Monday, September 24, 2007

"A Species of Political Capitulation"

Ahmadinejad update:

A rule in life I try to live by is that there is always someone smarter and better than you. This is particularly true in blogging. There is always a stonger thinker and writer out there who can say it better than you can. A case in point is Roger Kimball at the New Criterion. Kimball has an excellent post regarding Ahmadinejad at Columbia at the New Criterion's blog Armavirumque titled The Poverty of Liberalism.

Kimball throroughly destroys Lee Bollinger and the lefts facile free speech argument in favor of Columbia inviting Ahmadinejad to speak.

A portion of Kimball's post:
Universities are institutions dedicated to the pursuit and transmission of learning and the furtherance of civilization.
They are not circuses for the exhibition of politically repugnant grandstanding. Free inquiry is not a license for moral irresponsibility. At a university, as at every other human institution, freedom can thrive only when it is limited by allegiance to certain positive values--the value of historical truth, for example, or the moral truth that human dignity is worth preserving.
President Bollinger's sophomoric conception of free speech is precisely the sort of supine intellectualism that,if consistently embraced, would make free speech impossible. President Bollinger primly lectures us that "It should never be thought that merely to listen to ideas we deplore in any way implies our endorsement of those ideas, or the weakness of our resolve to resist those ideas," etc. But he is quite wrong about that. By providing a madman like Ahmadinejad with a platform at Columbia University, President Bollinger has in effect welcomed him into the community of candid reasoners. He has granted him a patent of legitimacy that no amount of "dialogue and reason" can dissipate. In this case, "listening" is indeed tantamount to an endorsement. It reduces free speech to a species of political capitulation and renders dialogue indistinguishable from a suicide pact.

Kimball finishes with a relatively unknown but prescient quote from17th century English essayist Walter Bagehot:
The spectacle of these left-wing academics repudiating men like Larry Summers and Donald Rumsfeld even as they abase themselves scrambling to find excuses for welcoming a fanatic like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the halls of a great American University is disgusting. I think again of Bagehot's observation that "History is strewn with the wrecks of nations which have gained a little progressiveness at the cost of a great deal of hard manliness, and have thus prepared themselves for destruction as soon as the movements of the world gave a chance for it." Are we really willing to let ourselves--our ideals, our way of life--be carelessly traduced by a rancid leftism so enfeebled that it can no longer distinguish between free speech and suicide? We are even now in the process of answering that question. How we answer it will determine a lot more than the issue of who gets to speak on American college campuses.

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