chose the courtroom as his venue to make his argument. There was a judge there with the authority to make him stop his polemics and who could point out when he was making things up out of whole cloth [i.e. lying].
So too Ahmadinejad had to sit there and listen to his record in a way that he probably never has had to do. It also points out why the Scott Pelley's of the world are such poor excuses for interviewers. He could have asked some of these questions instead of his idiot queries.
Now Ahmadinejad is engaging in a religious discourse. My guess is that most students present have no idea where he is going with this. I think it is his attempt to sound like an intellect and some who believes in the pursuit of truth. It is a real miscalculation of his audience, I think...
Too bad his record contradicts everything he is saying....