Interdisciplinary Human Rights Conference

No blogging for a few days.  I am off to the America, Human Rights and the World Interdisciplinary Human Rights Conference to be held at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Will see you all early next week.  If you are interested in the Conference Program, Click Here.

Meanwhile here are some questions to think about:

  1. Was Columbia University right in inviting the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak in their campus?

  2. Was the President of Columbia University, Dr. Lee Bolinger, wrong in publicly castigating a visiting foreign dignitary without showing any respect, however unpleasant the visiting dignitary maybe?

  3. Is the President of Iran really a crazy guy with some bizarre ideas or is he putting an act on just to rile up the crowd and come up looking as a hero among his supporters?
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4 Responses to “Interdisciplinary Human Rights Conference”

  1. steven brouillard Says:

    I think Columbia had every right to invite him to their campus. It’s an expression of “freedom of speech” and besides what’s the best way to reveal the stupidity of a dictator, to let him speak his poisonous words to an educated and unfooled audience.
    I think that Dr. Lee Bolinger was a bit harsh in his remarks, “a petty and cruel dictator”, but I think that he was resonding to the American press. Most Americans were probably upset that this conference took place in the first place, so he definitely had to show Americans that he was in no way supporting Iran’s dictator. In the end, Iran’s dicatator said some pretty harsh words about denying the existene of the Holocaust and denying the presence of homosexuals in Iran, so I don’t feel too bad for the guy if you know what i mean.
    I think that there is definitely a mixture of craziness and putting on a show going on with Iran’s president. We must remember that he is up for reelcetion in 2009 and has only hurt the country’s economy. Therefore he is playing dumb in order to capture the attention and votes of his people.

  2. Nick Callender Says:

    I think that Columbia University had every right to invite the Iranian president to speak. It was not forced upon anyone to hear him, and everyone had the right to decide whether or not they choose to listen. I think this was a way to expand one’s perspective and develop new thoughts and ideas (regardless of whether one agrees or not).
    I think the manner in which Dr. Lee Bolinger introduced the President was very disrespectful and unnecessary and provided the spark for later heat. The Iranian President did state many controversial and derogatory statements (example denial of the holocaust and castigation of homosexuals in the US), and if he is considered disrespectful, I think it would be setting a double standard to not consider Dr. Lee Bolinger as the same.
    I believe that the Iranian President does have bizzare ideas, but he is evidently trying to rile up the public by expressing these ideas in a hostile forum. I think he would be seen as heroic in his country becuase of his evident anti-Americanism which is a growing sentiment in the Middle East.

  3. Joseph Jacobson Says:

    I think Columbia has the right to bring the President of Iran to their school, but I would not be surprised if it leads to some negative effects. For example some people may be hesitant to support the university financially.
    Dr. Lee Bolinger has every right to publicly castigating a forgeign dictator. In America we are able to say what we want without reprimand for our views.
    I think the President of Iran does not like Jews and that is why he says that the Holocaust did not exist. His culture does not support homosexuals and that is why he said there are no homosexuals in Iran. His views are not an act. I think he does not like these two groups and therefore he says these comments.

  4. srinisitaraman Says:

    Nick and Steven: I think I am in general agreement with both of you.

    Joseph: I agree with your first claim, but as regards your second claim. International diplomats are to be given due honor in a public forum. However, the question of whether the President of Iran is a modern Hitler remains to be debated. At least my sense is that his policies can be criticized without attacking the person. My feeling was that Bolinger was bit out of line, if the attack had come from the audience that would have been okay, I guess. Some years back Clark went through a similar experience.


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