Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Columbia Got Played

I'm not going to dwell on it; there are other places for that. I must admit for brief time I thought I could appreceiate those on the other side of the fence about whether Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad should be offered a microphone. I think there is a profound difference between allowing someone to speak and inviting someone to speak, but I am sympathetic to the idea of authentic "intellectual diversity," which is a little different from what passes for it in the modern halls of academe. After all, as "deeply troubling" as his actions and rhetoric are, he is not Hitler (Separate query: When will we let Hitler be Hitler?).

And then I saw this, compiled at The Corner, from WFB on the prospect of the American Communist leader, Gus Hall, being invited to Yale to speak:
The Communist has of course renounced our institutions, which is perhaps all right, but has done something very much more; he has renounced the bond — whatever it is: but fragile though it is, it is there, make no mistake about it — that holds together Republicans and Democrats, socialists and Manchesterians, syndicalists and elitists...the Communist has renounced the bond explicitly and intentionally — renunciation in the first degree — and for the duration of that renunciation we cannot speak to him, because however deep we reach we cannot find a common vocabulary; we can no more collaborate with him to further the common understanding than Anne Frank could have collaborated with Goebbels in a dialogue on race relations. ... We all abuse the instruments of discourse, but we seek, under the massive roccoco superstructure of point and counterpoint, to say things to each other that come truly out of our minds and our hearts, because we feel that in deeply significant ways, we are related by that highly elastic, but not infinitely elastic, bond, that binds us to each other.

Such a man, then, whose explicit message we know beforehand, which message he must deliver undeviatingly, cannot communicate to us orally anything of political interest, the subject with which the Political Union properly interests itself. He is a fit object of curiosity for students of certain other subjects than politics. ... The court room at Tel Aviv was crowded with professors of the specialized social sciences: but they were not men who would have invited Adolf Eichmann to their college to defend the regime of Adolf Hitler.


What will you do when Gus Hall, the human being, comes here to defend the cause of what you know ahead of time to be the cause of organized inhumanity? Will you show that "shudder of polite disgust"? ... Is it not likely that among those of you who applaud there will be those who are in fact applauding their own courage in applauding a real live apologist for human atrocity? ... Fight him, fight the tyrants everywhere; but do not ask them to your quarters, merely to spit upon them: and do not ask them to your quarters if you cannot spit upon them: to do the one is to ambush a human being as one might a rabid dog; to do the other is to ambush oneself, to force oneself — in disregard of those who have died trying to make the point — to force oneself to break faith with humanity.

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