September 24th, 2007
04:19 PM ET
11 years ago

Candidates question university's invitation to Iran president

Watch Clinton discuss Ahmadinejad's visit Monday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Both Republican and Democratic presidential candidates Monday questioned Columbia University's decision to invite Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak at it's New York campus.

In his speech at Columbia University that touched a number of emotionally-charged topics, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defended his controversial remarks over the Holocaust and Israel, saying he is an academic who had just posed questions.

He also said his country's nuclear program is intended solely for peaceful purposes, which it has the right to pursue.

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Related video: Obama says we should promote truth

Related: Giuliani, Romney slam Ahmadinejad visit

Filed under: Iran • Presidential Candidates
soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. laurinda,ny

    The university was using very poor judgement letting that evil Ahmadinejad come there to talk. There is nothing he could say that would be of importance to them. He should never have been allowed to come to the UN. If he had something to discuss than he should have e mailed them. He only came to insult us, which he did by saying they have no homosexuals in their country like we do.

    September 24, 2007 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  2. Tom Dedham, Mass

    I disagree, his moronic statements and our willingness to let him spew his moronic statements makes us look good in the eyes of the world as we showed our Democracy at work, and he looks like the fool that he is.

    It is better to be perceived a fool, than to open ones mouth and remove ALL doubt.

    Think about it, if his people see how this democracy thing works, maybe they will fight back, remove him and take back their country.

    Wishful thinking I know, but each mile starts with a simple step.

    September 24, 2007 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  3. Ralph Marlow Beckley WV

    I hear that the history of our country and the american indian that was taught when I was a boy was not entirely correct and is being presently taught differently to the kids now. So maybe research is needed on the holocost. I always wonder if all the security threats are for real.
    Isn't it amazing no other country on this earth worried about Iraq except the goog ole USA

    September 24, 2007 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  4. M. King, Boston, MA

    Oh Lord, please hasten the day when our politicians can stop pandering to an ignorantly xenophobic electorate and their cloying jingoism. Ahmadinejad is exactly the kind of speaker Columbia should be inviting: a vital, influential world player whom Americans desperately need to understand better. Higher education and intellectual discovery aren't achieved by always seeking out people with whom you already share all viewpoints.

    But that's the America of today: an insular country of people who'd rather hate the unknown other rather than make the effort to get to know them.

    September 24, 2007 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  5. Claude, Mesa AZ

    He has a point....more research should be done in alot of areas to find the truth. Because when humans are involved I can guarantee you that the I's are not dotted and the T's are not crossed and we find out what we believed as facts for so many years were nothing but lies.

    September 24, 2007 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  6. New Jersey

    Just because the University allows him to speak him does not mean they agree with him.

    It is to hear what he has to say to their questions. These students and faculty are some of the smartest people in the world, and they know how question him. By the sounds of it, he was mockiingly laughed at by very smart people. He was also handed very tough questions... this trip probably didn't completely go the way he imagined.

    However, open dialogue should always be allowed, regardless of the perceived insanity of the person... this is a man who has a lot of power, we should know his way of thinking, but it does not mean we have to agree.

    September 24, 2007 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  7. Moe, NY

    This sick man never should have been allowed into America. I, personally, view him as the modern day Hitler.

    September 24, 2007 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |


    September 24, 2007 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  9. Carlos Nevarez/ Dorado, Puerto Rico, USA

    Based on the facts gathered up during World War 2, it should seem quite clear that the Holocaust did happen. We have numerous people who lived through the Holocaust. Yet the opinion of Mr.Ahmedinejad should be respected for we are a Nation of Free Speech. Unlike Iran, we don't persecute those who have radical views on touchy subjects.. Consider this.

    September 24, 2007 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  10. Mary Jane Lowery

    I can just see the Iranian diplomats laughing at how easy it is to get into AMerica under the guise of "peaceful talks". WHy didn't the President place restrictions on this man? He should have been arrested the minute he got on American soil.

    Mary Jane Lowery
    Jacksonville, Fl

    September 24, 2007 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  11. Jordan Baribeau, Winnipeg, MB

    Tom Dedham, what are you talking about? Iran is a Democracy, elections are next spring, and Ahmadinejad will be out. Iran is a Republic, not some Authoritarian socialist country like the USSR.

    September 24, 2007 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  12. Stephen, Naples, Florida

    Maybe his response on homosexuals was lost in translation. Instead of "there are no homosexuals in Iran" it was "there are no longer any homosexuals in Iran".

    September 24, 2007 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  13. Tricia M Charlottetown PEI


    "University chief tackles Iranian leader Columbia University president Lee Bollinger took Iran's president to task Monday, bluntly criticizing his record and saying he exhibits "the signs of a petty and cruel dictator." Bollinger told the president: "Today I feel the weight of all the civilized world yearning to express the revulsion at what you stand for."

    I believe it is one thing to invite the Iranian President to the Columbia University to speak publicly to the media, the University Faculty and students. However, it is quite another matter for Columbia University president, Lee Bollinger, to use the opportunity as a means to insult, accuse, and incriminate his invited guest. I certainly can't deem President Bollinger's actions as acceptable behavious.

    It was the University who insisted upon giving the Iranian President a Forum to Speak dispite overwhelming objections from Politicians and citizens.

    But then for President Bollinger to publicly accuse the Iranian President in the presence of such young minds, of exhibiting the signs of a petty and cruel dictator and to then state he "feels the weight of all the civilized world yearning to express the revulsion at what you stand for" wss not only the height of ignorance and disprespect but utterly deplorable.

    This is not what I would call exemplary conduct for a University President! Or diplomatic prowness! In fact, I wouldn't doubt that President Bollinger has left all the civilized world yearning to express their revulsion and shame at what he stands for!

    And from where I'm sitting he does not stand tall.

    If there was ever an apology owed to anyone it is the Iranian President.

    Hillary's comment to General Petraeus pales in comparison. And as a foot note. I wasn't very impressed with Hillary's take on the Iranian visit either. I believe she could have taken a higher step today upon the road of International Diplomacy. Frankly, her words from a lady who supposedly is experienced in International relations were truly disappointing. And I'm sure politicians, media and Americans will wonder why the Iranian President seems on the defensive or argumentative at tomorrow's meeting of the minds. Not I. I'll know why.

    Everytime hope flickers in America it seems someone puts the candle out.

    September 24, 2007 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  14. William W Halifax NS

    Posted By laurinda,ny

    "The university was using very poor judgement letting that evil Ahmadinejad come there to talk. There is nothing he could say that would be of importance to them. He should never have been allowed to come to the UN. If he had something to discuss than he should have e mailed them. He only came to insult us, which he did by saying they have no homosexuals in their country like we do."

    Please forgive me I don't mean to sound rude or judgemental but I'm curious –

    "evil Ahmadinejad"? Why do you believe he is evil?
    I didn't hear him say anything evil today. I did hear the University President beligerantly insulting Ahmadinejad.

    "There is nothing he could say that would be of importance to them."
    Who do you refer to with the word them?
    As what is of no significance to some maybe of great consequence to others.

    "He should never have been allowed to come to the UN. If he had something to discuss than he should have e mailed them."
    Do you fear his presence?

    "He only came to insult us, which he did by saying they have no homosexuals in their country like we do."
    Why do you belive he would come to America to insult Americans? Could he not do that from Iran or as you suggested by email? He came to meet with President Bush and the Administration for the purpose of international discussions. Do you not feel this is a good thing? A Step in the right direction? An opportunity to assess, discuss and learn about how each feels on important international fronts?

    Why do you feel he insulted Americans by saying there are no homosexuals in Iran? How does that insult Americans?

    September 25, 2007 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  15. George, Denver, CO

    Ahmadinejad is evil? What exactly has he done? Did Iran fabricate evidences of WMD and bomb Iraq all the way to stone age? Was the Iranian government responsible for 911? Did they funded Al Qaida in the 80's? What have they done that the American government hasn't, only ten times more nefarious? Those who condemn the president of a legitimate country while turning a blind eye on what their own government's accomplishments are beyond ridiculous.

    September 25, 2007 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  16. Tired right-sider,(trekks) U.S.

    I guess you werent hear for the Gulf War, Ralph. Do you know what that was about?

    Have you heard anything in the news lately about Iran or Ahmadinejad. When that guy there talking about in this ticker says hes faced terroist attack and WAR with Iraq.

    I forgot for a moment of Iraq/Saddams love of Jews and there hopes of turning Iseral into a yellow radio-active cloud.

    My point again'So many of you know so little about the dangers we face.

    I hope this has been informative to you as I dont want to run through a list of nations that you are also unaware of.

    September 25, 2007 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  17. erika morgan black dimond wa

    It is the thoughtful intelligent forks who are not afraid to let anyone express his views no matter how way out they may be because they are grounded in knowledge and facts and do not have to worry about being shook from an unstable perch by any ideas, even way out ones. Also almost all ideas have some truth, so it is important to listen for anything you can use from anothers perspective even if all you find is a way to deal with them.

    September 25, 2007 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  18. Phil, Goldsboro, NC

    How can the reader below even think of "revisiting" the Holocaust. I know the reader can't be too smart by his spelling of Holocaust, but come on now...if you truly believe we need to revisit the event to make sure it really happened, you need to go back to 1st grade and start all over again.

    September 25, 2007 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  19. Tim

    Well Ahmadinejad does have a point – like it or not. What is wrong with inviting debate /research on the holocaust? After all the terrible events of that era were used by the Zionists to push for the forceful creation of the state of Israel, with the tacit approval of the powers that be.

    I have always wondered why is it a criminal offence in many countries simply to ask the question – did the holocaust really happen? It has nothing to do with hate crimes or discriminating against the Jewish peoples. But asking that question can get one locked up behind bars – and yet we are free to question the very existence of God, we can call our president a moneky and depict him as an idiot in the free press with not so much a slap on the wrist.

    It just seems incredible to me....

    September 25, 2007 03:39 am at 3:39 am |
  20. AJ; Montpelier, VT

    Why on earth would we want to present a forum for a view point other than our own? What is this, a free speech Democracy?

    September 25, 2007 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  21. Mary, Beaver, PA

    Too bad those who doubt the Halocaust can't speak with my British husband's late father. He was one of those who accompanied American forces when they went to Bergen Belsen after he himself was freed from a Nazi prison camp. What he saw there altered him forever. He wouldn't reason with the revisionists who claim that the Halocaust never occurred. Instead, he'd belt them in the mouth.

    September 25, 2007 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  22. JB Boston MA

    Hopefully, people will now see that this doesn't work. Although the theory is strong, these people won't answer questions, and, giving them this opportunity may give them a chance to look good (ie "why do you research the holocaust?" answer "because scholars research history" then, student cheers). That portion along with one or two others will be played all over Iran.

    I would rather talk about the fact that the Minutemen could not speak and the ROTC are not allowed on campus. A friend of mine went to the Naval Academy. He was a swimmer and went to Columbia for a meet. He was in his dress uniform, and was pelted with fruit from the students and threatened with violence(complete oxymoron). Disgusting! Protect the freedoms of those who kill Americans and take away the rights of Americans who protect your freedoms. Columbia is a joke and I hope the federal government has the guts to take away any federal funding they may have.

    I want to know why college students in this country hate this country so much? A semester abroad in Iran will change that!

    And to say that the Iranian President speaking, the Minutemn not being allowed to speak and ROTC are not the same issue, is bull kaka. Those who say its not, have no other option becasue they know they have painted themselves into a corner.

    September 25, 2007 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  23. no_man_is_an_island, Pittsburgh, PA

    Thanks AJ of Montpelier, VT. That needed to be said. Since when should we Americans be afraid of the viewpoints of others, especially in a university setting, for Heaven's sake? Of course, I often wonder at Americans' commitment to freedom of speech, as I was one of those who were told to keep my mouth shut when everyone else was jumping on the bandwagon to go to war against Iraq in early 2003.

    I truly fear for our Republic because we as a country and as a people are turning into something quite intolerant and ugly.

    September 25, 2007 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  24. William W Halifax NS

    I dont' agree with all of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad views but I do believe
    he has a right to have them. And I certainly do not agree with his views on the Halocaust and I don't expect many other Nations do.

    However, I do agree that the Columbia President's desire to have the Iranian President speak at Columbia University for the sole purpose of aggregiously insulting, belittling and incriminating him casts a shadow on America as a whole.

    The Columbia President should have taken the higher road and treated HIS INVITED GUEST with respect which would have portrayed the University President as an American having more decency than the one he was attacking.
    I was shocked at President Bollinger's actions to say the least.

    September 25, 2007 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  25. Anonymous

    The problem is that the Shah of terrorism never got the big picture because it was a vanilla float when it should have been Beer and Bratwurst. The question was obvious pick for blandness. There was even one that was obviously trunicated by probably aggreement, because it was a non question the way it was presented. So, the shah of terrorism obviously picked the questions he wanted answer.
    It should have been an open question, and open attendance event, if you were going to do something like it. However, because of the controls, it turned out to be a war time proganda event. Which makes the dean and the people of columbia as traitors in my eyes. Columbia school of terrorism, should not recieve one dollar of American tax dollar.

    September 25, 2007 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
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