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The Collective
Thursday, September 20, 2007
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Perhaps my outrage-o-meter is busted, but I just don’t see the point to the apoplexy that is roiling through certain elements of the rightward Blogosphere today over the fact that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wants to visit Ground Zero and will speak at Columbia University.

Part of my basic response is to wonder why some think that we are so weak as to be unable to withstand this man’s presence and his words. It seems to me that the whole thing (and the responses of various presidential candidates) just makes us look petty and frightened.

As James Joyner notes:

it’s rather silly to deny him access to public areas out of pique.

Similarly BooMan (via OTB) correctly notes:

Maybe it is just a stunt to make him look good. One thing is for sure…denying him the opportunity doesn’t make us look good.

Now, I can understand the question of whether the NYPD ought to be providing special security, but that doesn’t require a race to outrage.

More than the Ground Zero request, I don’t see the point of the outrage over the visit to Columbia. The fact of the matter is, half of the time that Ahmadinejad will spend will be a Q&A segment, in which his controversial ideas will have to be defended in an open forum.

As James Joyner rightly notes:

highlighting Ahmadinejad’s crazy, evil ideas and forcing him to defend them is the most surefire way I can think of to make students throw off the silly notion that all regimes and ideas are equal.

Further, the event is at School of International and Public Affairs-surely the opportunity to see and hear a key world leader, even one who is antagonistic to the US and who has some repugnant ideas, is a useful educational moment. Any process that could lead to a better understanding of a key state in current global affairs is a good thing.

I will confess: part of my problem is that I long ago ran out of outrage for issues that are ultimately unimportant. I try to reserve my outrage for things that are truly outrageous-and this doesn’t qualify.

Sphere: Related Content

Filed under: US Politics, Academia, Iran | |

19 Comments

  1. Outrage is an excellent business model, however.

    Comment by James Joyner — Thursday, September 20, 2007 @ 10:03 am

  2. This is, unfortunately, quite true.

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Thursday, September 20, 2007 @ 10:12 am

  3. Not only is outrage a good business model, so is hypocrisy. Apparently the Powerline, Hugh Hewitt, and others are upset that he is allowed to go Columbia, and are tying it in to the blocked Summers trip to USC. You see- Summers should be allowed to go, and this guy should not.

    It isn’t that they oppose ‘censorship,’ it is that they want to be the one censoring.

    Comment by John Cole — Thursday, September 20, 2007 @ 12:46 pm

  4. For the record, I have no problem with either of them making their respective visits, and I have no problem with the respective schools deciding who they choose to invite.

    Comment by John Cole — Thursday, September 20, 2007 @ 12:48 pm

  5. Hypocritical Outrage!

    It’s all the rage.

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Thursday, September 20, 2007 @ 1:49 pm

  6. […] Along those lines, I had the following e-mail exchange with Michael Ledeen today, whose views on these matters — in light of his new book, the various and increasingly absurd Iran “controversies”, and his status as favorite right-wing Iran “expert” — I really was hoping to probe in order to write about: […]

    Pingback by The weirdness of some on the Right « Later On — Thursday, September 20, 2007 @ 3:51 pm

  7. The question is not so much why not let him go to Ground Zero but why let him go anywhere at all within our borders? We jail our own criminals so why let this international criminal free access for photo ops that will enhance his power and insult the United States abroad?

    He almost certainly took part in the taking of US embassy hostages. His government supplies forces killing US troops in Iraq. His government is pursuing a nuclear weapons program. His government sponsors terrorism around the world. Let’s not forget he’s as crazy as they come (the UN speech and the glow that surrounded him, the prophecy of the lost Imam and the end of the world).

    A guest in my house is treated as a guest until they do something to insult me as host. This wacko has already insulted us and a good portion of humanity before he’s even gotten through the front door. We need no opportunity to discredit his ideas since they have been discredited many times before.

    This is worth some outrage, as least as much as was given to the President for thanking the 36 nations helping us in Iraq.

    Comment by Steve Plunk — Thursday, September 20, 2007 @ 4:47 pm

  8. Let’s not forget he’s as crazy as they come (the UN speech and the glow that surrounded him, the prophecy of the lost Imam and the end of the world).

    It’s new york. No one will tell the difference between him and the other lunatics spewing prophecies. FWIW, his visit will be less obnoxious than the GOP convention. What’s one more theocratic homophobe?

    - NY’er.

    Comment by jpe — Thursday, September 20, 2007 @ 5:57 pm

  9. Any visit is a problem because of the propaganda and you all need to take the symbolism much more seriously since many dictatorship care about this. Orwell understood how important symbols are for dictators and we should realize how this would play to the world.

    Comment by Mark — Thursday, September 20, 2007 @ 7:49 pm

  10. But, of course, the symbolism can work in various directions.

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Thursday, September 20, 2007 @ 7:52 pm

  11. Yes, Mark, brilliant. Luckily political leaders in democracies NEVER manipulate symbolism.

    I’ll have another order of Freedom Fires, please….

    Comment by Ratoe — Thursday, September 20, 2007 @ 9:45 pm

  12. Iran’s President And 911’s Ground Zero: Bomb Site Is No Disneyland

    Was this deja vu all over again?
    Not quite. But there did seem to be some whispers from the past….
    On Sept. 19, 1959, at the height of the Cold War, then Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev was barred from visiting Disneyland, leading him to explod…

    Trackback by The Moderate Voice — Friday, September 21, 2007 @ 2:30 am

  13. Iran’s President And 911’s Ground Zero: Bomb Site Is No Disneyland

    Was this deja vu all over again?
    Not quite. But there did seem to be some whispers from the past….
    On Sept. 19, 1959, at the height of the Cold War, then Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev was barred from visiting Disneyland, leading him to explod…

    Trackback by The Moderate Voice — Friday, September 21, 2007 @ 2:30 am

  14. Iran’s President And 911’s Ground Zero: Bomb Site Is No Disneyland

    Was this deja vu all over again?
    Not quite. But there did seem to be some whispers from the past….
    On Sept. 19, 1959, at the height of the Cold War, then Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev was barred from visiting Disneyland, leading him to explod…

    Trackback by The Moderate Voice — Friday, September 21, 2007 @ 2:30 am

  15. […] I have largely avouded commenting on the MoveOn.org “General Petraeus or General Betray Us?” ad because, well, as noted yesterday, I believe that my outrage-o-meter is busted. […]

    Pingback by PoliBlog ™: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » Kinsely on “Betray Us” (or More Evidence of my Outrage Deficiency) — Friday, September 21, 2007 @ 7:22 am

  16. I’m here

    How did my surgery on Tuesday go and what do I think about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad coming to the USA.

    Trackback by The Florida Masochist — Friday, September 21, 2007 @ 8:18 am

  17. The problem with the Columbia visit is that it makes higher ed look bad, and acts as confirmation of the “tenured radical” view of American universities.

    Now, UC Davis and Columbia are NOT the same school, and neither is under any obligation to coordinate with the other, but the symbolic thrust of UC Davis disinviting Larry Summers one week, and having Columbia invite Ahmadinejad the next — well, it’s just not good.

    Of course, I don’t think the solution is to disinvite Ahmadinejad — that model leads to the complete abandonment of discussion altogether. Perhaps instead creating an academic atmosphere into which a Larry Summers can also speak.

    Comment by Richard Scott Nokes — Friday, September 21, 2007 @ 9:11 am

  18. Hi,

    Just some FYI:

    WASHINGTON, Sept. 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Friday

    Freedom’s Watch President Bradley A. Blakeman released a statement and a copy of the print advertisement it has requested to be run in the Monday edition of the New York Times.

    “Freedom’s Watch could not sit back and allow a terrorist to come to
    America masquerading as a world leader. We have an obligation to warn the
    world of the dangers of a nuclear Iran and to uncover the true intent, that
    being, the destruction of the United States and the State of Israel.

    Let’s be clear, Iran today kills American soldiers in Iraq and they will not stop
    there,” said Bradley A. Blakeman, President of Freedom’s Watch.

    The text of the advertisement follows:

    Ahmadinejad Is A Terrorist

    Columbia University is wrong to give him a platform.

    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threatens our nation and the
    freedoms we value. He has supported attacks on our soldiers and our allies.
    He should be treated as the terrorist that he is.

    Yet, while Columbia gives a terrorist like Ahmadinejad a platform to
    speak, they refuse to allow the ROTC on campus.

    What has happened to this prestigious university?

    People who support killing Americans are welcome. But the military that
    defends them is not.

    Columbia should be ashamed of its actions.

    Freedom’s Watch knows that America and the forces of freedom are right.
    We know the threat of terrorism is real. And we know Democracy must
    prevail.

    The terrorists and their appeasers are wrong.

    “And God willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon
    experience a world without the United States and Zionism.”
    — Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
    (CNN, 10/27/05)

    ______

    Thank You Freedom’s Watch For Taking A Stand For OUR Country And Troops!

    ____

    Peace!
    Dan
    General David Betray Us

    Comment by Iraq Updates — Saturday, September 22, 2007 @ 8:07 pm

  19. […] I have noted before that I am not prone to a lot of outrage, and I am not outraged by statements by Rush Limbaugh that service members who support U.S. withdrawal are “phony soldiers”, but I do think that it takes an awful lot of gall to make such statements after the over-the-top reaction to the MoveOn.org “Petraeus or Betray Us?” ad, as I thought it was supposedly verboten to call into question the integrity of our men and women in combat. Indeed, if MoveOn.org had called some of our soldiers in harm’s way “phony” one guesses that the same group who got up in arms over the Petraeus ad would be up in arms over this. (Not so much, it would seem). […]

    Pingback by PoliBlog ™: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » “Phony Soldiers” and Limbaugh’s Dichotomized World — Friday, September 28, 2007 @ 7:13 am

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