It defies reason why a declared enemy of America was welcomed to speak at Columbia University. On September 24, a podium the Ivy League institution was given to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the leader of Iran, a nation that sponsors terrorism.
In the city still deeply scarred by 9-11, protest stirred both from within and without the respected halls of Columbia. Yet the Dean of Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs, unwilling to rescind the invitation, insisted that even Hitler would be received on campus. That led eleven young TFP volunteers from York, Penn., to protest outside the gates of Columbia with banners, bagpipes and 5,000 printed statements.
Three hours before Ahmadinejad’s scheduled address, we slowly inched our way through heavy New York City traffic. At the Lincoln Tunnel, the lady running the toll booth greeted us with a smile.
“Where are you going,” she asked politely, perhaps surprised to see a vanload of fellows wearing ties.
“To protest Ahmadinejad at Columbia University.”
Her face immediately lit up. “Amen to that brother! You don’t invite the enemy into your home,” she said firmly.
We thought the president of Columbia University could learn a thing or two from this lady. Finally, we reached our destination near Broadway and 114th Street to exercise our patriotic duty to defend America. The police force was out in great numbers and the national and international news media swarmed about on every sidewalk ready to broadcast the propaganda of the Iranian president worldwide. Over the din of traffic, students chanted: “Shame on Columbia! Shame on Columbia!” Hundreds of protesters held signs or waved American flags. A group of firemen behind the barricade held a sign that read: “Never Forget 9-11”
Columbia alumni reacted too. One alumnus held his degree on a sign: “Columbia diploma for sale. Cheap! 50 Cents.” Another graduate deliberately tore up her diploma.
Free Speech Debates
Heated debates erupted everywhere as to the limits of free speech.
“You just want to impose your views on others. Ahmadinejad has every right to speak here,” insisted one man loudly.
“Our leaders must serve the common good. Free speech has limits and America is not well served hosting a declared enemy,” I replied.
“How do you know he’s evil?” he continued.
“Terrorists are evil. Would you invite Hitler to speak at Columbia?” I asked.
“I’m not even going to answer that question. You’re silly and arrogant.”
My next question was: “Is arrogance good or evil?”
“Oh, stop being so philosophical” was all he could say.
Despite its problems, America is a country that represents remnants of order and stability. Many look to it as the last stronghold of Western Civilization, the front line of defense against terrorism and anarchy. Our nation is blessed with brave troops who voluntarily and heroically risk their lives to serve America. May God continue to strengthen our nation and protect it against its internal and external enemies.