Well, as I type, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is at Columbia University. New York is in an Islamaphobic frenzy right now. Kudos to Columbia for holding their ground.
I actually tussled once with the University's President, Lee Bollinger, back when he was Prez of UMich. The issue at hand was the sweatshop conditions under which "U of M" gear was being made. We ended up occupying his office and he ended up adopting many of our demands, though he pulled underhandedness along the way and wussed out on things he didn't need to wuss out on. Thank God his backbone seems to have grown firmer since those days. And thank God many New Yorkers are insisting on the importance of free speech. But it disturbs me that even most liberals are willing to let the racist demonization of Ahmadinejad stand. The "he's a monster, but even a monster should be allowed to speak" camp.
Not that I love MA. I just don't think he's any more of a monster than Sharon or Sarkozy or Bush or Cheney or Bill Clinton or Musharraf or Blair or... You get the idea. The Leaders Of Men tend to be sleazy and violent.
Anyway, Ahmadinejad, before leaving Iran, gave an interview on 60 Minutes.* This reporter sucks. And I don't mean Anderson Cooper- or even Wolf Blitzer-level sucks. I mean Bill O'Reilly -level sucks. But Ahmadinejad's responses are cutting and hilarious. At one point, he's like "You're like the CIA here! This isn't Guatanamo! This isn't Abu Ghraib! This is Iran! I'm the President, Bitch!!"**
*Apologies, but the video link is on some cornball conservative's site. Better than making y'all sit through a commercial, though.
**OK, so I added the "Bitch", but it was there, hanging in the air, unspoken...
POSTSCRIPT: CNN has some highlights of the Columbia talk. Notable:
- U. Prez Lee Bollinger's insulting treatment of MA -- how bizarre that I sat across a bargaining table from the guy and saw that same smug wealthy white man posturing!
- MA's ominous, disturbing comment "we don't have gay people in Iran". Right, dude. Not only are there gay Iranians, there are apparently enough gay Iranians to suppot a whole webiste called www.iraniangaydoctors.com!