Columbia Dean Considers a Discussion With Hitler

25 September 2007 at 2:43 pm 2 comments

| David Hoopes |

In today’s WSJ, Bret Stephens observes, “John Coatsworth, acting dean of Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, made the remark that “if Hitler were in the United States and . . . if he were willing to engage in a debate and a discussion to be challenged by Columbia students and faculty, we would certainly invite him.” This was by way of defending the university’s decision to host a speech yesterday by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.” My own alma mater, Grinnell College, had Angela Davis speak at last year’s commencement to the chagrin of a few alumni. Granted A. D. is pretty small change compared to Ahmadinejad. Twenty years ago, students at Grinnell shouted down Jack Kemp because they disagreed with his perspective. I doubt A.D. got shouted down. I find it disturbing that it is considered progressive to listen to Dr. Davis but to shout down Mr. Kemp. Ahmadinejad got a rude welcome outside the U.N. But, it’s strange to think that Columbia’s faculty would probably treat George W. (hardly a perfect president) a lot worse than they treated this man who has called for and spent a great deal of money on the destruction of Israel (among other things).

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Bo  |  26 September 2007 at 4:23 am

    While I have never understood the purpose of being rude to anyone invited to speak at your university – particularly in a country that prides itself with freedom of speech (and thought), I am not sure why you would be surprised to see G.W.Bush get a worse welcome.

    First, he is an easier target as most people in the US (not all though) sort of know who he is and thus have somewhat of an opinion on him/his policies. Second, he too has spend a lot of money (more than Iran) on destruction – not of Israel but of many other countries/regions/cultures/religions – and he has been responsible for young Americans dying abroad. Third, GWB is easier to understand (can you believe it?) than the ramblings of the Iranian President. I stayed awake late last night here in Europe to watch the speech live and must admit, that I almost fell asleep during fist the religious ramblings and second the lifted finger toward “some influencial states” etc. the main reason for his speech was to address the question of the Iranian nuclear program – a point he did not address until toward the end of his speech and only after having listed all the evils and bad things in the world and how a return to God’s will etc may solve all these problems and how Iran is on the right track and bla bla bla…

  • 2. David Hoopes  |  26 September 2007 at 11:06 am

    Well, GWB is probably not that great an example. As you point out, he is a pretty easy target: see Greenspan’s recent book. I also think inviting someone, then attacking him (even though he deserves what flack he gets), is an empty display.

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