Before President Ahamadinejad's address, Colombia University Chancellor in a brief address told the audience that they would have the chance to hear Iran's stands as the Iranian President would put them forth.Or, "President receives rapturous welcome in New York.
He said that the Iranians are a peace loving nation, they hate war, and all types of aggression.
Referring to the technological achievements of the Iranian nation in the course of recent years, the president considered them as a sign for the Iranians' resolute will for achieving sustainable development and rapid advancement.
The audience on repeated occasion applauded Ahmadinejad when he touched on international crises.
At the end of his address President Ahmadinejad answered the students' questions on such issues as Israel, Palestine, Iran's nuclear program, the status of women in Iran and a number of other matters.
Or, "Ahmadinejad's bouquets of flowers at Ground Zero enlighten public opinion"--which reports something that hasn't even happened as far as I'm aware.
Gerard Vanderleun was impressed with Lee Bollinger's rebuke of the Iranian President and thinks we bloggers who chastised Bollinger owe him an apology. I don't see it that way.
Having invited Ahmadinejad to speak at Columbia in the first place accomplished every possible goal that the President of Iran and the Mullahs could have possibly wished for in the propaganda war.
But let me ask you, Gerard, what was the ultimate result of that lovely rebuke by Bollinger?
Amadinejad essentially danced around answering any of the hard questions (did Bollinger think he wouldn't?) and chastised the Columbia President for being rude to a guest (a big no-no from the Iranian perspective).
Everything Bollinger said in his introductory remarks should have been reasons why he didn't invite the lying, murdering, kidnapping, son-of-a-bitch from Iran to speak at an academic institution in the first place. And, Bollinger could have said without giving a terrorist status or a forum to spout his lying nonsense.
Lee Bollinger has now established himself as a tough guy, willing to ask the tough questions and a champion of "free speech". Bully for him.
Bollinger feels good about himself; Gerard and others feel good about him, too; and yet, as we see above, the Iranian press goes on and on about the "rapturous" welcome their president received in America. For them it is a public relations coup.
They can have no doubts now that they are our equals in every respect. Didn't their President just give an address at a major US university? Wasn't he welcomed with open arms? Didn't the students just lap up his "answers" to those hard questions and cheer him on?
The whole event was an exercise in political narcissism and as far as I can tell had nothing to do with free speech. There really are brave and courageous people confronting the Iranian regime on a daily basis and putting their lives on the line for freedom. Their status has surely been undermined and Ahmadinejad's status has been elevated by Bollinger--no matter how tough the contents of Bollinger's opening remarks were.
I admit Bollinger did better than I expected by saying the things he did. Nevertheless, the damage is done. It is well to remember that for a narcissistic psychopath, any attention--positive or negative-- is better than none at all; because basking in either the positive or the negative limelight suits his needs equally.
I would have adapted those opening remarks of Bollinger's as the introduction and context for a speaker from the Iranian opposition; thus demonstrating to the world that the tyrant of Tehran has no academic status; nothing worthwhile to say; and no credentials worthy of intellectual attention.
Giving a voice and a podium to the students and professors that Ahmadinejad has imprisoned and silenced would have been a real triumph of free speech.