My alma mater, Columbia University, has just invited Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak. Keeping up with the Joneses? Harvard (as well as the National Cathedral) hosted former Iranian president Ayatollah Khatami just a few weeks ago. Mr. Ahmadinejad himself chatted up a group at the Council on Foreign Relations following his speech to the UN General Assembly.
Establishment America seems determined to seduce Ahmadinejad. The more bellicose toward America he becomes, the more they prostrate themselves at his feet. He's been courted for a sit-down by Mike Wallace, who back-pedaled on a tough question after Ahmadinejad threatened to terminate the interview. He's been greeted by "religious leaders" and will now address a group at Columbia.
Press coverage has been anything but harsh. As Rush Limbaugh pointed out on a recent show, leading newspapers failed to mention in their coverage of Ahmadinejad's UN speech his long peroration inviting the swift return of the "hidden" imam, a holy person who died in the 10th century and whose imminent return -- heralding the end times -- is expected by some Muslims, including the president of Iran.
If you had told me 20 years ago that Columbia would play host to a religious fanatic who believed in stoning adulteresses and homosexuals to death, who shut down newspapers and harassed journalists, who funded terror organizations around the globe, and who declared that the Holocaust never happened but that he might just do it right this time, I would have told you that he'd be in for a tough session. But today, with universities in America so cordial toward anyone who hates America (e.g., Princeton's Cornel West took time out of his busy lecture schedule to appear with Hugo Chavez in Harlem last week), perhaps the students and professors at Columbia could use a few suggestions on what to ask Mr. Ahmadinejad.
1. On Sept. 5 of this year, you called for a purge of liberal and secular teachers from Iran's universities. How is the campaign to impose religiously acceptable teachers going?
2. In your speech to the United Nations, you mentioned that "some" countries, "relying on their superior military and economic might," were performing a great disservice to the cause of peace. You added that "even the interests of citizens of powerful countries will be jeopardized -- as was seen in the recent crises and even the natural disaster such as the recent tragic hurricane." Was God punishing the United States by sending Katrina to the Gulf?
3. You seemed to imply that U.S. intelligence and security services must have had a hand in the September 11 attacks. What do you think happened that day?