Monday, September 24, 2007

Ahmadinejad going to Columbia University [6]: A Columbia student doesn't know what she thinks

On Morning Edition [NPR] a Columbia student was just quoted as saying, "I don't know what to think of him if I don't really know what he stands for. Let him come and speak and then I can be really angry." [I am paraphrasing slightly]

Could someone explain to me what this student is doing at Columbia if she doesn't know what Ahmadinejad stands for? Doesn't she read a newspaper? Is she living under a rock?

Here is a check list for her:
1. Religious freedom in Iran [except for fervently religious Muslims]
2. Academic freedom in Iran [except for those who follow the government line]
3. The existence of Israel ["wipe it off the map"]
4. The historical fact of the Holocaust
5. Iraq's right to decide its own future

This only a partial list.

I wonder if she knows that Haleh Esfandiari, the much respected director of the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, was jailed in Iran for a number of months and that other scholars still sit in jail.

I guess this airhead Columbia student never heard about any of these things. I doubt that she will hear them from Ahmadinejad at today's talk. I do suspect that Bollinger will raise the issue in his introduction.


Cecilieaux Bois de Murier said...

You're on the wrong side of freedom in this one, sorry. Barring someone from speaking at a university is precisely what the Nazis would have done -- and did.

Ahmadinejad is not as simply reduced to five points as you did. He represents a form of anti-Semitism that is quite different from European hatred of Jews, that is in part related to some versions of Christianity -- about which all of us in the Western world are familiar.

Asian anti-Semitism is a phenomenon all its own. You find it in the Arab world for obvious reasons, but you also find it as far away as Japan and China. Iran is situated in the middle of Asia and Ahmadinejad's mixed policies reflect a straddling that requires some mental gymnastics to understand, let alone perform.

You can read U.S. newspapers and still be left empty. Students are well served by exposure to this peculiar form of odious speech. To beware of it, to understand the subtleties of the adversaries of our way of life.

What is the difference between your denying him a platform at Columbia and his denying you one at his Holocaust denial conference? (Sorry, had a typo in the previous.)

Deborah Lipstadt said...

I never said my list was complete. Believe me I know it is not but I wanted to keep it simple for this student.

Your comparison to my wanting to "deny" him a platform to the Nazis is staggeringly off base.

First of all the Nazis [and the many many professors who supported them] did not just deny Jews platforms at universities; they fired all of them [prior to killing as many as they could].

Unlike Ahmadinejad, these Jewish academic had not attacked anyone [verbally or otherwise]. They had not called for Germany or any other state to be wiped off the face of the map. They had not denied history. They had not jailed academics who they believed challenged the regime. They had not arrested women for smoking in public. And so forth and so forth.

Denying a platform to Ahmadinejad as a head of state is completely different than denying him a platform because of his faith or ethnic identity [which is what the Nazis did to the Jewish professors].

Finally there is no difference between him denying me a place at his Holocaust denial conference, except that he would not invite me to his conference and I would not go.

What you seem not to grasp is that Holocaust denial is not a "point of view" or a "lonely opinion." It is based on lies and distortions. Why would I go to a conference which was based on falsehoods? It would be like going to a conference which argued that men were inherently to women or whites to blacks or….

If you have any questions about that familiarize yourself with David Irving v. Penguin UK and Deborah Lipstadt at or take a look at my book History on Trial: My Day in Court with David Irving