Archive for the ‘Ahmadinejad’ Category

When I heard the events in Iran were the “Green Revolution,” I was very skeptical. Green is the color of political Islam. It’s the dominant color on the flag of Saudi Arabia and the headbands of Hezzbollah. It’s bad enough these color revolutions are supposed to capture our imagination without occasioning much in the way of inquiry. But a green one in Iran?!?

I’m glad I’m not alone. Abbas Barzegar notes that Ajad probably won the election, and mass demonstrations have been had by both sides. In other words, don’t believe the hype.

Diana West shares my view that Mousavi’s tenure as Iran’ prime minister in the 1980s were not exactly the country’s salad days, particularly from the perspective of the US. I know, I know. It’s democracy! It’s people power! What’s 241 Marines killed in Lebanon when we’re talking about people with faux hawks using Twitter!!! West reports to great effect that in the recent presidential debate in Iran–a first–the supposedly great guy Mousavi faulted Ajad for not executing the British sailors that supposedly drifted into Iranian waters. Be careful what you wish for.

Richard Spencer over at Takimag.com notes that the neoconservatives’ romantic passion for democratic revolution is totally immune to facts and recent events in Iraq among others. It’s a very adolescent and distinctly unconservative impulse that gets carried away by street demonstrations and does not consider what in fact is being sought. Burke’s central and important insight was that change can make things even worse in what is presently a bad regime. Consider the demonic French Revolution, the Bolshevik Revolution, the pointless street violence in France every generation or so. This situation is particularly galling because no matter who wins, this is a stolen election because the Islamic authorities must preapprove parties and candidates to even run in Iran.

The whole event, particularly the credulous western response, is surreal. It’s a sign of the way Bush has corrupted conservatism that so many self-described conservatives now think that democracy in the Third World is the be all end all without regard to the content of the leadership or the nature of their claims to legitimacy. It’s as if we’re getting excited by some election in the Soviet Union as a watersheld, where minor issues of emphasis and personality were the only real objects of debate, and such elections (even if hotly disputed) were effectively meaningless.

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The University of Chicago Law School’s Geoff Stone says that Columbia was within its rights and fulfilling its core values in allowing Iran’s President to speak. I don’t necessarily disagree, nor do I completely disagree with his statement that “[b]ecause a university must remain neutral on all matters of public policy that do not directly affect the university itself, it should not have a faculty vote, for example, on whether to condemn the war in Iraq, on whether Mr. Bush is a good President, or on whether Mr. Ahmadinejad violates human rights.” In other words, universities should be a forum for debate, discussion, challenging conventional wisdom, and the like. They are not mere instruments of propaganda, whether for the Church, the government, or anyone else.

But what’s missing from Stone and Bollinger’s defense of free speech and “diversity” of ideas and lifestyles is some apology for the reflexive hostility of Columbia University and most other Ivy League schools to all things military, going back to the student riots of ’68 and the expulsion of ROTC units from campus. That expulsion implicitly said: we do draw the line and make an expressive stand here; the military is too corrosive to the campus’s mission and we will not support honorable service within the same, nor will we allow our campus to be sullied with their presence and blandishments. Of course, nothing required anyone even then (during the draft) to participate in ROTC, accept the justice and prudence of the Vietnam War, or otherwise fail to adopt an independent point of view. It was just one option among many on campus, and the SDS radicals and the weak-kneed trustees simply kicked them off. Blackfive has the scoop on Columbia’s expulsion of ROTC here, and the Wall Street Journal provides some background here (registration required) as well.

Now the anti-military bias has been dressed up by the now-tenured radicals as opposition to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. But we know this is just a pretext; after all, the rest of the federal government can still recruit on campus, not least for things like judicial clerkships and cushy positions with Senators and Congressmen. But the military alone, one of its departments, is excluded. It’s unthinkable this pick-and-choose approach would be applied to any other discriminatory employer, such as a law firm that discriminated in only one of its offices. No, the motive is the same now as then: hostility to mainstream America and its military and a failure of universities to recognize that, while they are places of debate and inquiry, they are also in some sense part of a society and owe its core institutions something in terms of respect, support, and fair treatment. I discussed the essential hypocricy of elite schools’ approach to the military in this discussion of the Solomon Amendment.

Anti-American despots are allowed on campus in the name of free speech and diversity, but the university’s own admitted students, some of whom carry with them valuable ROTC scholarships, are basically told they’re going to have to pursue their careers and their studies across town, with all the inconvenience and disrespect that implies. The hippies no longer need to spit in the face of our soldiers; instead, they can now spit in their faces figuratively and officially through discrimination, ostracism, and harassment.

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I wasn’t as upset over this Ahmadinejad business as some others. I believe in the principle of free debate and think there is some value in this dangerous man’s exposure to frank questioning. On the other hand, I think there are people who should be excluded from free discussion, not least because they reject the principle of free discussion, are ineducable, are dishonest, are aligned with our enemies, or are actual enemies who will benefit from the opportunity to disrespect the United States. Consider Kruschev’s American tour, where he announced he would surpass us. Not a good thing. On balance, I would not have invited him to Columbia if I were Dean Bollinger, but I don’t think the Dean’s decision was indefensible.

I think it’s weird, though, once you extend an invitation to someone and then receive pressure for that decision, that you react as cravenly as Dean Bollinger, who berated Ahmadinejad in front of the audience and made himself (the dean) look like a bad host and an opportunist. Among the ancients, inhospitality was considered one of the worst crimes and rightly so. In this instance, it had the unfortunate effect of making the slippery Ahmadinejad appear to be the victim, when instead his stupid words should have been allowed to speak for themselves after a formal, though civil, introduction.

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