Thursday, September 21, 2006

Columbia and Ahmadinejad: One wonders

Columbia University officials have invited Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak at Columbia this Friday, according to the Columbia Spectator and The New York Sun.

Let's review some of Ahmadinejad's high-profile public statements, shall we?
  • "Death to Israel." Israel "must be wiped out of the map of the world."
  • "And God willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world without the United States...."
  • The Holocaust is a myth: "They have invented a myth that Jews were massacred.... The West has given more significance to the myth of the genocide of the Jews...."
Now, by way of background, let's review Columbia's discrimination policy: The University
is committed to providing a working and learning environment free from discrimination... and to fostering a nurturing and vibrant community founded upon the fundamental dignity and worth of all of its members. ...[I]t is the policy of the University not to tolerate discrimination ... in any form....
The policy further states that discrimination may occur by
treating members of a protected class less favorably because of their membership in that class. The protected groups are based upon race, color, religion, sex, age, national or ethnic origin, citizenship, ....
One wonders if Columbia deems inviting to campus a political leader who calls for the annihilation of Israel to be part of fostering a nurturing environment towards people of Israeli origin.

One wonders if Columbia deems inviting to campus a man who publicly appeals to God for a world without the United States to be part of creating a vibrant community for those of American origin.

One wonders if Columbia deems inviting to campus a high-profile Holocaust denyer to be reinforcing of the fundamental dignity of those of Jewish religion.

One wonders.

Update: Ahmadinejad accepted the invitation, but then Columbia rescinded it because of security and logistical issues, university officials told the Columbia Spectator. Would've been nice if they'd rescinded the invitation on principle, because the guy is a thug. But I guess some folks seem to like him, seem to think President Bush could learn a thing or two from him.

Further update: The New York Sun is reporting that Columbia's president announced that he did rescind the invitation on principle.

(Hat tips: K. J. Lopez and G. H. Reynolds.)

The great unanswered question (or, Who has my toothbrush?)

William F. Buckley writes this week that "The great unanswered question in modern political thought is: Who speaks for Muhammad?"

Speaking as a guest at my college two decades ago, Buckley urged us students to be precise in our use of language. And so I pose the question, is his question really the great unanswered question, or just one of them? Let's see what others have written on the matter:
  • Time magazine (Dec. 15, 1941) on Pearl Harbor: "Over the U.S. and its history there was a great unanswered question: What would the people, the 132,000,000, say in the face of the mightiest event of their time?"
  • The Wired Librarian (Jul. 1983): "One great unanswered question still lingers: Who has my toothbrush?"
  • The publisher of Choosing War (Mar. 2001): "Fredrik Logevall examines the last great unanswered question on the [Vietnam] war: Could the tragedy have been averted?"
  • Jeffrey Herbst in Foreign Affairs (May/Jun. 2001): "[W]e still do not have a good answer to the most basic question: Why? Why did tens of thousands (if not more) of Hutu citizens join with their government to kill their Tutsi neighbors, their Tutsi wives, and fellow Hutu thought to be Tutsi collaborators? .... Mahmood Mamdani has written When Victims Become Killers in order to address this great unanswered question."
  • William M. Lunch in the Oregon Stater (Dec. 2004): "The great unanswered question is whether 2004 was a 'realigning election,' one in which new political divisions became evident that will last for a generation."
  • The New York Times (Jan. 17, 2005) on the UN oil-for-food audits: "The great unanswered question is who dropped the ball and why."
  • Physicist Freeman Dyson (2006): "The great unanswered question is, whether we can regulate domesticated biotechnology so that it can be applied freely to animals and vegetables but not to microbes and humans."
  • David Pogue in The New York Times (May 4, 2006): "Why this, of course, is the great unanswered question: Does the Ultra Mobile PC exist because regular laptops are too bulky?"
  • Dominic Casciani for BBC News (Jun. 14, 2006) on illegal immigrants in the UK: "What ministers now do about these people is the great unanswered question...."
  • John Rentoul (Aug. 24, 2006): "It is still the great unanswered question of British politics. No, not 'When will Tony Blair go?', but 'What will the voters make of Gordon Brown?'"
Perhaps Mr. Buckley should have chosen somewhat more precise language: "A great unanswered question in modern political thought is: Who speaks for Muhammad?"

The hinged and the unhinged on Chavez

In case you haven't been paying attention, Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez took to the floor of the UN General Assembly Wednesday to rant about Bush being the devil, American exploitation, pillaging, hegemony and the like. (Video is here.)
  • The best comment on the speech:
    "Wow. With one speech, eagerly applauded, Hugo Chavez did more today to show what’s wrong with the United Nations than some of us have managed in years of gumshoe reporting." - Claudia Rosett (the journalist who did as much as anyone to expose the U.N. Oil-for-Food scandal)
  • And a somewhat different perspective from the Left:
    "While the oil companies rake in obscene profits by the hour from the high price of oil, Chavez, who is in town this week for the UN General Assembly, keeps devising new schemes to use Venezuela's oil bonanza to benefit the needy around the world." - NY Daily News columnist Juan Gonzalez
    [Gonzalez would do well to read Thor Halvorssen or Betsy Newmark, who have a somewhat different take on Chavez: "a tyrant who is repressing dissent at home and well on the way to ruining his own country's economy despite their oil wealth."]
Speaking of the Left, some of Chavez's Bush equals devil language sounded a lot like Angry Left reasoning. I decided to check out the Democratic Underground coverage of the address. I was shocked--shocked!--to find quite of bit of sympathy for Chavez's sentiments among many of the DU commenters. A sampling:
35: "Beautiful. Not a word out of place. No matter who it offends."

36. "This is the REAL DEAL! Who can deny it?"

41. "All I can say is WOW! Wonderful speech. He is so on target on all the issues."

52: "I wish Hugo were my president!"

53: "Chavez speaks for me. Seems like you have to be someone outside of U.S. politics to speak the truth anymore. This guy tells it like it is."

71: "Chavez speaks the Truth."

73: "You know what - Hugo Chavez had the cajones to say exactly what the rest of the world thinks of Bush. Okay, so it may have not been the most diplomatically presented speech, but I bet there isn't anyone, not even the people who may have criticized Hugo, who doesn't agree with his statement today, even if its silently."
At least one had a sense of humor:
26: "Whatever happened to the Great Satan? Can't we get a little more respect than 'the devil'?"

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Stick to sports, Mike

I'm a New York sports fan. And Mike Lupica is the best New York sports columnist writing today. Maybe best in the nation.

But I will not be reading his stuff much anymore after his recent rant about "Bush's America, where the people in charge think that if they tell a lie often enough it eventually becomes the truth."

As Taranto noted, isn't Lupica supposed to be a sportsranter?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

E-mail of the week

"Can you teach me the Jewish Republican handshake?"

Sent to me by a 40-something lifelong Twin Cities Jewish Democrat concerned by the ascendancy of congressional candidate Keith Ellison, a man tainted by his refusal to denounce ties to anti-Semitic organizations.