There is talk of the American right to free speech in reference to the platform that Amadinejad was offered yesterday by Columbia University – and usually it precedes the sound of a but. That’s a but, not a butt.

But what? Things like, “But I don’t think that we should give terrorist leaders public platforms to champion their agendas of hate.”

I’ll not beat around the bush: I think this notion is ridiculous. Individually, we may disagree with the things Amadinejad says (or perhaps react with incredulity: did he actually claim that there is no homosexuality in Iran?? Who says that kind of thing?). And we may be fundamentally opposed to some of the policies of his government (locking up journalists, for example). It is also becoming clearer and clearer that Iran is participating militarily in the conflicts that engulf the “nation” of Iraq – and that U.S. soldiers are suffering because of it. Nevertheless, I think it is a fine and good thing that there is open and civil debate going on, still, while so many seem all to ready to think of Iran as an enemy, a “rogue nation” that needs to be invaded so we can all, what, feel better? The subtle forces of hatred being worked up against Iran alarm me. As long as there is debate, as long as both sides are actually willing to listen to one another, there is hope for peace.

I applaud the president of Columbia University’s efforts to continue the debate, while so many of his countrymen are ready to close their ears… and perhaps open a third theater of war.

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