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Kristol on Columbia and Ahmadinejad

Bill Kristol writes a telling commentary on the moral confusion that sadly typifies today’s American university. Would that he were inventing this story . . . it could not be more insane.

Discussions - 9 Comments

It's hard to imagine the Columbia University of the 1940s conducting a dialogue with Adolf Hitler.

It used to be a WASP stronghold. A bastion of the old order. And now, it's a volcano of confusion, relativism, illogic and intellectual sloppiness.

It isn't simply a moral repugnance. It's an intellectual and cultural one as well.

Columbia has lost its raison d'etre.

"What if salt should lose its savour, what is it good for but to be trodden into the ground...." I'll allow one of the Protestant readers to supply the correct chapter and verse.

But that's exactly what I'm thinking right now about Columbia, and about much else besides.

Columbia was barely a bastion of the old order when I went there in 1974-77, but there were vestiges of that. When my dad went there, it was a different story. Today it is all of the sad things you say, but what university is not? No, I know there are a few, but that it is a true few is very sad.


I have written a "seriously dismayed alumni" letter, and can hardly wait for the response. How can it be anything but predictable?

Dan - I think it's Matthew.

By the way, does a bastion have to be WASP to be a stronghold?

Kristol scores some political points with his sharp rebuke of Columbia and president Bollinger...but I think it is at least interesting that the president of Iran is willing to come and discuss his views or views attributed to him. Hitler may not have been welcome at Columbia back in the 1940's but would Hitler have sought to validate himself in the first place?

Lets hear Ahmadinejah out, see what he has to say...where he is comming from...what he considers an argument, lets agree to disagree where no agreement is possible but carve out a position which he can be held to. Lets listen to him so that we can hold him to what he says and the reasons he uses to justify himself.

If we can't reason with him, and Columbia's position is clearly that we can...then the real moral confusion is in the idea of diplomatic immunity. If Ahmandinejah is really so evil then why don't we arrest his ass at Columbia and ship him straight to Guantanamo to be prosecuted for war crimes(or better yet since we already know he is culpable/evil execute him on the spot?)

Give me a clear shot and I would take it...no problem. I was always told that most IED's came from Iran...that Ahmandinejah is basically a bad guy...indirectly responsible no doubt for the deaths of american soilders...everything I know tells me that I could sleep well at night if I killed him.

I can't understand the logic that might have it be six months from now that american troops are dying in Iran going after this guy when he could have so easily been disposed of on american soil.

In my dreams president Bollinger engages president Ahmandinejah in heated discussion and puts a bullet in his frontal lobe during the concluding remarks. That would make for a great story, an awesome climax. To my way of thinking one can take one of either two lines...either this person can be reasoned with...in which case Columbia is doing nothing wrong or shamefull, or this person should be killed or at the very least detained and sent to Guantanamo...in which case failure to do so represents a moral shortcoming.

Moral confusion that typifies american higher ed? Spare me the rhetoric Mr Kristol the moral confusion rests in allowing Ahmadinejad to come to the United States and then leave the United States alive or a free man.

What is more insane Julie, that Columbia wishes to engage Ahmadinejad in discussion, but does not wish to allow ROTC: a position argued for on basis that 1) "don't ask don't tell" descriminates against homosexuals. 2) that women are not allowed equal status when it comes to serving in combat roles. 3) Probably unstated... ROTC sends students with very expensive degrees to earn little pay and thus makes Columbia look overpriced in the alumni earnings statistics.

I understand the logic by which Columbia believes it is morally objecting to ROTC...I also understand the logic by which Columbia thinks discussion with Ahmadinejad might be profitable, fruitfull or otherwise interesting. Making Columbia out to be morally confused is just to say that one does not agree with the arguments they make to defend themselves...Columbia is playing checkers, Ashland is playing chess...and maybe if Kristol is right Ahmandinejad isn't fucking playing at all...its not a damn game.

So assuming that Ahmandinejad is not playing, that he is a bad guy hell bent on the destruction of Israel and the United States by any means possible. Assuming this...what I can't understand isn't the moral confusion of the ivory tower folk who in my opinion are naturally caught up in inescapable/intractable burdens of judgement...but rather the moral confusion that would make it wrong for us to seize and detain, prosecute/execute Ahmandinejad the moment he took one step on US soil. I can't blame Columbia for snapping up a rare specimen anymore than I could blame Steve Irwin for sticking his head in a crocodiles mouth...the allure of provocative/dangerous experience/knowledge is just too great. What would represent moral confusion to me would be declaring the hunt for crocodiles(the war on terror) to be on like donkey kong(shock and awe!) and then providing security to make sure the crocodiles(terrorists) are not harmed as long as they are in the USA. Am I making up the moral confusion that is diplomatic immunity? I know that it is it just part of the rules to the game...but why are we playing checkers again?

If it is hard to immagine a dialogue with Hitler and Columbia in 1944...immagine how much harder it would have been to immagine that we would let him come to the US and then go back to Germany a free bird.

Seriously do you think Churchill would have allowed Hitler to speak at Oxford in the middle of the war...do you think he would have condemed Oxford? Hell no...he would have encouraged it...and then he would have pounced. Hitler would have never been that stupid or confident. You conservatives are always crying about intellectual decay and how left wing academia provides cover for terrorists... christ the answer isn't to bitch and moan but to use it to your advantage... if this guy is so confident that he can walk into the United States and walk back out again... well then suprise him...use his confidence against him. Use what you bemoan as a tool against your adversary. I hope I am surprised and the man is detained. If this type of thinking is off the table then as the french say: Les jeux son fait.

In point of fact we could only have wished that Columbia in 1940's would have provided a climate were Hitler would have felt free to come and give a talk...shit. FDR would have been chomping at the bit...

If only our current Republican president was more like FDR...did I just say that? Come to think of it... I think Ron Paul's argument is that Republicans today are exactly like FDR...

Alright fine...if FDR is the standard... then what would FDR say about Ahmadinejad visiting Columbia?

"Welcome to the United States I hope you enjoy your stay because your visit will be extended."

John Lewis . . . I don't know what it is exactly, but there is something that I always really like in you and your posts--even (or especially?) when we disagree. I think it's the spit and fire of Twain in you. I still think you're wrong about the ROTC and thinking that it was a good idea to put A'jad on that stage. But I rather like the idea of extending his stay . . . or at least the spirit that suggests it.

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