Scott Johnson at Powerline is going off! on Columbia University and its president, Lee Bollinger. Saying that a "suicidal mania ... grips elite opinion" in the United States, he posts two Columbia statements announcing a campus forum with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran.
The University stresses that Ahmadinejad will divide his time evenly between his own remarks and a question-and-answer period, and I guess that unlike Scott, I would savor the opportunity to ask Iran's elected leader about a few things.
For instance, this. I would want to know why the President of Iran believes that, not only do gay and lesbian Iranians not deserve basic civil rights, but in fact his government actually executes people for being gay. I think Americans should have the opportunity to listen to the President of Iran talk about how homo sex makes us no better than animals, and how the Koran has strict penalties in place for those who dare to follow their own nature. I think we can learn a lot about the value of separating church from state in our country by listening to the president from Tehran.
I would want to ask the President of Iran why it is that men in his part of the world like their women docile. Why his government chooses to literally grab women off the street and beat them if they are dressed inappropriately, and whether his government doesn't have anything better with which to occupy its time than harassing attractive people when they walk outside.
And why would I want to ask these questions? So that my fellow Americans could listen to this self-righteous thug prattle on about all his justifications for all the 12th century behaviors he wants to inflict on the very modern society he governs. I think it would be a fine opportunity to consider our own state of affairs, and the justifications our leaders (political and religious) use when pushing anti-gay amendments and other crap legislation designed exclusively to divide us.
But Scott Johnson misses the teachable moment that a forum with Ahmadinejad offers. He thinks Americans have a duty to stick their fingers in their ears and shut their eyes tight, and since Columbia isn't playing along, he screeches out names for them: disgrace, fools, dishonorable. I think they're brilliant, and I hope the students of Columbia don't hold back in their questions, and that Ahmadinejad's self-assured, self-righteous answers are broadcast for all Americans to see.