Monday, September 24, 2007

Over and Done With

Coatsworth presses A. on the facts of the Holocaust, which C. points out are documented. Why is A. calling for more research?

A.: "I am an academic and you are as well. Can you argue that researching a phenomenon is over, done? There are different perspectives that come to light. Why should we stop the progress of science and knowledge. Do you ever take what's absolute in physics. Math, physics were proved wrong.”

Coatsworth points out that the facts of the Holocaust are well established. So questioning them sounds like denial

Some clapping.

A.: "I tried to uphold the rights of European scholars. There has been more research on physics than there is on the Holocaust. There’s nothing wrong with doing it [research.] Women in Iran enjoy the highest levels of freedom. 90% of Iranians turn up for votes.”

Now he’s talking about executions. Says there is capital punishment in US too. People clap

A.: "In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals like in your country."

Boos from the crowd -- also laughs.

A.: "I don't know who told you that we have it. It's not a crime to be a woman. Women are the best creatures created by God."

Coatsworth asks what A. hoped to achieve by coming to Columbia.

"I've been invited by Columbia, an official invitation given. In Iran, when you invite a guest, you respect them. I wanted to go to the site of the September 11th tragedy to show my sympathy.”

C.: Why is your country seeking enriched uranium?

A. says program is within confines of law. The technology they have is for enrichment below 5% level, so it’s just for power plants.

A. asks how can US criticize Iran when it has nukes of its own.

A lot of applause.

A. tells a joke: “I think the politicians who are after atomic bombs...politically they’re backward, retarded.”

Coatsworth asks, “Is Iran ready to negotiate with the US?

A.: "Other than with two countries, we are ready to have friendly relations and talks. One of those two contries is the apartheid movement of South Africa, and the second is the Zionist regime. The US could actually be a good friend for the Iranian nation. Iranians could be some of the US’ best friends.”


Jared said...

Just one small point...when A. said there were no homosexuals in Iran, the crowd actually laughed at him.

Bollinger also claimed in his opening remarks that he didn't think A. had the intellectual courage to answer his questions in a direct way.

And A. repeatedly noted that he was insulted by B's opening remarks, and he felt that B. was being inhospitable.

By the way, in case you did not know, I believe that CNN (or CSpan--I'll have to check) broadcasted the entire event.

The BBC was shooting right next to me at one point. It was a circus.

My favorite flyer (of the many flyers from every position imaginable--you mentioned the "Ahmedinejad is bad, Bush is worse" poster) said: "Save a Tree. Print Less Flyers." For which, the grammar police went around and changed "less" to "fewer." Oh, the irony.

I am glad the event is over, but the ramifications remaint to felt and discussed.

Jeha said...

I am glad that President Ahmadinejad voiced his opposition to the "apartheid movement of South Africa". Finally someone is standing up for the rights of oppressed people everywhere.

Now if we can just get him to support the Liberation movement in Rhodesia...

J. said...

Thanks for the play by play Noah and Jennie!

Noah K said...


What shall I say, LOL? I'm dying of laughter at your comment. I needed that.

Noah S. said...

I was thinking of going up to campus with my expired Columbia card and watching the Q&A, but then I saw on TV what a madhouse it was and thought better of it. Good thing there's academia on the internet these days.

If I had gone, it would've been difficult to restrain myself from staging a counter-protest against some of the Jewish groups who were protesting Columbia's invitation to A. I found their behavior repulsive and anti-democratic. Protest A.'s beliefs, fine, but don't come and protest a university's decision to host a world leader, ESPECIALLY when the university's president has vowed to "grill" him.

Tony Judt is licking his lips, and for good reason. These groups who want to stifle academic exchange are the same who oppose diplomacy with Syria, call the board members of the Khalil Gibran school terrorists, and probably have Sunday brunch with Abe Foxman.

Nadia Polukhin said...

Rather unrelated question to this post, but how the hell did A. get into the United States? Let me be more specific: does anyone know what type of visa status he entered under? Must have been a diplomatic UN issued travel document. Bc I'm just thinking (working in immigration law), about that immigration officer that had to process his visa request......

Question on a visa application:
"4. Have you ever been a member of a terroristic government?"